Ones to watch: Five of the best new acts


CRYSTALCASTLES


Named after She-Ra’s pad in He- Man, this boy-girl Toronto duo state their influences, via their Myspace page, as murder, blank looks on girls and knives. However true that may be, it’s possibly more helpful to say that their sound is an amalgam of Suicide, Kid 606 and Klaxons, while their employment of Atari soundchips in their keyboards also allies them with the currently voguish chiptunes movement.

The result is somewhere between electro punk and frenzied synth pop, and – despite apparent attempts to remain mysterious – it’s made them one of the most hyped bands around, gushingly supported by the blogging community. For once, that might not be the kiss of death.

The self-titled album is released by Last Gang on 28 April

METRONOMY

Nu rave before the term existed, Metronomy make peculiar but compellingly danceable electro pop that simultaneously offers intelligence, tongue-in-cheek humour and a kind of Fisher Price, childlike innocence. Building on the success of debut album Pip Paine (Pay The £5,000 You Owe), together with a string of high-profile remixes, forthcoming Nights Out looks likely to see them cross over into the mainstream – especially now that Joe Mount, leader of the trio, has started singing. Justice had better watch out: there could be a new new Daft Punk, and they’ve got chest-lamps and choreographed dance moves to boot.

The single “My Heart Rate Rapid” is out now on Because. Metronomy play the Camden Crawl on 18 and 19 April

OUTHOUSE

Launch pad for Polar Bear, Acoustic Ladyland, Led Bib and Fraud among numerous others, the Babel label has contributed more than most to the current vibrancy of the UK jazz scene. This four-piece, twin horns augmented by drums and double bass, are fast becoming 2008’s most-likely-tos, though they are still based in the back-garden rehearsal pace after which they take their name. Less deranged than Fraud, with whom they also share membership of the acclaimed LOOP Collective, at times they could just about find favour with the jazz purist camp, although their influences run the gamut from Ornette Coleman to West African percussion.

Outhouse are on UK tour from 13-17 April and play Charlie Wright’s in London on April 24. Their self-titled album is released by Babel on 14 April

KAIL

All too often, hip-hop divides into mindless gangsta braggadocio or lyrically more intelligent tracks that are rather too lightweight to be pumped from cars with blacked out windows rolling around South Central Los Angeles. Yet Kail, himself a resident of said city, might represent the rare intersection of those two Venn diagram circles. Newly signed to Big Dada, the label that brought us Roots Manuva and Spank Rock, his combination of street cred and disarming wit has already seen him compared to Nas, Ice Cube and early Jay-Z, though it might be a while before he’s headlining Glastonbury.

The album True Hollywood Squares is released by Big Dada on 21 April

MADAM

Sukie Smith, better known as Madam, has a rare ability to combine the smoky, nocturnal atmospherics conjured by PJ Harvey or Portishead or the Velvet Underground with a pop sensibility that’s seen her compared to Goldfrapp. The amalgam is showcased on debut album In Case Of Emergency, a work of fragile beauty whose widescreen, slightly eerie quality has drawn comparisons to David Lynch – significantly or not, Smith herself apparently once worked as an actor. Either way, it sets her head and shoulders above the singer-songwriter masses, as individual a voice as Cat Power or her own label mate, Joan As Policewoman. And neither of their records boasts a windscreen wiper solo.

Debut album In Case of Emergency is out now on Reveal

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