Most people covering the 2012 Olympics in London are focusing on athletics. And I guess that’s fine. I mean it is an athletic event. Today I want to take a different path. London is known as the world cultural capital. I’m not sure if it’s bias or what, but our friends across the pond are producing some of the best music in the world. Unfortunately much of it is lost through the cracks of top 40 mediocrity. I’m not going to harp on top 40. It’s not that clever, but it’s quite catchy. I enjoy a lot of it.
London and the cities that surround it are producing some of the best music in the world. Here are ten British musicians you should familiarize yourself with.
The Good Natured
Acting under the name, The Good Natured, Sarah McIntosh fronts this self described “dark electronic pop” band. Despite critical acclaim, the groups first two EP’s were self released. It wasn’t until 2011 that Parlophone signed the group and released their latest EP, Skeleton.
Bombay Bicycle Club
I cannot say enough about these guys. They’ve quickly propelled their way to one of my most listened to bands. My ears refuse to tire of their music. Young, energetic, talented, technical, brilliant live, should I go on? They are every bit as good live as they are on their albums. Highly recommended. Buy their latest, A Different Kind of Fix.
Two Door Cinema Club
If you have even one dancing bone in your body you will enjoy Northern Ireland’s (which is a part of the UK if you didn’t know, but not Ireland) Two Door Cinema Club. Catchy, shiny, electro-pop, but mostly catchy is the best way to describe these three. They’ve got a new album (Beacon) out in September, but for now you can enjoy their freshman release, Tourist History. Trust me, it’ll tide you over.
You may remember earlier this year I had a chance encounter (and drinks) with Lucy Rose. I wrote at length about the event. It’s at once embarrassing and magical. Anyway, Lucy! Lucy, you guys. Her voice is delicate, sweet, a bit raspy (which is perfect) and incredibly controlled. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again she’s going to keep moving up the music scene. Oh and she hasn’t even released her first album, Like I Used To, yet. But you can pre-order it here. I dare you not to fall in love with her.
Formed in London only one year ago these guys have been getting significant airplay and critical acclaim in Britain having been featured more than once as Zane Lowe’s Hottest Record In The World on BBC Radio 1 (which by the way Lucy Rose’s “Lines” was a recent recipient). Buy their first album, Languages, freshly off its May 2012 release.
If NME says “the future looks exciting if these guys are involved,” then I need to know nothing more. And frankly neither do you. These guys didn’t even set out to solely make music. In South London is an artist studio dubbed Breton Labs where the band was conceived making soundtracks for the films they produced. But here we are now. One album down. And hopefully the the future remains exciting because we’re going to want Breton to be a part of it.
Somewhere along the line Patrick Chukwuemeka Okogwu Jr. decided that his name just didn’t have that lasting appeal that say… Tinie Tempah does. So he opted for the latter as his stage name and here we are today. I’m a big fan of anything with “bleeps” and “bloops.” Some might call that electronica. But whatever. His music is laced with hints of electronica and his energy and flow will keep you coming back for more. Have a listen to his first album, Disc-Overy.
If Adele’s rise to fame is any measure of success, then Ellie Goulding is on the right track. The singer-songwriter became the second artist to both top the BBC’s annual Sound of… poll and win the Critics’ Choice Award at the Brit Awards in the same year, following Adele’s win of both in 2008. She’s bubbly and fierce in the same song. Also she’s got incredibly control over both her voice and her hips. And I’d prefer her to Adele any day.
Long ago I decided that the Manchester natives, Elbow, should play at my wedding. And I stand by that statement. I hope Lucy Rose is okay with that. Sense a theme here? Anyone? okay… Guy Garvey writes some of the most romantic and raw lyrics of anyone in music. They sounds behind him are equally breathtaking. These guys are veterans and deservedly so. If you have a chance to see them live DO NOT HESITATE. They are bloody brilliant.
Seven months into 2012 this remains my favorite release of the year. Though they’ve got their work cut out for them with new albums from both Lucy Rose and Two Door Cinema Club (not to mention The Killers) in September. Still, Given to the Wild marks a different direction for the boys from South London. Full of reverb and plenty of depth. Lyrically and musically this is a more mature, complete album. Worth every penny you pay.
This list is by no means exhaustive. Think of it as means to wet your appetite.
And if you want more. NME will guide the way.