Tuesday, 1 January 2013

BBC Sound of 2013 longlist round-up

The BBC Sound of 2013 longlist has been published. The artists are:
  • A*M*E
  • AlunaGeorge
  • Angel Haze
  • Arlissa
  • HAIM
  • King Krule
  • Kodaline
  • Laura Mvula
  • Little Green Cars
  • Palma Violets
  • Peace
  • Savages
  • The Weeknd
  • Tom Odell
The five artist shortlist is being announced a day at a time and the first in the top five are Glasgow electro-pop trio CHVRCHES. Number four in the shortlist is Birmingham's Laura Mvula. Seeing the longlist for the first time, the immediate stand-out artists based on what I heard in 2012 are AlunaGeorge, Kodaline, Palma Violets, Savages and Tom Odell.

The electronic-infused garage-soul of AlunaGeorge, aka Aluna and er... George, from London is slightly quirky and interesting. Single Your Drums is both compelling and annoying while You Know You Like It is better. The juxtaposition of styles is a great concept.

Kodaline is a quartet from Dublin, with the gorgeous vocals of Stephen Garrigan, who released their début eponymous EP this year including the psychedelic ballad Lose Your Mind. Influences are easy to hear, from The Beatles to Radiohead but Kodaline immediately sound like a band destined for big things. There is also a bit of Dry The River (on the stirring Pray) which is no bad thing.

Palma Violets, a furious and frustrated quartet from London caught my attention on Later... with Jools when they performed Tom The Drum - a complete shambles of a performance but with raw intensity and plenty of passion, and just a bit of retro guitars. Another band who need songs and a strong début album.

Savages, another London four-piece are more rooted in the dark electronica of the 80s and recently followed Flying To Berlin/Husbands with the live EP I Am Here while Tom Odell, again based in London, is the strongest of the five with an impressive début Songs From Another Love, backed up with a heartbreaking vocal and emotive piano.

As for CHVRCHES, they certainly deserve a place in the top 5 - vibrant keyboards and Lauren Mayberry's chirpy pop vocals make The Mother We Share a great single and the live performance of We Sink (at Maida Vale for the BBC) shows that electronic music is not all pre-constructed and a great example of a band embracing technology within the excitement of a gig. You can see it here...

Laura Mvula has found a wonderful combination of narrative song writing, clear vocals and soulful instrumentation, delicate at times then softly explosive. She talks on the BBC website about her love of voice and piano, simple arrangements and intimate stories.

As for the rest, self-confident 18 year old A*M*E, who recently signed to Gary Barlow's label, really needs Barlow to write her some decent songs if Play The Game Boy is anything to go by. That said, her clear (if over-produced) vocals, attitude and swagger is out there. Angel Haze is likely to go far - a no-nonsense female rapper from New York while Arlissa's only work to date is a duet with Nas which is like an upbeat take on Dido and Eminem.

Haim comprise three sisters from LA who have gone 'solo' from their family band - and an interesting mix of R&B influenced vocals, pop rhythms and sublime guitars, while another young Londoner, King Krule (previously Zoo Kid) really sounds like he doesn't want to be singing - think a morose angst-ridden Billy Bragg, if that's possible.

The final three of the BBC Sound Of 2013 longlist are another Dublin band Little Green Cars - like Mumford & Sons with big guitars, Peace - Birmingham's answer to the stutter-rock of Foals or Friendly Fires, and Toronto's The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) whose début album of 'mixtapes' Trilogy yields the largest body of work (occasionally brilliant but often dull and anonymous R&B) for any artist on the longlist.

Who will make the top 3? We will know by Friday.

No comments: