No shortage of talent in 2013
I never make predictions and I never will.
Ah, the unique wisdom and insight of Paul Gascoigne, there for all to see.
But maybe the Geordie genius had a point, whether or not herealisedtheironyofhisstatement.
Predictions in music are an oddbusiness. Attheendofeach year a raft of critics, tastemakers and industry soothsayers proffer their pick of the artists they believe will be big in the subsequent 12 months.
There are even awards in place to back up the claims - theBRITsCritics’ChoiceAward and The BBC’s Sound Of poll, which both showcase promising young talent, as chosen by a panel of journalists, broadcastersandinfluentialmusicindustry workers. ( Quickdisclaimer: I vote in both.)
Both have an air of the selffulfilling prophecyaboutthem. After all, if the journalists who single out these artists subsequently write copious amounts about them, surely they’re going to succeed?
Well, in the cases of Adele, Florence + The Machine, Ellie Goulding, Jessie J and Emeli Sande, the five recipients of the Critics’ ChoiceBRITsinceitwas introduced in 2008, that’s very much the case.
All five have gone on to massive success, although that was likely to have happenedwithor without this award.
LauraMvula, TomOdelland AlunaGeorge have been shortlisted for the 2013 prize, and all three are worthy of your time, not least AlunaGeorge, whose single Your Drums, Your Love was one of the musical highlights of 2012.
Tom Odell, who also appearsonthelonglistfortheBBC Sound Of 2013 poll, has been championed by Lily Cooper ( or Allen as she was previously known). He’s signed to her label and writes haunting piano ballads, perhaps perfect in the post- Someone Like You musical landscape we now find ourselves in.
Thepeople whosigned Laura Mvula, meanwhile, will also behopingtosellhertothesame soulful voice lovers whobought Adele’s 21, although Mvula’s idiosyncratic, offbeat arrangements make her music more interesting than Adele’s, and therefore less palatable to the mass market.
Thebandmostlikely to succeed next year, however, aren’t British. They’re Los Angeles sister trio Haim. Their debut EP Forever was released early in the year, while a string of live shows in the UK over the summer created the kind of music industry buzz that many thoughtwouldn’thappenagain.
They eventually signed to Polydor, and will release their debut album in the spring with the help of producers James Ford, who has worked with Arctic Monkeys in the past, andPaulEpworth, whomastermindedAdele’s 21. If there is going to be a sound of 2013, i t’s l i kely to be theirs, like Destiny’s Childcovering Fleetwood Mac.
Guitar bands haven’t been having a good time of it over the past few years. Of course, when we say ‘ guit a r bands’, we don’t j ust mean bandswhohappen to play guitars - that’s never going to go out of fashion.
The term more refers to groups, predominantly male, who make attitude- heavy music and wish they’d been old enoughtolive throughBritpop. There are always a handful of exceptions, The Vaccines being the most recent, but on the whole the genre has been in a dire place.
George Ergatoudis recently said he believed guitar bands wereontheir wayback, putting the horse slightly before the cart. After all, he is head of mu- sic at BBC Radio 1, the most influential station in the country, and in these days of declining music press circulations one of the few outlets still capable of dictating taste to the nation. If hesaysguitarbandsarecoming back, then that’s what’s going to happen.
Thankfully, there’s noshortage in quality, and if the likes of DogIs Dead, Peace, SwimDeep, Kodaline, Charlie Boyer And The Voyeurs, Embers, Temples, Blackeye and The Strypes get t he ai r play, they’ll almost certainly win the fans. Thanks to the success of TameImpala’s second album Lonerismthisyear, expectapsychedelic tint to any guitar music that breaks through. In more straightforward pop, there’s A* M* E, or Amy Kabba to her friends. Originally from Sierra Leone, Kabba moved to Lewisham in south west London when she was eight. Now, she’s signed to Gary Barlow’s label Future, andhasa batchofquirky, chart- readypop songs to her name. GameBoyis especially good.
Ofall therecordsI’mexcited about being released next year, Night Beds is at the top of the pile. It’s the vision of one man, Winston Yellen, a 23- year- old from Colorado Springs who, by the sounds of his debut Country Sleep, ownsalotof musicby Jeff Buckley, MyMorningJacket and Big Star.
He must have recently had hisheartbroken, too, andwants to sing about it. Butfar frombeing morose, the album is positively joyous. Make the effort to hear it in February when it’s released, you won’t be disappointed.
Enough of the new bands. What of established acts returning with new albums?
Everything Everything, The Joy Formidable, Villagers, AdamAnt, BiffyClyroandLocal Natives are all releasing albums in January, putting paid to the idea nothing muchhappensafter Christmas, whileFebruary’s big releases come from Foals, who unveil their phenomenal newalbumHolyFireonthe11th of themonth, andJohnnyMarr, who delivers The Messenger two weeks later.
It will be the first solo album proper from Marr, who of course cemented himself in musical history as one of The Smiths.
Having heard the album, it’s no vanity project and he definitely deserves his time in the spotlight.
Later in the year there are new releases from Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Arcade Fire, Queens Of The Stone Age, Lady Gaga, Eminem and even Jimi Hendrix, whose estate has found an entire album of unreleased material, People, Hell And Angels.
Ones to look out for . . . Peace ( above), Tom Odell ( inset) and A* M* E ( below)