New Music Tips for 2013 – Haim, The 1975, Theme Park, Bastille… etc !

I hope you enjoyed our top 20 albums of 2012 we ran between Christmas and New Year, and today I thought we’d look at some o the artists you may hear more about in 2013.

Looking at the BBC “Sound of 2013” list of hotly tipped musical acts for 2013, I must admit I hadn’t heard of more than half of them. One I have been following however is Haim, who were announced as the winners this week. I downloaded their free (at the time) EP a few months ago and really enjoyed it. (In fact, I was sure I’d posted one of their videos here over the summer but on checking I didn’t.)

Anyway, I’m not surprised they won the award. Theirs is a highly commercial sound – more than a hint of Rumours period Fleetwood Mac, some nice harmonies, a touch of R n’ B sensibility, all performed by three talented and attractive young sisters. What’s not to like? But the strongest factor in their favour is the oldest critical success factor of all in musical terms. They can write a good tune. Here’s their current single “Save Me” to prove that (even if one of the main hooks is pretty much on one note)!

The industry buzz is that 2013 is going to see guitar bands making a bit of a comeback after some years of pop, R n’B and electronic dance music dominating the charts and the teenagers’ iPods. BBC Radio 1 has decided “Rawwkk” is in favour, good news for young UK bands such as Tribes, The 1975, Young Guns, Twin Atlantic, and slightly more established acts like the Blackout, You Me At Six, and Bring Me The Horizon who could all step up to arena-touring status this year. As an example of the sort of thing we might be hearing more of this year, here are The 1975 with “Sex”, from their recent EP, which is really promising.

On the somewhat more indie front (although the dividing line between rock and indie has become indistinguishably faint in my opinion), we’re excited about the new Villagers album out in January. We were very impressed by Theme Park and their smooth indie-pop at Reading Festival, and the pleasantly rowdy Palma Violets were one of the short-listed indie bands on the Sound of 2103 list. Those two bands should have debut albums out in 2013. Bastille and Tom Odell sit at the slightly more adult end of indie but both make very enjoyable and commercially mainstream music. And surely it’s about time Frightened Rabbit broke though into mainstream awareness - here’s a taster from their forthcoming album, “Pedestrian Verse”, out in February.

But what’s missing is a sense of danger or anger in all this. When you look at the world, whether it is youth unemployment in Europe, increasing wealth inequality everywhere, multi-nationals’ tax affairs or a whole number of social issues, you might expect “the kids” somewhere to be getting a little bit annoyed. It isn’t happening.

Or if it is, it is not being reflected in the music.

There’s no equivalent to Punk, or the 60’s protest movements – no equivalent to Blowing in the Wind, Ghost Town, White Riot, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. OK, that’s a bit of a challenge to emulate those classics, but is anyone even trying to use music to reflect wider issues in this way?

Is it demographics? Are we baby boomers simply outnumbering the younger generations? Have music and musicians lost their power to shock, now Johnny Rotten advertises butter and Alice Cooper’s golf handicap is down to 5? Have the kids just given up and decided that nothing changes whatever they do?

So we get Ed Sheehan, Adele, Haim, the Mumfords – all young people themselves, all very talented, but all making music that is enjoyed by all ages, and doesn’t offend anyone. I think what I’m looking for is music made by people who intrinsically don’t like people like me. And I just don’t see it. Maybe that’s a good thing in some ways, but it feels like we’ve lost something from popular music, something that gave it a certain life-force for many years.

First Voice

  1. Planbee:

    Maybe the music is aimed to be inoffensive because its only the middle aged that buy CD’s anymore. The yoof all download one 99p track (and thats if they pay for it).

    Maybe there is fortune there for a band that could turn the Daily Mail articles into songs. How about:

    ‘Too Young Too Be Mother’

    ‘Refugee Anarchy’

    ‘Hang the Scroungers, Hang the Scroungers’

    Sorry for the last one

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