Every year, critics and so-called 'experts' look into their crystal balls and tell us who's going to be making waves in the music world over the coming twelve months and every year, they miss the mark by a mile (unless the band/singer was a stick-on to be successful already, as was the case with Gnarls Barkley and Arctic Monkeys last year). I had a pop at it for the first time last year
and even though I got some of them spot-on to a degree (The Long Blondes, Guillemots, the aforementioned Monkeys), some of them still can't even get arrested (Wherefore art thou, White Rose Movement? What happened, The Changes?).
Back then, I chose to put my money on just ten bands (with a few others mentioned in sidenotes), but this year, I've changed tack a little. Opting for the throw enough at the wall and some should stick method of forecasting, here is a rundown of bands, singers, MCs and button-pushers who I think will be worth keeping an eye on. 49 of them, nonetheless! Remember; this isn't me saying that all of these will be commercially successful, I'm just tipping you off as to which new (in some cases, that should be suffixed with -ish) acts are sure to be making music worth hearing.
Anyway, here's the second annual Yer Mam! Kiss Of Death...
With each passing year, there are few things in music that you can call an absolute certainty. One is that NME will create a scene in a cynical move to boost their readership, while another is that said scene will be derided by every other area of the music press. One of the major sure things in music, however, is that every year a new crop of guitar bands will arrive who, while they won't reinvent the wheel or anything, will push indie rock in new, exciting directions.
This year is no different, but in researching this post, I noticed a bit of a pattern. There seems to be more than a few boy/girl two/three-pieces; the most promising of which being Brighton's Blood Red Shoes. Laura-Mary Carter and Steve Ansell have been playing together for a couple of years now (after Ansell's former band, one-time contenders, Cat On Form broke up) and have honed a dynamic, melodic, punchy rock sound that threatens to spill over into violence at any given moment. Recent single, 'You Bring Me Down' is a masterclass in taut, tensile punk rock with a superbly catchy chorus that has marked them out as future stars. It certainly looks bright and you should expect an album around summer.
Blood Red Shoes - You Bring Me Down (mp3)
Another boy/girl duo with tendencies towards the raw is Prinzhorn Dance School, but where Blood Red Shoes have a full, riotous sound, The 'Horn choose to strip it back, letting the guitar, bass and drums all have breathing space. On 'You Are The Space Invader' (which was released in November on DFA), the wiry, snaky guitar line is the melody, but it's the hard, double-time snare hits and the hi-hat raps that leave the most indelible impression. A bit of an anomaly in the DFA stable, I'm sure that they've been signed for more than just tokenism or remix potential (James Murphy is a big fan of The Fall, a band that PDS take as an influence) and will prove to be a more than worthy addition to the family.
Prinzhorn Dance School - Eat, Sleep (mp3)
The gender is mixed, but this time they're a trio; Martin, Patrick and Gemma (alongside drum machine, Mustafa Beat) make up Manchester's The Answering Machine and their melodious, ever-so-slightly twee garage pop (think The Strokes meets The Pastels) is currently gaining column inches in all the right publications and a "bidding frenzy" built up around their appearances at In The City in late October. Their smart, cute, literate pop music with gnarled guitars to dirty up the sweetness could see them go a long way indeed.
The Answering Machine - Oklahoma (mp3)
Wales' Los Campesinos! take a more-is-more approach to their music, unlike the last few bands. A band with admirably grand designs, their fulsome indie-pop epics are like three-course meals compared to most other bands' snackability. With their seven members though, it would be a waste if they didn't fill every corner of their songs with sounds and ideas to tingle and delight the senses. They're as schmindie as they come, but never less than confident. Bright, colourful, breezy pop music that will have the hairslide and backpack brigade in raptures.
Los Campesinos! - You! Me! Dancing! (mp3)
Fields have slowly but surely gained momentum over the last twelve months and 2007 should see them win more hearts with their debut full-length album. Blending post-rock dynamics, with stadium-filling melodies and queasy electronics, they seem engineered to pick up Radiohead's residuals while they continue on hiatus. Large, grandiose song structures and skyscraping choruses abound and, while the jury may be out as to whether they can make good on their ambitions over the course of an album, listening to them try might be just as fulfilling.
Fields - Heretic (mp3)
Norway's 120 Days are the band that Kasabian think they are. Effortlessly blending driving electronics with sonic boom guitars and spacey motorik beats, it's refreshing to see a band that are actually influenced by krautrock, rather than just saying that they are. That the Can and Neu!-ish touches are swathed in rock theatricality only makes 120 Days more impressive. They're audacious, cocky and darkly majestic. Their self-titled album was released on Smalltown Supersound last year, but a UK tour later in 2007 and with the NME rightly hyping them up recently, they should go interstellar.
120 Days - Sleepwalking (mp3)
Elsewhere in the rock world, 2007 should see the rise and rise of Pull Tiger Tail; their spunky punk-pop should see them all over daytime radio and turn them into festival favourites come the summer. Two lads from Nottingham who call themselves I Was A Cub Scout have taken the very American emo template and Britished it all up with some neat electronics and a shoegazey element. Liverpool's The Maybes? should, after a few false starts over the last couple of years, become the acceptable face of lad-rock by substituting forced machismo and hollow swagger for top tunes and, apparently, a live show that's pretty special. Canada's Tokyo Police Club are, on the face of it, just another garage rock band, but there are touches of the restless spaz-pop of Les Savy Fav in there that should see them right. Jackie McKeown, ex of The Yummy Fur, makes another, probably more successful bid for fame with the glammy 1990s. Also hoping to make inroads along with their Manc compatriots, The Answering Machine are Polytechnic, who seem to have been hyped for ages but not yet built on it, so fingers crossed for them and their US alt-rock-influenced angularity. Oh, and for the record, here's hoping that the execrable The View slip back into obscurity before the year's out.
Pull Tiger Tail - Animator (mp3)
I Was A Cub Scout - Teenage Skin (mp3)
The Maybes? - Supercharge (mp3)
Tokyo Police Club - Be Good (mp3)
1990s - You're Supposed To Be My Friend (mp3)
Polytechnic - Headshaker (mp3)
As music goes in cycles, it seems a logical step for the sounds of the early 80s' New Pop scene to make a comeback. This was the tag given to the crop of bands that got jaded with the increasingly esoteric post-punk that was going on at the time and took to the golden melodies of pop music, bands like The Human League, Orange Juice, Dexy's Midnight Runners, The Specials etc. The new wave of new pop (Oh my god, I can't believe I just typed that. What am I, auditioning for NME now?) is being spearheaded by the wonderful Rumble Strips. Taking Searching For The Young Soul Rebels-era Dexy's as their foundation, Rumble Strips' sound is all horns and passionate, strained vocals. It's a trait that might not exactly catch fire with the public, but with their recent run of singles, culminating in the Cardboard Coloured Dreams EP, it looks like their cult status is assured at least.
Rumble Strips - Girls & Weather (mp3)
Okay, I tipped them last year, but in 2007, things are really going to happen for Voxtrot. Distilling most of the best British music of the '80s into tight little indie-pop songs, it's often hard to really get a hold on them. In Ramesh Srivastava, they have a keen, savvy frontman who seems to be preternaturally in touch with what a certain group of people (bloggers and those who read blogs) want from their music right now (he even keeps a blog here). Plus, it helps that their three EPs that they've released thus far, don't contain a bad song. Once the full-length hits, the world, not just the blogosphere, will be their oyster.
Voxtrot - Your Biggest Fan (mp3)
Over in the States, New York's caUSE co-MOTION are taking the scratchy, DIY, C86 aesthetic and, well, not really changing it much. Their devotion to this unreconstructed pop music is unerring, but thrilling all the same. Another strike for What's Your Rupture? records then. Closer to home, Scotland's Bricolage take more than a few cues from Orange Juice and Josef K, with lead singer, Wallace Meek's affected croon at turns Edwyn Collins and Paul Haig. Their buddies, The Royal We are also causing a bit of a stir and the one song that I have heard is definitely worth getting worked up about and despite their apparent fascination with Slade and their ridiculously twee stage names (Joanie Come Lately, anyone?), they look to have the muscle and swing of recent Belle & Sebastian. Bodes well.
caUSE co-MOTION - This Time Next Year (mp3)
Bricolage - Footsteps (mp3)
The Royal We - All The Rage (mp3)
Some people like the comfort of bands; having other people around to share the burden of songwriting, while others just want to do it on their own. Some call them visionaries, I just think they're twisted, socially-ineffective loners, but that's just me. Anyway, the singer-songwriter tag is something that not even singer-songwriters want to have attached to them, being as it is probably the most maligned area of music there is. If someone says to you "singer-songwriter", you instantly think David Gray, don't you? Or even worse, James Blunt! So why do artists do it to themselves. Well, when you write music as powerful and heartbreaking as James Chapman does, you don't want anyone else to take the credit. James calls himself Maps and his first three 7"s have all been mini works of beauty. With a breathy whisper of a voice, not unlike Jason Pierce at his most unassuming, Chapman builds up walls of sound around him all on his own in his bedroom. Yeah, he's one of those guys. But don't hold that against him as he creates wonderfully dense, soundscape-y space pop that doesn't so much reach for the sky as casually jump up and take them. Expect the debut album to be one of the most critically-acclaimed releases of the year, because us critics go batshit for this kind of thing, you know.
Maps - Lost My Soul (mp3)
One of 2007's boys most likely to is Wimbledon native, Jamie T. It seems a bit pointless touting him really, because everyone else is doing it, but this guy definitely has something. Call it a by-product of the North-South divide, but I really tried to not like Jamie T, but 'Salvador' and 'Sheila' won me over. Then, the brilliant debut LP, Panic Prevention absolutely bowled me over. Despite Jamie's hard to love, marble mouthed slur, it's the songcraft ( I hate that word) that really shines through. The boy can write a fucking good pop song and Panic Prevention hs twelve of them. Fancy an easy bet? Stick everything you've got on Jamie T going the distance.
Jamie T - Operation (mp3)
Scouse psych-dance-pop purveyor and erstwhile member of Ladytron's touring band, Pop Levi takes his hometown's beat combo heritage and filters it through everything that came after. It makes for a thrillingly all-over-the-shop mess, but an inviting mess that places melody and pop nous at the forefront, with the eclecticism there to service the song, rather than coming off as smart-arsery. The world might not be ready for him (he's a bit, shall we say, out there), but when everyone else catches up, a star will be born.
Pop Levi - Blue Honey (mp3)
Perma-dour Leeds outfit, iLiKETRAiNS render the silly written form of their faux-naive name pointless by taking their music as seriously as is humanly possible. The music of iLiKETRAiNS is by no means sour-faced or joyless, however, as their string-laden epics are ewually ominous and hopeful. Basically, iLiKETRAiNS have nailed the sound that Hope Of The States tried and failed to pin down over the course of the seven songs on their debut mini-album, Progress Reform, culminating in the completely devastating closer, 'The Beeching Report'. It's a home banker that their debut full-length will be something pretty special. Just how special will be determined by their ability to temper their inherent portentousness with light and shade, but in this age of Brit bands pushing inconsequential bubblegum rock, the weightiness of iLiKETRAiNS' output thus far is a breath of fresh air.
iLiKETRAiNS - Terra Nova (mp3)
Everyone likes nice guys finishing first, but the likelihood of all-round good chaps, The Aliens gaining commercial success is pretty slim. However, with Steve Mason's King Bicuit Time project having now gone the way of the pear, The Aliens should pick up the still-pining Beta Band fanbase, seeing as John Maclean and Robin Jones make up two-thirds of the band, with Mr Lone Pigeon and brother to King Creosote, Gordon Anderson making up the numbers. They've already got a bit of a rep for being shambolic in the live setting, but their two singles thus far have been pretty impressive. Poppy, anthemic, but with the occasional foray into pastoral, beat-peppered psychedelia, 'The Happy Song' and the Alienoid Starmonica EP point the way to an interesting future, if nothing else. All aboard the mothership.
The Aliens - Robot Man (mp3)
They're not Scottish, they call Philadelphia home, but that's not the only thing that A Sunny Day In Glasgow are trying to mislead us about. Like My Bloody Valentine once did, A Sunny Day In Glasgow shroud winning pop melodies in layers and layers of studio effects and feedback. The ringing, chiming guitars of 'The Best Summer Ever' are obfuscated by echoey vocals and heavily-treated drums, but it's a testament to their songs that they still hit home despite the band's insistence on muddying up the immediacy of their sound. 2007 should see them getting critical and fan adoration all over, with the release of their debut album, the fantastically-titled, Scribble Mural Comic Journal. One for the Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective fans.
A Sunny Day In Glasgow - The Best Summer Ever (mp3)
To say that North Carolina's Annuals sound a bit like Broken Social Scene would be an understatement. In fact, the influence that the Canadian collective have exerted on the band threaten to overshadow Annuals' own achievements on their album from last year, Be He Me. Annuals take all the best ideas that the American indie rock scene have had over the last decade and pile them into every song; the use of electronics a la Radiohead, the overdriven rawk guitars of Built To Spill, the yelpy vocals made prominent by the likes of Neutral Milk Hotel and Modest Mouse, the multi-harmonies of Animal Collective and the neo-classicist psych of Mercury Rev. The fact that they manage to bring their own idiosyncrasies to bear is what marks them out from the over-abundant crowd. Theirs is a childlike, relentlessly joyous sound that, in its most immediate moments almost resembles pop music. Their status as blogger's darlings is already assured, but I wouldn't bank against them making a few tentative steps into the indie mainstream before the year's out.
Annuals - Complete Or Completing (mp3)
There's a righteously groovy new dance-punk sound coming out of New York with Professor Murder, but before you run for the hills, expecting DFA-lite, at least give them a whirl. Their EP, Professor Murder Rides The Subway was one of last year's most promising releases from a new band. Professor Murder fuse together the drum-circle workouts of Oneida, some neat dubby touches like deep, chest-vibrating bass and melodica, the tight punk-funk of Liquid Liquid and '80s block party hip-hop to make a thrilling, danceable concoction, that's not unlike !!! or Out Hud but with more guided missile-like precision when it comes to locking into grooves and less meandering. Their dedication to getting the part started is what should see them gaining more and more fans and press adoration in 2007.
Professor Murder - Cam'ron's New Color (Pt. 3) (mp3)
This year should see an influx of Scandinavian pop music, too, if I've got anything to do with it. They just do it so well up there. Must be something in the water. They manage to find the right balance between hauteur and warmth that makes pop music so life-affirming. I'm sticking my neck out here, but I think that the Scandinavian invasion will be spearheaded by Frost. The Norweigna duo, consisting of Aggie Peterson and Per Martinsen, aren't exactly new; the album they are set to release this year, Love Revolution is, in fact, their third together and they've recorded under various other guises in years gone by, with Martinsen having the most success as Mental Overdrive. Their dense, glacial electro-pop is likely to draw comparisons with friends and compatriots, Royksopp, as well as Felt Mountain-era Goldfrapp, as Peterson's wispy, dreamy vocals seem to float over the music's icy sheen. Their last album, Melodica is well worth checking out, but some of the new stuff hints towards a more direct, dancefloor-oriented approach that should see them get a little more attention outside of their native Norway than they're used to.
Frost - One Hundred Years (mp3)
Another Norwegian who has passed me by until quite recently is Bertine Zetlitz. Her My Italian Greyhound album from last year was her fifth (!), but it wasn't until I heard the graceful single, 'Midnight' that I cottoned on. Produced by Pleasure, aka Fred Ball, My Italian Greyhound is a wonderful collection of elegant, retro-futurist torch songs, similar in essence to Eurythmics, especially in Zetlitz' punchy, faux-stern, Lennox-esque delivery. Rather than being pure style-over-substance though, songs like '500' and 'Obsession' have a tartness in their lyrics and a danceable glitterball pulse that emits more humanity than your average cold-eyed robot-pop. The Popjustice mafia are all over her, so expect this steely, peroxide dominatrix to be the subject of many fanboys' fevered dreams over the coming months.
Bertine Zetlitz - Midnight (mp3)
Sally Shapiro's brand of Italo-pop is already getting bloggers and online publications in a bit of a flap (her debut single, 'I'll Be By Your Side' made Pitchfork's top 100 tunes of the year) and it's not hard to see why. Her knowingly retro tunes and elfin, very Swedish good looks are eminently crushworthy, but there's an enigmatic side to Shapiro that allows the audience to have just that little bit of distance where every little bit of new information that gets out about her is greeted by manic fervour. For instance, she refuses to do interviews or to allow anyone she doesn't know to photograph her. She also doesn't 'do' live. Somewhere down the line, she will most likely break from this puritanical streak and start to let us in a little, but that demistification might inevitably hamstring her, because, as nice as the songs are, they're a little on the inconsequential side. That doesn't really matter at the moment though, as success to some degree seems like a given and anyone yearning for that '80s electro-pop sound (think Jan Hammer or early Pet Shop Boys) could do worse than to check out her debut album, Disco Romance (great title), out now on Diskokaine.
Sally Shapiro - Find My Soul (mp3)
Elsewhere in Scandinavia, there seems to be a renaissance in folky, indie pop, with the likes of Loney, Dear and Hello Saferide. Loney, Dear (the punctuation is necessary) is a one-man band/collective (dependent on who you ask/what your viewpoint is) from Sweden, centring around Emil Svanangen. Signed to Sub Pop and set to release his/their second album, Loney Noir, Loney, Dear are akin to I'm From Barcelona (with whom they've collaborated and share members), but with a less communal, more introverted outlook, not unlike King Creosote or the less strident areas of Bright Eyes' output. Set to melt the hearts of indie boys and girls the world over, 2007 should be a breakthrough year for them/him. Hello Saferide, however, is an often mercilessly confessional, acoustic troubador-ess, also from Sweden, by the name of Annika Norlin, who has an album and an EP already under her belt, but who has been largely ignored on these shores thus far. The naked, stripped-down folk-pop that she peddles is a damn sight better than Corinne Bailey Rae or Katie fucking Melua though and, despite the obvious trepidation some might have when approaching music like this, songs like 'The Quiz' and 'If I Don't Write This Song, Someone I Love Will Die' (how twee is that title?!) have more than their fair share of rewards.
Also, I'm sick of carping on about her, but if Robyn doesn't have a massive UK hit by the end of 2007, I'm emigrating to Sweden. Everybody should get hold of 'With Every Heartbeat', her collaboration with Swede producer, Andreas Kleerup, when it's finally properly released, because it's one of the best pop songs of the last few years.
Loney, Dear - The City, The Airport (mp3)
Hello Saferide - The Quiz (mp3)
Robyn - Who's That Girl? (mp3)
Hopefully, 2007 should see a bit of a swing towards pure disco after a few years of twisting disco to incorporate other aspects of music (disco-punk, space disco, dub disco, etc.). I'm not quite sure where most of it will come from, but you can be certain that Escort will be at the forefront of this new wave of disco. The eleven-strong, New York-based, orchestral disco collective have impressed all the right people with their first two 12"s, 'Starlight' and 'Love In Indigo', with the former making both Pitchfork and Stylus' top tracks of the year lists (I'm sure they were proud when they found out it had placed at number four in my own list of 2006's best songs, too!). Their links to Metro Area (Darshan Jesrani remixed 'Starlight', while Morgan Geist has done a re-edit of forthcoming single, 'A Bright New Life') make sense, but whereas that group had a more dubbed-out, downtempo approach to disco, Escort have more in common with the Philadelphia and T.K. sounds of the '70s, with an organic, live feel being favoured over studio effects. I'm sure that all Escort need to go supernova is one savvy, daytime radio DJ catching on to them, as their music deserves a wider audience than just being the concern of DJs and clued-up punters. Joyous and ecstatic, Escort's supremely funky sounds should rule 2007.
Escort - Love In Indigo (mp3)
Two other bands who are inching closer and closer to the dancefloor with each new tune are Glass Candy and Chromatics. The transformation of both bands from above average post-punk outfits to two of the most exciting and interesting acts around is one of the most pleasant surprises in recent years. Not that theirs is a lucid disco sound, not in the slightest. As opposed to Gamble & Huff, Glass Candy and Chromatics nod more towards the heavy-lidded hues of Giorgio Moroder and Dario Argento soundtracks in creating their shadowy, vampiric arrangements. After a couple of years of perfecting their style, both are set to release proper albums this year, following their many tour CDRs that have showcased the songs set to appear on the albums in various forms. Chromatics' Shining Violence is set to be an icy, more mood-driven affair, but Glass Candy's Life After Sundown, if the two recent tour CDRs are anything to go off, should be more geared towards the floor. One thing is for certain though, these two albums are sure to make many end-of-year lists come December.
Glass Candy - Life After Sundown (Rough Mix) (mp3)
Chromatics - Hotel (mp3)
Also taking a more left-of-centre, askew view of all things disco is London's Mock & Toof. With only a handful of remixes and a cheeky edit of Madonna's 'Like A Virgin' having seen the light of day thus far, Mock & Toof seem to be holding back a little on us, but I, for one, like what I've heard. Mock & Toof's music is a logical extension on the cosmic sounds of Lindstrom & Prins Thomas and Rub 'N' Tug, but with more humour and personality. M&T are also the proprietors of Tiny Sticks, one of the most intriguing new labels around. With releases from Dondolo and Wekan, among others, Tiny Sticks has already gained favourable comparisons with DFA. In fact, Mock & Toof are the first signings to DFA's new offshoot label, Death From Abroad, so the potential to be kindred spirits has been noted by Messrs Murphy and Goldsworthy.
The leading light of Tiny Sticks is Mexican space disco whiz, Michoacan (aka Fernando Rios). He's released 12"s on both Lektroluv and Bear Entertainment in the past but it looks like he's found a home on Tiny Sticks, who released his best single yet, 'She's Sent (Heaven)' towards the end of last year. Michoacan's brand of sexy, bouncy punk-funk looks set to make it into the more forward-thining DJs' sets in 2007 and, fingers crossed, there should be an album later in the year. Tiny Sticks and, in particular, Michoacan is one label that you should definitely be keeping an eye on this year.
Mock & Toof - Black Jub (mp3)
Michoacan - She's Sent (Heaven) (mp3)
Speaking of DFA, one of their most recent signees, Shit Robot is likely to be all over 2007 like a rash. After just one 12" and one remix (of Dondolo's 'Dragon'), it's hard to tell in which direction he's going to go, but if past DFA output is anything to go by, his already evident eclecticism should fit right in to their anything-goes aesthetic. The 12", 'Triumph/Wrong Galaxy' was two quite different dancefloor detonations. The latter was Carl Craig-ish, warped techno, while the former was more in-keeping with the dance-punk stuff that DFA made their name with. With an album in the pipeline, alongside more remix work, Shit Robot, alongside new albums from LCD Soundsystem and The Juan Maclean, should assure that 2007 is yet another fruitful year for the best label in the world.
Shit Robot - Triumph (mp3)
Moving on from the disco-not-disco feel of his debut album, Fantomes, Joakim's forthcoming third album, Monsters And Silly Songs is a different beast altogether. People expecting more of the same, especially after the last two singles, 'I Wish You Were Gone' and 'Drumtrax' will be in for a bit of a surprise. Monsters And Silly Songs is a dark, forbidding, minor masterpiece, with gothic tones that even Interpol fans could hang with. Although he isn't exactly a new kid on the block, this change in approach could see Joakim receiving critical acclaim by the bucket load and gaining fans that he probably never though he'd get. Tracks like 'Sleep In Hollow Tree' have more in common with Liars' Drum's Not Dead, with its witchy tribalism than anything else that comes under the loose banner of dance music. The only dancing you could envision being done to this would take place around a cauldron. Be prepared to be taken aback on first listen, but after a while the creeping, cavernous production really gets under your skin.
Joakim - Rocket Pearl (mp3)
Also worth looking out for in the field of dance music this year are Belgium's Spirit Catcher and Norway's Ost & Kjex (pronounced 'Shex'). Spirit Catcher have been around the block a bit, but their crisp, clean, unfussy house/disco sounds so fresh and relevant (especially 2006's 'Fission Trips' EP) that it should be virtually unignorable (is that a word?) in 2007. The cheese and biscuit-fixated Ost & Kjex, however, are a completely different proposition. Painting themselves as merry pranksters, their effusive, wonderfully messy techno is currently giving that genre a much-deserved shot in the arm. Nice.
Spirit Catcher - Spacialized (mp3)
Ost & Kjex - Shanghai My Cheddar (mp3)
What of hip-hop and r'n'b in 2007? Well, there doesn't seem to be a hell of a lot happening in the mainstream. I might be wrong as I can't say that I follow these scenes like a hawk, but it seems like a rather fallow time for commercial rap and r'n'b. One hip-hopper that you can expect good things to come from is Busdriver. After years languishing in the underground backpacker scene, where he has steadily earned a fearsome reputation as one of the best underground MCs, his forthcoming sixth solo album in as many years, RoadKillOvercoat is currently building up a head of steam in the buzz stakes. It's a vibrant, colourful record with acerbic, often bleak lyrical preoccupations, but as far as smart, modern hip-hop goes it's positively life-affirming. It looks like Busdriver might have to get used to a little more attention in the coming months than he is used to.
Busdriver - The Troglodyte Wins (mp3)
As for r'n'b, I'm tipping Yummy Bingham for stardom this year. The daughter of revered producer, Dinky Bingham (I guess silly names run in the family) and the godchild of both Chaka Khan and Aaron Hall, Yummy was destined to go into music from an early age. She also used to be in short-lived girl group, Tha Rayne, but we'll skim over that. Bingham's debut solo album, The First Seed is a remarkably mature (she's only 21), soulful, funky album that has about eight or nine potential hit singles. Closer in sound to Amerie than, say, Beyonce, her cute, semi-squeaky voice has brilliant range and fits the hip-hoppy, hard-hitting production spectacularly. 'One More Chance' looks set to be a breakthrough for her, seeing as it's already getting a fair bit of play on both 1 Xtra and Radio One, but 'Come Get It', should it get a re-release, could be one of the party anthems of the year. Yummy by name and nature.
Yummy Bingham - Is It Good To You? (mp3)
2007 should also see the rise and rise of Plastic Little. The Philly-based good-time hip-hop crew have just released their superbly foul-mouthed debut album, She's Mature to apprehensively enthusiastic reviews. I say apprehensively because critics don't seem to be able to figure out if they're 'for real' or not. They're funny and fun, but the fact that they don't take themselves seriously for one second has thrown some music writers. Linked to the Hollertronix crew along with Low Budget, Diplo and Spank Rock, they're more interested in bringing the party than addressing issues, but sometimes you need that in hip-hop and if they're taking potshots at modern-day rap music's often ridiculous preoccupations with money or politics, then that's alright by me.
Plastic Little - The Jumpoff (mp3)
Even though The Pack's one and only note-worthy tune, 'Vans' caught fire at the end of last year, expect that fire to spread into 2007, with a re-release on the horizon. Brilliantly braindead and simplistic, it's becoming hyphy's national anthem, so for those who don't know it, then you soon will.
The Pack - Vans (mp3)
I suppose the final word on what's going to be hot in 2007 should go to that burgeoning scene various areas of the press have dubbed New Rave. It's a certainty that Klaxons are going to be huge, but they would have been anyway, had there not been a scene built around them. One of the more talented, intriguing most-likely-tos of recent years, the brilliance of Klaxons' output thus far makes their willingness to be seen as the vanguards of New Rave all the more galling. Once the glowsticks have been banished to the mists of time from which they came though, Klaxons will still be around, as songs like 'Gravity's Rainbow', 'Magick' and the forthcoming single, 'Golden Skans' bely their faddish status.
Klaxons - Magick (mp3)
Shitdisco are also starting to prove themselves as more than just the latest hot new thing with their two ragged, shambolic single releases so far. Having more in common with Hot Chip than Lo-Fidelity Allstars helps too. Elsewhere, French producer, Yuksek's band project, Klanguage blend new wave dynamics with electro-pop trappings to brilliant effect, Manchester's own, The Whip are finally starting to see things happening for them after a few years in the business (they used to be Nylon Pylon) with a Kitsune endorsement and a growing live reputation, while Shakes should expand on their mighty impressive debut single, 'Sister Self Doubt' over the next twelve months too. This thing may have more legs than most are giving it credit for, let's just think of a better name for it than New Rave, eh.
Shitdisco - Reactor Party (mp3)
Klanguage - Never Over (mp3)
The Whip - Trash (mp3)
Shakes - Sister Self Doubt (Alternate Version) (mp3)
Phew! That enough for you?!