Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I'll promise my heart but there's one dark aside

I've got this ongoing list of albums coming in 2010 that I'm eagerly anticipating. Mixed in with the new entries from acts who've already released something are artists and groups who have yet to really try to establish themselves (for the purposes of this post, that excludes anyone who by the end of 2009 will have commercially released an actual intended-to-be-played-by-the-radio single, including as a famous part of an earlier group) but have already given me reason to hope for what they'll do. The bad news is that in many cases my excitement is based on only a couple of songs, making any statements about their potential precarious...but the glimmers of promise are too much fun to ignore.

Coming out of TEN, the people who brought you Erik Hassle, is this Swedish electronic pop-rock group. It remains to be seen whether other TEN members will get involved or whether DYNO will get the sort of international deal Erik ended up with, but the group's day in the sun has been long coming; like Erik's "Hurtful" before it finally took off, their song "Deliverance" has been around for ages, albeit in different forms and under different titles. It's the strongest of the songs on the group's EP from last year, Dig The DYNO!; it may not be full of guitars, but it sports a stadium-ready chorus, complete with chanty "yeah yeah yeah"s, to go along with its percussion base and synthetic blips. Elsewhere the group goes much more '80s electro, to good results on the nearly mushy "Emotional," but they never fully surrender themselves to a pure '80s synth sound; there's always a band element to their music, just with some '80s sparkle heavily mixed in. They've got more to offer than this EP, though, if material like "Destroy! Destroy!" is any indication.

Listen: "Deliverance"

Find them on: MySpace
Buy: the group has yet to specify when their first big release will come out, but you can buy their Dig The DYNO! EP on iTunes internationally in the meantime.
Other people writing about them: #1 Hits From Another Planet, Don't Stop The Pop

Fabio Lendrum
Calvin Harris's '90s rave and Hadouken and Frankmusik's spastic electronic styles meet much more pop vocal lines in the best songs of this major label-signed British singer; it all adds up to a chart-friendly dance-pop style which isn't actually that much like the aforementioned artists, but male electronic pop acts are few and far between enough that that's the best I've got. His ballads so far don't have anything on "Vacant Heart" or "Your Boy," but "What She's Got" is appealing barely-intelligible clashy electro-pop, "Don't Wait For Me" and "Everybody Glows" work that pop-meets-rave angle to great results (the same could be said for "Can't Help Myself," though it tones itself down into a more pleading tone), and "Trouble" is bouncy electro-pop. As pop as Fabio's work is, music like this always benefits from quality better than the 64kbps you'll hear on MySpace, so it might be a bit too early to jump to conclusions about much other than available-in-proper-quality "Wait For Me." His songs sometimes don't quite finish off their melodic thoughts quite like I want them to, but they tend to make up for it with neat little production tricks.

Also: best popstar hair in AGES, which cannot be overstated as a matter of importance.

Listen: "Don't Wait For Me"

Find him on: MySpace
Buy: I'm not certain, but given remixes are being made, his first single might be "Don't Wait For Me. Whatever it is, it should be out via Warners--maybe via imprint Eternal Records--in 2010.
Other people writing about him: Popjustice, This Must Be...Pop!

A former member of never-quite-off-the-ground retro girl group the Silhouettes, British singer DollFace has gone electro for her solo career. The clear standout of the material on her MySpace is "Ms. Jamaica," which fits into the post-RedOne world; while the other songs aren't without appeal ("Boomerang" has a feisty '90s sound to it, and I still swear I've heard it somewhere before), "Ms. Jamaica" is the moment that makes you think DollFace could both fit in and bring something welcomingly new to Britain's modern charts.

Listen: "Ms. Jamaica"

Find her on MySpace
Buy: I'm not sure if she's signed yet.
Other people writing about her: Karinski, Popjustice

A new incarnation of the group formerly known as the Electric City, NiteVisions' publicity so far is mainly based on the fact that it's made up of two boys who are the children of two members of Duran Duran and that they're a Xenomania project. Very little has been heard from the group under this name, only a clip of "Fire," but it seems safe to say they're influenced by the era their parents began making music. Mainly all we've got to go on so far is potential, but come on, doesn't the prospect of Xenomania + boy duo + a sound influenced by Duran Duran, Gary Numan, and the Cars pique your interest at least a little bit?

Listen: a clip of "Fire"

Find them on MySpace (no music there yet)
Buy: nothing yet--I'm not sure they've signed to a label, but they're being shopped around
People also writing about them: Popjustice, BBC

If Hurts were still Daggers, I'd be immensely excited about the fact that they finally had some sort of outside-of-Popjustice buzz around them in the music industry--in fact, their album would be my most anticipated release of 2010. As that group, they fulfilled my desperate need for '80s pop-rock-dance full of energy and with soaring, perfect choruses and performed by possibly my new favorite band frontman; songs like "Lost In The Distance" and "Death It Feels" are some of my favorite MySpace-only songs ever.

Unfortunately, Daggers is no more, replaced by the seemingly two-person formation which still includes singer Theo. It's not the first time the group has changed, but this time it seems they've gone much darker, more melancholy, qualities which Daggers certainly had but were balanced by songs that were, well, just plain more fun; the fact that not every song was a stylish brooding slow-paced meditation about loss helped me appreciate the songs that did meet that description more.

The three songs we've heard from Hurts so far seem to show that the quality of material is still there. "Illuminated" is beautiful, "Wonderful Life" deserves crossover success, and "Unspoken" (which comes complete with a Fred Falke remix) has wiffs of a demo about it but still has some truly lovely melodic elements; in short, I love them all. It's just that all indications so far are that we've lost the group that was equally capable of inspiring hands-over-head, standing-in-place jumping up and down and requiring a strut-filled command of the stage from Theo. I hope I'm wrong and, even if I'm not, I'd wish them luck based on these new songs alone; I could just be a bit more enthusiastic if I had some indication that, somewhere along the line, the fun was still waiting for us.

And, hey, if nothing else, they're working on their debut album in Sweden, so that's got to count for something, right?

Listen: "Wonderful Life"

Find them on MySpace
Buy: they're signed to Major Label, the Richard Stannard-backed subsidiary of Sony. "Wonderful Life" is receiving radio play and is, I think, set to be a single, but as to whether it's a "buzz single" or "actually meant to conquer the UK single," I'm not sure. In the meantime, a double-sided Daggers single, "Money"/"Magazine," is available on iTunes internationally; it's worth it for the excellent "Money" alone.
Other people writing about them: Worrapolava, #1 Hits From Another Planet, Popjustice, Karinski, NME

Jessie Malakouti
Will Jessie's "Standing Up For The Lonely," ever get a proper release? Now backed by Xenomania, the positioned-as-attitude-filled American singer's proper debut single was first played on the radio midway through 2009 but has yet to take off or receive much publicity outside of Jessie's opening for the Saturdays. The former member of Shut Up Stella put out some songs before working with Xenomania (including "Trash Me," which "If U Seek Amy" instantly made me think of when I heard it and which Jessie claims was ripped off by said song), but it's her work with the British songwriting group that has me most excited. Besides "Standing Up For The Lonely," a dance-poppy brush-off to boyfriend, the highlight of her material seems to be "Who's That Man," a throwback to '80s pure pop musical breeziness wrapped around heartbreak. Her live styling may sometimes be...ill-advised, but I'll be willing to forgive and forget if she keeps putting her slightly Gwen Stefani-ish voice to songs like this one.

Listen: "Standing Up For The Lonely"

Find her on MySpace
Buy: supposedly, "Standing Up For The Lonely" is now set for a January release by Hard2Beat. In the meantime, you can download a free megamix of a few songs with a mailing list signup here
Other people writing about her: Popjustice

Daisy Dares You
Singing catchy small-band-gussied-up-with-electronic-production pop songs, young British singer Daisy is going to have trouble beating her key song, "Number One Enemy." Even as a demo, it captures a welcome youthfulness and freshness while also having just a bit--only a bit--of a cool indie-pop feel. Daisy can go more electronic (the results in "Next Few Minutes" are great) or add in some piano, but her voice tends to have a sweet, laid-back vibe (just a bit like the effect of Lily Allen's voice) even when she's giving attitude, which gives an innocent, easy-to-listen-to quality to her music. Some songs, whether they're musically or lyrically simple, give off a vibe of sweet simplicity; Daisy does those incredibly well (see "You'll Be Fine" for proof)...but we really can't let go of how much fun there is in "Number One Enemy."

Listen: "No. 1 Enemy"

Find her on MySpace
Buy: nothing yet, but she's signed to Jive and you can download "Daisy Dares You" for free with a mailing list signup here
Other people writing about her: The Guardian, Karinski, Into The Groove, Mumuuse

Much as I wish I had some official news on Rosanna, I don't, meaning putting her on this list is pure speculation; there's been no word I've seen about when an official release from this former member of Swedish girl band Play will be forthcoming (she's represented by UK-based Crown Music Management, but that's all I've got). That's a shame, since her pop songs need to be unleashed upon the world as soon as possible. From the cutesy bubbly electro-pop of "Gameboy" to the more expansive mid-tempo electro ballad "Waterfall," Rosanna has given us multiple reasons to get excited. Count on collaborations with Tortuga (who you may know from Isabel Guzman's music) and Jim Eliot of Kish Mauve (yes, he may have written Kylie's "2 Hearts," originally done by Kish Mauve, but he also co-wrote Ladyhawke's "Crazy World," "Love Don't Live Here," and "Better Than Sunday") to appear on her sure-to-be-great album whenever it does see the light of day.

Listen: "Gameboy"

Find her on MySpace
Buy: no solo releases from Rosanna yet, but besides her work with Play, you can hear her provide vocals on some great modern electronic pop songs, "Oh!" and "Fast Car," on Swedish electronic artist Kocky's second album, Stadium Status, available on iTunes internationally
Other people writing about her: Don't Stop The Pop, Popjustice

Originally going under the name Jessie J, British singer Jessica Cornish had her first taste of major chart success as the co-writer of Miley Cyrus's "Party In The U.S.A.," and, to be honest, none of her original, soulful solo material from years ago thrilled me, but with a voice as strong as hers and with the (American) label investment it seems is going on, she should end up with some material worthy of her. She's worked with Dr. Luke (though whether that material will be heard outside of the Miley song remains to be heard), Robert Allen (Rihanna's "Disturbia" and Chris Brown's "Forever"), Warren Felder (Jennifer Lopez's "Mile In These Shoes," Chris Brown's "Superhuman") and Toby Gad (a million things, from Fergie's "Big Girls Don't Cry"/Beyonce's "If I Were A Boy" to the Veronicas' "Untouched" to Sita's "Happy"), and it seems likely little if any of her earlier material will appear on the album ("Sexy Silk" won't, at any rate). Said album was supposedly going to come out this year, but, with no real news on that front, it seems safe to assume it's pushed back to 2010.

Listen: "Rainbow," a song from the past few months which might or might not be on the album, sung live by Jessie over the actual song

Find her on MySpace
Buy: her debut album should be out next year on Universal, in the U.S. and on Island in the UK
Other people writing about her: Worrapolava, Popjustice

There are also many artists who I've got even less to base speculation on but am still interested in--many of the artists debuting in Melodifestival, for example, or maybe some of the other Xenomania acts. I thought about including young British singers Ellie Goulding (who mixes indie pop-friendly vocal stylings with electronic production on songs for a sort of twee pop-meets-gentle-electro-pop sound) and Marina + the Diamonds (quirky electronic pop not afraid of pianos) especially since I think their singles ("Under The Sheets" and "Mowgli's Road," respectively, though it was "The Shampain Sleeper" that first sold me on Marina) may be more on the buzz single side of things, but I wasn't quite sure; they'll appear on an upcoming list, if I can ever get everything together. The same probably holds true for Red Blooded Women, and in retrospect, I guess Simon Curtis could have qualified for this, couldn't he? Edit: oh, Sam Taylor should be in here too, shouldn't he...assuming an album is actually coming?

Who did I leave out?


Talia said...

Oh I have a present. Incoming email

Aaron said...

Haha - Well, we can always hope!

I'm looking forward to a handful of these too, very popjustice!

Paul said...

Can i just say I think this post is brilliant :) So many new artists to wade through and get excited about!!! I shall be returning to it often over the next few days! And yes, what the heck is going on with sam taylor? I rewatched Beautiful People this week in preparation for the new series and quite re-enjoyed his vocal stylings!

D'luv said...

I'll take five of Fabio, please. Make that six.

Poster Girl said...

Talia, thank you!

Aaron, I guess it is--more because of shared Venn diagram overlap than anything else, I think.

Aww, thanks, Paul! I know Sam just did a show for Arjan Writes, but I'd like to know when any individual release of his own will be forthcoming.

Robbie, if that's not an indicator of future success, I don't know what is.

Trashlexis said...

I've just realised what Dollface - Boomerang reminds me of! Kylie - King Or Queen?