Artist Alert: The Noisettes

Whether you like some good old-fashioned dance music or the sound of the ’60s, The Noisettes have something for you. The English duo of vocalist and bassist Shingai Shoniwa and guitarist Dan Smith have been around since 2003 (with a third band member, Jamie Morrison, until 2010), but it was in 2009 when their single Don’t Upset The Rhythm released that people starting taking notice.

Shoniwa’s voice is very reminiscent of Duffy and Gin Wigmore, but The Noisettes’ sound is incredibly unique. Truth be told, I don’t particularly care for Don’t Upset The Rhythm, but Never Forget You I do love.

The Noisettes are releasing their third album Contact on August 27th, and they’ve offered a pre-release bonus: a free download of their single Winner, which, with the Olympics starting tomorrow, is not only timely but also inspiring.

 

Artist Alert: AWOLNATION

Last year was particularly stressful for me at work, so the few hours I had at home during which I wasn’t asleep weren’t spent looking for musicians unknown to me but rather new music from artists I already knew and liked. I was mildly intrigued when the name AWOLNATION popped up over and over again as I browsed the music blogs but didn’t pay much attention beyond making a mental note to check them out at some point.

Then my sister introduced me to Sail from the album Megalithic Symphony, and I instantly went to YouTube to listen to more from what turned out to be an absolutely fantastic album. One quick Amazon purchase later, Megalithic Symphony is playing ninety percent of the time on my iPod. While I did listen to the album’s best song first, the rest far from disappoints. I particularly like Jump On My Shoulders and Guilty Filthy Soul.

It’s refreshing to find new music that doesn’t sound like anything you hear on the radio (well, radio in Mumbai anyway). Others can have their Top 40. I’ll take AWOLNATION over that any day.

 

Artist Alert: Fleet Foxes

Photo by Sean Pecknold

I either used to have a closed mind towards folk music, or I just hadn’t heard the right folk music until last year. At the mere mention of folk music I would start snoring (or, if I wanted to be polite, would just smile while my eyes glazed over as I thought about something else) because, really, folk music is just boring, right? Oh how wrong I was. And if you haven’t heard Fleet Foxes, you must do so immediately to understand what I mean.

Their track White Winter Hymnal – and my introduction to the Seattle-based band – was very aptly in several Top 10 of 2008 lists, and their much-awaited album Helplessness Blues released in May 2011 to frenzy and accolades across the board. One of my favourite things about Fleet Foxes is their effortless and beautiful vocal harmonies that are present in every Fleet Foxes song I’ve heard so far. Second to this are their gorgeous music videos, several of which have been directed by Sean Pecknold (the older brother of vocalist Robin Pecknold). Be sure to watch the superb claymation video for White Winter Hymnal below.

 

 

Artist Alert: NewVillager

NewVillager, from what I’ve read around the web, is an artist collective that is not just about the music but also the accompanying visuals, whether it be at their live shows or in their videos. Ben Bromley and Ross Simonini, the men behind NewVillager, are so dedicated that for their album “they recorded 10 versions of every song, each with different melodies, chords, rhythms, production, and lyrics, in an attempt to find the best overall representation of the NewVillager mythology“.

I’m all about the music, and what gorgeous music it is. My favourite NewVillager song is Black Rain/Genghis On, which is also the most incredibly difficult song to find online. If you like electronic pop like MGMT, Friendly Fires or Passion Pit, NewVillager are definitely the band for you. If you haven’t heard any of the aforementioned bands, then what the hell are you waiting for?

Black Rain/Genghis On

Shot Big Horixon

Rich Doors

Artist Alert: The Vaccines

In just one short year, The Vaccines seem to be everywhere. It’s difficult to look for indie music without encountering them on almost every blog, and even my Facebook news feed has been diligently feeding me posts from my friends Z and Z about their love for The Vaccines. They’re playing to sold-out shows across the UK and in Europe, and their debut album – the amusingly titled What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? – is an undeniable hit.

I first heard this London band on Post Break Up Sex, which I liked. I then heard their cover of Katy Perry’s Last Friday Night (TGIF), which I really liked. Then I heard Wetsuit and I fell in love. Absolutely in love. I haven’t posted in a while because life got in the way – my recently played tracklisted on iTunes was, until very recently, empty because I just didn’t have the time to listen to anything. But, as The Vaccines say, “We all got old at breakneck speed. Slow it down, go easy on me.”

Post Break Up Sex

Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)

Artist Alert: Feist

Do you know Feist? If not, you really, really should get to. Born Leslie Feist and performing as simply Feist, this Canadian singer-songwriter has already been nominated for a Grammy Award (Best New Artist in 2007) and swept the 2008 Juno Awards.

Her accolades are all with good reason. With a strong voice and happy music, Feist is truly a pleasure to listen to. Train Song, her collaboration with the very talented Ben Gibbard, shows just how fantastic music can be when you get two phenomenal artists together. Also fantastic: I Feel It All and 1234.

As I said, if you don’t know Feist, you really, really should get to.

How Come You Never Go There

1234

I Feel It All

Train Song (featuring Ben Gibbard)

 

Artist Alert: Lykke Li

I LOVE Lykke Li. Seriously, the woman is amazing. I’ve said before how much I love Kings of Leon, and Lykke Li here not only managed to cover/remix a KoL song, she made it better! Now that’s a difficult thing to achieve.

For those of you not in the know, Lykke Li is a Swedish singer who released her debut album Youth Novels – produced by Peter Bjorn and John’s Björn Yttling – just three years ago. She’s back in 2011 with the very highly anticipated Wounded Rhymes, which is already making waves for her sneak preview track Get Some. Get Some is not for the faint-hearted and easily scandalised, but it’s definitely a great first track – not only for returning with a bang but also because it’s just a damn good song.

The second single, I Follow Rivers, is so very different from Get Some that it’s difficult to imagine they are by the same artist. Just listen to the lyrics if you don’t believe me. It only goes to prove what I’m saying – Lykke Li is awesome.

And yes, she does vaguely resemble Lady Gaga, but is a million times cooler! That’s a good thing whether you’re a Gaga fan or not.

Love Out Of Lust

I Follow Rivers

Artist Alert: Charlie Mars

You’d think I’d be tired of the Jason Mraz type singer-songwriters who make easy-breezy music with an acoustic guitar (and I thought I was too), but one listen to Charlie Mars and I knew I wasn’t done. Mars will soon be releasing Like a Bird, Like a Plane – which, it turns out, is his fifth studio album – on Rockingham Records with with musicians who have played for John Mayer, Fiona Apple, Jakob Dylan and Citizen Cope.

The video for Listen to the Darkside features girlfriend Mary-Louise Parker (who just keeps getting better looking in the manner of a person aging backwards), but my favourite song on the album is Meet Me by the Back Door that I’ve been listening to for a half hour now while dancing like a crazy person, which is making it very difficult to type. Mars’s mySpace page has these songs and more – the album version of Meet Me by the Back Door (which is so much better than the linked video above), the album’s title track (which sounds completely different from the other songs and very cool), and three others that are definitely worth a listen.

Artist Alert: She & Him

The dual profession of actress/singer has been tried and tested by numerous PYT’s over the years, some of whom have been stellar at both and some who just make me want to shoot myself (aka Miley Cyrus).

Thank God for Zooey Deschanel. The fairly-indie actress is now making very indie music as the “she” in She & Him, along with one of indie music’s favourite men – M. Ward. Only two albums old – aptly titled Volume One and Volume Two – and going strong, She & Him have a string of original songs as well as covers that are consistently excellent.

Volume One’s Why Do You Let Me Stay Here and Volume Two’s In The Sun and Thieves are some of my favourites by She & Him. Next on my wishlist: Zooey’s super talented husband Ben Gibbard (of The Postal Service and Death Cab For Cutie fame) collaborating with the duo. She & Him are so fantastic on their own; can you imagine how unbelievable they would be with the Gibbard’s magic touch?

Artist Alert: Vampire Weekend

Photo by Tim Soter

Although ‘Artist Alert’ isn’t quite the right category to fit Vampire Weekend into – seeing as they’re really famous – the band hasn’t been heard in India before and this seems to be the perfect time to feature them because, as I discovered recently, the good people at EMI India are releasing their second album Contra!

This post isn’t an album review for Contra – it’s a list of reasons why VW is, without a doubt, my favourite indie band.

1. They have the quirkiest lyrics yet don’t sound absolutely ridiculous while singing, “In December drinking Horchata, I’d look psychotic in a balaclava.”

2. They sing songs about things such as an Oxford Comma that are so legen-wait for it-dary that they’ve been played on How I Met Your Mother.

3. M79 (the first VW song I heard) is just an all-round happy song and makes the best use of violins I’ve heard recently.

4. Their latest video Giving Up The Gun is even funkier than the song is.

Ezra Koenig, Rostam Batmanglij, Christopher Tomson and Chris Baio met at Columbia University and started formed VW in 2006. Four years and two albums later, they show no signs of slowing down and continue to get better. Thank God for that.