Welcome to The Verge: a column dedicated to music on the edge of a breakthrough. Last week’s column profiled a few forward-thinking, left-field beat makers, but now it’s time for a quick look across the pond.
Are we in the midst of another British invasion? If musical trends are cyclical, then we’re due for the onslaught of UK acts that descends on our shores every twenty years or so. Last year, Little Boots and La Roux lit up dance floors and the bloghaus (if not sales charts). Last night’s Florence and the Machine show sold-out the 9:30 Club, and acts like the XX, Marina and the Diamonds, and VV Brown continued to build buzz at SXSW.
Here at TGRI, we’ve been championing these acts for a while now. So what’s next?
Ellie Goulding, the BBC Sound of 2010 winner, is at the top of the list. The 23-year old singer-songwriter released her album Lights on March 1st, and debuted at #1 on the UK Albums Chart. No word on a US release yet, but she continues to amass critical kudos while touring the crap out of Europe.
She’s also shaping up to be the next La Roux. While her poppy brand of electronic-tinged folk is strong on its own, remixes by other artists elevate the songs to the next level. London DJs Jakwob and Russ Chimes have put Goulding’s lilting vocals and melancholic melodies over beats that take the songs from the coffeehouse to the dancefloor. Jakwob reaches for the love-step wobble, while Russ Chimes brings in the backbeat/piano loop to craft a real house banger.
Everything Everything is an indie band from Manchester that also appeared on the BBC Sound of 2010 poll. Do they have what it takes to shake up a stagnant indie rock scene, and join Vampire Weekend, Passion Pit, and Phoenix as legitimate cross-over acts? Only time will tell, but on the strength of six songs, they were signed to Geffen in advance of a full length due some time this year. While indie-dance-synth-pop is not novel territory, Everything Everything does it with a dedication to robust riffs and distinct vocal harmonies. Frontman Jonathan Everything (the entire band does the Ramones thing) utilizes a few different styles, from a syncopated sing-speak to an impressive falsetto, that is stronger and less piercing than that of Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos.
The band’s breakout single, “MY KZ UR BF” (or “My Keys, Your Boyfriend”) has the potential to be the next “Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance.” With a sing-along chorus and a new wave-meets-math rock construction, the song is catchy and danceable enough to get beyond its too-cute-by-half abbreviated name. The band’s creative videos show a sense of humor lacking from some of their peers, and will only help them breakthrough, especially when a middling band like OK Go has turned the viral video into an art form.
These are just two of the sounds coming out of the UK. If you don’t want to be an Anglophile like me, just keep an eye on The Verge – I have a feeling we’re only at the beginning of this invasion.