Friday, March 13, 2009

New music I want in 2009 - Part 4

Every twenty years or so it happens; somewhere that has neither an obvious right nor reason to threaten the very core of music suddenly rises from its place, as generally regarded in musical terms at least, as the epitome of nowhere remarkable to the very top of the pile. No city has bettered Seattle in that respect - and happily it doesn't change everything. They were still playing The Eagles and Dire Straits incessantly on local radio in Seattle when I was there in 1999 - fully a decade after it became the fuzzy-felt board of 'grunge'; a creation that borrowed from aspects of heavy rock, metal and glam-rock all used in varying proportions. At times, although this might seem a curious observation now, it also featured whimsy and (sometimes cunningly satirical) humour in the lyrics.
The zenith of grunge lasted less than five years; some of the pieces stuck and others just fell off but its legacy, and it is almost worldwide, remains very apparent two decades later. Sub Pop, lest it be forgotten or should the young at heart now feel less so, is still going strong and celebrated its twentieth birthday in 2008 with a party headlined by Pearl Jam.
Little wonder therefore that it is hard to predict what might happen next. I wonder if the average American music consumer has even the faintest idea that Blackpool is on the NW coast of England? I don't know if they have pub quizzes in the US but, if they do, it might be useful to know and, like the famous Blackpool trams, you can wait for ages and then two strange things will arrive almost at once! Blackpool already has, in the artist 'Little Boots', one of the most hyped new UK acts of 2009 but it also has another very likely to become well known. The interesting thing is that they sound nothing like each other or for that matter bear any resemblance to the Seattle revolution of twenty years ago. At least that is not apparently so!
'Little Boots' is all electronic, italo-disco and that sort of thing, and is looking like one of the 'flavours of 2009'. She is finishing her d├ębut album in Los Angeles but the trans-Atlantic love doesn't end there - as you will probably already know if you've tried to find a copy of her US-only 12" Arecibo EP. I have no problem with that at all but, although also from Blackpool, Karima Francis isn't part of that scene: she's a singer-songwriter who mainly composes songs on acoustic guitar. There are many who say that there are more than enough of those already. They may yet be wrong.

The Author - Karima Francis
Blackpool aside the one thing that they have in common, and before either has released a studio album, is that both can reliably reduce a live audience - including press reviewers - to putty whilst leaving them feeling awestruck rather than manipulated. In 2009, as never before, that is a pretty trick.

Another artist making waves, and from just across the sea in Dublin, is Laura Izibor... Irish soul would be an alternative listening choice on 17 March!

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