Top Ten Thursday: Brand New Artists of 2011

For our next chapter in our end of the year lists, we thought we would list some of the new artists that have surfaced over the past year and caught our eyes, ears, and our hearts in the process. In order to qualify for this list, each artist has had to have released their debut LP within the 2011 year. Artists that released EP in previous years were still considered in the list, as long as the first LP came out this year. Unfortunately, artists like tUnE-yArDs do not qualify, because although she wasn’t actually discovered/or hit the music scene really until this year, she has had a full length album floating around since 2009. Nor did we included groups that contained former artists, or supergroups (ie Rome, Shabazz Palaces). Anyways, you get the picture.

On with the list:

1. EMA
Past Life Martyred Saints

The North Dakota noise rocker came into 2011 with a BANG!. She has been dropping tracks since she hit the scene and her album was phenomenal. It was dark, edgy, and honest. The lyrics are among the best I’ve heard in quite some time.

2. Cults

This timeless album sounds like it could have been been recorded in the 60’s, 70’s, or hey, maybe even 2011. A cross between noise pop and some sort of weird Motown, this album is so irresistibly catchy, you will have a ball with every listen. I’d be very surprised to see this album/artists left off any list this year. One listen to “Go Outside” and you will have it stuck in your head well into 2012.

3. Yuck

The best version of Sonic Youth Britain has managed to wrangle up. And they did a great job. Any fans of the shoe-gazer noise rock (ie Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Portishead) must check out this album. One on my personal favorites of the entire year. The album is noisy, grungy, poppy, and flows like river. Great work!

4. A$AP Rocky

Gritty Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky managed to catch our eyes and steal our hearts. The dude’s music is nothing to write home or freak out about. But A$AP’s flow and lyrics were a pleasant surprise. You can pinpoint A$AP’s influences like Wu-Tang or 3-6 from miles away, which helps his case a lot. Anytime your names is mentioned in the same sentence as folk like that, you must be doing well.

5. Grouplove
Never Trust a Happy Song

Who knew that someone from the band Yes would one day go on to do something constructive or worthwhile. He did exactly that by giving birth to one of Grouplove’s founding members, Ryan Rabin. The album is a helluva fun ride from start to finish. It certainly has its ups and downs, but its ups are WAY up! One minute you are cheerful singing and dancing along, the next you’re hanging a guy or saving him from being afraid. Great album, and great fun.

6. Washed Out
Within and Without

Probably our biggest controversy on the list. I am fairly opposed to this album, while Austin and Wes are all about it. To me, it seems like elevator music, or just a little too new wave-ish. It’s definitely a pleasant album, and one of the most chill albums I’ve ever heard. Don’t you ever just like to … chill?

7. Givers
In Light

A blast from the very opening track, and sustains for the remaining nine as well. These indie pop rockers have just a slew of sounds and music styles packed into this fun-filled album. Light whirly guitar tones just circle and dance through your head the entire way through. An instant classic for indie pop rockers.

8. The Weekend
House of Balloons

One of the more skillfully crafted albums of the year. This album was spot on as far as true R&B goes. If I was to get into R&B again, I would certainly jump back in with these guys. Cool, collective, and just smoother than a baby’s ass. This album is sexy, slow, and fierce.

9. Wild Flag
Wild Flag

I was just introduced to these guys a few days ago, and they got me fallen head over heals. Again, another band that if it falls into the hands of any Pavement/Steve Malkmus, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr
fans, and they will instantly fall in love. The lead singer is all women, so it is nice to hear yet another women’s full addition to the noise rock scene. This album is also packed with some killer instrumental freakout moments. I would not be surprised if this album was #1 on Thurston Moore’s top ten list of the year.

10. Foster the People

“Pumped Up Kicks” may very well be the next “Hey Ya!”. Now clearly that’s a bit of an exaggeration, nothing is “Hey Ya!”, except “Hey Ya!”. But it certainly has caught the ear of almost every man, women, and child across the country. It almost has to be the catchiest, most listened to song of the year. It’s absolutely everywhere. The rest of the album is in the same vein of fun, dancey, groovy indie pop. Nothing else has as big of a payoff as “Pumped Up Kicks”, but it’s all still great, and great fun!

Artists that just didn’t quite make it, which crushed our hearts:

Feel It Break

What kind of music derives from the Norland Islands, just off the coast of Norway? Why none other that Austra of course. Austin usually finds a way to frequent his beach side estate on the Norland Islands,and and while there, he relaxes to nothing else but the tunes of Austra. Good for relaxation, or long drives.

James Blake
James Blake

Personally, I’m still a little confused with this one. Everyone seemed to love James Blake this year except me. I thought he was kind of a mellow, duetchey, wannabe combo of Bon Iver and a lounge singer. I didn’t think he even pulled that off very well. But apparently Wes loved it, and that’s all that matters. He does have quite a style, and performed some good covers. For any Feist fans, I’d check out his cover of, “Limit to Your Love”.

Cape Dory

One more alternative female to add to the list before we call it quits. Tennis is kind of quiet, but extremely brilliant, and has a hell of driving force behind them. As of now, it appears as though Pat Carney will be producing their next album. I am very excited to hear that one!

So there is the list. Let us know what we unforgivably missed, or got right, but still feel free to just rip on us in general.

Author: Todd

I dig musics ...

8 thoughts on “Top Ten Thursday: Brand New Artists of 2011”

  1. Todd, I am with you James Blake…I just can’t see it. I tried to get through his self titled album and honestly just couldn’t do it.

  2. Also, Todd, I didn’t realize supergroup was a criteria. If so Wild Flag shouldn’t be on this list. It’s two members of Sleater Kinney, and members from the Minders and Helium, two other female post-punk bands.

  3. Your review of A$AP is nearly spot on. Now, I doubt I am going to pop this album in every chance I get… but the homage to the likes of Wu and even a little Bone Thugs… is undeniable. Nothing about the album blows me away but if it came out 15 years ago, this would be just the beginning for a hip hopster in his element. Maybe it still is…

  4. Great new artists I would have included:

    -Youth Lagoon
    -John Maus
    -WU LYF
    -Lana Del Rey
    -Dirty Beaches
    -Julianna Barwick
    -Com Truise

    1. Com Truise doesn’t have enough to it to make a top ten for me. Julianna Barwick I’m still on the fence on whether or not I even like, the whole album just sounds like a women howling from the back of a cave. Lana Del Rey, I’m very new into, and she doesn’t quite enough enough work yet (that I’ve heard) to warrant a top ten.

      Youth Lagoon you could definitely make a good case for. They were in our discussion. The other three I just have listened to enough to have an opinion.

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