Tips for 2011 – One Year On (Part Three)

The third part of my review of my tips for 2011, parts one and two can be found with a click on their respective numbers.

11. Memoryhouse
Toronto duo Memoryhouse sent aural bliss through the blogging world back in 2010 with a series of outstanding tracks that were dreamy, soothing and beautiful, in March it was announced that Sub Pop had signed the duo (at the same time that they snapped up fellow tips for '11 Still Corners) with a release promised this year.

The release turned out to be an expanded vinyl re-issue of their debut EP 'The Years' with two additional tracks, the achingly beautiful piano ballad "Quiet America" and the slow-burning "Modern Normal", both continued to insinuate incredible promise for the ambient, dreampop duo but I was a little disappointed we weren't treated to a full album instead, though of course that's just me being impatient and hopefully 2012 will see that very thing (as well as European shows on the back of their US October shows). Edit - 2012 will bring that exact thing, yesterday saw the official announcement of 'The Slideshow Effect' due 28th Feb, more on that once I know it I'm sure.

The Years can be ordered now from Sub Pop here.

Memoryhouse - Modern Normal

12. 2:54
Another band seemingly in no hurry to get their debut album out are 2:54 who like Memoryhouse above spent much of the year out of the blogging eye, though perhaps in hindsight I am being over critical, in the digital / internet would it's sometimes expected that when a band release a couple of demos that produce some buzz and positive reception that an album will follow the next day and impending stardom is just around the corner and that's not really fair or realistic.

March saw the girls release their first 7", the fantastic "On a Wire" as well as play a wonderful and very sold-out gig at The Lexington where the girls were brilliant, their live show has really developed from the first time I saw them and they've quickly developed a sound that just as brooding and menacing on stage.

A quiet summer followed before announcing a string of November dates and an EP through Fiction, the EP 'Scarlet' (order) is a similarly excellent sultry and moody vein of dark atmospheric pop. Take the title-track for instance, where a sharp, reverb drenched guitar, chugging bass and Colette's gorgeous, seductive misty vocals pour out, wrap around you and won't let you go. If 2:54 follow up on these releases 2012 is for the taking.

2:54 - On A Wire by House Anxiety

13.  Ramona
The year started quiet for news with Ramona who it seemed were happy to spend their days split between recording in New York and lead singer / songwriters Karen's modelling career, I (thought) things were picking up with news of the release of "Tell That Girl", a song I believe has the potential to reach Blondie sized proportions, it's an indie-pop sizzler that should have troubled the charts, but it didn't, as far as I can tell it never ended up actually being released, in July the band played the iTunes festival and shared a few acoustic versions of new tracks but now it's all gone, vanished.

What's happened? I've no idea. Will they return in 2012? I'm not sure though if they don't, I doubt it's the last we've heard of Karen Anne, her gorgeous looks and sultry voice are surely destined to fulfil its promise.

Ramona - Tell That Girl

14. Gazelle Twin
I first came across the enigmatic and mysterious Gazelle Twin (Elizabeth Walling) around the release of her debut, digital release "Changeling" back in November 2010, it was backed with a Prince cover of "I Wonder U", it remains in a small handful of covers of the Purple One that I can listen to, a warped cover that perfectly introduces the twisted vision and alter-ego of Walling.

In April it was followed by the mesmerising "I Am Shell I Am Bone" where pulsating machine-gun drums, metallic synths and distorted, ethereal vocals create the sort of intense, unnerving and yet beautiful atmospheres that provide the perfect backdrop for the apocalyptic dystopia that some might say the World finds itself in now.

July saw the release of her soundtrack like debut 'The Entire City', the final result of Elizabeth's self-funded endeavours doesn't disappoint at all, I did one of my meandering reviews here so I won't repeat myself, just remind you to snap it up (you can buy it here), for of fans of chilly, dark artistic electronica it'll be amongst the best buys of the year.

There have been a small handful of shows this year, hopefully more are to follow next, if there is any justice in the world someone with the financial clout to allow Elizabeth to create something visually on stage worthy of its recorded backdrop will come forward. It'd be one of the best live experiences of the year.

Gazelle Twin - Changelings by Cannonball_PR

15. The Joy Formidable
What can I say about this band without sounding like a fanboy? Hmm, nothing, so I'll just stick with sounding like a fanboy... The Joy Formidable weren't so much a tip for the year, they were a guarantee. Whilst some Scrooges (which I'm known to be sometimes) could argue that their debut album 'The Big Roar' is a mere rehash of the debut EP with a few added tracks (it does contain four tracks from the EP) it's an unfair tag, the version of "Whirring" on the album is far removed from the original with the added 'live' ending it's a true testiment to the band, they take their most commercially successful and appealing song (some could argue that is "Austere") and they turn it into an absolute monster that's not at all suitable for radio (though a radio edit does exist). The Joy Formidable are my band of 2011 hands down.

The album came out in January picking up a steady stream of positive reviews and saw the band play a host of gigs in February cumulating in a sold-out Koko show, spring and summer saw the media storm really kick off, radio one airplay US shows galore followed by a sensational festival season leaving many audiences blown away (I know - I was at quite a few of them) before being tagged by Dave Grohl as the hottest band around and hand-picked for Foo Fighters support dates around the US, another UK tour later (this time selling out Kentish Town Forum) and the band are, for those in the know, the best live band in the UK right now.

I doubt the band have had much time to breathe, at least 100 shows in the calendar year and also the release of a new EP, 'The Big More' which finally brought the release of fan favourite "Anemone", a perfect portrayal of the bands effortless ability to combine beautiful, ethereal melody and maelstroms of intense, incredible noise. The year ended with news that the band are writing and recording the follow-up due for release in 2012 and contributing a song to a soundtrack to something called the Twilight movies, the track "Endtapes" one of the bands earliest tracks and although its placement maybe caused a bit of talk amongst the bands fanbase, it's the perfect way for the band to reach new audience, the track is wonderful too, of course it is.

I've been to three gigs this week and at every single one of them I saw at least one TJF t-shirt. What that tells me is that the gig going public fucking love this band as much as I do. My only concern about TJF? The fact that they'll be so much demand that I'm going to have to get used to arena shows.

The Joy Formidable, Endtapes