Tips for 2011 – One Year On (Part Two)

6. Kitten
Part one saw me go through five acts that released albums in 2011 and everyone one of them has made my 40 album long short-list (an oxymoron for you) for my top 25 albums of 2011 (which depending on how I've structured these posts after writing them towards the end of November will either be posted soon, or has already been posted), part two is a little different.

Kitten, a band that jumped onto my radar in October 2010 haven't released anything officially in 2011, there's been a handful of live videos shared and numerous shows (included a return to the UK in May where I saw the band perform a fiery, energetic and possibly slightly too enthusiastic set) as well as a CD re-issue of their EP 'Sunday School'. Signed with Atlantic Records they are clearly taking their time with the young band - I think there has also been a line-up change with their facebook referring to them as a trio.

So nothing new to review really, though on "Kill The Light" Chloe and Kitten show the sort of promise that still leads me to believe that Kitten is definitely a band worth keeping an eye on with their debut album due in 2012.

Kitten - Kill The Light

7. Let's Buy Happiness
Another act I've gone all gooey eyed for numerous times in the past eighteen months are Let's Buy Happiness, while they've yet to release their debut album the four part Geordie one part Mackem blog-darlings have still had a pretty successful year cumulating in a support slot for Primal Scream in Brixton last month.

What they have released in 2011 has continued their 100% success rate with my ears, in February came the wonderful "Fast Fast", tropical, fast drums, shimmering guitars and celestial vocals, it earnt them mainstream airplay and numerous glowing reviews, live festival shows over the summer further enhanced their reputation and September saw "Dirty Lakes" released as a digital single, a joyous melody and delicious chiming soundscapes, the band can do no wrong as far am I'm concerned.

The development on stage has been equally encouraging, it might be a little OTT to say Sarah resembled a deer caught in the headlights the first time I saw the band but I've now seen them play seven times and I'd definitely say they've all grown in confidence and ability, their live show is a genuine joy. Though guys,  please put "Devil's Show" back in the set!

With tracks like "Skinny Moon" and "Clean Mistake" still sitting unreleased the future looks even brighter, ones to watch 2012? Almost definitely (giving away a future post here!).

Buy 'Fast Fast' and previous release 'Six Wolves' from the band on their bandcamp.

Let's Buy Happiness - Dirty Lakes

8. Terror Bird
Terror Bird sound tracked the first part of my 2011, I discovered the band at the back end of 2010 and quickly snapped up their 'Shadows in the Halls' and 'Shame Is On Your Side' EP's, the combination of dark haunted gloom-pop arrangements, the catchy, upbeat melodies and the hypnotic voice of Nikki Never were enough to melt my heart and encourage me to approach the band with the view of releasing their material on via my own living-room run label.

In early 2011 and the band were unrelenting with their output, their debut full length 'Human Culture' picked up some great reviews from those in the know, thirteen synth/piano and drum lo-fi through reverb and Nikki's stirring, emotive vocals. Then there were two UK releases to support a European tour in March, firstly the ghostly synth wonder 'Outside / When I Woke Up' released by the excellent Night School and then (full disclosure via my label) a four track EP 'Waiting For Nothing'. I love it, it's obvious I do so I'll just give you a track to listen below instead of my .

Terror Bird shouldn't be overlooked, the band are preparing more releases going into 2012 and hopefully more European shows to come too. All the bands 2011 releases are available in Rough Trade or Norman Records now.

Terror Bird - She Kissed Me (And I Fell Ill) by Verulamium Records

9. Summer Camp
It's impossible not to like Summer Camp, their music delights on every listen, joyous and uplifting while their online presence on twitter and numerous interviews / sessions shows them as two of the nicest people in the industry today. Seriously, how many other bands can you name that have given their fans an audio book of an entire Adrian Mole book!

The band have had a pretty busy and spectacular 2011 by all accounts, a few UK tours both as support and headlines in their own right on the release of their debut album 'Welcome to Condale' in the last quarter of the year, a brilliant mélange of straightforward bouncy pop-hooks on tracks like singles "Better Off Without You" and "Down", where catchy beats and gorgeous vocal harmonies do a good job of hiding the love turned bad lyrics, a common theme throughout the album and darker, heavier tracks like "I Want You" awash with a fizzing synth pulse.

The Glastonbury sets were spectacular, Jeremy's spontaneous acoustic of rendition of "Karma Police" was a genuine highlight of the festival, their overall whole package is perfect for an 80's kid like myself, retro imagery and sounds that offer ideal memoirs of youth, some sepia coloured blinkered memories of sometimes falsely remembered events that's ideally fantasised, romantic and thoroughly enjoyable.

Summer Camp - Better Off Without You

10. I Break Horses
From the instant I heard the initial demos from I Break Horses in July 2010 I knew we were in for something special, snapped up by Bella Union (of course) we had to wait until May to hear any concrete news but from the moment I heard the final versions of the stunning "Hearts" and "Winter Beats" I knew my early optimism was completely redeemed.

"Hearts" for me is the signature I Break Horses track, perhaps because it's what hooked me first, it's simply heavenly. The glistening, frozen beats the fizzing, pulsating momentum, the echoey drums and the hushed yet stunningly ethereal vocal of Maria Lindén . Her voice, as beautiful as it is, acts as another layer of the instrumentation where the lyrics matter little. The album continues in similar luxurious fashion, a sonic orgasm of swoonsome atmosphere. Personal favourites are "No Way Outro" and "I Kill Love, Baby!" but really this album demands whole consumption rather than cherry picking for the whole thing is nothing short of completely and undeniably luxurious.

I Break Horses are about to make their live debut, excitement overload in anticipation of Cargo on December 5th.To tease we've been treated to a few live videos, 'bedroom sessions', the slow-building beauty is slowly, surely delivered. Everything about the project has been so exquisitely crafted and delivered and surely I Break Horses have delivered one of the finest debuts in a year of incredible debuts.

I Break Horses - Winter Beats by Bella Union