Tips for 2012 – One Year On (Part Three)

Here is the final part of three where I revisit my tips for the year. If you've missed the others you'll find them here: Parts One // Two.

Niki and the Dove - Facebook

Niki and the Dove were the only band I picked in my tips that ended up featuring in the BBC Sound of 2012, the latter inclusion meant the year started off well for the Swedish electro duo, their album Instinct followed in May and was a excitable collection of passionate electro-pop, booming percussion and Knife-esque vocal potency. It picked up some good reviews too(pitchfork gave it 7.9), but, and if you've followed this blog over the past twelve months you may have guessed, it's a sound I seem to have moved away from over the year...

I can't actually remember the last time I wanted to listen to them, so for me at least, and this blog is review my opinion in music, it seems that Niki and the Dove have passed me by, others though may think different.

Novella - Facebook

Novella have had a year of two halves, the first saw them release their self-titled EP via Italian Beach Babes in March (now close to selling out its second pressing) and play a host of London based shows. The bands sumptuous cocktail of sugary vocals buried in a see of hazy, grungy guitars and battering drums makes them one one of the best 90's influenced band in London today in my opinion, the EP highlighted Novella's live sound, part dreamy psychedelia mixed with a whole lot of sprawling noise, it's all kind of wonderful, listen to highlight "You're Not That Cool" if you don't believe me...

After which Novella were pretty quiet, seemingly spending the summer in the studio before returning in late autumn with some shows and a new single, "Mary's Gun", a ferocious cocktail of pysch ambience with moody percussion and off-kilter grungy guitar fuzz, sure to get the adrenaline pumping and (hopefully) a sure sign of more in come in 2013.

Rachel Sermanni - Facebook

Rachel Sermanni has probably done as well as anyone I tipped in 2012, with a host of gigs around the UK & Europe over the course of the year making the Highland lass a name on the lips of many, it was left to her album to turn them into putty in her hands, not a difficult job for a heavenly album (Under Mountains which came out in September) packed with to-die-for songs.

I've talked about many of Rachel's tracks here before, the exquisite and intoxicating "Waltz", the dark defiance of "The Fog" and the gorgeous, soothing tones of "Sleep" all favourites on the album, it offers a dozen finely crafted tracks in which Rachel's mesmerising voice resonates above genteel arrangements and stirring full band section on an album full of heartfelt emotion and stunning harmonies, one of the years finest, of that there is no doubt..

Stealing Sheep - Facebook

Stealing Sheep are another band who've had a fine year, a host of impressive support acts (most recently with Alt-J) and a debut album release in August (Into The Diamond Sun). Fulfilling the promise of the trio's earlier EP's it's a perfect summer's day album, mixing the gorgeous with the individualistic sounds that characterise Stealing Sheep.

I've talked about the band on numerous times in the past and I'm going to recycle some old words as they are about the best I can do to describe the album, "a delicious combination of spiralling vocal harmonies, psychedelic melodies and off-kilter drums (not to mention infectious hand clapping), impossible to pigeon-hole, Stealing Sheep deserve their own genre, one that's equally bonkers, enchanting and always fun" and beautiful, for Into the Diamond Sun is most definitely that.

The band also released one of the finest videos of the year with a live rendition of the albums highlight "Shut Eye" performed along with a host of fellow musicians who bring a whole variety of instruments to make a percussion filled wonder that's completely hypnotising. Watch it below:

2:54 - Facebook

I've done much better with bands releasing albums in this third part of my tips for 2012 and my final pick 2:54 also released their debut in 2012, another band which (in my opinion anyway) delivered upon the promise of their earlier singles, delivering an album brimmed with creeping guitar spirals and hauntingly melodic vocals, "Scarlet" oozes with eerie mood, "Creeping" has arguably the guitar solo of the year at its finale and "Sugar" is dark and driving with throbbing guitar lines and doomy atmosphere, something which can be used to describe much of the album for there's not much light here, I've seen some reviews fault that, I couldn't care less... 2:54 sounds just great to me.

When I saw the band a few weeks back at XOYO I commented afterwards that the hour long show almost felt like a greatest hit show, such is the standard of 2:54's material, not a bad feat for a band with just a single, an EP and an album to their name...