Tips for 2012 – One Year On (Part Two)

Here is part two of my annual revisit of my tips for the year. Part one has already been posted and can be found here with part three to follow tomorrow...

Embers - Facebook

When you start off a tip for 2012 with "there is every chance when I come to review these tips in 2012 I'll be saying 2013 will be their year" you know deep down that it's highly unlikely that band will have sufficient time to create sufficient material to turn themselves from a band who hadn't released a demo until December 11 to one of 2012's breakthrough acts. Manchester's Embers blew a lot of us away (quite literally) with a trio of demo tracks that led to a last minute entry into my tips of the year, a year which saw the band play a handful of dates mainly in their home-town and release their debut vinyl release in the autumn...

That release fulfilled the promise of the demo tracks with both "Tunnel Visions" and "Sins Unknown" continuing with the bands epic sized ambience, where screeching guitars and a fury of beats caused avalanche after avalanche of rushing distortion and indescribable euphoria, loud and enormous it signalled the bands intent. Yet it's with their latest release, the utterly incredible (live version of) "Hollow Cage" where the band really have set the pulse racing, a truly affecting monster, from humble serene beginnings to the cacophony of noise which follows as instruments and voices merge under the crashing of colossal drums and skyscraper sized guitars, it well and truly announces the arrival of Embers. I'm quite sure labels are lining up to sign them for the new year...

Fear of Men - Facebook

In one way I was right about Fear of Men, their two releases this year (the "Mosaic" and "Green Sea" singles) have followed up on the promise of their early demo tapes. Sparkling melodies and irresistible vocals are the Brighton/London quartet's signatures and they are on display throughout "Mosaic", a track amongst the best singles of the year in my opinion, so while 2012 hasn't seen the band deliver a debut album, the promise is there for 2013 to be the year the band truly deliver.

I don't think I've failed to post about any Fear of Men track to date, such is the affection I feel towards the bands music, bright and pure with a sense of wistful longing, there's not much of a better sound if you ask me, so yeah, expect to see Fear of Men featured here again real soon.

iamamiwhoami - Facebook

2012 was the year iamamiwhoami stopped playing with us all and got on with the serious business of music, after being drip-feed released as a series of audiovisual clips via YouTube the debut full-length Kin came out in the summer with an accompanying DVD which adds much to the albums experience. It also saw Jonna Lee and contributors (primarily Cales Björklund) put on their first London show with an autumn gig on the south bank and in all honesty, the live airing satisfied my desire somewhat more than the album (perhaps I'm underplaying that, the gig was amongst the best of the year).

The mystery and hyperbole that followed iamamiwhoami is one sure to become Internet legend and as much I enjoy listening to Kin, it's a very stimulating and aesthetically sound album, it also perhaps misses a little something that the earlier tracks had, the likes of "O" or "Y" or "John", were enigmatic and euphoric, Kin is slightly less instant and more of a combined experience. The likes of "In Due Order", "Good Worker" and "Sever" are evocative and emotional sure and showcase the boundary pushing creativity of the project but sometimes you want a killer hook too, which is something the live show had, a dramatic contrast of a white, pure opening half of glistening mood before switching to dark, black and sinister in the second.

Hopefully 2013 will bring more live shows and some more development of this extraordinary project.

Let's Buy Happiness - Facebook

Let's Buy Happiness are a band I've been following for a while, I've been smitten with the bands shimmering guitar lines and Sarah Hall's heavenly vocal purr since I first saw the band at The Great Escape in 2010. I originally picked them as one of my 'Tips for 2011', a year which saw them releases a couple singles ("Fast Fast" and "Dirty Lakes") and play a few high billing sets. I expected 2012 to be the year the band released their debut album and fulfilled all the blog praise received from people much more in the know than me. However, it hasn't quite turned out that way, besides a digital only single in June it's been pretty much silence from the North-East quartet.

The track was actually a re-working of an old Let's Buy Happiness too, "Works Better on Paper" was originally released on the debut LBH EP in 2010, this version was pared back from the original version with a gentle, languid tempo and delicate instrumentation making Sarah Hall's soft, celestial vocal the main instrument. It worked to perfection, magically complimenting sleepy drums and guitar effects, "Works Better on Better" was just overwhelmingly beautiful.

More good news is that the album looks to certainly be on the cards for next year, a series of in the studio shots on facebook confirm as much, one (more) for the 2013 list then!

Lucy Rose - Facebook

In short, Lucy Rose fulfilled the promise she'd shown during the previous couple of years in 2012. A heap of gigs (included selling out the rather massive Brixton Electric a couple of weeks back) throughout the year highlighted her soft, sensual vocals with a full touring band increasing her live dynamic from that on her (predominately) delicate record. Possessed with the type of voice that could soften even the hardest of souls, Lucy effortlessly melts hearts with her intimate songs that are often heartfelt, tender and soothing.

Her album Like I Used To came out in September and contains many of the tracks that propelled Lucy to UK blog darling status, "Middle of the Bed", "Red Face" and "Lines" all line-up alongside the likes of "Night Bus" and "First" which had both previously been fan favourites via some heavenly YouTube live videos, of the new tracks the beautiful "Shiver" impresses with fragile guitar lines and haunting emotion.

In 2012 Lucy has taken one step along her path to being a UK treasure.