London produces the best music in the world with home grown talent revitalising itself each year, and 2012 guarantees to silence those troublesome Manc and Brooklynite competitors for good.
No longer is London’s music scene defined by a specific patch or cliquey area. Whereas the past had Carnaby Street, the Kings Road, Camden or the ‘Ditch as its dominant Zone 2 focus, 2012 reflects London as a whole with bands from Bromley, Watford and Kingston making our Ones To Watch list.
London is a city as varied as The Lexington’s whisky list and its music is just as intoxicating. There is no London ‘sound’, just a melting pot of genres, often at the same shows, reflecting our musically invigorating home.
So to reflect this great time for London music we present Londonist’s Ones To Watch 2012.
Graveltones live are a phenomenal experience for a mere duo. Although grounded in classic gritty blues rock they manage to invigorate the basic twelve bars to recreate the guttural sound of rock behemoths Monster Magnet. Watching them bulldozes any presumption of a new White Stripes or Black Keys thanks to their Bonham-esque thunder drumming cocooning vocals lifted from Howling Wolf or Chris Cornell with BB King’s guitar shredding.
Their debut EP is out now. They play Monto Water Rats 13 January.
Clement Marfo and the Frontline
Kingston’s Clement Marfo leads his seven strong grime collective out from the underground brandishing bruising rock leanings which mirrors the Jay Z Linkin Park crossover, but remains deeply rooted in London’s urban scene. Initially starting as a solo MC, Clement has morphed into the polished UK hip-hop perfected by Professor Green and Wretch 32 and is sure to attack the mainstream this year.
New single Mayhem is out 12 March. They play The Garage 11 February and O2 Academy Islington 29 February.
These three Watford sisters produce the kind of beautiful folk pop only a lifetime spent weaving knotted harmonies can produce. Avoiding the traditional folk tendencies of The Watersons they draw from the melodies of the great 60s groups like Crosby Stills Nash and Young, yet adding mesmerising porcelain fragility. The Staves produce a contemporary folk bypassing the novelty waistcoat and banjo quirks recently prevalent in the genre.
The Staves’ Mexico EP is out now. They play HMV’s Next Big Thing @ The Borderline 8 February and Islington Assembly Hall 16 February.
Nzca/Lines, the solo project from former Your Twenties bassist Michael Lovett, deploy genre hopping electronica which is part polished RnB, part rumbling breakbeats. His exact production nods towards Hot Chip’s take on sexy minimalism, which disregards nostalgia for a thoroughly 2012 sound. Precise beats cushion falsetto vocals which flirt with Kraftwerk and Rihanna alike.
Nzca/Lines’ self-titled debut is released 27 February, they play Old Blue Last 14 January and The Royal Albert Hall 22 February.
Camden’s Tribes are the kind of band we’ve needed for years: cocksure lads with boisterous guitars who will flick you the Vs then steal your beer – and your girl. They are the embodiment of their home borough’s grunge t-shirts, skinny jeans and grubby effects but manage to create the kind of heartfelt rock n roll not felt since before the Towers Of London parodied the genre for comedy gain.
Their debut album, Baby, is out 16 January. They play the NME Awards Tour @ Brixton Academy 25 February.
Iain Woods’ choral vocal majesty is something to behold, his vulnerable warmth fluttering tenderly amongst late night tales. As Psychologist he employs James Blake-lite post-step beats and mute piano chords to create delicately caressing bedsit poetry, yet willingly dives into juddering epic electronica bass patterns with swooping strings. Similar to a dark Hurts or The XX in a jolly mood.
The Propeller EP is out now.
Musicianship will always work its way to the top, perfect for Bromley’s Van Susans who ooze skilled talent. Their Frank Turner-esque folk rock honours classic song writing with monstrous choruses holding up verses steeped in Chaucerian tradition with a pounding Celtic edge. They’re destined for stadiums, rather than low key fashion pandering, with their epic story telling akin to Bruce Springsteen, The Levellers and Counting Crows.
Van Susans' debut album is due this year.
Being name dropped by The Horrors and S.C.U.M has secured their place as key figures in the shoegaze revival and they don’t try to deny it. Drowned in psychedelic distorto drones this five piece's sound is more attune to Curve, Slowdive and Ultra Vivid Scene than the Simple Minds stadia of recent Horrors. Very image conscious and aloof with it, Toy are the band for people into black and vintage synths.
Debut single Left Myself Behind is available as free download with limited edition vinyl out 23 January. They play HMV’s Next Big Thing @ Barfly, 7 February.
Lianne La Havas
South London’s response to Lana Del Rey and Ren Harveu, Lianne La Havas delivers a sweeping soulful folk which has already backed Paloma Faith and supported Bon Iver. She started song writing aged 11 having been taught the piano and guitar by her father paving the way for her easy commercial sound which is destined for great things.
She plays HMV’s Next Big Thing @ The Borderline 8 February. The Forget EP is out now.
This east London trio create a lo-fi post-punk which Husserlianly transcends Sonic Youth’s visceral energy into raw teetering repetitiveness which is hypnotic and empowering. They have the jangly pop sensibilities of Ride with the gnarly urbanism of The Fall yet reinvigorate a nu-gaze sound which often seems to border on psy-trance played live. There’s an noir art-house edge which trumps more fashion conscious contemporaries.
Fever Dream release This Waste on 6 February and play a single launch @
Ryans Bar 3 February. UPDATE- Change of venue now at The Others, Stoke Newington