Thursday 22 December 2011, 12:19 | By CMU Editorial
Approved: Best Of Approved 2011
Over the course of 2011, we’ve featured nearly 200 new artists in our CMU Approved column. Here are some of our favourites, who we hope to hear even more of in 2012 – click the images to read the original articles.
Lana Del Rey
Approved for her debut single ‘Video games’ in September, Lana Del Rey quickly became a household name. Much faster than anyone, including her management, could have anticipated and possibly a great deal quicker than she would have liked. But still, if she manages to ride the hype and delivers an album that matches up to her initial relases, 2012 will be a big year for her.
Despite featuring on the tenth edition of Kitsune’s ‘Maison’ compilation series last year, Icona Pop first piqued our interest via a sample in Chiddy Bang’s saccharine rap-hop treat ‘Mind Your Manners’. Less cool, perhaps, but it set the Stockholm-situated duo are firmly within our sights with a line in eccentric electro-pop at its most accessible.
Bleeding Heart Narrative
One of the very first artists we featured in the Approved column in 2011, Bleeding Heart Narrative was originally a solo project for composer Oli Barrett combining his classical cello training and Sound Art & Design degree. Now a six-piece experimental pop outfit, they cemented their place in our affections last year with a beautiful performance at London’s Union Chapel.
The Dying Seconds
Featuring in CMU for the first time in August, The Dying Seconds released their debut single, ‘Mora Minn’, the following month, a subtle and wonderful mix of piano, percussion and glitchy electronica, its vocals becoming ever more forceful, with a video to match the song’s mood. Later in the year we were treated to their altogether more intense live show.
LA2019’s debut EP features cinematic, synth-based music that brings to mind Vangelis’ ‘Blade Runner’ soundtrack. But this is more of a starting point than an all-out influence, producer Tom Skyrme has treated each three minute track as its own epic journey and in doing so has created his own series of vivid microcosms.
Back in September we worried that the hype might kill Friends before they really got started. And we still do, so you might think putting them here is a bit perverse, but with the BBC Sound Of nod under their belt it’s too late now. Plus, ‘I’m His Girl’ is still a great song whatever happens. Fingers crossed they’ve got more up their sleeves for 2012.
A Winged Victory For The Sullen
A Winged Victory For The Sullen is a collaboration between Stars Of The Lid founder Adam Wiltzie and pianist and composer Dustin O’Halloran, a classical project that saw them recording often minimal compositions in large acoustic spaces, including the thirteenth century Begijnhof in Brussels, before mixing the album in a seventeenth century villa near Ferrara in Italy.
Dark hip hop outfit Death Grips released their ‘Ex Military’ mixtape in the summer, Flatlander’s heavy production complemented by Zach Hill’s frantic drumming almost drowned out by MC Ride’s aggressive vocals. The sound is intense, to say the least. Even sampling the Pet Shop Boys fails to calm the situation.
Next up are Norwegian sextet Team Me, who we wrote about in February when they marked the release of their debut EP with a videogame soundtracked by a song from it. The five track EP proved to live up to the promise of that song, and they proved to be a great live band too. The band have just announced that they will release their debut album in March.
Describing their sound as “talk music”, Listener are a band whose frontman Dan Smith has been said to sound like a tramp ranting. But in a good way. They released their latest album, ‘Wooden Heart’, in July and, when they arrived in the UK to promote it a month later, played one of CMU Editor Andy Malt’s favourite gigs of the year.
Here we take another look at alt-pop duo AlunaGeorge, who in August were about to release their brilliant single ‘You Know You Like It’. Currently courting various labels to release their debut album you can catch them live at The Nest in East London on 8 Dec for a special end of year party, with Riton, Lapalux, Canblaster, Sam Tiba and Raffertie also performing.
Paul Thomas Saunders
Paul Thomas Saunders was featured back in June ahead of the release of his debut EP, ‘Lilac And Wisteria’. This Approved piece includes a brilliant live video of a track from that EP, ‘Appointment In Samarra’, a song which we were lucky enough to see performed in the flesh at this year’s Apple Cart festival in London.
Again in June we approved Dirty Beaches, aka Taiwan-born and Canada-based musician Alex Zhang Hungtai, and his dirty, grimey, reverb drenched rock n roll. At the time, he was just about to play two UK shows, including one in the back room of The Victoria in Dalston, which was a packed out, sweaty affair that sealed our admiration for him.