Ones to Watch in 2012

One criticism of Blog Sound of 2012 that rings painfully in my ears is that it lacks ethnicity. I heard that. I was paying attention. This list – unfortunately and unconsciously – follows a similar path. I don’t want to ignore any of these artists simply because they’re white – that would be as bad as ignoring someone because they’re not-white, after all. Likewise I don’t want to include any of the ethnic major label rapper kidz, because frankly I don’t like their music. Instead I’ll be publishing a list that includes only ethnic and minority persons very soon, to counteract but also to prove that anyone is capable of making any kind of music. Stay tuned for that post! In the meantime:

* * *

Three cups of tea, a FaceBook rampage and knuckle-gnawing hour later, and I’m in the same position I was when I first sat down.

In the last year, and particularly in the last few months, I’ve been exposed to so many superb new musical ventures that I’ve found it hard to cut my Tips for 2012 list down to a traditional ten hopefuls. So I’m not going to. Fourteen isn’t a symbolic number; it doesn’t hark back to a Greek prophecy and it’s not an attempt at copying Peter Kay. It isn’t anything besides the number of musicians that truly deserve and with any luck will demand your recognition in 2012.

There’s also nothing strategic about this list. Occasionally you’ll find me hanging on a dream – there’s nothing to indicate so and so’s immanent takeover, but their music is so gloriously amazing I can’t miss this opportunity to rub them in your faces. I’ve even had to cut out artists I’ve tipped off elsewhere, to make way for other artists I can’t bear to leave behind.

They’re a funny old bunch. From skyrocket pop to sparse and haunting ballads, true to the monster’s cause, each artist carves their own way in a music scene oversaturated by indie rock and nu folk.

Abi Wade

Brighton based songstress Abi Wade uploaded a live performance of lead song “Stability” to YouTube back in January. After signing to Love Thy Neighbour in November the likelihood of her career taking off in 2012 quadrupled. Her trademark vocal could lend to the easy listening bracket, but interwoven with the hollow bawl of her cello, Wade’s music becomes desolate with beauty and drenched in organic melody.

Abi Wade - Stability by WorkItMedia


One of the artists I nominated for Blog Sound of 2011, Megan Washington previously worked with The Bamboos’ Lanu. Her debut solo album I Believe You Liar was released in the UK in November after signing to Mercury, following commercial success in her native Australia. It’s full of powerful, exotic pop songs, carefully matched by Washington’s classically trained jazz vocal.

Washington - Holy Moses by The Recommender

Stealing Sheep

Liverpool trio Stealing Sheep write an ethereal charm into their songs, which otherwise bubble with Scouse sunshine pop and driving harmonies. The band have already supported Slow Club, Olof Arnalds and Emmy the Great, and released two singles (“Noah and the Paper Moon” and “The Mountain Dogs”). They hope to put out their debut full length in 2012.

Stealing Sheep - The Mountain Dogs by MOORWORKS


Bastille... Ah, Bastille. It would be a crime to exclude Dan Smith’s project from my list; his songs are that undeniably brilliant. Their blinding appeal follows in the footsteps of Tom Vek and Patrick Wolf; all three of them purveyors in righteous British pop with lilted, infectious vocals. Debut EP Laura Palmer was released in 2011 and will be followed up by an album in 2012.

icarus by BASTILLE

Hysterical Injury

Welsh-via-Bath brother/sister duo Hysterical Injury underwent a line up change in 2011 before recording their debut album Dead Wolf Situation, due out February 6th through Crystal Fuzz. It’s not compromised their sound; swirling and often chaotic electronics backed by Annie Gardiner’s siren screech.

Hysterical Injury - maths by Strummerville

Mary Epworth

It’s been a long time coming, but in 2012 Mary Epworth will finally release her billowing, gorgeous debut Dream Life. Taking influences from 60s music, forest walks and the harpsichord, the album will rightfully sweep everyone away.

Dropout by mary epworth

Red Kite

It’s hard not to mention this project without also mentioning Dan Fisher’s previous band, but that’s because Red Kite deserve as big a fan base as The Cooper Temple Clause. Four lead demos hit the internet in the summer of 2011, amongst them the devastatingly perfect “Montreal”. With a UK tour forthcoming, Red Kite’s a name you’ll hear more often in 2012.

Red Kite - Montreal by Red Kite_Band

Amanda Mair

That fateful question – how young is too young? Amanda Mair proves 17’s quite acceptable, as the Stockholm resident has already captured the hearts of Pop Justice, Labrador and a thousand other listeners who chart her every move.  2012 looks to be her big year, with or without a birthday.

Amanda Mair "House" by Labrador Records

Coo Woo

This Milwaukee are a late edition to my list, but their punchy calypso-pop deserves every inch of space it’s given. They confess to being influenced by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, but I hear a rumbling fuss in the not too distant future that the band can call their own. Check out “Stay Forever”, their debut single, below.

Coo Woo-Stay Forever by Coo Woo

Rob St John

Rob St John released his debut 12” Weald on Song by Toad this December, and despite some heady praise, the reaction was timid in comparison to the record’s bombastic talent. Using the countryside and the rambling road of a troubadour as inspiration, St John writes folk music to melt the socks off his peers.

Rob St. John - Your Phantom Limb by Song, by Toad


Pengilly’s have featured on every end of year list I’ve conducted since 2008; why would I want to stop with 2012? As crestfallen as it is authoritative, 2011’s Toby’s Hill EP proved the band haven’t lost their panache. 2012 will be their year.

Pengilly's - Toby's Hill by ric_hollingbery

Kindest Lines

Unfortunately even I forgot about Kindest Lines in 2011, and I was only reminded of them when I happened across God Is in the TV’s Preaching from the Pews entry published in June. Since then the band have plundered on, brandishing their Joy Division influenced pop like Esben and the Witch at Reflex. A busy touring schedule will hopefully lead on to European shores in 2012.

Kindest Lines, "Destructive Paths to Live Happily" by The FADER

Us Baby Bear Bones

Us Baby Bear Bones write and perform charming, ethereal music with a sense of undying innocence. Sometimes influenced by Yeah Yeah Yeahs, there’s as much Broken Social Scene and Sky Larkin to their output as there is CocoRosie and Why? Look out for them in 2012!

Kindest Lines, "Destructive Paths to Live Happily" by The FADER

Roxy Rawson

Currently attempting to fund her debut Quenching the Kill through Pledge Music, Roxy Rawson’s self-styled brand of hiccup pop has been making a racket in our ears for a while. With a fresh set of ideas under her belt, thanks in part to a collaboration with producer Ben Trigg, the album should land in 2012.

Roxy Rawson Fingers by Roxy Rawson


6 Responses to “Ones to Watch in 2012”

  1. Bravo Brave Bats 09/12/2011 at 12:56 pm #


    Only kidding 😀

    • Tiffany Daniels 09/12/2011 at 12:58 pm #

      (I’ve nominated you elsewhere! It’s just not gone up yet.)

  2. Tim Miller 09/12/2011 at 2:46 pm #

    “Instead I’ll be publishing a list that includes only ethnic and minority persons very soon, to counteract but also to prove that anyone is capable of making any kind of music.”

    Baffled by that. Why? There’s no need to balance your views on what are your top acts for next year.

    BBC’s poll is clearly overstating the ‘ethnic’ sound (if this is what this debate is becoming) anyway: take their picks, there’s no way people will care about all of Frank Ocean, Azealia Banks, Dot Rotten and ASAP Rocky by this time next year. Banks is the only one out of those four, from what I’ve listened to, who doesn’t already sound 2011.

    Aside from that, this is possibly the best set of 2012 picks I’ve come across so far. Amanda Mair, Kindest Lines, and Bastille all sounds great. Quite disappointed by TCTC guy’s new sound though with Red Kite.

    And Pengilly’s – WOW. Amazing call.

    • Tiffany Daniels 09/12/2011 at 3:01 pm #

      I haven’t got my head around the feature yet, but it won’t be a Tips for 2012 so much as it will dismiss the common theory that black kids = rap, white kids = indie. I think I’m as guilty of that as everyone else is. BBC’s poll ties into that, because their non-white representatives are largely rappers.

      I’m glad you appreciate the rest of the post, anyway! I love Red Kite’s “Montreal”, it at least deserves more recognition than what it’s currently getting.

      • Jim 11/12/2011 at 2:32 pm #

        To come up with a “black only” sound of 2012 list would be incredibly patronising. I’d steer well clear of going through with that feature, if I were you.

        • Tiffany Daniels 11/12/2011 at 2:36 pm #

          It’s not “black only”, it’s a list of artists who’ve perhaps been ignored because of their ethnicity/the fact that they don’t fit into racial stereotypes, and I appreciate I’ve not said it in the main body of this post, but in response to a comment above you’ll see it also won’t be a Tips for 2012 feature. Besides I think it’s as patronising that that relatively few Tips for 2012 features are including non-white musicians (who don’t rap).

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