2011 was a great year for music and a great year for Zimbalam. We decided to take a look back at our 11 Favourite artists of 2011. Enjoy!
“We don’t care if we’re happy, sad or broke. We just want to be great.”
From London, ManneQuin are a pop duo comprised of brothers Dan and Reuben Priddy who make “songs big enough for the girls & boys to party to!” Formed only 9 months ago, ManneQuin were quickly discovered via Myspace by heavyweight producer JR Rotem, whose credits include JLS, Jason Derulo, 50 Cent and Rihanna, and they were consequently invited to LA to work together.
They released debut EP “Yo Yo Girl” on November 28th last year – a four track collection of delicious pop. Other songs aside from the EP include the self-titled “ManneQuin”, “Tick Tick Boom” and “Electric Gold”.
ManneQuin have built themselves a reputation as songwriters of undeniably catchy pop – they composed the track “Lipstick”, performed by Irish pop twins Jedward on 2011’s Eurovision Song Contest, which became #1 in Ireland, Sweden & Germany. Impressing manager Louis Walsh, Dan was asked to produce album “Victory”, as well as ManneQuin earning a support slot on Jedward’s tour in 2011.
Exciting things coming up for the ManneQuin brothers this year include their anticipated album release, showcasing the results of their collaboration with Rotem. They are also planning a tour of UK & Ireland.
Real Fur are an exciting new trio from East London, hailed as “truly innovative indie pop” by the Independent.
Featured as thefourohfive’s Single of the Week, the band’s sound is an amalagamation of influences infusing indie pop with tropical tinges, addictive guitar hooks and funked basslines.
Real Fur have received support from local radio stations Shoreditch Radio and London Fields Radio as well as by XFM’s John Kennedy, BBC Introducing and BBC Radio 6 Music’s Tom Robinson, with the song “Animal” being featured in Tom Robinson’s Christmas Mixtapes of 2011. They can also count Jarvis Cocker as one of their fans, who was the first to DJ the song “The Fool”.
Last year saw the band play at the Drowned In Sound vs. The Recommender after-party during the Great Escape Festival, host a launderette show during Camden Crawl and play at Secret Garden Party and Farm Festival. More recently they have been gigging in Paris, with events including a show for Sofar Sounds.
You can catch the Real Fur boys at the XFM X-Posure All Dayer at the Camden Barfly on 28th January.
THE LOW SUNS
The Low Suns are a 5 piece guitar band from London, listing their influences as Jeff Buckley, The Flaming Lips, 1940s Gospel and sci-fi soundtracks. From listening to their anthemic, cinematic tracks with big orchestral riffs and infectious melodies, it is clear that this band are destined for big things to come.
With frontman Jack Berkley’s incredible stage presence and effortless majesty, the band have been on tour since May last year, including support slots for Ash, Shonen Knife and more recently The Lemonheads and rock sensations Coldplay at the O2 Arena in December.
The band released their first EP “Never Gonna Care” on December 3rd 2011. Look out for epic anthem “Carnival” – one of my favourites which I haven’t been able to stop listening to.
Having already achieved number ones in Asia (their recent Hoxton gig was also filmed for Japanese TV!), and primed to storm the UK with a plethora of stunning tunes and instant hits, The Low Suns are going to be ones to watch in 2012.
Olivia Broadfield is a singer songwriter based in the UK. Her musical style is a blend of acoustic, electronica and pop, incorporating her delicate, innocent vocals together with piano, acoustic guitar, lush harmonies and sometimes some African percussion.
Olivia is a perfect example of an unsigned musician making the most of social media to reach out to music supervisors and publishing companies. Songs from her 2009 debut album “Eyes Wide Open” were placed in over 50 TV shows including the hugely popular US series Greys Anatomy, The Hills, Melrose Place and Ghost Whisperer, and the album out-positioned major label artists to reach no.3 in iTunes’s Electronica charts. She can also count Perez Hilton and Jessica Simpson among her celebrity fans!
For her second album “This Beautiful War”, Olivia decided to create a heartfelt sound that felt more “real” to her – her main focus is on the piano, which she grew up playing, and occasionally incoporating some squawks from her synths. She wrote and recorded the album, which was released on June 20th 2011, in the comfort of her studio in the English countryside.
In partnership with Ustream, Olivia has also played a live webgig and hosted a Q&A and live Christmas Party, to allow her fans from all over the world to join in and listen to her music. She has also been featured in a number of tech blogs on her compositional technique – a crossover of old school songwriting with modern technology.
2012 will be an exciting year for Ms Broadfield, and no doubt we’ll be hearing her beautiful melodies all over our televisions again soon.
Paper Aeroplanes are Sarah Howells and Richard Llewellyn, a folk duo from Wales. Forming the band six years ago, their sound has been compared to the likes of Turin Brakes, Nerina Pallot and Gemma Hayes, with The Guardian describing their sound as “intimate, jaunty and confident lo-key pop with great melody”.
Their debut album “The Day We Ran Into The Sea” was released in November 2010, and since then they have received support from BBC Radio Wales and Adam Walton, also making the Radio 2 playlist. Following this, the duo supported a variety of acts including Ed Sheeran, Ron Sexsmith and Marina and the Diamonds, as well as a live session with the legendary Bob Harris.
2011 saw the release of mini-album “We are Ghosts”, which was picked up by Maverick Magazine as “Album of the Month” and featured on The Guardian’s “F&M playlist”.
With acoustic guitar music currently taking the music charts by storm, Paper Aeroplanes will definitely be ones to watch out for this year with their delicate, heartwarming sound. You can catch them headlining at The Slaughtered Lamb, Farringdon on January 14th, or check out their website for scheduled gigs in February and March.
Only 20 years old and only 3 years into her musical career, Hannah Trigwell has certainly come very far – she has already been named ‘Best International Unsigned Act’ at the 2011 St. Helier Online Music Awards, as well as a finalist in the FutureSound competition, held in Leeds.
A singer songwriter from Leeds, Hannah started off by performing her stripped-back acoustic-pop on the streets of her hometown. Fast-forward 3 years, and she has already gained a huge online fanbase with thousands of fans worldwide – her YouTube page gains 10,000 hits per day and has gathered over 2.5 million views.
Her debut EP, “Hold My Heart”, was released in May 2010 and was no.1 on Amazing Radio’s The Unsigned Chart for two weeks, also getting to no.6 in the iTunes Singer-Songwriter album charts.
Hannah’s stunning melodies and lush orchestrations have been noticed and praised by the likes of Lissie, Ed Sheeran and Johnny Reznik (Goo-Goo-Dolls), as well as receiving support from BBC Radio Leeds, BBC Raw Talent and Radio Aire – Hannah was also featured in BBC Two’s “Young Inspirational People” documentary, which is hardly surprising!
Catch Hannah at her first gig of the year at “Plug’d In”, a night of stripped back acoustic pop at The Well, Leeds, on 27th January.
DAVID J ROCH
Describing his music as honest, heartfelt and broken, David’s music deals with loss, love, religion, death and relationships, and working as an undertaker the dark nature of his songs may come as no surprise. He collaborated with Jim Sclavunos, drummer from Grinderman and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds on his latest album, to create a sound which let him utilise his full vocal range, expanding from deep baritone to ethereal falsetto. David’s versatile and almost supernatural-sounding vocals, compared to the likes of Nick Drake or Jeff Buckley, are the key element in his music – he enables his voice to “swoop, soar and intertwine itself around everything in it’s path”, over soundscapes of stark electronic ambience or contrasting full orchestration.
His latest album “SKIN + BONES”, showcasing his dark, romantic compositions, was picked up as one of the “Best Albums of 2011” by Shakenstir.
HOT HEAD SHOW
Formed in 2008, this highly energetic trio from Hackney have made quite an impression. With the ability to slip between garage, punk, ska, eccentric disco, twisted rock and avantgarde, Hot Head Show have been described as “genuinely fresh” and “appealingly bizarre” by Time Out London and “funky zig-zaggy rock”. Whatever you’d like to call it, their sound is definitely unique – however, the guys from Hot Head Show define their sound as “bangbang”. So here sees a start of their own genre!
Their ambition is to “regularly make music in a situation where it’s part of a larger psycho-spiritual entertainment equation”, with the view of writing and playing in Italy, their favourite country.
In 2011 Hot Head Show went on tour in Europe and the US with the legendary Les Claypool, of Primus fame, which included a sell-out show at Koko, Camden. They later went on to join alt-rock superstars Primus themselves on their UK and Europe tour. August saw the release of “The Lemon LP” which received rave reviews, the single “Payload” receiving considerable airplay from BBC Radio 6’s Lauren LaVerne.
You can catch Hot Head Show at the White Lion, Streatham on January 19th – one thing’s for sure, they’ll definitely blow you away with their energy and intriguing charm!
Signe Gry Thorup and Vesa Haapanen initially met at The Powerhouse music college in London and became friends in 1999, but life split them apart until they were reunited nine years later. Upon discovering their instant musical chemistry, Leaving Atlantis was born. Signe comes from Denmark and Vesa from Finland, but they are now based in London.
Signe sings and plays the tenorion, and Vesa plays the drums, keyboard, guitars, percussion, piano, kalimba and any other instrument imaginable – as you can guess, this makes for a very big, atmospheric sound. Their music can be described as progressive electroacoustic pop, and it’s difficult not to get transfixed by Signe’s soulful voice, soaring over a lush electronic soundscape.
Their debut album “Strange New World” was recorded over the past few years in studios, a few living rooms and even a log cabin across Northern Europe and Zimbabwe, and was released in July 2011.
They are currently “brewing” new material which they plan to attack in the New Year – we can’t wait! Keep your eyes peeled for this duo.
“Kent coast folk with an African twist” The Guardian
Cocos Lovers, pronounced Co-Kross, are a six piece band from Deal on the Kent coast. Made up of family and friends, Will, Natasha, Nicola, David, Billy and Phil create their own blend of traditional folk, African and Eastern rhythms with strains of the Deep South.
The band formed back in early 2008 quickly becoming a UK festival favourite known for their multi-instrumental performances. Their festival slots to date have included three slots at Glastonbury, Cambridge Folk Festival, Green Man Festival, Lounge on the Farm, Kendall Calling, Broadstairs Folk Week and Secret Garden party.
The band released their second album, ‘Elephant Lands’ on Smugglers Records earlier this year. Its predecessor ‘Johannes’ based itself on Southern Africa sounds, while ‘Elephant Lands’ takes us to a new destination in sub-Saharan Africa. Both albums have received rave reviews for their unique styles and the band themselves for their unique preformances.
You can catch Cocos Lovers at WOODBURNER (Tunnels under Waterloo Station, London) on the 17th Feburary.
“they deliver like a hug from the person you love the most.” Shakenstir.co.uk
Marcel, Jamie, Stuart, Matty and Clare are from Flintshire, North Wales. They play music that the North Wales Pioneer described as ‘folk doused in ambient rock then squeezed through and electronic mangle’ – and they’re really good at it. The Reads have been together (in various forms) for a decade and for much of that time played music only amongst themselves in a caravan. It was only after a friend offered to fund their album, and they built enough confidence to start playing gigs, that the world got to hear their music.
Their debut album ‘Stories From The Borders’ and single ‘Good Omens’ have only been out a few months but this five piece have already secured rave reviews and some high profile air time. Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine loved the album so much he played two of their songs on his lunch time show back in June. Their track ‘Orange Days’ was also BBC Radio Wales’ Single Of The Week in May. The record was mastered by Frank Arkwright, who in his career has worked with Arcade Fire and The Smiths, and produced by Jim Spencer who has helped bands like Oasis, The Charlatans and Doves. Composer Joe Duddell also offered his help and took time out from working with Elbow to arrange brass and strings for five out of the twelve tracks. He worked for free after hearing just one song and falling in love with it.
Back in October the reads posted on their website that they are back in the studio, we can not wait to hear what they come up with next. You can also help them out on there quest to support Graham Coxon in Manchester on 19th April, visit the following link to find out how: http://youtu.be/Sf-B4EEp9Ks