|ALT-JWe’re gonna call it: ALT-J are the most exciting new band to come out of the UK in 2012. The sharp, unpredictable, and by all accounts, really nice art rockers/former fine art students befriended each other while studying at Leeds Uni, penning their Mercury-nominated debut, An Awesome Wave, while living on rations in a share house. Word-of-mouth praise soon followed, as did lead single “Tessellate” (whose clip mixes hip-hop with, of course, Renaissance painter Raphael), and soon enough Joe, Gus, Tom and Gwill hit the Brit top 20. Their forthcoming October dates in Sydney and Melbourne sold-out in an instant, which bodes well for a must-see performance come Laneway.
It has been thirteen long years since we have heard anything from BAILTERSPACE. What were they doing? Where have they been? Somewhere, perhaps under a Manhattan substructure, or maybe above a spiral nebula. In 1999 the mass media communications outlet Pitchfork described them as “a huge mess of sound that’s simultaneously beautiful, jagged, atonal, and supremely melodic”. They left, they have returned with a new album – and the promise of a mind blowing show. We would not expect anything less.
BAT FOR LASHES
Call it victory. BAT FOR LASHES overcomes her demons on The Haunted Man to deliver a stand-out album, her best yet. Plagued by writer’s block after the breakthrough success of Fur & Gold and acclaimed follow-up Two Suns, Natasha Khan shed her feathers and Pearls to create a starkly ambitious and direct record, as sharp as her new bob. Evidence? First cut Laura, a perfectly executed overture that is guaranteed to surface on this year’s best-of lists. Her after-dark Laneway performance will be one of the most anticipated of the summer.
Auckland’s BEACH PIGS emerged late last year and have set about roping in followers, steadily gigging throughout the year. They released their self-titled EP which was named one of the releases of the year by Under The Radar. This was then picked up by Arch Hill Recordings a re-released on blue 7” vinyl. In May 2012 they went on a now notorious “Full Mango” tour around New Zealand, where they played at least twice a day for almost four weeks straight.
Meet CLOUD NOTHINGS: a high-wattage, indie rock, power-pop four-piece, whose Steve Albini-produced latest release, Attack On Memory is essential listening. It’s unpretentious alt-punk with hooks galore and it’s taking off. They’ve played on Jimmy Fallon, toured non-stop and will take to the stage at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Paris this November. Cloud Nothings are a knockout live and not to be missed.
Formed when cousins Nick and Shannon Walsh rented a huge leaky room in the suburb of Kingsland, DEER PARK are perhaps one of the most sonically unique bands New Zealand has to offer. Their self produced album ‘Walk Into The Sea’ and live shows throughout NZ have got people talking, and other musicians too. Supporting Dimmer, The Ruby Suns, Die Die Die and more recently Dear Times Waste, this is one local band to watch.
What happens when you combine three of indie rock’s finest dudes? That would be DIVINE FITS, the triple-whammy of Spoon frontman Britt Daniel, Wolf Parade/Handsome Furs’ Dan Boeckner and Sam Brown of New Bomb Turks. This ain’t no side project though: potent debut LP A Thing Called Divine Fits is 11 taut, tight tracks, from strutting post-punk to minimalist electro jams. And then there’s their cover of Roland S. Howard’s goth classic, “Shivers”. Impeccably cool and very, very good, this is one collaboration which leaves you begging: more, please.
Vancouver duo Brian King (vox/axe) and Dave Prowse (drums) know how to have fun. As JAPANDROIDS, they deliver adrenaline-spiking, fist-in-the-air anthems to turn your usual house party into a great one: check epic single “The House That Heaven Built”, lifted from 2012’s Celebration Rock. Raised on a diet of AC/DC, Nirvana, Guns N’ Roses and the school jazz band, these college buddies have DIY spirit and the sort of classic rock romance Springsteen would be proud of. They slay it live. Play it – and expect it – loud.
Neo-soul, R&B, dubstep: Brixton’s JESSIE WARE can cross any line. After guesting on high profile slices like SBTRKT’s ‘Right Thing To Do’, the 27-year-old broke away with her seductive, universally acclaimed debut, Devotion produced by The Invisible’s Dave Okumu, Kid Harpoon and Julio Bashmore. Raised on a diet of hip-hop and soul, Jessie counts Lauryn Hill, Chaka Khan, Barbra Streisand and Sade as influences, best witnessed on the smooth cut “Running” and downbeat ballad “Wildest Moments” (a real contender for Song of the Year). We predict The xx-style fervour and continued adulation.
LAWRENCE ARABIA is the pseudonym of James Milne, born 1981 in Christchurch, NZ. Since the release of this 3rd album ‘The Sparrow’ in March, he has been touring the world – specifically Europe and America. The Sparrow is Lawrence Arabia’s evocative follow up to the Taite Music Prize/ Silver Scroll winning Chant Darling. The album has been getting rave reviews at home and afar with shows selling out – including his last Auckland show at the Town Hall. There are whispers Lawrence will be playing new songs from a forthcoming album.
With a love of scuzzy guitars and punk rock, Brooklyn quartet THE MEN released many a cassette since forming in 2008. But it was their focused, on point third album, 2012’s Open Your Heart, which won new fans’ hearts, with its goofy blues explosions, country-lovin’ dirges and straight-up indie punk anthems (cue the triple j playlisted title track). This year they criss-crossed Europe and played shows with Ty Segall, the Thee Oh Sees and Redd Kross; Laneway marks The Men’s first trip to Oz.
Fuck yes. New York-born and Chilean-bred NICOLAS JAAR is gonna bring it to Laneway 2012. Nico’s husky voice, trippy loops and downtempo beats jump and sway in-between genres, from house to hip-hop to ambient dreamscapes. It’s fair to say he’s the man of the moment: last year’s album Space Is Only Noise was ranked #1 album of the year by Resident Advisor, Mixmag, Crack Mag, #2 by DJ Mag and #20 by Pitchfork. Lately, he’s been jamming out killer remixes of Cat Power and festival mate Chet Faker, not to mention a pretty much untouchable Essential Mix for Radio 1. A hugely exciting talent.
OF MONSTERS AND MEN
Iceland’s OF MONSTERS AND MEN (East Coast only) have an absolute corker in debut My Head Is An Animal. Riotous, joyful, and sweetly cool, the folky six-piece are headed up by singers Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and Ragnar Þórhallsson. They’re already a smash in the UK (where they debuted at #3) and the US (#6 on the Billboard Charts), thanks to rousing, impossible-to-dislike performances. Musically think Arcade Fire-meets-Mumford & Sons: as The Guardian insists, “These songs are made to be sung by giant crowds at festivals.” Believe it.
PHELPS AND MUNRO
Laneway 2013 will be the first time the mysterious PHELPS & MUNRO has performed in years. His singles ‘Horse Winning Without Rider’ and ‘Ex–Sports Star Turned Commentator’ received airplay from Mr. Scruff & Treva Whateva as well as the legendary John Peel on his BBC Radio 1 show and supported acts such as Kid 606, Amon Tobin, Luke Vibert and Dimmer. Expect this one
man act to blow your mind electronically.
THE PHOENIX FOUNDATION
Since the bands hugely successful European tour, THE PHOENIX FOUNDATION have been hiding away in their home town of Wellington like good little hobbits working on their new album. Laneway will be the place to hear any new tunes – and see the band in fine form – the best way to see them, on a summer’s day at an outdoor festival.
The last two years have been really busy for STREET CHANT: they have released their acclaimed album ‘Means’ but won the NZ Music Award ‘Critics Choice’ award, wowed audiences in Australia and America, toured with the Lemonheads, Dead Weather and The 3Ds. Their new single ‘Frail Girls’ from a forthcoming album has been doing extremely well on NZ and US student radio. With a new album out early next year, you won’t want to miss their set.
We are so happy to have our m8s YEASAYER back in 2013 after their celebrated appearance at the 2011 Laneway Festival. As sonic pioneers, Chris Keating, Anand Wilder and Ira Wolf Tuton have followed up the hyper-pop structures of 2010’s Odd Blood with 11 new tracks of dreamy, Dystopian dissatisfaction, in the form of new album Fragrant World. It’s the band’s most realised vision yet: as Rolling Stone (US) put it, “Each Yeasayer record has been hookier than the last.” You know it.