Another year over, a new one just begun…
And so the roundabout begins all over again, and the question that is posed out of the blocks is, “Who’s going to be the big new band of the year?”
It’s a time when the record labels, critics, everyone and their dogs dip their toes in the piranha pool and try to divine who might make it to the opposite end of the year in better shape than they entered it.
It’s almost too easy to identify who that might be, as the nature of the music business now appears to be for labels and promoters to only focus on a very narrow set of acts who they feel will make the grade.
The accelerated rise to prominence that many bands now experience appears to be the norm, whereas in the past, bands were given time to develop and grow as artists and be able to reach the kinds of global success that endures.
Probably the last act that will ever be “that big” will be Coldplay, whose reach puts them at the kinds of level of stardom previously only achieved by the likes of the eternal greats, like The Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen. Of the current crop of youthful acts, who else can you realistically see filling stadiums for every tour?
The new paradigm of comet-like fame, the burn-bright, burn-out new nature of the music biz is trickling down, with acts like Das Racist, Girls and Wu Lyf electing to bow out rather than carry on, and the recession is impacting on acts you would previously have taken for granted would have a huge fanbase who would flock to see them time and again – Madonna and RHCP’s distinct lack of numbers at their Aviva shows tell a story in themselves, as does the current wisdom about next summer’s stadium shows lack of sell-out notices.
So what of the new breed for the newly-arrived year?
Fortunately, 2012’s picks for me included the majestic Staves, whose Dead and Born and Grown still remains one of the records that I will thrust upon people and tell them to make a part of their lives.
Another three piece all-girl act who will be one of the leading lights of the new year will be Haim. With a distinctive pop sensibility, they also rock like little demons, and the reappearance of loud guitars in quality music is something unquestionably welcome.
Their Forever EP is blisteringly bright and brings to mind Psychedelic Furs – their debut record will appear sometime in the New Year, and it will be magnificent. No doubt about it. Imagine Fleetwood Mac colliding with Breeder, and you’re partway there.
Closer to home, there is a tingle in the spine and an angel on the shoulder telling me that Little Green Cars are going to be immense. Their soulful and countrified sound has already landed them a support slot with Mumford And Sons, but that’s only a little bit of the story, and a small taste of their potential base.
They have more than a touch of Arcade Fire about them, and by right and by virtue of a classy selection of songs honed on the road and produced by the Fire’s Marcus Dravs on their upcoming debut release, Absolute Zero, LGC should be toasting 2014 in the same kind of shape as the Stave girls will have done this New Year’s Eve.
Even more positively for the local scene, Kodaline’s imminent propulsion into the stratosphere can only be a good thing for other Irish acts just breaking through.
The buzz on the back of All I Want and its wonderfully quirky video underline their potential, and Kodaline’s championing by the BBC in Britain and MTV internationally are indicative of where they are headed in years to come.
Like most things happening in this country and communities around the local area, its the small roots of new growth and little markers of success that will demonstrate the life bursting to break out of Ireland’s music scene in the years to come. Hopefully, these two local acts will be just the beginning of another green revolution on the world’s stages and playlists.
Further afield, there is a host of new and new-to-you acts on the horizon set to storm your ears and lay siege to your hearts this year — including Parma Violets, the sublime and spiky Savages — as well as releases coming from Biffy Clyro, Thom Yorke’s Atoms For Peace and Arcade Fire. Back on the scene will be previous tips for the top Little Boots, who have been honing their club-friendly tunes across Europe and America, and wait with baited breath for new releases from the eternal Pearl Jam, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the always fascinating new queen of pop, Lady Gaga.
All in all, 2013 looks like being a good one, as all the odd numbered ones tend to be. Let’s check in again this time next year!