Best of 2011: Newcomers

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This year we've cut down our "best of" lists and got straight to the point, we'll have two lists and an extra something(s) special up our sleeve.

Lists can get increasingly tedious this time of the year and every Tom, Dick and Harry are compiling their best albums, videos, tracks, artists, newcomers, the holy "Ones To Watch", what are we watching for exactly?

This first list is for NEWCOMERS, the criteria isn't "Oh we came across this band in 2011, they're good". It needs to be relevant so we made some pointers on how we judged below:
  • Released a significant debut EP or LP, or a number of them.
  • Featured in our "Ones to Watch 2011" and actually to an extent were.
  • Released a debut under a new moniker.
  • Those who didn't fit into the criteria but were awesome anyway get "Honourable Mentions".
So here goes, comment and let us know what you think.

Craft Spells

Justin Vallesteros and his crafty lot (see what I did there) teetered on the brink with their track "Party Talk" in 2010. The song lead to the 2011 release of "After the Moment" and we've been eating out the band's palms since.

Then came "You Should Close The Door" and the release of their outstanding debut LP, Idle Labor their place in this list. Just to top their year off, they embarked on a UK tour and dropped the video for "Your Tomb".


After flittering around in the industry for a bit and recording a solo LP, Katie Stelmanis started work on new project - Austra - and immediately found her niché in the market.

Banging first track "Beat and The Pulse" set the ball rolling, but what  came next, really cemented the bands place in 2011's history. Second single, "Feel It" had everyones attention. Mixing classical elements with electronic is no easy feat. If originality was the name of the game this year then Austra have won it.

Blood Orange

The vast majority of Dev Hynes' Blood Orange material isn't new, but the release of his debut LP, Coastal Grooves in August was the turning point.  Previously we'd seen the 7" release of "Dinner" and one of our favourite tracks this year, album title track, "Sutphin Boulevard".

This year's emergence of the band is yet another excellent example of a successful musical crossover. Dev will be playing SXSW 2012 and hopefully building on 2011's solid foundation.

Grizzly Bear bassist, Chris Taylor set up Terrible Records in 2009 and become even more successful than he already was. 2011 saw the release of his debut LP, under the moniker of CANT, and he hasn't looked back since.

We must have posted CANT about ten times this year, singles: Answer, Believe and Too Late Too Far all getting the 1FTP treatment. More recently we've featured new track, "Be Around" ft Twin Shadow on vocals. 'Prolific' springs to mind.

The Weeknd

Another incredibly impressive year from a newcomer. Canadian, Abel Tesfaye aka The Weeknd turned the R&B world on it's head and understandably so, killer production and FREE music.

Potentially three mixtapes/LPs in a year. House of Balloons kicked it all off followed by Thursday. We're all waiting on tenterhooks for Echoes of Silence, will it or wont it be this year? He's had too many tracks to name but below is one of them.

Jamie Smith of The xx, or as he's now known, Jamie xx seems to turn whatever he touches to gold. Or Platinum in The xx's case.

It takes a brave man to mould and shape Gil Scott Heron classics  into a remix album. But man did it work! Most people will note him for that this year, but his 7" release of "Far Nearer" was our Jamie xx highlight of the year. New album from The xx coming next year, can he do it again?


World Unite: Lucifer Youth Foundation have been kicking about for a few years but only started to make significant progression this year managing to release full length debut, Go Tell Fire To The Mountain. 

Ellery Roberts' signature vocals and their insane keys are a recipe for success on their own. Their sound is incomparable and again, hat tip for individualism. Tracks, "Heavy Pop", "LYF", "Dirt" and "We Bros" have been mainstays on our iPods all year round, not to mention the rest of the album. A big 2012 could be on the cards for the foursome.


Coming onto our radar towards the back end of 2010, Blouse slapped us in the chops with "Into Black", We're also suckers for a bit of nostalgia and Blouse have it in abundance.

The band then followed it's success up in May with the release of "Shadow" which surprisingly didn't make the self titled full length.  A track that did though, was "Videotapes" another remarkable piece of nostalgic dream pop. If the band keep making these timeless pieces, they'll be around for some time to come.

Gross Magic

A UK Grunge act? No surely not? You betcha! Just one EP and they've got our tongues wagging. What's next? No pressure Mr McGarrigle. You can put whatever spin you like on Gross Magic; Psychedelic, Lo-fi, Noise Pop/Rock, whatever you call it, it's Sweet! So was debut track "Sweetest Touch", taking grunge and putting a positive spin on it, how dare he?

Their Teen Jamz EP is absolute concrete evidence of the bands quality. The year came to a close with "Yesterdays", leaving us eagerly awaiting their follow up.

Still Corners

Still Corners were showing their qualities in 2010 too, but not until this year have they managed to get a solid release on the table. Creatures of An Hour was that release and it came out on Subpop no less.

Singles, "Cuckoo" and "Into the Trees" were also released with accompanying videos. Bands like Still Corners need to be celebrated for bringing that distinct element of class to the party. Everything they've made so far has be solid and we're hoping to see more evidence of that in 2012.

Gardens & Villa

Gardens & Villa brought their Santa Barbara coco vibes to the party in 2011 and when you pair that with the fact they toured with Foster The People, their feel good vibes were only going to increase.

The band seemingly sprung out of nowhere in early June time with new tracks "Orange Blossom" and "Black Hills"with it's accompanying video. They then followed that up with the space age vibes of "Star Fire Power", "Space Time" and some live UK appearances. The band has positive energy in abundance and a stage presence to die for.

Weird Dreams

Weird Dreams also came to our attention to the end of last year with "Summer Black" and we were that impressed we included them in our 'Ones To Watch for 2011', to our delight, over optimism was proved right.

Their second EP, Hypnagogic Lullaby, proved a storming success and resulted in the subsequent "Holding Nails" 7" being released on Tough Love. New LP Choreography will be out in the new year.

Another fairly prolific track releasing machine this year was Keep Shelly In Athens. They released the brilliant 12" In Love With Dusk at the death of 2010 and it pretty much set their 2011 wheels in motion.

Since then they've released Our Own Dream EP and a self titled EP as well as the 7" of "Hauntin' Me".  They are the very essence of chill and when they dropped the upbeat rippler "DIY" not so long ago, they proved they've got it all in their locker. The future beckons.

Honourable Mentions

Making a set of stringent rules really shot us in the foot this year, possibly the best artist of 2011 and we can't include her due to her 2010 releases that pretty much fell on deaf ears.

Anyway, this year saw Grimes release possibly the best split EP of the year and a whole boat load of outrageously good videos. On top of that, news of a new LP coming in January which will feature possibly this years best track, "Oblivion". Damn we like Grimes!

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