Icona Pop and more...
After two good albums and two excellent EPs, the Dum Dum Girls seem poised to have their moment. For people looking for an entry point, their most recent EP, End of Daze, features a near-perfect five songs. Of course, the entire combined time of their four releases runs under 100 minutes, so you could just listen to all of it. But “Mine Tonight” and “Lord Knows”, the highlights of End of Daze, deserve to be the songs that push Dum Dum Girls into the spotlight. Across these four recordings, they craft a persona that pulls together elements of the Pretenders, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Sleigh Bells, and, particularly if their next album picks up where End of Daze leaves off, 2013 might just be their year. Matt Paproth
Foxes, or Louisa Rose Allen, may only have a track record that starts in late 2011, but it’s an impressively consistent one. She snagged a placement on Gossip Girl with her first single “Youth”, and 2012’s Warrior EP suggests that the album it effectively previews could be a career-maker. About as solid as EPs come, Warrior shows a young artist who isn’t afraid of going cinematic in scope. “Warrior” is as action movie brash as you’d expect from the title, with metaphorical monsters and fighting, and a chorus that justifies every bit of overstated imagery. “White Coats”, her best tune to date, is a thriller from the get-go, with creepily indiscernible vocal loops haunting the verses, and passionate release on the chorus. Foxes recently released yet another 2012 single, “Echo”, which shows her going in a slightly more dance-friendly direction, but her love for the artfully bombastic chorus with giant hooks happily remains intact. David Bloom
Typically we didn’t get much of a decent summer in ol’ Blightly this year but for the four minutes 16 seconds the sun sizzled on our pasty limey cheeks “Go Slow” offered a sublime soundtrack. Sultry, steamy and sassy. The simmering work of three sisters from the blindin’ blue skies of LA, the rest of their Forever EP wasn’t too shabby either, hitting a sweet spot somewhere between Fleetwood Mac and Talking Heads. Annie Hall boho chic with a west coast groove. A little bit hippy, a little bit hoppy. The fact that they’ve not only buddy’d up with Ryan Adams but can open a can o’ TLC-worthy dance whoop-ass at the drop of a fedora (see their breezy “Forever” video) confirm this trio are worth a flutter. Matt James
Just when you thought that cute, cuddly power-pop couldn’t be done any better, along comes a band like the History of Apple Pie, whose name alone can give the Pains of Being Pure of Heart a run for its money. Like the Pains, Los Campesinos!, or Yuck, this coed London quintet isn’t just a reverent follower of International Pop Underground O.G.s like Heavenly, Rocketship, and Black Tambourine, but in it to create its own current take on indie-pop. THOAP achieves that by making its fuzzy, buzzy melodies fuzzier and buzzier at the same time the confectionary pop elements come off even sweeter and fluffier, especially the vocals. Of its contemporaries, Yuck would be the best analogue for THOAP, considering the way the newbie group is able to get heavier and grungier without sacrificing any of its sugar-rush pop charms. If twee-pop is something you can’t get enough of, the History of Apple Pie isn’t just good for satisfying your fix, but for something new to chew on. Arnold Pan
Trust Sweden to give the world one of 2012’s most glorious pop music moments. The synthpop duo of Aino Jawo Caroline Hjelt came along in the spring of 2012 and floored listeners with the pulsating, propulsive, anthemic “I Don’t Care”, a Charli XCX-penned slice of bombast that saw the ladies spouting defiant lines (“I threw your shit into a bag and pushed it down the stairs”) and reveling in their brashness and defiance. Unlike the vastly overrated Skrillex, the song integrated cacophony and pop smarts ingeniously and perfectly—its simple approach, crazily incessant hook, and blunt lyrics instantly lend it universal appeal—instantly making Icona Pop a new talent to watch. The very good The Iconic EP has proven to be deep enough to prove that “I Don’t Care” was no fluke, and if their timing continues to be this good, they could have a worldwide smash of a full-length album in 2013. Adrien Begrand
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