The Best Hopes to Break Out in 2013

[1 January 2013]

By PopMatters Staff

The year ahead looks to be an exciting one with the emergence of wealth of great new music waiting in the wings. Will Jessie Ware and Django Django be the toasts of 2013? Will 2013 be yet another banner year for forward-looking hip-hop and R&B? And let’s not forget all the great new bands expected to break big in 2013.

 
The ACBs



The ACBs is a band from Kansas City, Missouri that you probably haven’t heard yet. Their first LP, Stona Rosa (2011) was a great, spunky power-pop record that suggested Vampire Weekend if they were middle-class stoners instead of Ivy Leaguers, or Weezer if they were younger, cooler and not quite as smart-alecky. Then again, after a handful of uptempo jams the ACBS will slip in a brittle heartwrencher like “It Sure Looks Dark and Cold”, so who knows what all they have up their sleeves. Their new LP is due in 2013. The first single “Ocean” is similar to their first album but somehow airier, harder to grab in your hands while just as on-the-move. The band is on their way somewhere, I can feel it; at the very least, their next album will get them more known outside their hometown. Dave Heaton

 
Anciients



Canadian metal bands are so scattered across the country that it’s hard for anyone to foster a local scene that can consistently breed exceptional new talent, and rarely do new bands come along that actually attract a great amount of hype from the metal industry. Vancouver’s Anciients, however, are one Canadian band that’s primed for a big 2013 thanks to a worldwide deal with heavy hitter Season of Mist and an exceptional debut album, which is set for release early in the year. Treading the same musical territory as Mastodon, Kylesa, and Baroness, the foursome’s brand of metal is thunderous yet always focused on melody, striking a strong balance between commanding and catchy. Unlike much of today’s mainstream metal acts, these guys know how to write honest-to-goodness songs, showing tremendous discipline amidst all the instrumental flamboyance, and are primed to put their young peers to shame. Adrien Begrand

 
Author & Punisher



Tristan Shone, the madman engineer/musician behind the Author & Punisher name, has quite literally reinvented the way metal music can be played. This isn’t because of his style of music. Although his brand of industrial doom is unique, it’s not without its progenitors. Rather, all the instruments you’ll hear on Ursus Americanus are a product of Shone’s invention, and are all equally awesome. Two that stand out are a vocal processor in the shape of a demented harmonica and a drum machine that looks like it could launch a nuclear bomb. What makes Author & Punisher such an innovative project is Shone’s ability to turn what some might see as cool gimmicks into the tools for a technological sea change in metal music, a genre that’s already begun an expanding diversification. Ursus Americanus caught a significant wave of praise upon its release, signaling that Author & Punisher’s prominence is just beginning, and rightly so. Anyone who can make being an engineer look as cool as Shone does deserves recognition amongst a broad swath of people. Brice Ezell

 
Azealia Banks



As an artist who has yet to release a full length album, 2012 was a good year for Azealia Banks. On the strength of a single EP, a mixtape and, especially, her triumphant and irreverent single “212”, Banks has established herself as a darling of both the mainstream and indie music press. Her music combines hardcore mc skills, colored by her unique brand of profane bravado, with pulsing dance beats and vogue culture visuals. As a testament to her broad based appeal, in a single day this June, she performed as the sole female rapper featured in this year’s Hot 97 Summer Jam and headlined an undersea drag show/queer hip-hop showcase at NYC’s Bowery Ballroom. Banks takes the same “no-labels” approach to her sexual orientation as Frank Ocean, and while she’s made it clear that she wants the focus to be on her music, it’s a huge breakthrough to see artists of this profile openly challenging hip-hop’s longstanding hetero-normative culture. Her early mixtapes featured samples from indie groups such as Ladytron and Interpol, and her recent studio collaborators have included such pop music luminaries as Kanye West and Lady Gaga. With the release of her debut full length, Broke With Expensive Taste, due in February, here’s hoping that 2013 will be an even better year for one of the most exciting new voices to emerge in hip-hop. Robert Alford

 
BBU



Sadness likely washed over anyone aware of the status of BBU upon seeing their placement on this list. I’m sad to include them too; I picked the Chicago hip-hop trio to write up for this list before finding out that they had split up. And what a shame it is; after releasing one of 2012’s best albums in the mixtape bell hooks, it appeared as if their only direction was up. There were always signs that BBU had incredible potential: 2010’s minor breakout hit “Chi Don’t Dance” was both hilarious and socially incisive, a combination BBU struck gold with on the passionate bell hooks. In a United States divided by poorly drawn partisan lines, BBU push past the hope and change rhetoric both major political parties claimed to achieve when selling their candidates in the presidential election. At one point, the group bluntly states, “Guess what? I don’t think this country is great!” The honesty and extremely leftist politics of bell hooks—meaning that the ineffectual Democratic party is critiqued just as much as the stagnant Republican party—will likely put many off, but for those with an open mind, it’s essential listening. Best of all, the mixtape is definitive proof that some of the best things in life are free—especially the many albums and mixtapes coming out of online labels like MishkaNYC, the distributor of bell hooks. So while BBU may have called it quits, their placement on this list is a tribute to the incredible work they did in 2012, with the hope that they might be remembered in the going years, however short their existence may have been. But hey, if one day in the next year or two these socially conscious musicians feel the urge to get back together, let this brief paragraph give a little inspiration to nudge them that way. Brice Ezell

Django Django and more...

Charli XCX


With one foot in synthpop and another in gothic post-punk, it shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone that Charli XCX had seamlessly slipped a pitch-perfect cover of Echo and the Bunnymen’s “The Killing Moon” into her live set by mid-2012. With only some singles, an EP, and a few mixtapes to her name, she’s already in the vanguard of a hard-to-label group of young female artists for whom Siouxsie and the Banshees and the Spice Girls aren’t mutually exclusive influences. This year, a V magazine cover story positioned her as the UK counterpart to Canada’s Grimes and the U.S.‘s Sky Ferreira, and she (as well as sometimes collaborators Ariel Rechtshaid and Devonté Hynes) was a crucial figure in a recent Pitchfork feature that contemplated the disintegrating line between indie and pop. With a stack of addictively catchy songs piling up in her live sets and on mixtapes, the big question lies in which of these will make the cut for her first album due for release in February 2013. David Bloom

 
Chvrches



Scottish trio Chvrches may on the surface appear your factory line synth-pop combo of “Knob twizzlin’ blokey beardy boffins in baseball caps” and “Fragile, Bambi-eyed Cinderella on the M-I-C”, but scratch the glossy surface and there’s something else happenin’ here. Proper pop alchemy that’s bloomin’ what! “The Mother We Share” and “Lies” are enormo electropop juggernauts in-waiting. Classic cut, born to fly, earworm excelsis and as addictive as a hot tub full of bath salts. Imperial pop good enough to have sat sensibly on M83’s heavenly Saturdays = Youth, that’s how good. Damn they even cut a respectable cover of Prince’s regal “I Would Die 4 U”. No pressure for the album then, eh? Matt James

 
Code Orange Kids



At last, the Converge legacy is becoming clear. Code Orange Kids aren’t old enough to buy beer, but their credible take on that band’s menacing metalcore foretells a likely forward course for a hardcore scene running out out reunions to get stoked for. With genre lines blurring further, the late-in-the-year arrival of Love Is Love // Return to Dust could prove one of the decade’s most important heavy records. Multifaceted with a keen breakdown dexterity, the Pittsburgh band’s impressive breadth extends from thrash-tastic pit fuel (“Flowermouth” and “Liars”) to post-rock introspection (“Colors Into Nothing” and “Calm // Breathe”). Already landing opening tour slots for the likes of Gaza, 2013 will assuredly find these upstarts on the road, hopefully culminating with some deserved headlining gigs. To regurgitate a saccharine catchphrase, I believe these children are the future. Gary Suarez

 
DIIV



Before the first note of Oshin was even recorded, DIIV had a stellar recipe for success. First, the members are from the perpetual band-generating capital of the U.S. known as Brooklyn. Secondly, the lineup consists of members of other stellar bands (Colby Hewitt—formerly of Smith Westerns, Zachary Cole Smith has played with Beach Fossils). And finally, they are signed to the fast-growing Captured Tracks label. But DIIV’s talents reach far beyond their “lucky break” pedigree. The band’s shoegaze-style mix of watery guitars and poppy vocals take listeners back to the “college rock” era of the ‘80s, where listeners had to do a lot more legwork to track down such a sound. Take a listen to “How Long Have You Known?” and you can almost smell the must of the dark recesses of a college library. Sean McCarthy

 
Django Django



British quartet Django Django’s entry into the U.S. music scene began with blatant buzz from this year’s SXSW and airplay on KCRW, KEXP and WFUV’s “The Alternate Side”. Confident songs such as “Hail Bop” and “Default” from the self-titled debut also provided an impressive introduction to the band. With an art rock aesthetic (the group met at an Edinburgh art school) that still embraces pop structures, their danceable tunes feature vocal harmonies chugging over an electronic backbone. They seem to add in hand claps and plenty of hand percussion just for fun. A full listen to the album finds an airy instrumental simply called “Introduction” for the first track and a wide variety of stylistic methods throughout, from the jaunty approach in “Life’s a Beach” to the cultural references in “Zumm Zumm” and “Skies Over Cairo”. Django Django is undaunted by conventions of any sort, refreshing and irresistible at the same time. Jane Jansen Seymour

Icona Pop and more...

Dum Dum Girls


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



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

 
HAIM



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

 
The History of Apple Pie



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

 
Icona Pop



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

Kwes and more...

Dom Kennedy


Dom Kennedy just confounds me. Sometimes I hate him, sometimes I love him. Most of the time, I just feel ambiguous towards him. And yet here I am, nominating him as one of the artists looking to have a huge 2013. There’s just something about Dom that feels on the precipice of radio stardom. Maybe it’s the lush Los Angeles production from new school heavyweights like Swiff D, THC, K Roosevelt and Polyester to name a few. Maybe it’s the way his delivery sounds like Keith Murray draped in molasses and medicinal marijuana. But the overall effect of his sound is one that just feels like it should be pure drugs for the typical college hip-hop fan that loves women and recreational mind alteration (or just parties with the Greeks). His free album The Yellow Album dropped this year and while I have my issues with it same as everything else, it feels on the precipice of something really special. Nowhere was this more evident than Too $hort collaboration ““Don’t Call Me”, which is so smooth that it truly angers me hip-hop radio has become so staid and generic. It may boil down to integrating every touchstone of ‘90s West Coast rap into present day internet rapper tropes (clothes, girls, weed), but when it’s done this well I feel that’s about all a rapper needs to get one foot in the door to whatever stardom is these days. David Amidon

 
Kwes



Up to the release of his 2012 EP, Meantime, Kwes was primarily known in his native UK as a producer who had worked with a range of acts, most notably the xx, Speech Debelle and Micachu. But over the course of these four songs, he asserts his abilities as a talented and creative singer-songwriter whose blithe electronic love songs unfold with a unique sense of sincerity, grace and precision. Kwes belongs to the same experimentally-inclined, dance-inflected lineage as Hot Chip and Caribou. But he breathes a spirit of humble and joyful energy into these songs that is entirely his own. After a high profile Jimmy Fallon appearance as a member of soul legend Bobby Womack’s band (alongside Damon Albarn and Jaleel Bunton of TV on the Radio) in September, here’s hoping Kwes gets back in the studio to work on some more of his own material. Robert Alford

 
Lianne La Havas



After the release of three EPs—two in 2011 and one in 2012—Lianne La Havas finally picked up some steam with her major label full-length debut, July’s Is Your Love Big Enough? with help from the album’s inescapable title track. The record landed a spot as a Mercury Prize finalist and in addition to climbing all the way to No. 4 on the UK charts, she found success in eight other countries, including the Netherlands, where her record made it all the way to No. 3. All this comes after taking her time to, as she put it, “work on her song-writing” before releasing a proper introductory album. In a word, the result was magical. Not only did that extra attention to craftsmanship pay dividends with such a wonderfully mature 12-song set, but it also set the singer up for a career that now seems just as promising as the career of another young songstress from Britain who’s gone through her own share of bad breakups. Colin McGuire

 
The Lacs



With hick-hop making inroads on the charts lately, most visibly through Jason Aldean’s top 10 pop hit “Dirt Road Anthem”, the world is ready for two Loud Ass Crackers named Uncle Snap and Rooster. On their fine 2012 album 190 Proof, the Lacs visited strip clubs with Bubba Sparxxx (“Wylin’”), stole a skit from Mannie Fresh (“Great Moments in Redneck History”), and released an irresistible, wildly unpopular single with Big & Rich—“Shake It” is even giddier than Luke Bryan’s “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)”. The duo’s scruffy front porch vibe and taste for hooks redeem even their most hackneyed ideas. The next single “Country Boy Fresh” celebrates living cheap and shooting off-season venison while a fiddle solo wheedles and the guitarist plays OMC’s “How Bizarre”. As long as pole dancing and doomsday prepping remain in vogue, the world is theirs. Josh Langhoff

 
Kendrick Lamar



If you have any ear for hip-hop right now, you probably know the deal. Kendrick Lamar is the most unanimously beloved new rapper since Lupe Fiasco, the guy we rap writers are pinning all our hopes for the future on. And why not? Lamar’s star rose significantly on the Club Paradise tour with Drake, culminating in last month’s debut major label LP, good kid, m.A.A.d. city, which sold a surprising 270,000 copies as of this writing mostly on word of mouth. That album certainly deserves all the praise myself and others have heaped on it, but it’s the rest of what Lamar’s accomplished that really makes his future looks bright. Section.80 was a collection of catchy, fun tracks with a message, deftly balancing heady topics with head nodding jazz beats and clever wordplay. Meanwhile, his features prove he can play nice with a variety of styles: he goes braggadocious gangster with E-40, New York rhyme stylist with Smoke DZA and Marvin Gaye-tributer with Terrace Martin without missing a beat. For all the praise Lamar gets for his storytelling, not enough praise has yet been given to his ability to play whatever role is asked of him on a given song, and now that he’s moved past his life story it’s pretty exciting to imagine what the future has in store for the 25-year-old. David Amidon

Restorations and more...

Last Leaves


Australia’s the Lucksmiths, one of the smartest indie-pop bands of the ‘90s and ‘00s, broke up in 2009. In 2011, three of the four members announced their new band Last Leaves, with an MP3 of a demo version of one song. It was exhilarating for fans; the song itself is familiar yet fresh, with Marty Donald’s less polished voice lending a new tone even while the lyrics are similarly witty and effecting (“the past is just a single-star motel / it’s nowhere you should dwell”). Here’s hoping 2013 brings both a full record by Last Leaves and renewed attention on Donald as one of the great songwriters of our times, his bandmates no slouches either. Their record label Lost and Lonesome Recording Co. has the release date for their new album as “Coming sometime soon… 2013-15?”, so we might have to keep hoping for a while. Dave Heaton

 
Opposite Sex



This New Zealand trio came seemingly from out under a rock with their brilliant eponymous titled debut album. Although it was originally released on a small Kiwi label, it saw a proper UK issuing this year once British radio picked it up and put it into rotation. Sounding like a throwback to 1981’s post-punk scene, Opposite Sex was a clarion call of anthemic, scrappy rock and roll. From the jittery, angular “La Rat” to the ramshackle “Sea Shanty”, Opposite Sex was full of pop gems that, despite their reliance on past sounds, seemingly sounded utter fresh and original. The three almost anonymous members of the band (they only go by their first names of Lucy, Tim and Fergus) are still enrolled in university and are concentrating on their studies in addition to their double-duty in the band, playing to enthusiastic audiences in their homeland; here’s hoping that the rest of the world catches on and understands the sheer power of the music that this group has unleashed on their debut, which definitely needs to be heard by as many people as possible. Zachary Houle

 
Port St. Willow



Next year’s best hope is this year’s best kept secret. With debut LP Holiday, Brooklyn’s Port St. Willow—primarily the project of vocalist Nick Principe—is no exception. Marrying Principe’s silky, almost effortlessly operatic falsetto with an able vocabulary of post-rock arrangements, these songs are not only moving, but impressively full-fledged and rich with dramatic flairs. The album’s pacing contrasts foggier, formless sound pieces (“Two Five Five Two”, “Corners”) with rousing, percussive mini-epics, like “Tourist” and “North”. It’s the latter tracks that highlight PSW’s live show, where Principe performs with a three-piece. Wherever 2013 finds Port St. Willow, Holiday is a rich and expertly textured debut. I hope there’s more on the way. Zach Schonfeld

 
Restorations



On the strength of their 2011 self-titled debut full-length and a 2012 7” single, Restorations made fans of gritty, American punk take notice. That’s not because they showed unpolished promise, or because they were hitting their stride, but because they sounded like a bomb that could explode at any minute. This Philadelphia five-piece borrows from the Replacements and Constantines and emanates a poetic and booming sound all their own. Tracks build with such intensity that this reviewer stood motionless and speechless at a performance in Melbourne earlier this year; their songs have the ability to grab you, though it’s not a matter of the songs not letting go. Instead, Restorations is the kind of act that carry listeners. A recent signing to SideOneDummy and a new LP slated for early 2013 produced by Jon Low (Kurt Vile, Dr. Dog) will mean big things for these affable, down-to-Earth dudes. Joshua Kloke

 
The Sanctuaries



Standing out from the usual flood of Brooklyn-based bands that emerge year-in, year-out, the Sanctuaries recalled the calm, New York cool of Lou Reed—the perfect escape from the abundance of electronic beats and experimental squawks that can overwhelm those who follow the scene closely. The band’s debut album Annette features jangly guitar strums, prominent organ chords, a well-drilled rhythm section flow and main man David Stern’s classic indie pop songwriting, all of which was further punctuated by the release of Not Guilty, an EP loaded with remixes of the band’s work plus a handful of originals. 2012 was the year the band cut their teeth in the studio, earning plenty of kudos from their NYC contemporaries. But 2013 will hopefully see greater recognition on a national level for this capable four-piece. Dean Van Nguyen

Savages and more...

Savages


Call what London up-and-comers Savages are doing third-wave feminist-punk: Channeling the confrontational aesthetic of first-gen punks like the Slits and the Raincoats as well as the antagonizing spirit of early ‘90s riot grrrl, Savages update the tradition for a contemporary post-everything age. Their most extensive release to date is a live four-song EP that captures a band that’s as dead serious and brutal as its name suggests, as Savages thrash out an unflinching mix of angular guitars, harrowing vocals, and pounding beats. And yet, there’s a level of proficiency coming through that’s unexpected for a group that’s both so raw and green, something you notice in the changing time signatures within tracks and the sneaky melodies that pop up here and there. Those qualities are a little more apparent in the only studio recording in the Savages catalog, the “Flying to Berlin/Husbands” 7” that gives flashes of dance-punk polish and complexity. If the retro girl-group craze has run its course, Savages may just be ushering in an edgier kind of gender politicking pop. Arnold Pan

 
The Smith Street Band



Early in the 21st century, Tom Gabel emerged out of Florida basements, imploring his peers to recapture a youth that was quickly passing them by. A voice so empowering had yet to emerge until Wil Wager and the Smith Street Band emerged in Melbourne, Australia. Maintaining the piss and vinegar of early Against Me! records, the Smith Street Band remind us that for the young of the world that the future is now and the present is slowly slipping away. The band took their impassioned punk rock abroad with DIY tours of China and the United States for the first time in 2012 on the strength of their classic sophomore release, Sunshine & Technology. Reviews were rave across the board and the band has amassed a loyal collection of followers that will likely see the band go global in 2013. Get those fists raised high. Joshua Kloke

 
TNGHT



Comprised of electronic luminaries Hudson Mohawke and Lunice, TNGHT built a buzz around clips of their tracks and live performances strewn across the web. The full result of their collaboration was the TNGHT EP, a finely honed pile of precise chaos which blew a good majority of critics away, dovetailing each individual producer’s style perfectly. Having proven that their chemistry yields results, TNGHT is poised to blow up. Don’t be surprised to see the name appear in the liner notes of a good many A-list rappers’ albums in 2013. Adam Finley

 
The Very Best



Why these guys aren’t topping the pop charts is beyond me. Well, OK, half the time Esau Mwamwaya sings in Chewa, the language of his native Malawi. But if you figure 2012 is the year foreign languages broke with “Gangam Style”; and if you factor in the Very Best’s collaborations with the very familiar Taio Cruz, Bruno Mars, K’Naan, and Amadou & Mariam; and especially if you consider that producer Johan Hugo’s beats are catchier than pinkeye in a preschool, they should be all over the place! They need to release “Kondaine” as a single! (Oh wait…) At least they’re touring Europe now, so catch ‘em on your spring break travels and listen to their excellent 2012 multi-culti dance-pop album MTMTMK, endorsed by NPR. (Hey, it’s something.) I foresee hip licensing deals in their future. Josh Langhoff

 
Jessie Ware



“If Adele can do it…” I tell myself, fingers crossed, during another late night session with Jessie Ware’s Devotion. Adele, globe conqueror, destroyer of Billboard charts, benefited from the same circumstances that could help her English compatriot, Ms. Ware, become a household name: a seemingly insatiable desire on the consumer’s part for a type of throwback, female-vocal’d pop, at once soulful and streamlined. But where Adele sold bajillions of records without doing anything interesting with her retro-R&B templates, Ware brilliantly updates the formula for the new decade. Devotion, her debut album, retains touches of her earlier collaborations with UK club hero SBTRKT, with electronic flourishes and deep bass tones that wouldn’t be out of place on a (gulp) dubstep record. It’s no coincidence that this album is the sexiest piece of pop sprung from the British Isles since the xx dropped its debut in 2009. Ware, too, has clearly spent a lot of time with Sade’s discography, crafting a sultry, emotive—and subtly strange—album, one that blends pop thrills with an openness to experimentation, never sacrificing one for the other. Someone talk to Daniel Craig about seeing what she can do for the next Bond film. Corey Beasley

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/feature/166525-the-best-hopes-to-break-out-in-2013/