Back in the first week of January I put up a list of some bands I thought you should keep your eye on for breakouts this year. Some of them were educated guesses, others hopes, and quite a few longshots. Now we’re about halfway through the year, and many of these bands have already delivered some good stuff. Not all of them, mind you, but a good amount. Let’s go over some of them in the order in which I originally listed them.
1. Dastardly-I put them at the top of the list for a couple reasons, chief among them being that I know they have the talent to be something special. At the beginning of the year they released an EP called Bury Me In The Country which featured “Brief Thoughts On Death,” one of my favorite songs of the year so far. In August they’re releasing another EP, Ballads In Blue. I’ve been fortunate enough to hear it already, and it is completely different from what I expected. I tried to describe it a few days ago, and I don’t think I made much sense. Basically I think it sounds like Rodgers & Hammerstein filtered through David Lynch…if that tells you anything.
2. Bhi Bhiman-The biggest success on the list by a large margin. When Bhiman, Bhi’s second album, came out it was met with great reviews by The New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, NPR, and Paste among others. I called it the second he opened his mouth last year at SxSw that he was gonna make it. So far this year he’s opened for Josh Ritter, John Prine, Martin Sexton, Joe Pug, and Rosie Thomas and played headlining gigs at some well-known venues around the country. Next week he stops in Chicago for the fourth time since January.
3. Adam Arcuragi-Also garnering much critical acclaim was Like a fire that consumes all before it…Adam Arcuragi’s latest album that came at the end of January. This was my introduction to his style, which he refers to as “Death Gospel.” He toured the US in support of the album, then headed over to Europe for a streak of dates. He also put out a great Daytrotter session back in May that you can check out.
4. Sons Of An Illustrious Father-In 2011 they delivered the album of the year, One Body. They took a bit of a break for a while and now they’ve headed out on their first big tour. They’re hitting Chicago on July 20th with The Canoes and The Buddies, so I’m eagerly awaiting that. They are down a member, as Sofia Albam left to play with her new band Thorn & Shout.
There was a much longer version of this that was a bit more descriptive, but my system crashed and I lost it. So, now each band has a bit less said about them. However, I’ve decided to just add in a video for each one so you can get a decent sense of the music.
Dastardly-Their new album, Bury Me In The Country, comes out later this month. The way they experiment with country, jazz, blues and rock has me excited to hear it in it’s entirety.
Bhi Bhiman-Already generating good buzz for his second album, Bhiman, this singer-songwriter from San Francisco has a golden voice and the mastery of the written word required to keep listeners interested
Adam Arcuragi-Two weeks ago I’d never heard of this guy, now his voice is constantly repeating in my headphones.
Sons Of An Illustrious Father-In 2011 they put out my favorite album. In 2012 I hope they convert a ton of new fans. The only thing that may stand in their way is the chance that Ezra Miller becomes a world famous actor after his role in the soon-to-be Oscar nominated film We Need To Talk About Kevin. They seem to have their heads on straight, so I don’t see it becoming a problem.
Fanfarlo-Every year a band from the UK hits it big over here in the states, and this year I think these kids have as good a chance as any. They make good, fun, interesting pop.
Young Jesus-I just reviewed their record release show yesterday, and they have a new album dropping at the end of January. They’ve already got some road time in, and I think they have the stage presence and all-around quality music to gain a good following.
Cloud Nothings-They’re already getting good reviews for their new album Attack On Memory and last year they drew raves for their set at SxSw.
Tennis-Saw them open for Smith Westerns last August, and they put on a good show. They’ve got their follow-up to Cape Dory coming out in February and a tour to go along with it.
Fort Frances/Chaperone/Molehill-Cheating here a bit. These three bands are some of my favorites in Chicago, and I’m hoping that they get some more opportunities in 2012. Fort Frances has already announced a trip to NYC. Molehill just got back from the east coast. And word is that Chaperone may have some travel plans made as well. In my mind they should all be international superstars.