The xx: Coexist The shy and introspective London trio have no one’s shoes to fill but their own after winning a Mercury Award for their self-titled debut album. Initial excited rumours suggested Coexist might take a clubbier form – which would chime with beat-maker Jamie Smith’s remix and DJing interests – but when the band showcased new material in a short run of very intimate gigs last May, there was a notable lack of quaking bass and not a single piano-house refrain to be heard. The xx are still prowling about in the darkly arty and elegantly sparse hinterlands of post-dubstep guitar pop, while experimenting with melodic complexity in their distinctively moody way. Frankly, we’re restless with anticipation. Sharon O’Connell. Out now.
Jessie Ware: Devotion If you only listen to one urban-edged neo-soul superstar-in-the-making this year, make it Jessie Ware. The demure, liquid-voiced south Londoner is the new heiress apparent to Adele’s reign as queen of the music charts; that Ware will almost certainly be described as ‘the new Sade’ won’t hurt her record sales either. Her rise has taken her from odd jobs as a guest vocalist (most notably on tracks by SBTRKT and Sampha) right through to bona-fide solo appeal. The production on this debut is a touch of class – complex, mesmerising and smooth as silk. The album grooves, sways and sticks in the hum-producing part of your brain – when you’re looking to buy a birthday present for your partner/mum/dad/gran/maid, look out for Jessie everywhere. Jonny Ensall. Out now.
Bat for Lashes: The Haunted Man When Natasha Khan emerged in 2006, we fell for her so hard she may as well have fed us a love potion. Where debut Fur and Gold glittered with this sort of whimsical weirdness, its follow-up, Two Suns, proved that concept albums could be cohesive, inventive, brilliantly catchy and emotionally raw. Both earned Khan Mercury Award nominations. What we’ve heard of the 32-year-old’s third album sounds like the next logical step, being bigger and bolder – particularly in her use of strings – and more knowingly sultry. Wherever her cosmic pop vision takes her, we’ll be following close behind. Kim Taylor Bennett. Released October 15.
DD Foxx: Had To Be Me DD Foxx’s goals are modest; she (only) wants to be the ‘first Middle Eastern Arab woman to become a global star’. Not bad for a girl who grew up in Saudi Arabia, never hearing a note of music until she was a teenager (seriously). Plucked from a job at a water company – (‘treating, recycling, desalinating’) – by a talent scout who heard her fronting a covers band, the Lebanese singer has spent the past three years being ‘groomed’ into a chart-friendly star-in-waiting. The 25-year-old has only played one solo gig in her life – supporting Sean Kingston at Chi last May – and that was long before she took on her Foxx-y, post-Gaga persona, instead appearing under her real name (Layal Halabi). With a number of Stateside record labels in talks to sign the Sharjah-based artist, we could be hearing a lot more of this tenacious talent. Rob Garratt. Out now.
MGMT: MGMT When MGMT previewed new track ‘Alien Days’ on stage at Colombian festival Estéreo Picnic in March – captured and shared online by fans – we were excited but dubious. Watching on YouTube, we felt great flashbacks of ‘Time to Pretend’s catchy synth lines colliding with the bad taste left in our mouth by the proggy undertones of 2010 LP Congratulations. Then, as the performance clicked into gear, something very glam and very Bowie, with a plodding beat and psychedelic pings and pows, came out. We were hooked once again. Rumours abound of a new album, and we can hardly wait for more. Tarbox Road Studios in Cassadaga, NY mentions the duo recording there this year. Lead singer VanWyngarden mentioned in an interview that it would be self-titled, yet nothing has been officially announced as we went to press. If this third record does see the light of day this year, it’ll be a strong contender for best of 2012. Danielle Goldstein. Release date TBC. All albums avaliable on iTunes after release date.
Missed these? Time to brush up: here are our albums of the year so far 1 Kindness World, You Need a Change of Mind 2 NZCA/Lines NZCA/Lines 3 Adriano K A L.A.S. 4 Alt-J An Awesome Wave 5 Evian Christ Kings and Them