Rachael Clegg looks at the music that’s turning heads on the national stage
SHEFFIELD’S sound of 2013 may be defined by grit, sweat and toil but, nationally, the picture is very different.
This year’s hotly-tipped albums come with a polished sound and a great deal of record company clout.
Among the artists is New York-born rapper Azealia Banks, who has been keeping us on tenterhooks since she released her debut single 212 in December 2011. The same year she topped NME’s Cool List and finished third in the BBC’s Sound Of 2012 poll. 2012 saw her releasing a mixtape, Fantasea, in July and playing 11 sold-out UK shows, as well as music festivals such as Coachella, Reading and Leeds and the BBC Radio 1 Big Weekender. Following label changes and disagreements, the 21-year-old’s debut album, Broke With Expensive Taste, is due to be released in February 2013.
It’s also looking to be a good year for Winston Yellen, whose debut single Even If We Try was released in November last year. The 23-year-old’s musical outfit, Night Beds, makes dark, cathartic music that is eerily emotional, raw and haunting, with wistful vocals, which he describes as “an exercise in catharsis”. His first album, Country Sleep, which was recorded in a self-built studio in Johnny Cash’s old house, will be released on February 11.
It’s also a year for the veteran popsters.
When Mariah Carey released new track Triumphant (Get ‘Em) during the summer she teased that it would be the lead single from her as-yet-untitled upcoming 14th album, which follows 2010’s Merry Christmas II You. “I’m collaborating with a lot of my favourite people but the main thing is I’m not trying to follow any particular trend, I want it to be well received. I want to stay true to myself and the music that I love and make the fans happy,” she has said. Now a wife and mum, Carey’s new studio album, which is scheduled for release in the spring, could focus on her experiences of motherhood and marriage.
Lady Gaga is also lined-up for a big year with the release of her third original album, ARTPOP. The flamboyant singer, whose real name is Stefani Germanotta, has already teased that she is working with DJ White Shadow, RedOne, Zedd and Madeon among other collaborators, and her manager Vincent Herbert has said the new tracks, which she started writing during her Born This Way tour, are “insane and great”. ARTPOP is expected to be out in the spring.
Even Johnny Marr’s resurrected himself for a year of rock and roll.
Marr, one of the most celebrated guitarists in the history of contemporary music, is going solo after being part of The Smiths, The Pretenders, Modest Mouse and The Cribs. The 49-year-old, recently voted Q’s Hero, will unveil his first ever solo album, The Messenger, on February 25. Marr has said that Manchester has influenced his sound: “When you’re away from your home city, you’re more compelled to write about it – whether that’s because you’re homesick or you’ve got more objectivity, I don’t know. Growing up in the city influences you, and I’ve continued to see stories and energy in it.”
Eminem has also announced he’s making a come-back. He announced last May that he has started work on his eighth album. Since then, he has teased that long-time collaborators Dr Dre and 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson) will be involved, with producer No ID rumoured to help shape the record. The 40-year-old will headline Reading and Leeds festivals in August, so fingers crossed the new material, which comes three years after 2010’s Recovery, will be out by then.
And then - of course - there’s Jessie J who, having postponed her February sell-out tour to October, is preparing for an album release. “My album is not finished and I am giving myself more time to finish it. Music and art cannot be rushed. I promise it will be worth the wait,” she tweeted. The 24-year-old has worked with Diane Warren, Cee-Lo Green and her Price Tag co-writer Claude Kelly. The debut from Jessie J - whose full name is Jessica Cornish - was a mix of genres including soul, R&B, pop and hip-hop, so let’s hope her second record will be just as exciting.
Tom Odell’s also pinpointed as one of 2013’s must-see acts. Having already won the 2013 BRIT Critics’ Choice Award, 22-year-old Chichester lad Tom has been compared to the late Jeff Buckley. He got a recording deal after performing four gigs and, following the release of his debut EP Songs From Another Love in November, his debut album is set to drop in spring 2013.
Some of the shows on his debut headlining tour have already sold out - not bad for someone who’s yet to release their first long-player.
And finally, rap / electro quartet Rudimental release their debut this year, which is due to hit the shelves on February 25.
“When we all met we talked about what we wanted to do in five years’ time, 10 years’ time - what we thought is, ‘We want to have classic albums like the big acts like Massive Attack’.
“We want to bring out a seminal, genre-defining album,” said Amor.