First Aid Kit's album The Big Black and the Blue is an early contender for album of the year. The spine-tingling harmonies of the Soderburg sisters hit you hard from the opening seconds and never let up. It sounds like it's on the country end of the neo-folk spectrum, but somehow the Swedishness and remarkable youth of the duo strip it of all the baggage carried by any genre label. The tunes are melancholy but somehow the music leaves you on a total high.
Apparently Teen Dream is the third album by Beach House, but they're new to me. At first I thought the singer was male, so deep and husky is her voice. But it's totally alluring, along with the guitarist who stole Kevin Shields's whammy bar.
jj - no. 3. More Swedish goodness. Happily, it's a continuation of the afro-reggae tripped-out, mellow, electro-acoustic lounge pop of its predecessor, no. 2. Despite the lazy calm this music exudes, there is a homeopathic hint of badness to this group. It's looking like the first half of the year is owned by duos.
Go Do is a solo album by the falsetto-voiced guitarist of Sigur Ros, Jonsi. He looks bonkers in the videos, but it's OK because he's Icelandic. I absolutely loved Sven g Englar by his old band, but somehow they got ponderous and tired pretty quickly. Jonsi ups the tempo and makes a joyful noise here.
Laura Marling's second album, I Speak Because I Can is more consistent that her debut, and contains one of my favourite songs of the year, Rambling Man. It's a close cousin to Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell, but it's also reminiscent of the very 21st century wave of folk being wonderfully woven by her buddies like Johnny Flynn.
This Is Happenning by LCD Soundsystem is pumping party music for the feet and the brain. Don't expect it to depart much from the last outing Sound of Silver. Once again you will be amazed how brilliantly he filters Eno/Talking Heads through a modern digital production filter.
Surfer Blood are just one of a zillion new indie ands, but somehow their album Astro Coast stands out from the pack. Cavernous reverb, great hooks, and youth on their side made it a keeper.
Aside from the reverb, I could say the same things about Two Door Cinema Club as Surfer Blood. Being young and nerdy looking, and coming from Northern Ireland also make them interesting. The songs on Tourist History are super-catchy. I have a gland that exudes endorphins when I hear XTC. These lads also stimulate it.