Local Natives: With debut album ‘Gorilla Manor’ causing indie lovers to fall over themselves in praise, SoCal’s Local Natives won over the notorious showcase festival SXSW in 2009, before picking up more five-star reviews than pretty much anyone else. That they’re still a relative unknown is something a mystery, and one that’s sure to end before too long, with the band’s tight harmonies being tipped for the top by pretty much anyone in the know. Buy the album now, and catch them live before the arena tours come along.
Freelance Whales: This bizarrely named Williamsburg group is staunchly atypical, drafting in harmoniums, banjos and glockenspiels alongside more typical indie instrumentation like guitars, keyboards and laptops. Another act so widely tipped it’s frankly a miracle they haven’t made it to the big time already, Freelance Whales are fragile and sentimental, tugging at the heart strings in a manor that will have you relating to the point where you’re reaching for the tissues. Think Postal Service with a still more hefty emotional bent.
Sleep Thieves: Dublin electronic-influenced band with plenty in the way of delicate harmonies are barely past their first EP, but are nonetheless making waves in Ireland’s capital. They’re yet to grab a record deal, but the three-piece made up of the remnants of several other acts are proving a crowd pleaser and even intriguing with their mellow Dublin city walkabout video. Currently playing to a few hundred a show on a good day, Sleep Thieves could find themselves with a more international outlook by the end of 2010.
And So I Watch You From Afar: Belfast’s finest output since Snow Patrol are putting instrumental rock music back on the map, with the kind of slamming, heart-thumping performances that show they can do things with guitars which have lesser players scratching their heads in disbelief. As one of the most sought after local tickets in 2009, And So I Watch You From Afar branched out into the UK and Europe towards the end of the last decade. It’s hard not to see them going a whole lot further over the next year.
Marina and the Diamonds: Named for her fans (The Diamonds), Welsh solo singer-songwriter Marina Diamandis has been slowly winning over critics throughout 2010 with her two debut EPs, and is expected to release her first album in February. With recording contracts in both the UK and US already taken care of, the labels clearly have Marina marked, and we can expect a 2010 breakthrough that sees her bothering the charts in a big way.
Ellie Goulding: Having won the critics choice Brit Award in 2009 (following in the footsteps of the magnificent Florence and the Machine and Adele) you could argue it would be madness not to tip Ellie Goulding for big things this year. Her melancholy take on life has all the infectious charm to back up her ‘soon to be big’ tag and was created in part by the same man who made Katy Perry’s ‘I Kissed A Girl’ so big. Ellie’s certainly a ‘glass-half-empty’ singer, but one with an infectious eye for a tune.
James Hendicott is a travel and music writer living in Ireland, and your guide to Celtic punk in the Music+Travel Worldwide from Museyon Guides. More of his work can be found at hendicottwriting.com. And be sure to tune in each and every Wednesday, to discover a new scene with James’ signature six-song playlists.
Photo via myspace/freelancewhales