From the folks that bring you Radar’s weekly Glossary, here’s a handy guide to all the buzz-worthy jargon for the coming 12 months
A is for Andrew Mason
Imagine the talent you could buy with $6billion. At 30 years old, Mason, the former Steve Albini studio protegé and all-round indier-than-thou Groupon founder and CEO, could now bankroll his very own major label, sign up the hippest bands, and still have plenty left for whatever absurd luxuries billionaires purchase. Watch this space.
B is for Boomerang Generation
Just ask Ernest Greene of Washed Out and Mike Diaz of Millionyoung. Both were welcomed back home by mom and dad post-college and chose to return the favour with dreamy, bedroom-produced pop. In 2011, the Boomerang Generation will prove you don’t always need to move out to move on.
C is for Cold Wave
Following the runaway success of Angular Records’ compilation album last year, there’s been a massive surge in tributes to the early ’80s cult French synth sound. The main proprietors are NYC label Wierd, with acts like Xeno and Oaklander. With Angular readying a slew of reissues in 2011, these will only serve to stoke those fires further.
D is for Dreamwave
Chillwave has a rip tide, and its name is dreamwave. LA’s Binary Entertainment offer up neon-lit retro-futurist bangers from their burgeoning stable: it’s the garish-looking cigarette boat to chillwave’s beach blanket. Label founders Josh Legg and Kyle Petersen act as the movement’s ambassadors, plugging acts Binary and beyond via their blog. Washed Out shows no sign of becoming washed up anytime soon, but Binary can still dream on.
E is for (Free) Earl!
OK so this alphabet is generally meant to exclude artists, but Odd Future’s 15-year-old fugitive enigmatically transcends such flimsy boundaries. After being packed off to a private ‘boot camp’ institution by his mother after she allegedly discovered his series of online promo videos, where the tearaway espouses his passions for crystal meth and anal sex, he’s become the omnipresent spectre looming behind the coolest new rap group on Earth. The ‘Free Earl!’ campaign is set to reach new levels in 2011.
F is for Future Garage
A new scene of artists working closer to garage’s original template is in full swing. Contrasting the moody bass fixation of its cousin, are artists like Disclosure and Pariah, as well as the Jamie Reynolds-endorsed Cheshire-based label, L2S Recordings, featuring dons like Whistla and Submerse.
G is for Gritpop
The most wince-worthy term to have cropped up in 2010, courtesy of Brother, has actually begun to gain momentum. The likes of London oiks Wheels and rabble-rousers The Tunics have bulked out Slough’s gobbiest’s claims at a ’90s Cool Britannia rebirth.
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H is for Heavy Pop
To quote the full Urban Dictionary entry made by Ellery Roberts, frontman of probably The Most Exciting New Band In Britain, WU LYF (World Unite/Lucifer Youth Foundation, of course): HEAVY POP – a universally accessible expression of deep understanding, of unadulterated truth. “WU LYF play heavy pop.”
I is for Incarceration
As gangsta-rap jailbirds Gucci Mane, Lil Wayne and Mystikal are released, Ja Rule, TI and DMX go back to the slammer – the eternal cycle of banged-up US rappers will not be stopped.
J is for Jen Long
NME’s Lady In Cardiff has been handed BBC Radio 1’s coveted Welsh talent-spotter slot, as previously assumed by the likes of Huw Stephens and Bethan Elfyn.
K is for Tim Key
Oh Tim Key, how we love thee, let us count the ways. Just when we thought the most inspiring new British comedian couldn’t make us any happier than recording a comedy album for Angular (on a boat, with a string quartet), he only goes and bags the supporting role in Alan Partridge’s comeback series on YouTube. If he’s not the biggest thing in 2012 then we’re gargling bleach, and that’s just that.
L is for Luv Luv Luv
Mairead Nash, Florence’s manager, has founded Luv Luv Luv Records. Only the next 12 months will tell if it does as well as her client.
M is for Massachusetts
Over 20 years removed from Dinosaur Jr, western Massachusetts has again become the flashpoint of all things indie – thanks to Golden Girls, DOM and The Fantasies.
N is for Night Bus
As you might have noticed, the charge of 2011 should-be/could-bes is smattered with sensitive soul-boy types – James Blake, Jamie Woon, Dagga – wandering lost in misty plumes of bass haze. There’s certainly something in the air. Expensive skull-encasing headphones, and the last 149 back to Snuggle-Town-Upon-Bedfordshire never felt like a more enticing marriage.
O is for Oxford
Everyone is backing a different one of Oxford’s graduating class of 2011. Well, if not everyone, a fair few indier-than-thou trend-spotters are, that’s for sure. But who will be collecting their first degree scrolls and who will be still running the union bar events calendar seven years after all their classmates have graduated? Post-pop misfits Fixers, beaty drifters Trophy Wife or OX’s premier chillwavers and remix masters Chad Valley? William Hill are yet to start taking bets on the possible outcome, but we’ll keep you posted with updates.
P is for Pluckers
Following the lightening fingers of Marnie Stern, Anna Calvi and 2:54’s Hannah Thurlow are cutting through the new year air with wailing that leaves mere civilians in a blithering stupor upon impact.
Q is for Q Chord
Look, up there in the clouds. Is it a synth? Is it a guitar? No, erm, actually it is a synth, yeah. But it don’t half sound like a guitar when it wants to. Albeit a shimmering, radiant mutation of an axe. So when you’re sat pontificating on why the new Klaxons or Naked And Famous tracks sound like their strums were born out of pools of burning sulphur on planets comprised of acidic gas, then there’s your answer right there. Suzuki have proven themselves adept at making more than just camp yuppy jeeps and come up with a strokeable hand-held gadget that’s probably what an ewok might busk with.
R is for Ragga-pop UK
With Jessie J leading the overground attack on Hitsville, and Lady Chann rounding up the underground resistance, there’s not been such a skank to the step of Britain’s pop since Aswad were Number One.
S is for Stonerism
At the end of last summer NME took a gruelling jaunt to sun-drenched Los Angeles for a few days to get legally (well, most of the time) baked with a legion of our favourite new stoners – Puro Instinct, Crocodiles and Ariel Pink. Puro’s leading lady Piper single-handedly managed to banish every single cranking stoner stereotype from our minds – a shining example of the new breed of zonked musician birthed from Cali’s slackening legislation – and saw us returning home way over our luggage allowance from the trove of bongs, vaporisers and Swiss Army-looking pipes we’d purchased in the heat of the moment. Puro’s album is out this year on Mexican Summer, and we’re predicting the smog cloud will spread out across the globe in 2011.
T is for Trad Heavy Metal
The New Wave Of Traditional Heavy Metal, or TNWOTHM, is quite simply the single most buzz tribute genre in heavy music. Resurrecting memories of the season of thrash a few years back, it’s apparently all about lusty maidens, denim jerkins and hilarious crimped fringes. At least that’s the case if you speak to Lady Starlight, Gaga’s bezzie-turned-first-lady-of-TNWOTHM. She’ll wax epically about the cross-continental tribes of purists, including Sweden’s Enforcer and Canada’s Cauldron.
U is for the UAE
After pinching the World Cup, things are kicking over in the Emirates. Darling Farah is conclusive evidence that dubstep has broken there, for one. He’s one of the most talked-about releases for Hyponik, the label that brought you Starkey and Breton.
V is for VBS
Vice’s excellent online TV channel (VBS.tv) has a staggering array of great music shows coming up, featuring documentaries about the new garage explosion and the New Orleans bounce scene, as well as a series following the behind-the-boards activities of producers from Mark Ronson and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry to Jamie Reynolds and Diplo.
W is for Witch house
If you find yourself thinking this entry is ‘sooooo 2010…’, then consider what happened to the sound – from when Salem paved the way two years ago to when oOoOO, Balam Acab and Creep took up the bleak baton this year. With albums due out from the last three, there’s a pit of doom evolving before our very eyes – we can’t wait to dive in.
X is for X Factor ‘getting cool’
If you’re not too indie to acknowledge the presence of Cowell and co, you might notice some parallels between them and goings-on in good ’ol NME Land. Since this new generation of cred-pop saviours arrived to raise pop’s bar of ‘cool’ higher than it’s been since the ’60s, the show’s tack has been reset. We’re preparing for 2011’s Throbbing Gristle Week already.
Y is for Yo-landi Vi$$er
Our favourite nugget of bizarre indie gossip last year was that Die Antwoord ethereal elfin rhyme-spitter and all-round coolest chick ever (pictured, below) was offered the leading role in Hollywood smash The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. She turned it down, but from what we hear on the grapevine she’s being rabidly courted by bigshot movie and record producers. So we’re predicting this year you’ll be seeing more from this one. Praise be.
Z is For (New) Zealand
Finally it seems there’s a new generation of bands to equal New Zealand’s legacy of Flying Nun Records and Crowded House. Along with The Naked And Famous, we bet their associates Kids Of 88 will be stomping their techno-party-pop all over the festival circuit this summer. Then there’s surrealist multi-instrumentalist bard Connan Mockasin, whose latest album, released on Erol Alkan’s label, is sure to become a cult hit.
This article originally appeared in the January 8 issue of NME