Adele’s sophomore break-up album 21 has been topping charts since its release earlier this year — and deservedly so. Here are some other great British artists whose tracks you need to hear if you haven’t already.
Admiral Fallow – “Squealing Pigs”
Admiral Fallow is a Scottish band formed in 2007 by singer-songwriter Louis Abbott. Known as Brother Louis Collective until 2010, the band first released their album Boots Met My Face in April 2010 and Lo-Five Records re-released it in March 2011. The lyric “will you still know me in a year” is reminiscent of Noah and the Whale’s “Five Years Time,” but Admiral Fallow leans more towards rock and sounds more polished than the indie folk band from Twickenham. But polish doesn’t keep “Squealing Pigs” from being a beautiful anthem about tumultuous emotions.
Owl In The Sun – “Flags”
If you’re a sucker for earthy tones and tight harmonies, Owl In The Sun is for you. The band describes their music as “original melody-driven songs rooted in folky Americana and gypsy jazz, combining acoustic instruments with rich vocal harmonies.” BBC Radio 1 included the band as a BBC Introducing feature artist.
Nero – “Guilt”
I’ve recently started a foray into English dubstep, which, if you know me, seems like an unlikely attachment. But I’ve developed a soft spot for electronic music since studying in Britain. “Guilt,” the third single from dubstep duo Nero, is a heavy song that weaves together a lot of musical textures but is nicely counterbalanced by Alana Watson’s piercing vocals in the upper range.
Two Inch Punch – “Love You Up”
Next we have another electronic track from Two Inch Punch — this time categorized as “lovestep.” T.I.P. is a “frustrated soul and R&B singer, with an ear for harmony, melody and a love for dub, rap and soul” and this song sounds like the perfect combination of those loves. I warn you that this song is not for everyone. I was a little put off by it the first time I heard it but after listening to it a few more times, I came to appreciate the cut-up-and-rearranged sound that feels smooth and sexy at the same time.
Birdy – “Skinny Love”
Birdy is a 14-year-old singer-songwriter who released this haunting cover of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love” in March. Fearne Cotton showcased it as her Record of the Week shortly after and it was then added to BBC Radio 1’s B-list playlist. It reached number 19 in the Official UK Top 40 Singles Chart on May 1, 2011. Sadly, her recording future is unknown, but I advise you to keep an ear out for this talented girl.
Dionne Bromfield – “Yeah Right” (ft. Diggy Simmons)
Another youngin’ to watch out for is 15-year-old Dionne Bromfield. She released a debut album in 2009 on godmother Amy Winehouse’s Lioness Records label. Her second, “Good for the Soul,” is due to release in the UK in June. “Yeah Right” is the soulful take-no-prisoners first single from the new album.
Tinie Tempah – “Pass Out”
You’ve probably heard of rap star Tinie Tempah since his singles “Pass Out” and “Written In the Stars” have received a bit of radio airplay in the US. His debut album “Disc-Overy,” which was released in the UK last October, will be released here on May 17. I’m the first to admit that I’m not the biggest rap fan but I love Tinie Tempah, partly because of the accent but mostly because of the lyrics. “Pass Out” is a confident swagger (“where’s my encore?”) with the occasional hint of overcompensation (“I live a very very, very wild lifestyle … I’ve got so many clothes I keep some in my aunt’s house”). And as Chris Moyles’s analysis hilariously points out, it may be enjoyable at the time, but the mere fact that you’re passing out means you’re doing it too much.
Labrinth – “Let The Sun Shine”
It’s hard to talk about “Pass Out” without mentioning burgeoning genius Labrinth, the song’s co-writer. Labrinth has had his hand in a little bit of everything: writing, singing, producing and remixing. In April, it was reported that he turned down opportunities to work with Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj, opting to focus on his debut album instead. “I’m not just looking to be famous and attach myself to famous names,” he said. “I want to make history in the business in terms of creativity.” Labrinth has released one song of his own in September 2010 called “Let The Sun Shine.” The track pats listeners on the back and tells them everything will be alright without being too cheesy or Broadway.
Fixers – “Crystals”
Fixers is a band from Oxford with a dance-pop sound on the more muted side of psychedelic and are a part of the “Blessing Force” scene. “Crystals” is the first single from Fixers’ EP to be released on May 9th. I have an inkling that “Crystals” is going to make for a great summer jam!