We all have our favourites, but there must be more to music than Gaga and Kanye, right? Here’s our snobbish view of who you should check out to expand your musical horizons.
American Singer-songwriter Joanna Newsom is from another planet. She made harps cool in 2004 with her weird and wonderful debut album The Milk-Eyed Mender, before releasing Ys; an orchestral EP of five twelve-minute songs. Her latest three-part album Have One on Me, has focused her sound and seen her voice change from an inimitable child-like shrill to a more mature one that has brought comparisons to Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell. The album is her most successful, and has evolved her sound to a much more mainstream-friendly one.
Discography: The Milk-Eyed Mender (2004) Ys (EP, 2006), Joanna Newsom and the Ys Street Band (EP,2007), Have One on Me (2010)
Cairo 360 tip: Newsom is dating Saturday Night Live mainstay Andy Samberg.
Panda Bear, Geologist, Deakin and Avey Tare make up Animal Collective; a group whose experimentalism has dipped into folk, art-rock, electronica and pop-psychedelia. 2009’s Merriweather Post Pavilion is hailed as one of the best albums of the last decade; a bouncy Afro-beat-inspired pop parade. Since then, members Avery Tare and Panda Bear have released solo records into already successful solo careers. Flicking through the AC back catalogue – which is so big that we couldn’t list it all below – you won’t find any two albums alike as they jump from style to style, and they seem to follow the mantra that imperfection is perfection. Their setup on stage has been compared to a science lab, and no performance of one song is ever the same.
Discography: Sung Tongs (2005), Feels (2005), Strawberry Jam (2007), Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)
Cairo 360 Tip: The band can now claim to be certified shoe designers. Each member designed sneakers for American company Keep last year. All the profits went to charity.
If ever there were any two single people to blow Canadian stereotypes out of the water, it would be Alice Glass and Ethan Kath. The duo has broken out of the successful rock trend in their hometown of Toronto, Canada and created their own blend of hardcore synth-pop. Two self-titled albums have seen Kath - the engineer of the act – venture into trance, dance and a brilliant use of 8-bit chip music; samples taken from the chips of old video game consoles and computers. Glass is the face of the duo, and has that perfect cool blend of precise bob-haircut and too much eyeliner that keeps your eyes interested as she flexes her flexible vocals.
Discography: Crystal Castles (2008), Crystal Castles II (2010)
Cairo 360 tip: In 2008, the group were sued by artist Trevor Brown for using his famous black-eyed Madonna in their merchandising without permission.
Tyler, The Creator
This twenty-year-old rapper has wasted no time in ruffling feathers left, right and centre; but then what rapper hasn’t? Along with his crew Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All – OFWGKTA or Odd Future for short – his crude storytelling is on a par with a young Eminem; Tyler is a rapper that doesn’t take himself or anyone else seriously. A twitter feud with Chris Brown almost spilled onto the streets when a video of Brown’s cousins following and threatening Odd Future member Frank Ocean emerged. A beef with Wiz Khallifa, Twitter rows with fans and Tyler’s Tupac-ish predictions of an early death ensure that the next ten years or so will be an interesting time for him.
Discography: Bastard (2009), Goblin (2011)
Cairo 360 Tip: Tyler and other members of Odd Future are collaborating with the producers of Jackass to create Loiter Squad; a comedy-sketch TV series.
His over-exuberance may annoy some; but there’s no denying his voice and talent. Patrick Watson and his eponymous band make up for the pretentiousness of using domestic objects as instruments – he played a bike during the recording of ‘Beijing’ – and impromptu performances in city streets by producing some pretty unique music. His fusion of jazz, folk and classical music makes him as close to a male equivalent to Norah Jones as you’ll find.
Discography: Just Another Ordinary Day (2003), Close To Paradise (2006), Wooden Arms (2009)
Cairo 360 tip: Watson started his career with a ska band called Gangster Politics.