james debate
james debate

Tuesday 11 January 2011

The time has finally come for me to reveal the "next big thing" for 2011, the big acts and/or products that are becoming widely known among the cognoscenti as soon-to-be household names. This year I am going to break with tradition and divide this list into multiple posts, starting with my preview of the best new music coming out in the near future.

new music 2011 ephemeric

Next year's music scene is starting to look quite exciting as we get January underway. There seems to be a little bit of something for everyone as old favorites return with new albums, forgotten names angle for a comeback, and of course the usual influx of promising new talent.

We'll begin with some of the more exciting upcoming albums from established bands and old favorites before I preview some of the hottest new bands in 2011.

Returning Favorites

(Untitled 2nd Album) - Fleet Foxes

fleet foxes

One of the more successful new bands from the last few years, you'll be hard pressed to find someone who didn't appreciate their eponymous debut album, highlighted by their key single White Winter Hymnal (above).

Now the Seattle-based group are preparing to release their much anticipated, as yet unnamed, follow up album. Little is known about it right now, except that it's due for an early spring release. Supposedly the band is going for a less poppy, more "groove based" sound. If the end result is as good as the first album, then this is definitely one to look out for in 2011.

Zonoscope - Cut Copy

cut copy zonoscope

Australian electropop band Cut Copy have yet to really hit the big time with two studio albums already to their name, but their cv already includes a number of memorable tracks like A Dream and Going Nowhere.

Their third album is due for release next month, and so far only two songs have been revealed: the Beach Boys tinged Where I'm Going (above) and Take Me Over, a track which carries more than a hint of the 80s about it. They're both pretty good. After a somewhat lacklustre second album, Zonoscope could be something pretty special, keep an eye out.

(Untitled 8th Album) - Radiohead


The Ephemeric is pretty excited about the prospects of Radiohead releasing a new album, and I dare say we're not the only ones. As one of the most enduring bands of the past 20 years, Radiohead have achieved a standing that few other bands will ever do.

Nothing is known about their upcoming album, except that it will contain 10 tracks and will probably be released in 2011. Questions remain over how it will be released, following the unusual precedent set by In Rainbows, but ultimately what we look forward to most is the music. Anything as good as classic tune No Surprises will have me in a tizzy.

(Untitled 2nd Album) - Passion Pit

passion pit

Another one of the best new bands in recent years. Again, no name yet for this follow up to Passion Pit's stunning debut album Manners. All that is known is that a spring release is likely, hopefully this year.

Hard to pick out a best song from an album that was full of excellent music, but if they can follow up with more songs with the quality of To Kingdom Come (above), Sleepyhead, Moth's Wings and Eyes as Candles, then we have an early frontrunner for album of the year.

In addition to these highlights, we await with interest for the rumored new album from Coldplay, said to be taking a more acoustic and intimate approach (good move), and the upcoming REM album Collapse into Now. Here's hoping that the latter can dismiss bad memories of their last, substandard album.

Some fantastic lesser known bands are reportedly coming out with new albums as well, including the Shins and M83. Nothing is known about either releases right now, but rest assured the Ephemeric is extremely excited about the prospect, and so should you be.

Other albums which will no doubt have a big impact in the upcoming year should you be so inclined include new releases from the likes of Lady Gaga and Kanye West's upcoming collaboration with Jay-Z. Now onto the new bands!

Debut Artists

Passive me, Aggressive you - The Naked and Famous

the naked and famous

This New Zealand alternative band achieved recognition by being named in the BBC's sound of 2011 poll and have already received a series of awards for Young Blood (above). That's all well and good until you realise how damn catchy their other single Punching in a Dream is. We recognise potential when we see it, and this band has it in spades.

Their debut album, Passive Me, Agressive You has yet to reach these shores following a successful stint at the top of the New Zealand charts at the end of last year, but with a tentative release scheduled in for March of this year, you can be sure that we will be waiting anxiously for that.

Different Gear, Still Speeding - Beady Eye

beady eye

The splitting of iconic British grungers Oasis may have been a blessing in disguise. It's no secret that the band had been stalling for a number of years, lacking in the creativity and quality that we all remember from the 90s. Now Liam Gallagher has started his own offshoot band, Beady Eye, and early signs suggest that this upheaval might just have been the kick he needed.

First single Bring the Light (above) introduces us to an entirely new sound from Liam, almost a modern twist of 50s rockabilly, something I frankly didn't know he had in him. In short, it rocks, and as someone who has heard previews of the rest of the album I can tell you that it's no fluke. This could be a triumphant return to form, Britain holds its breath.

(Untitled debut album) - The Knocks

the knocks

Based out of the lower east side of Manhattan, this electronic production duo developed a reputation for producing some awesome mashups, but have gone on to release their own originals, along with some eye-meltingly beautiful retro album art to go with it.

Debut single Make it Better is a playfully dancey number, but they one upped themselves with follow up Dancing with the DJ (above), which is an instant feel-good classic. These two are only a taste of what's to come. Surely an album will not be far behind.

(Untitled debut album) - Van Go Lion

van go lion ephemeric

One of the more exciting upcoming bands, Van Go Lion is generating a healthy amount of buzz on the internet. Their self titled EP gave us a taste of what's to come, soaring 80s influenced electro-anthems, but beyond this not much is known about what to expect in the way of a full debut or when to expect it.

Catchy single Convenience Stores and Parking Lots (above) seems destined for chart success, but their EP hints at enough variety to keep punters coming back for more. Still a long way to go for a band that's only just starting to make the rounds, but the course seems clear for this duo.

Gilgamesh - Gypsy & the Cat

gypsy & the cat ephemeric

Yet another Oceanic band being tipped for glory. It's definitely a great time for music from that region. A sound that melds the choral 80s goodness of Fleetwood Mac with the electro-pop of fellow Aussies Empire of the Sun, this could be the best debut yet.

With their debut album released in the dying embers of December 2010, this is a band many are tipping for glory in 2011. Single The Piper's Song (above) is an extremely catchy, radio friendly track, but the entirety of the debut album is full of quality and deserves a listen, full review coming soon.

So there you have a quick run down of the most exciting musical releases coming up this year. Keep an eye out for them, post a few tips of your own in the comments section, let 2011 begin!

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