5. Promise And The Monster – Wither
Discovered when Myspace mattered to music, Promise And The Monster’s dark, sparse yet wildly imaginative goth-folk—yeah, terrible genre concatenation, but I concede defeat—was an instant hit in my not-so-thick music book. “Wither” has this fairytale quality to it. A little girl in the woods meets a terrifying creature. The creature has big teeth and terrible breath. It looks mean but just wants a friend. Of course, it could be lead-thinker Billie Lindahl’s innocent (but quietly wrathful) girl voice or it could be the way her skillful plucking is layered—those echoplexing string slides are killer!—throughout album Transparent Knives. Whatever it is, “Wither” is magical.
4. School Of Seven Bells – Love Play
New York’s School Of Seven Bells are the most technology focused group on the list; excepting the Ladytron tune to follow. That shouldn’t detract from the group’s gossamery dreampop. Fronted by Alejandra Deheza and her sideman Benjamin Curtis, the Bells fuse Cocteau Twins, Hooverphonic, and Lush to form a connection between then (‘80s-‘90s) and now. Curtis’ economical strums and plucks also recall Jamie West-Oram (The Fixx), which is a positive where I’m from.
3. Ladytron – Destroy Everything You Touch
I think the first time I heard Ladytron’s “Destroy Everything You Touch” in FIFA’s 2006 World Cup title for PS2. Yeah, that’s it. The song’s ethereal drive made for a One-Click purchase of the Witching Hour effort. In many respects, Ladytron are a direct descendents of Depeche Mode and other British notables of the ’80s/’90s, but it’d be hard to discount the German electronic and k-rock influence as well. Unfortunately, Ladytron has yet to match Witching Hour‘s brilliance (especially where it concerns “Destroy Everything You Touch”).
2. Smoke Fairies – Strange Moon Rising
Smoke Fairies play an enchanting mix of British and American folk music, modernized to include pop, kraut rock (check out the end of “River Song”, please), and other eyebrow-raising genre blends. Fronted by Katherine Blamire and Jessica Davies, Smoke Fairies’ alluring quality comes from their pan-folk disposition. “Strange Moon Rising” could sonically be home to backwoods Appalachia or the moors of Yorkshire. It’s cool, confident, yet somehow mysterious. “Strange Moon Rising” is off the Through Low Light and Trees album, and I recommend nabbing it while it’s domestically available.
1. 2:54 – You’re Early
UK’s 2:54 (or twofiftyfour) is new to me, but it only took a few streams—who says spins these days?—of “You’re Early” for me to have a solid man crush. Not just “You’re Early” but the phenomenal “Scarlet” as well. Curve, The Cure, Anathema—the rhythm section, at least—and Shirley Manson abound throughout 2:54’s soundscape, but who doesn’t like a good blend of dreampop, post-punk, and dark wave? What initially ensnared me was the brooding, overcast nature of “You’re Early”. But there’s movement here. Whether it’s a foggy night on the highway or a long-distance train ride through unfamiliar lands, there’s a sense that the song’s going somewhere. 2:54’s a keeper for sure.