on my boombox: the ladies of 2012 (part one)

6 Jan

I hear a lot of music snobs/blog enthusiasts complain about the deluge of “best of” and “2012 preview” music compilations around this time of year. You know what I say to that? Good problems. Year-end lists are one of my most effective ways for finding those bands that I was not quite hip enough to discover when they were really underground (but maaaaybe pretend I knew about all along). The preview lists? Those help me find music I might have otherwise considered boring and inaccessible until I hear some electro remixes of said indie music, and then I will revisit it and discover it’s actually pretty good.

So, in order to set my 2012 preview list apart from the pack, I decided to use gender as my crucial differentiator. Partially because I love chick musicians and lament their underrepresentation, and partially because it helped me prioritize among the crowd of talented musicians who will undoubtedly rock the scene this year. Again, good problems.

So, in no particular order, here are the ladies who I predict will make a splash this year. If nowhere else than on my boombox. I’ll split this into two posts because I got a little carried away.

1. Santigold

Oh Santigold. I liken my relationship with you to that with Four Loko: you rocked my world for a brief, memorable period, before you became suddenly elusive and disappeared. Santigold produced one of the greatest albums of the decade in 2009, back when she still went by “Santogold.” This album’s effortless fusion of hip hop, electro, and soul still sounds innovative when I listen to it (incessantly) today, which proves how truly groundbreaking Santigold’s aesthetic was three years ago—I can’t wait any longer to hear what she has up her sleeve. After claiming she would complete her sophomore effort in fall 2011, she whetted appetites in September with “Go,” an electrifying collaboration with Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, as well as a guest spot on the Spank Rock track “Car Song,” but mum is still the word on an official album release. Enough is enough: give us more, give us more!

Spank Rock featuring Santigold, “Car Song”

2. Lana Del Rey

In the most ingenious marketing and branding campaign of the year, indie songstress turned sex bomb Lana Del Rey managed to become the biggest thing to hit the internet since tabbed browning—all with very little work of her own. Armed with stunning good looks, a carefully cultivated Nancy Sinatra-gangster persona, and a whopping two tracks, Lana ignited the blogosphere. After riding the internet hype wave straight into a major record deal in October, Lana will release her debut EP “Born 2 Die” in early 2012. So, the time has come: put up or shut up, Lana. The world is watching. No pressure.

Lana Del Rey (Jamie Woon remix), “Video Games”


3. Azealia Banks

In the world of female MCs filled with larger-than-life personalities (e.g., Nicki Minaj’s neon alien sexpot and Beyonce’s world domination via Sasha Fierce), it’s nice to listen to a lady who seems like a real person without sinking to Taylor Swift-level beige-ness. Azealia’s style is fresh and colorful and urban, but she doesn’t allow an overly-cultivated aesthetic to cloud the important stuff: she is an amazingly talented MC with complete mastery over her flow (see: spitting rapid fire rhymes in “Grand Scam”) and a sound that is both marketable and fresh to death (see: incorporating house beats into hip-hop lyrics on hit singles “212” and “Liquorice”). As if you need another reason to be amped for her full-length debut, it’s being produced by Paul Epworth, the mastermind behind Feist and Adele.

4. Alexis Krauss (Sleigh Bells)

The first time I listened to Sleigh Bells, I was following a tweet from my favorite music critic Toure, who described their sound as “sternum rattling.” Anyone who owns decent headphones or has seen these guys live can attest to the rattling—it’s real and it’s serious. While touring for their debut album “Treats,” Sleigh Bells built serious credibility by putting on a punishingly loud and bombastic live show with only 49 minutes of material. As one of the many who has been waiting with baited breath for the follow-up album, I shivered when I read the title: “Reign of Terror.” The expectedly explosive first single, “Born to Lose,” already has me picturing myself returning to the adrenaline-soaked mosh pits of yet another Sleigh Bells show, both loving and fearing for my life at the same time.

Sleigh Bells, “Born to Lose”

5. Sarah Barthel (Phantogram)

I confess that I very rarely discover long-term musical interests during opening sets; to be quite honest, I’m never on time for anything, and I spend most opening sets dealing with coat checks and bartenders. Thankfully, this was not the case when I saw the Glitch Mob at the 930 Club in July. The second I arrived, I was immediately drawn into the duo tearing it up for the early crowd with an impressive, understated energy. Phantogram’s October EP Nightlife gained them much well-deserved attention and praise, but I suspect these guys will milk 2011’s productivity into greater mainstream success this year; I’m calling a Saturday Night Live appearance at the least. Until then, I’ll keep singing along to “Don’t Move” on repeat.

Phantogram, “Don’t Move”


One Response to “on my boombox: the ladies of 2012 (part one)”


  1. on my boombox: weekend roll out, 2.2 « Rhythm without Representation - February 3, 2012

    […] I had only delved into the singles (and obviously the Santigold collab, “Car Song,” which I featured on RWR back in […]

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