America is in the midst of breaking away from an overly stylized sound, distasteful rap lyrics and pretty faces with flawed voices, to well-versed musicians with breathtaking harmonies and raw yet catchy sounds – the United States is facing another British Invasion.
Musical artists and bands like Adele, Florence and the Machine, Mumford & Sons, Muse and Radiohead have dominated multiple Billboard charts, headlined countless music festivals and even weaved their way into various American movie soundtracks.
These acts have opened up a new arena for British bands, enabling them to play concerts and radio shows, and to attract new audiences.
BBC, Britscene, About.com, and Time magazine listed multiple new British artists — most of them only in their twenties — to watch out for in 2011. Each of these artists and bands is taking music to new heights by bringing powerful vocals and eclectic arrangements that resonate with listeners.
Ed Sheeran resembles a light hearted Joshua Radin with his youthful sweet voice, calm acoustic guitar and charming lyrics in his single “The A Team,” which charted No. 3 in the United Kingdom.
Sheeran first gained recognition with Jamie Foxx and through multiple videos on YouTube. He is releasing his first album with Atlantic Records on Sept. 12.
Jai Paul, another young talent, is a complexity of falsetto harmonies, throbbing bass and warped synthesizers. His debut single “BTSTU” peaked as a sample in Drake’s “Dreams Money Can Buy,” and recent rumors of an album have been stemming since Jai Paul released a preview of one of his songs, “Baby Beat.”
James Blake appears to be a combination of Paul and Sheeran, but he distinguishes himself beyond his high Justin Vernon-esque vocals and disjointed beats by including elements of dubstep.
He was initially recognized for his cover of Feist’s “Limit to Your Love,” and has only shown more depth through his late winter album James Blake, which characterizes more of his strange, enticing sound.
Laura Marling, originally part of the British indie band Noah and the Whale, has gone solo. Her strong, mature voice combined with folky accompaniments, low rattling guitar plucks and the occasional banjo in “Rambling Man” and “Devil’s Spoke” from her second album I Speak Because I Can demonstrate her sultry intrigue and talent.
Marling is releasing another album, A Creature I Don’t Know, on Sept. 13, which is sure to showcase more of this young artist’s brilliant work.
Smoke Fairies, created by Katherine Blamire and Jessica Davies, epitomizes the talented female musicians rising up in Britain.
The pair was established when they were just preteens, gaining recognition by forcing Jack White (lead singer of The White Stripes) to listen to their single in a bar. White was impressed, and Smoke Fairies has since been able to debut in
larger venues such as the iTunes festival in London.
Be sure to check out the group’s 2011 summer album, Through Low Light and Trees, which provides captivating eerie blends of echoing harmonies with light guitar strings.
The Joy Formidable
The Joy Formidable, established in 2007, has gained recent popularity with its spring album The Big Roar. The group re-released one of its earlier singles “Whirring,” causing the album to become a booming success.
Lead singer Ritzy Bryan sounds like an older Tegan and Sara, and her soft, raw voice is illuminated with driving beats and catchy background vocals.
Although Tribes is still only a Myspace band, it has released an EP, We Were Children, and the band just announced its fall 2011 tour, which is unfortunately only in the UK so far.
Yuck released an album earlier this year as well, titled Yuck. Both of these bands’ albums beckon Nirvana fans who are nostalgic for Kurt Cobain’s gritty grumbles and garage band instrumentals, yet also want driving songs that have an upbeat kick.
The always-shocking Lady Gaga, pop diva Britney Spears and auto-tune master Lil Wayne better start combining forces or creating new material because the rich melodic female vocalists, genre mixing young males and grungy bands of England are starting to trump the U.S. charts and will ultimately become the new music scene in America.