Esben and the Witch
Considering the likes of The xx, Zola Jesus, Warpaint and Tamaryn have all received ample praise over their respected debuts in recent years, it's a very welcoming time for a new breed of goth-pop artists. Brighton, England's Esben and the Witch look to keep that trend continuing strong in 2011. The trio's name derives from a Danish fairytale, which definitely puts their music into context. As darkly melodic hazy guitars weave around lead singer Rachel Davies' beautifully haunting vocals, Esben and the Witch's debut, Violet Cries, could be this year's scary step-sister to Beach House's 2010 breakthrough, Teen Dream.
Esben and the Witch - "Warpath"
While there may not be any firm details as to when fans of Le Tigre can expect an end to the band's lengthy hiatus, 2011 will supply a sure fix with MEN. It's the performance art dance project spearheaded by JD Samson (the one with the mustache) alongside members who were absorbed from Samson's other project, Hirsute. MEN stresses the "performance art" part pretty heavily in their live show, and have been building positive buzz since its formation in 2007. However, it's taken a few years for the ensemble to perfect a formal debut, Talk About Body, which comes your way chalk full of synth-heavy dance beats this February.
MEN - "Simultaneously"
From the same label that brought you 2010 breakout act, Wild Nothing, comes MINKS. Like their fellow labelmates on the Captured Tracks roster, this Brooklyn project features minimalist production in their brand of lush, dreamy indie pop that beckons back to the early '80s UK goth scene. The duo formally arrived in 2010 as virtual unknowns, releasing a string of well-received singles. Their sound is dreary and disparaging much like the English rain, but still shimmers with the same beauty of an early-era Cure song. MINKS' debut, By the Hedge, makes the move to become on the 2011's earliest acclaimed albums when it is released in January.
MINKS - "Funeral Song"
You may recognize SHARKS from AwkwardSound's 25 Best Albums of the Year of 2010 list, but AwkwardSound still needs a debut full-length from these UK punks to confirm their legitimacy. Despite being located across the pond, SHARKS are indebted to Springsteen's blue collar American anthems, the glossy side of punk in London Calling and emotionally-charged lyrics à la Hüsker Dü. In 2010, SHARKS spent time touring with America's current punk rock darlings, The Gaslight Anthem. In 2011, The Gaslight Anthem may find themselves sharing the top billing.
SHARKS - "More Blue"
Much like goth pop's new wave, the '90s-style indie rock renaissance is another sound that will surely continue in 2011 thanks to London's Yuck. The quintet steals pages from the handbooks of Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine and Teenage Fanclub by packing enjoyable male-female choruses between complex, distorted layers of guitar. Yuck will surely find good company alongside Japandroids, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and PS I Love You when they join the fray of recent fuzz-rock revivalists with their self-titled debut, slated for release in February.
Yuck - "Georgia"