Motorbike and leather jacket. Check. Cigarettes under a short rolled up sleeve. Check. Unnecessarily big glsses. Check. Excluding the obvious, 2011 was an over flow of variety, novelty and extravagance. But mostly, the blissful year just gone was an abundance of cool. Let us salute those furthest from the sun, and find out what separates them from the kingdom of tragically uncool.
Blood Orange – Contriving yet another alias, Dev Hynes has swapped the bifocals and Russian hat for a baseball cat and muscles. Locking away the acoustic guitar and Star Wars days of Lightspeed Champion, Devonté boogied his way into the cool list with his Blood Orange debut Coastal Grooves. Blending the ilumination of 1980’s pop and the rockabilly styles of 1950’s America, Dev has manage to extract blood from a stone once again, and still remain one of the coolest fellas in music.
Lana Del Rey – Baroque pop sensation Lana Del Rey has tossed a wooden spoon into indie music this past year, and her tracks are staying divinely uncovered going into the new year. With her second studio album set for release later this month, those cherry lips and velvet eyes will tighten an alternative grip on the crown of 2012. But is she cool? Describing herself as a “gangsta Nancy Sinatra” is probably the coolest comparison the human mind is able to generate.
Ellery Roberts – Attempting to unite the world in Lucifers youth foundation seems to going well for Manchester’s newest conquerer. Defining 2011 with Wu Lyf’s profoundly brilliant Go Tell Fire To Mountain seemed like a walk in the park for Ellery. Mastering the art post-rock public seduction whilst staying virtually anonymous and in a state of psychedelic control solidifies Ellery’s place in the cool list. Plus, he’s got a pretty good quiff.
Tyler, The Creator – Whether 2012 will indeed hold an Odd Future for us all is yet to be tested. But heading one of the stand out collectives of the past year seems cool enough for the controversial LA maverick. Perhaps sitting on the misogynistic side of the table when it comes to some of his lyrics, but his free spirited youthful essence sparkles above his mediated criticisms, and even above his own sanctimonious, pretentious self opinion. As much as we may hate it, arrogance has always been cool. Like smoking, or drinking alone in the dark whilst watching Magnum PI naked…
Gbenga Adelekan – It was obvious that a bass player was going to be in the cool list. And to be honest, it was probably more obvious that it was going to be Metronomy’s harmonising hipster Gbenga Adelekan. When he is not playing bass, he is mixing, remixing, retuning, panning and God knows what else in his solo project. Oozing cool, he even surpasses Joe Mount on the cool throne. If you ask me, it’s hair. Blocky but brilliant.
Laura Marling – Coolest folk genius going, Laura Marling is not unfamiliar with the cool brand; nor is she bothered about such a mark. Care free as always, she devises the equation of writing music. “Talent, integrity and self loathing. The three things every artists needs”. Couldn’t have put it better myself. Her words ring true in her own music and persona, and she keeps the beauty and anger caged and bound together.
Azealia Banks – Harlems rap harlet knows her attitude wont get her many places, but she’s found a few cracks in the otherwise unflappable system. Electro house and rap, street as it comes. And it’s all compact, compressed in the strangest, most fornicated way fashionable for modern music. Small woman, with a large sound, and an even larger personality, she tormented our speakers last year. And she wont stop there. Her collaborations with king of hip hop Jay-Z and Scissors Sisters has propelled her into the limitless boundaries of 2012.
Orlando Weeks – Shyness, solitude and a bloody good singing voice. Pushing his hair back through his hands and tuning his telecaster are enough to melt the minority girls hearts into a pool of incoherent babbling and awe. Yet filled with reluctance, self prophecy and a tiny hinder of low self esteem, Orlando Weeks seems to be the only critic he aims to please. As sure enough, he climes higher and higher in the cool ranks every year. Orlando Weeks: A man who can stay completely silence during an interview with The Maccabees, and still be the only member you really try and listen to.
Tom Fleming – Wild Beasts all rounder has done a lot to be proud of this past year. Co-writing one of the records of the year, surfing the void of the unfamiliar, and finally making his mind up on shaving his head. Hopefully, steering away from the pubic mess of the earlier days of Wild Beasts, Fleming has grown up. Impressed as we were with the adolescent stage Two Dancers was at, Fleming has finally found a little place perched just over Hayden Thorpe where he can rest easy. His minor and melodic brilliance strung together the cool aura of the man over 2011, and lets hope their live shows live up to expectation.
Jamie XX – I’ve never heard Jamie XX say a single word. To me, and probably to many others, he communicates robotically with his MPC and samplers. Lurking in the shadows on stage, Jamie is easily the mastermind behind the success of the XX’s indie revolution. Remixing the late Gil Scott-Heron was the final stroke the portrait of Jamie’s brain storm. Recording again with the XX, his solo work will have to been stored away for a while, but fans will be itching to hear more of his dubstep workings and duelings.