Monthly Archives: December 2011

2012 preview – Jacques Greene, Polarsets, The Heartbreaks and more…

I’m in quite a list-tastic mood right now, so following on from HPH’s top 10 albums of 2011, it makes sense to have a little look ahead.

Well, as the post-dubstep genre continues to fire off into every possible direction, we have some interesting things to look forward to. First and foremost, there will be brand new Burial LP out early next year, which is so exciting it makes my brain want to explode. His little ‘Street Halo’ EP earlier this year was brilliant, but just too short for my greedy desires. So the opportunity to fall head first into the first Burial EP for around 5 years is beyond exciting.

I think it’ll be a big year for producers in general. After seeing the success of SBTRKT this year, moving from dishing out the odd track here and there to a brillant debut full length LP, I’m hoping to see more artists follow in his footsteps. Firstly, will Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs continue dishing out 3/4 – track records? A full length record could really help Oxford’s-own Orlando Higginbottom etch his music further into people’s skulls. Secondly, I really hope 2012 sees a lot more music from Jacques Greene. He’s such a talented producer, I’m pretty much just dreaming of a beautiful LP landing in my lap from the skies. In the meantime, we can just keep listening to what he’s done so far. So here’s ‘Another Girl’ by Jacques Greene.

Moving on, could this be the year that the ‘Blessing Force’ captivate the music world? For the uninitaited: (nicked from the Guardian)

Blessing Force are a community of artists, musicians and writers in Oxford. Often found hanging out at Foals’ stable The House of Supreme Mathematics, the collective are a bit like The Young Ones meets University Challenge. Thankfully, there are a handful of really great bands involved, particularly Jonquil and their frontman Hugo Manuel, aka Chad Valley, Trophy Wife and former Youthmovies member Andrew Mears, aka Pet Moon.”

I’m a big fan of a few of the bands, like Motherhood, Solid Gold Dragons and Trophy Wife. It’s quite interesting to have a bit of a movement going on in Oxford, but they do seem to keep themselves to themselves a bit, in that there isn’t much of a physical buzz about them out on the mean streets of Oxford. Will any of the bands break through on their own to permeate the nation’s consciousness? Who knows. In the meantime, there’s a wonderful mix-tape of the Blessing Force bands that’s been stuck up on soundcloud. You can listen to it here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/nov/28/blessing-force-stutters-1?CMP=twt_gu

Finally, there are a few more bands currently floating about in that pre-first-album fuzzy landscape. Various Cruelties look set for big things next year, Chemicals is an excellently executed track and excites me with regards to what else could be coming from them.


Polarsets are another band that have been on my radar for a while since they popped up on a Kitsune compilation I reviewed several months back for Culturedeluxe. I described their track Sunshine Eyes as: “Indie dance at it’s best,” and everything else I’ve heard from them since is equally as good.

Polarsets – Leave Argentina


Another helping hand from Kitsune led me to the excellent The Cast Of Cheers. Angular, Foals-esque fretful riffage leads the way here. The band recorded their debut album back in 2010 and stuck it up on bandcamp for free, but it’s now sadly disappeared from there. Hopefully 2012 will see more from them.

The Cast Of Cheers: I am a lion


And two more bands to end on. Clock Opera seem to have been teasing us for an eternity with a wealth of great singles. A debut LP is on its way next year, apparently. They’ve also thrown together some brilliant remixes too, including a reworked version of Everything Everything’s MY KZ YR BF.

Clock Opera – Lesson No. 7 (In Session)


The Heartbreaks make fantasticly Byronesque indie rock music. They’ve got a great vocalist with great lyrics, catchy riffs and I have absolutely no idea if they have a full-length debut out next year, but it’s about time they bloody well  did!

The Heartbreaks – Save Our Souls:

HPH’s top 10 albums of the year

December is a time of lists. Everyone is at it, from Pitchfork to Santa Claus (he’s checking his twice, you better have been nice). Last year at CultureDeluxe, we attempted to make some kind of communal top 10, combining together all of our votes to select an overall top 10. In the end there was quite a plethora of selections, with nothing clearly leading the way, so we all chose an album or two that we loved from the previous year, and scribbled some words about said album/albums.

However, now Horses Playing Harps exists (I can hear your cheers from here), so I can have my say on the best 10 albums I have had the pleasure of hearing in the last 12 months. Hopefully you all wildly disagree, otherwise something has gone terribly wrong with the world. Here goes:

1. SBTRKT – SBTRKT // Came out of nowhere with a thrilling and engrossing post-dubstep sound.


2. Ghoestpoet – Peanut Butter Jam and Melancholy Blues // Brilliantly British rapper with great production and great lyrics.

3. Little Comets – In Search of Elusive Little Comets // Anyone who can write a song about a former chancellor of the exchequer and make it sound good deserves a spot in the top 3.

4. Bombay Bicycle Club – A Different Kind of Fix // Another album of new ideas, new sounds and same old greatness.

5. The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar // Lion-hearted post-Britpop with addictive hooks and a great frontwoman

6. Bon Iver – Bon Iver // Insanely beautiful record, complete and fulfilling.

7. Rustie – Glass Swords // Like the party-animal version of SBTRKT, never a dull moment.


8. Drake – Take Care // What he does best: introspective rap, well produced, with some great guestspots and a dash of the late Gil-Scott-Heron.

9. I Break Horses – Hearts // Briiliant warm and fuzzy indie noise.

10. Hyro Da Hero – Birth, School, Work, Death  // Breathing fresh life into the rap-rock genre, with ex- Mars Volta/ Sparta members making some great noise.