Best of 2011: Sean Palmer’s Top 25 Underrated Acts of 2011Posted by Sean Palmer
FAMY (“Tout soul” / folk / rock)
Enigmatic London-via-France quartet FAMY (formerly Family; not to be confused with this FAMILY) recently finished a short UK tour supporting WU LYF and released their first official single this month. Earlier this year, the difficult-to-search band (now less so) started releasing tantalizing demo tracks on their Bandcamp page which have since vanished and been replaced by the two tracks from their forthcoming release. Luckily, the demos have survived on SoundCloud, including the early version of “Mother Benita” from the a-side of the recent 12″. The b-side features the brand new song “DOGG DOGG” which includes a brief vocal contribution from WU LYF’s Evan Kati.
9mary (folk rock)
Over the past year and a half, 16-year-old Londoner Flo Morrissey‘s vocal prowess has earned her a small but dedicated following around the web. As 9mary, her covers of songs by Vincent Gallo (“When”), Tuxedomoon (“In A Manner Of Speaking”), Devendra Banhart (“Heard Somebody Say”), and Morrissey (“Irish Blood, English Heart”), among others, are nothing short of stunning, and her demos equally enchanting, if not more. The moniker “9mary” was derived from a work by Adi Da Samraj that her father (a Buddhist teacher) introduced her to. In addition to those she has covered, Flo counts Charlotte Gainsbourg and Beck amongst her influences. Yesterday, she released the digital version of her debut EP, Fear No More—which also features contributions from her older brother Fitz. She’s only just getting started, but the future is looking very bright for this rising young talent.
Ana Caravelle (harp-driven orchestral folk)
Last year, 23-year-old harpist/multi-instrumentalist Ana Caravelle released her wonderful debut album, Basic Climb, on which she utilizes the harp, glockenspiel, harmonium, and musical saw, while accompanying musicians contribute violin, cello, string bass, and clarinet arrangements. The release is short, but wholesome—showing immense potential for such a young musician. Basic Climb should be on every Joanna Newsom fan’s playlist, but has somehow remained an obscure gem. This year, Non Projects gave new life to the album with an eclectic remix compilation entitled Basic Climb Re-Imagined—featuring reinterpretations of her songs by Caravelle herself, Dntel, Shigeto, Julia Holter, Yuk., and many others. Caravelle has yet to announce further solo releases, but is currently working on a new album with experimental electronic musician Ryan York (aka Asura) as Gold and Soil.
Julia Holter (experimental / electronic / neoclassical)
After several years of CD-R and cassette releases, LA-based experimental musician Julia Holter released her first major LP, Tragedy, a few months ago. Inspired by the Ancient Greek play Hippolytus, Tragedy is a genre-defying amalgam of rumbling drones, delicate vocal harmonies, field recordings, opera samples, and orchestral arrangements. Some of the album’s lyrics were extracted directly from the play. Several of Holter’s earlier releases were put out through Human Ear Music, a label/collective that she runs with Jason Grier which has also released material by Gary Wilson, Ariel Pink, Geneva Jacuzzi, Nite Jewel (see also: Nite Jewelia), among others. Since Tragedy, Holter has been working on her phonetic Translations series and a new LP (or two). Japanese cassette label Sixteen Tambourines recently reissued her Eating The Stars album.
Ricky Eat Acid (lo-fi / experimental / “ambient, r&b, minimal”)
Ricky Eat Acid is the primary moniker of Sam Ray, a young experimental musician based out of Baltimore who’s been putting out a diverse catalog of free material over the past year and a half. His most recent album, seeing little ghosts everywhere, was conceived as “a journey through the Super Nintendo RPGs”; recorded over the summer on a cassette player with toy instruments, guitar, piano, and keyboard. Ray also released a fuzzed out rock album earlier this year as Teen Suicide (bad vibes forever). He’s collaborated with Arrange (“P.S.L.W.“) and Steffaloo (“Disappeared“), among others, and remixed songs by Gem Club (“Red Arrow (John)” and Flashing Red Lights (“Conviction I“). His homepage is probably one of the best websites on the Internet—a pixelated paradise that changes from day to night in real time (created by Zen Tapes founder Tom Auty, aka Sad Souls). Ray is hoping to release his first major Ricky Eat Acid LP sometime next year and has also been recording material as Teen Mom Birthday Cake. He’s also working on new material with Coma Cinema and Arrange.