Friday, 28 December 2012

2012 Scene Awards - Best Group

Garbage's Shirley Manson!


The xx

The xx are one of those bands, critics love them, their fans love them, fellow artists love them, they’re musicians playing for musicians. It’s easy to jump on a bandwagon and claim a love of a band that are darlings of their scene, everyone who is anyone loves a Mercury Music Prize winner, right? What is it that actually makes them special though? For me, it’s a combination of a little bit of dark and a tiny bit of light, it’s not what they do but what they don’t say that counts and there’s some real skill in knowing where to create the spaces and where to fill the spaces in a song. A thousand critics and blog writers and fans have said it before, but that’s because Romy Madley Croft, Oliver Sim and Jamie Smith do it so well; in music there are places to scream and there are places to whisper and bands like The xx know how to make the whispers sound like screams. Tell me you don’t get a shiver up your spine during the opener of Sunset “I saw you again, it felt like we never met” or you can’t quite believe you’re swaying to a steel drum during Reunion. Perhaps though, the biggest indicator of what an incredible group The xx are is not the number of records sold this year, not the number of festivals played or the countries visited or the number of TV appearances; quite simply the proof of what an incredible band The xx are can be found in the tears that are formed during Angels, the opening track of their album Co-exist; “the end is unknown, but I think I'm ready, as long as you're with me, being as in love with you as I am”. Goosebumps, tears, a breath taken away with every single listen. Only a group like The xx can manage that. (Jo Michelmore)


In May this year, when Matt asked me to compose a little list of my favourite Garbage songs for our Top 20 Garbage countdown, I was excited, but it wasn’t an easy task. How could I narrow it down to only twenty favourites? When he asked me to write about some of those songs, I was excited, but it wasn’t an easy task. What could I say about some of the songs that defined parts of my life? When we started compiling the Scene Award nominations and he asked me to write about Garbage, I was excited, but it’s not been an easy task. The thing is, it’s difficult to know what to say about one of your favourite, ever, bands. They have featured in the soundtrack of my life for over fifteen years, I can’t imagine some of my days without them. Just before they released their fifth album ‘Not Your Kind Of People’ in the middle of this year, I had that crazy little feeling in my stomach, such a feeling of anticipation it almost made me sick. When I first heard that album, from the very first note, the pounding of ‘Automatic Systematic Habit’ took my breath away and I don’t care what kind of critical reviews it received, I don’t care what number it reached on the charts, I don’t care what anyone else thought of it, for me, this is an album that will define part of 2012. When they first appeared in 1995, Garbage were harsh, they were brutal, they were sexy, they were angry, they were strong and they were amazing. In 2012 they proved themselves to continue to be all of those things and more. None of Shirley’s venom has been lost and none of the bands awesome has been tainted, this year they proved themselves to be a band who know who they are and are comfortable with that. Not your kind of people? They don’t care. It’s all there in the lyrics; “little boy, it takes a lot to shake me, it’s the battle in me” or maybe you prefer the simplicity of “I hate love, I hate love” or the pleading of “give me something sweet I've spent a lifetime feeling incomplete”; they’re all classic Garbage and whatever the year, classic Garbage is amazing Garbage. They managed to write an album that flows perfectly, the end of every song invites the beginning of the next and when I get to that lyric at the very end; “this little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine…. there you stand, beloved freak, let it shine” I’m reminded of what music means to me. It’s my friend, it’s my support, it’s my everything and really, only bands like Garbage can truly remind me of that. (Jo Michelmore) 

The Beards

2012 was a big year for The Beards as they visited this great nation on their “End Of The World (For Beardless People)” tour encouraging clean shaven men to become the ‘beards of tomorrow’ or face death on 21 December 2012. Luckily for us, this premonition didn’t come to fruition and they can continue to spread their hairy messages into 2013. (Katie Langley) 

Texas Tea

There are groups you like, groups you love and then there's a group like Texas Tea; one that you can't seem to find words strong enough for how deeply you've fallen for their music. At the start of this year I sadly had no idea who Texas Tea's Benjamin Dougherty and Kate Jacobson were. Now we're at the end of the year and I can't imagine a music landscape without them. 2012 release Sad Summer Hits certainly lives up to its title. Twelve tunes of the finest alt-country persuasion that range from bouncy singalong goodness to devastating tales of domestic abuse and professional brides. Each a 'hit' in its own right, a hundred listens just isn't enough. Jacobson's beautiful voice soars on tracks like 'Lily' while Dougherty proves himself one of the new quintessential men of rock on 'I Don't Write No Sad Songs.' His brand of speak-singing alongside that guitar line? What's not to love? A song like 'I Love You Like I Love This Black Eye' truly separates them from the pack. It's a little bit confronting and yet so beautifully performed. There's no resisting its dark charms. The only thing better than hearing the recorded version is experiencing it live. You've also got 'Heart Says Yes (Head Says No).' Remember that song? You know, the one that came in at #1 on our Top 112 Songs of 2012 countdown? Yeah, you remember it. We more than loved that song and we definitely more than loved Texas Tea in 2012 (, not in a creepy way... maybe a little). (Matt Bond)      

The Presets

They seemed destined for superstardom following the massive commercial success of Apocalypso, but somewhere along the way The Presets decided to literally say, "fuck you, Nova crowd" and make the just as good, but more concept-based Pacifica. So they didn't set the charts on fire and they lost a lot of fans that just really, really, really liked 'My People' and 'Talk Like That.' Who cares? Do you think they care? I don't think they care and I don't care and you shouldn't care either, because the music on Pacifica is deserving of a slow clap in a teen movie by the poolside at the party at the rich bitch's house. They didn't rest on their laurels and make Apocalyso version 2.0. They grew, their sound matured and it's still very, very good. Substance with cooler than cool style... that's The Presets in 2012. (Matt Bond)   


WINNER: Texas Tea
Runner-Up: Garbage

2011 Winner: Seeker Lover Keeper
Runner-Up: Little Dragon

2010 Winner: Arcade Fire

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