The Alternative Cool List 2010

23 Oct

So the NME released their annual cool list this week in the mag (check it out here) but as ever, there’s controversy. People never agree on this sort of thing. Now, I have no problem with some of their choices, but often their placings are a bit iffy to say the least. Which is why I’ve created my super-diplomatic, personal, yet completely open for debate…

Ta-dah! (Although in light of things I could have made this fancier. And I could’ve dropped the “the” so it scanned better…) These are my top ten choices, in no particular order. Seriously, I couldn’t decide where to place them. So without further adieu…


WHO: The real woman behind Zola Jesus

BECAUSE: Nika is that rare thing in music today: a real gothic figure in the midst a sea of try-hards. Though she’s dyed her hair platinum blonde, this only goes to highlight how she’s perfectly capable of maintaining that all-important goth credential. Plus she’s got the most beguiling and mysteriously different voice since Karin Dreijer Anderson, making her album a strange and haunting experience. Extra brownie points to her for that.


WHO: The brainbox behind Caribou

BECAUSE: Look at that photo. He’s holding a giant molecular structure. And wearing a bright yellow jacket. And looking like a complete nerd. But there’s nothing wrong with being a guy with a PhD in Maths as Dan Snaith proves with his band Caribou, the scariest, most textured and possibly most intelligent electronic outfit out there at the minute. He is the alternative to Alex Taylor of Hot Chip: the thinking Chipster’s crumpet if you will. Dan Snaith deserves a lot more credit for managing to be so effortlessly cool while still keeping up a geeky persona.


WHO: TV On The Radio man and creator of Maximum Balloon

BECAUSE: Stripping the shackles of a band never seemed so easy. For Dave Sitek creating Maximum Balloon and making a very impressive, completely joyous debut was as easy as 123. He showed all the others (Kele, Brandon Flowers et al) that being free can be easy, as long as you go along with your gut feeling and create something you’d enjoy listening to. Maximum Balloon is undoubtedly one of my albums of the year so far. Who needs TV On The Radio?


WHO: A band of fearless ladies from LA

BECAUSE: it may be cheating to put all the members of the band together but each member of Warpaint deserves equal recognition for having the ultimate image of slacker cool that shoved Beth Consentino from Best Coast into the freezing water. Laid-back, well-dressed, amazing hair… I haven’t even got around to their harmonic and melodic stoner-rock. When “The Fool” gets released on Monday I will be the first to get my greasy mitts on it.


WHO: R’n’B/Soul tigress

BECAUSE: Most of the reason Monae is so cool is her style: everyone’s always talking about the 80s being in, and when La Roux did it last year there was some slight relief of someone a bit different but at same time it was all a bit… overboard. Monae on the other hand is like the Annie Lennox of the revival – androgynous yet still feminine and beautiful. What I wouldn’t give to be able to dress like that and rock a tux. Oh, and her music ain’t half bad either. Guess that’s a bonus.


WHO: Attention-grabbing Wild Beasts frontman

BECAUSE: Oh, come ON! Thorpe has the best male voice since… since… oh, I don’t know who! It’s impossible to compare him to anyone else with his enchanting falsetto tones and the way he moves through the motions with his voice. Without him Wild Beasts would be nothing but a run-of-the-mill indie band from Kendal (although I can’t actually name another band from Kendal. Oh well). He ties everything together and adds that extra dimension to the already hot-to-trot lyrics. I think I’ll just bow down to him now….


WHO: Singer and writer (but not singer/songwriter!)

BECAUSE: Ilirjana is cool because she does so many things and still manages to keep her composure, still looks completely calm and is just an all-round friendly person. She’s in two bands, writes blogs and has a magazine, The Pop Manifesto. If I did that, I’d be so burnt out I’d look like a piece of overcooked bacon. But not Ilirjana. At least, I don’t think she looks like that (answers on a postcard please!)


WHO: Frontwoman of Little Dragon and serial collaborator

BECAUSE: Aside from her effortless style, Yukimi has solidified the fact that Little Dragon are the most famous and popular band that no-one has ever heard of. She duetted with Damon Albarn on the latest Gorillaz album, and also lent her vocal talents to fellow Alternative Cool List-er Dave Sitek on his Maximum Balloon project. But aside from her musical prowess and amazing ability to hold notes for longer than your average pop singer, she’s just has this understated aura. Did you see the way she non-chalauntly shuffled onstage during Gorillaz set at Glastonbury to sing “Empire Ants”? ‘Nuff said.



BECAUSE: With MIA throwing a wobbly on her third effort, it was up to her Neet Records associates to pick up the remaining pieces. They may not be as outwardly political or opinionted as Ms. Arulpargasam but they certainly pack just as much of a punch. Listening to them is like having your head consistently pounded by a potato masher, but in the nicest and most listenable way possible. You’d be hard-pushed to find someone other than MIA who can match Sleigh Bells in the noisy-yet-melodic stakes. Their originality keeps them flying high.


WHO: Mastermind of LCD Soundsystem/ DFA Records

BECAUSE: No cool list would be complete without the man who by rights shouldn’t be cool but just seems to ooze it. It’s hard to tell whether Murphy is trying to be cool or whether he just doesn’t give a crap and he just ends up being so damned amazing anyway. No other man could be the witty and slicing voice of LCD Soundsystem, the coolest band on the planet right now. And I’ve used the word “cool” too many times. Does that mean it’s lost all meaning? For further proof of Murphy’s reign as king of the mountain, see LCD’s latest (and possibly final *sniff*) album “This Is Happening” where rapier wit and cuning observations have never been so apparent.

…So that’s IT! Please feel free to tear me apart/ compile your own cool lists. Or any other list of ten people from this year who you feel deserve recognition. I won’t complain. I’d like to think I’d be constructive, even if you said Katie from the X Factor. Or maybe not in that case!

Come on, DO IT, I’m dying to know what you think!!

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