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10 International Acts To Watch For in 2012

January 28, 2012  |  8:30am

Can’t get out the country for a while? Don’t have a passport? No worries. It’s never been easier to find music from around the world—especially when we’ve already done the searching. Check out these 10 Paste-approved bands from outside our borders due for some recognition at home and abroad in 2012.

1. Michael Kiwanuka
Uganda/England
This British soul singer/songwriter of Ugandan heritage is a rising star in the United Kingdom and his debut album, Home Again isn’t even released until March. He’s received huge press already from features in NME to a silencing performance on Later…With Jools Holland.

2. Die Antwoord
South Africa
This South African rave-rap trio got viral attention in 2010 with their creepy video for “Enter The Ninja.” Performing in English, Afrikaans, Xhosa and English, the group represents a multi-cultural outpouring out from the sub-Saharan country and they plan on releasing theirs second album, Ten$Ion this February.

DIE ANTWOORD “I FINK U FREEKY” by Press Here3. Admiral Fallow
Scotland
Buddies with fellow Scotsmen and indie favorites Frightened Rabbit, Admiral Fallow offers the type of music marked by chamber strings and woodwinds layered with pop structural elements. Last year’s debut album Boots Met My Face was a sleeper success, and after catching the band’s set at SXSW last March, we have high hopes for their sophomore album due to be released later this year.

4. Patrick Watson
Canada
This French Canadian singer/songwriter and his band The Wooden Arms will release their fourth album, Adventures In Your Own Back Yard via Domino and Secret City on May 1. Known for including strange sounds (i.e.: playing a bicycle in studio while recording 2006’s tune“Beijing”), the band will open for Andrew Bird this spring.

5. Of Monsters and Men
Iceland
After releasing its debut album, My Head is an Animal in Iceland (and topping the charts), Of Monsters and Men recently signed with Universal. The folk-inspired sextet met with some American recognition as early as 2010 with their song “Little Talks,” but My Head is an Animal, led by the single “Into the Woods,” should be available worldwide this year.

6. Immortal Technique
Peru/The U.S.
Even though he’s lived in the United States for years, this underground rapper was born in Peru and his heritage comes through in his lyrics. Immortal Technique tours internationally, but America should be prepared for him come election time; Tech has some of the most biting political commentary the music industry has ever heard. His most recent album, The Martyr, can be downloaded for free here.

7. Yemen Blues
Yemen/Israel/Finland/Uruguay/The U.S.
This multinational collective—with members hailing from Yemen, Israel, Finland, Uruguay and the U.S.—just played GlobalFEST in New York last month to rave reviews. According to their Facebook page, they’re planning on writing and recording for a few months before touring again in the summer.

8. Balthazar
Belgium
This quintet has already found a small following in parts of Europe. Marked by fuzzy guitar work, keys and horns, Balthazar’s debut LP Applause was released in France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Scandinavia last year and they just posted on Facbeook page that they’re currently in Los Angeles mixing their second album with Noah Georgeson (Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, The Strokes).

9. Niki & The Dove
Sweden
The Swedish electro-pop trio released two EPs, The Fox and The Drummer in 2011. Selected as one of the bands to watch by the BBC’s Sound of 2012 poll, the group is finishing up its self-titled debut full-length album for a spring release.

10. The Yellow Dogs
Iran
This Iranian hard-rock quartet fled Tehran because their music was considered illegal. Before moving to Brooklyn, though, they managed to film a Cannes Film Festival award-winning documentary called No One Knows About Persian Cats and gig in basements back home. Divisions of MTV have already shown them lots of love in the U.S.

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