10 for 2011: #10 – Stornoway

By on Wednesday, 1st December 2010 at 11:00 am

Last month, we asked you to vote for the top 10 artists you thought would be big in 2011. Coming in at #10 is Oxford folk pop band Stornoway.

The beginning of Stornoway is the stuff of legends. According to their bio on the 4AD Web site, lead singer and principal songwriter Brian Briggs approached future bandmate John Ouin during fresher’s week at Oxford Uni (where else?) and asked him if he liked Teenage Fanclub. I guess the answer must have been yes, as they soon started playing music and recording songs together, on an antiquated 8-track recorder, no less. Eventually they put an advert out for a bass player position that was filled out by sixth form student Ollie Steadman, who also brought along his younger brother Rob when the drummers they tried to play with initially weren’t up to snuff.

Having released several EPs on their own, they were torn whether to sign a record contract, concerned that they would lose control of their material. The band finally accepted an offer from 4AD, and to their (and indeed our) relief, 4AD gave them the freedom to record how they wanted. The finished product, ‘Beachcomber’s Windowsill’ (our review here) was released in the UK in May, and it’s a beauty, filled to the brim with gorgeous melodies and heartfelt lyrics, and just a bit rough around the edges, exactly the way the band wanted. The band is currently on their first significant tour of North America; they play New York’s famed Bowery Ballroom tomorrow night (2nd December).

For a taste of Stornoway’s talent, check out this special 4AD Sessions video of the song ‘Fuel Up’, featuring Briggs’s clear as a bell lead vocals and the band’s wonderful harmonies.

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