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Bands to Watch #298: The Busker’s Sons

 
By on Tuesday, 4th March 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

Here in America, we don’t have the BBC. If you switch on your radio here in Washington, most of what you are going to get on the corporate-owned radio stations are same old top 40 mainstream hits every hour. Thanks to the internet, music fans young and old have the opportunity to learn about bands far beyond just what mainstream radio is telling us what we should like, and I think that’s amazing. It’s very important to me that TGTF brings attention to great new music and bands to people of all ages, but probably the most important to educate about good music are the kids. They are the key to music’s enduring future. Without them, we’re destined to a future of major label manufactured Mileys and One Directions, with indie music unsupported and underfunded, dwindling away. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

I come from a very large family (you should see the size of our Thanksgiving get togethers), and one of our most avid readers is my cousin’s daughter. She’s a junior in high school here in the DC area, and because she’s been very interested in what we do at TGTF, I’ve been bringing her to shows with me, and she’s been so eager to learn about new music. I was thinking about her when I started thinking about how I was going to write this Bands to Watch, as the kids in the band in question are around Kara’s age. They might be young, but the more important thing is that they’ve got heart. And from what I’ve heard from them, they’re pretty damn talented too.

The Busker’s Sons are a young rock group from Macclesfield, the town generally most famous as being the birthplace of Ian Curtis and Peter Crouch, though our John thinks of it more recently as the place that birthed the Virginmarys. I used the word “young”, as they’re all in college now, and they only just formed last summer, having met each other in high school, though three of them – singer Alex Briscoe, guitarist Harry Gold and drummer Micah Whadcock – had played in another band before this one.

I hope this doesn’t result in a tidal wave of Tweets in my direction – but it probably will, now that I’ve opened my big mouth – but I found the five-man strong group on Twitter and did some investigating, which led me to their Soundcloud. (Note to new bands: if you aren’t already on Soundcloud and you aren’t using it to your advantage, you’ve lost the plot.) Earlier this year, the band self-released an album, ‘Northern Ignorance’; if I had no idea how old these guys were or where they were from, I’d assume they were 1) older and 2) already signed. Why do I say this? I’ve seen some pretty bad opening bands in my time as a music editor, bands that can’t figure out how to write a proper melody and/or write lyrics that mean something and aren’t just words thrown together without much thought; I’m stood there in front of the stage, wishing I was somewhere else. But somehow The Busker’s Sons have already figured this all out – and winningly – well before they’re even legally allowed to drink. I’m imagining this is same kind of epiphany Martin had discovering The Orielles.

It can be hard to find videos of a new band. When I went looking on YouTube for one of the Busker’s Sons, I found this surprising gem filmed in what I’m sure is some bandmate’s bedroom. Very rarely can us music writers see the evolution of a song from an earlier stage to the recorded version, but you can with ‘Disguise’ by watching the video below, followed by streaming to the album version from the band’s Soundcloud. The track appears on the album but was an earlier song released previously on an EP. It’s good. It’s really good. It got stuck in my head after the second listen.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEfuFW7fy3I[/youtube]

The ‘Northern Ignorance’ album showcases a variety of styles, which signals to me the band haven’t settled on exactly what direction the Busker’s Sons plan to go in. ‘Bury Your Head in the Sand’ displays a harder edge, with Briscoe channeling Alex Turner and Ian Brown, and the stomping rhythm of ‘Mose’ further proves they could be a rock band versus a pop one. The sweet melody of ‘Over My Shoulder’ will make you think early Beatles, while the guitars of ‘Magazines’, another album standout, morph from the those of early frantic Two Door Cinema Club or Hot Club de Paris into those of the Libertines, then back again. The LP also features two covers, the Beatles’ ‘Come Together’ and Editors‘ ‘Munich’, both of which benefit from Briscoe’s higher register, with the former sounding more comfortably bluesy than the Fabs’ original, if that’s possible.

‘Northern Ignorance’? Hardly. While the band cite their local heroes Oasis, The Stone Roses, The Smiths and Joy Division as major influences, they don’t sound like they’re copying any of them. If they can keep on writing gems like these, The Busker’s Sons have a good chance of making a name for themselves and maybe one day, we’ll be writing about them, just like those other legendary bands from Manchester.

 

Preview: 2000 Trees Festival 2014

 
By on Tuesday, 4th March 2014 at 9:00 am
 

Prepare to embrace mother earth: I’m talking grabbing her by the grass skirt, jumping in a big muddy puddle and rolling around until you smell a bit compost-y. Sound like your cup of herbal tea? Get yourself heading down south then, to the land of propa’ cider, tractors and a host of other rural clichés – as 2000 Trees (10-12 July) returns to Upcote Farm in Cheltenham.

Established in 2007, the organisers’ mantra was to ensure they didn’t become everything they had grown to hate – this being the corporate commercial entities which they believed most modern festivals had become – the corporate sponsorships and ‘supposed soullessness’ of most major UK festivals. To do so they’ve kept their event true to its now deeply dug roots:
• Maximum 5,000 people
• Locally produced food and drink
• Friendly atmosphere
• A commitment to stay get as close to carbon neutrality as is humanly possible.

With these cornerstones of the festival set, the rest of the weekend is of course focussed on the best live bands available – with every act being personally approved and vetted by the bookings team before being added to the bill. The fruits of this stringent and possibly unique selection process are an eclectic mix, bringing to Cheltenham some of the most exciting live acts doing the rounds at the moment, from a plethora of genres, folk to funk, rock to rap.

Such is the nature of 2000 Trees line-up, that if you were to put a poster up on the wall, throw a dart at the line-up then throw it again, the artist or band it lands on would bear no similarity to the other. While some festivals may target a specific genre a la Download, Sonisphere, etc., 2000 Trees really does cater for most.

Highlights of the bill have to be led by Public Service Broadcasting (pictured at top) – a band whose live show is best described as an aural assault of post-rock goodness, with smatterings of wartime announcements and Chemical Brothers-ish synths.

Since Trees’ inception, Upcote Farm has been a clamour for a Reuben reunion and a performance from the boys – since that doesn’t seem like it’s coming around the corner anytime soon – ex-Reuben man Jamie Lenman will have to do. Bringing with him an almost cult following, his new groove metal album ‘Muscle Memory’ fully showcases the artists immense creativity and eccentricity.

Prog-rockers Tall Ships are also on the bill and are an act not to be missed. Mixing a huge heavy sound with a distinctly minimalist approach, and in this creating a truly unique live experience. One of my favourites Arcane Roots will be appearing across the weekend too, alongside a favourite at the festival – Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip – I mean, who won’t lose all of their shit to ‘Thou Shalt Always Kill’, yeah?

To book tickets and get all the nitty gritty details, visit the official 2000 Trees Web site.

 

(SXSW 2014 flavoured!) Video of the Moment #1462: Jungle

 
By on Monday, 3rd March 2014 at 6:30 pm
 

Electro soul act Jungle will for sure be wowing SXSW 2014 audiences next week, and ahead of that, they have a brand new video for new single ‘Busy Earnin’. Is this a 21st century episode of Fame or what? Watch it below.

Read Martin’s Bands to Watch feature on Jungle here.

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2014: Pop and pop hybrid UK artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Monday, 3rd March 2014 at 1:00 pm
 

Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2014 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts, and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite band is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the band’s Facebook and official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.

Starting off the week in our continuing preview coverage SXSW 2014, in this fifth installment of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2014 are what we call the pop and pop hybrid artists. Pop has become increasingly difficult to put in a box, with many artists incorporating urban, soul, r&b, dance, rock, folk and country into their own brand of pop. So in today’s post, we bring your attention to the bands whose music has a decided pop sensibility in their sound.

In case you missed any of our TGTF Guide to SXSW 2014 so far, including the two-part guide to UK rock acts and the two-part guide to UK electronic acts and DJs appearing at this year’s SXSW, get it all here.

Arthur Beatrice
Carrie writes: “The moniker of elusive London quartet Arthur Beatrice was “formed from the notion of opposites coming together to complete perfect wholes,” according to the press release for their new album, ‘Working Out’, due for release next Monday. The bisexual band name seems singularly appropriate given the band’s juxtaposition of male and female lead vocals, alternated seamlessly between the velvety singing voices of Ella Girardot and Orlando Leopard. The instrumental sound is a cross between smooth jazz and electro dance with moments of uptempo rhythmic pacing provided by brothers Elliott and Hamish Barnes on drums and bass, respectively. Hamish Barnes’ pulsing bass is a major element of Arthur Beatrice’s sound, maintaining a constant groove throughout ‘Working Out’.

Read Carrie’s full review of the band’s debut album ‘Working Out’, released just last month, here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpCVIg6h_Zo[/youtube]

Cairn String Quartet
Carrie writes: “The Cairn String Quartet specialises in creating instrumental arrangements of rock and pop songs, spanning across subgenres to cover songs by Aerosmith, Beyoncé, Daft Punk and Mumford and Sons, to name just a few. Their most recent EP release, titled ‘#Quartetquickies’ includes a version of ‘The Mother We Share’ by CHVRCHES, and their last full-length album, ‘One’, features arrangements of Lana Del Rey’s ‘Video Games’ and ‘Everybody’s On The Run’ by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.

Read the rest of Carrie’s Bands to Watch on the group here.

Charli XCX
Most of Charlotte Aitchison’s music is what pop on Radio 1 sounds like these days, but it’s the more interesting tracks of hers like ‘Allergic to Love’ that don’t fit into any other box that deserve more attention. A little punk, a little swagger, and less of that purely manufactured pop, please.

Daley
In the post-Justin Timberlake ‘Sexy Back’ world, it’s not a huge surprise to see an artist like blue eyed soul and r&b singer Daley doing well on the back of a couple of EPs, even without a debut album to his name. The young Mancunian has already collaborated with rapper and BBC Sound of and MTV Brand New for 2011 alum Wretch 32, been picked up for play by BBC presenters like MistaJam and Jo Whiley and sports a strong look: ha massive beehive-like hairdo that probably needs its own postal code and faux Buddy Holly spectacles (I say faux, because they’re almost comically 3-D square glasses). What’s not to love…well, if you’re a devoted, young Radio 1 listener?

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/51674258[/vimeo]

Dems
Cheryl writes: “Evocative of the trance-like melodies of The xx, London-based three-piece Dems tantalize us with their new single ‘Canvas World’. Dan Moss, David Gardener and Duncan Mann typically lay Moss’ vocals over complex pieces of artistry, but the latest single adds a guest lead vocal from guest singer Claudie. Strong and clear, she adds a depth to the melancholy Dems sound anchoring it.”

Cheryl’s Bands to Watch feature on Dems is here. You can also read the band’s answers to our Quickfire Questions – including some SXSW flavoured ones too! – here.

Glass Animals
Martin writes: “Glass Animals are experts at downtempo, atmospheric, bass-heavy songs – think Portishead having coffee with Morcheeba – while the coffee’s a tangy roast by James Blake.

Read the rest of Martin’s Bands to Watch feature on Glass Animals here.

Glitches
Sweeping soulful vocals on top of an underlying pop sensibility. It’s unusual to see a trio of guys who have the DIY aesthetic but who aren’t in the indie rock genre (Hot Club de Paris, Little Comets, the Crookes), but this will make them stand out from the pack.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VP8Y_Z-wysA[/youtube]

Gulp
Gulp is a kinda sorta supergroup starring Guto Pryce (Super Furry Animals) and Lindsey Leven, with Gid Goundrey providing guitar and Gwion Llewelyn (Race Horses) on drums. Their sound? Dream pop vocals on top of whimsical, layered instrumentation. Interesting.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jBMAPx_Pdo[/youtube]

Holy Esque (confirmed on SXSW schedule 23 Feb)
Cheryl writes: “Pat Hynes’ heavy vibrato wrangles above the rapid fire drumming and ringing guitars giving it an otherworldly feel. It tints the tone of all they produce, driving the lyrics to a strange and mysterious place, irrespective of the actual sentiment in the song. This continual quavering is the natural way he sings and not an affectation to add interest, so it permeates every song. That’s fine, but it still sounds quite unusual.”

Cheryl wrote a Bands to Watch on them, and you can read the feature here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrB4Sfra8NE[/youtube]

Chloe Howl
In her synth poppier moments such as on ‘No Strings’, Howl seems to be assuming the mantle of La Roux‘s Elly Jackson. Says it all, really. She even has really awesome hair too.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=om7zg-M0rZM[/youtube]

Jetta
Liverpool singer Jetta croons soulfully to a minimalist backdrop the xx would be proud to call their own. Band-wise, we’ll have to see if this turns out to be more Florence and the Machine or No Doubt.

Jungle
Martin writes: “Jungle are purveyors of sun-drenched downtempo electro-soul, a facsimile of which can often be heard playing on the radio of, say, a 1965 Chevy Malibu SS whilst cruising the vice-ridden streets of a simulated Los Angeles.”

Martin’s Bands to Watch on Jungle is here.

London Grammar
We refrained from doing a bands to watch feature on London Grammar because…well, everyone else had already covered them, and judging from their early popularity on the back of their debut album ‘If You Wait’ released in September 2013, it seems like their history has already been written. They sound eerily like the xx, though Hannah Reid’s angelic voice makes their tunes feel like they should be on The Lord of the Rings soundtrack.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6drfp_3823I[/youtube]

The Magic Numbers
Two pairs of brothers and sisters who have somehow soldiered on for over a decade making near twee pop and have sold millions of records. Come now, you’ve heard ‘Forever Lost’, haven’t you?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8P40WfRELU[/youtube]

Only Real
Martin writes: At first listen of something like ‘Punks And Potions’, the lead-off track of 2013’s ‘Days In The City’ EP now out on LuvLuvLuv Records, the almost out-of-tune electric guitars overlaid with a heavy dose of lo-fi chorusing are the kind of thing any number of bedroom crooners (and surely this *was* recorded in a bedroom) would put out. The arrangement is in no particular hurry, or of any particular convention for that matter, the second verse lazily arriving at the two-minute mark. But Only Real’s talent is to hide within these inauspicious strictures some impressively ambitious and thoughtful work.… Overall, the combination of a naïf approach to arrangement and production, combined with a decent ear for a melody and lyrics, make Only Real a great prospect. One wonders what he’ll be capable of when he finally emerges from that bedroom…”

Read the rest of Martin’s Bands to Watch on Only Real here.

Prides
Sounding like the love child of early ‘Oracular Spectacular’-era MGMT and bombastic ‘80s power pop, this Glasgow trio will make you yearn for the days when every band didn’t have to have a synthesiser player, just the ones who did pop right.

You can read frontman Stuart Brock’s answers to our Quickfire Questions (the SXSW flavoured ones too!) over here.

Woman’s Hour
In the post-xx world, a woman singing over dreamy, sometimes minimal instrumentation isn’t actually that groundbreaking. Or is it? Fiona Burgess’ vocals sound distant, and maybe that’s the point of this London via Kendal band: don’t think, just get lost in the music.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4x1OzVibsOo[/youtube]

Keep it here, as we roll on with more of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2014 tomorrow!

 

(SXSW 2014 flavoured!) Quickfire Questions #71: Dale Norton of Broken Hands

 
By on Monday, 3rd March 2014 at 11:00 am
 

In the time leading up to SXSW 2014, we’ll be running a special version of the TGTF Quickfire Questions, served up SXSW style with an extra couple of questions to get inside bands’ heads so they’ll tell us what they really think of the event. In the eight installment of this series ahead of the activities in Austin next month, frontman and vocalist of Kent’s Broken Hands fills us in on the Nick Drake song that makes him laugh, why he wouldn’t be a good DJ in heaven and much more…

Read my Bands to Watch feature on Broken Hands here.

SXSW-related questions:

What are you most looking forward to doing while you’re in Austin?
We are very excited to be in Austin, it’s the first time we’ve been to USA, so just to do everyday stuff in Austin is an exciting prospect. Also, on our day off, we are going to drive to Houston and check out the Space Centre. We want to see as much of the whole of Texas as we can and driving will mean highway dinner, which we like the idea of.

Are there any bands that you have as must-sees on your schedule? If yes, who are they and why?
Band of Skulls and Syd Arthur ‘cos we have hung/toured with them in the past. But new acts probably Royal Blood and Action Bronson because we want to see their live shows again.

Name something you’re packing in your suitcase that we might find unusual. (You are welcome to elaborate.)
24 silver rescue blankets and a 10-inch glass orb. [Intriguing… – Ed.]

If we happen to run into you in a bar, we’d like to buy you a drink. What is your tipple of choice?

Whisky and ginger beer.

(For bands who are SXSW newbies) What have you heard about the festival? Are you excited / anxious / scared / etc. and why?
I heard there is a mini effects pedal convention and a free bar in some places. Hope that’s true, if not I would be cool to stumble into a pop-up gig. Friends of ours are always on about how they saw “The Beatles in a bowling alley” last year or whatever. [Free bars are indeed to be had in many locations. For starters, check out the afternoon shows at the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30, they often have open bars earlier in the day. Worth a look. – Ed.]

Now on to the usual Quickfire Questions:

What song is your earliest musical memory?
My Dad took me and Callum to loads of festivals when we where tiny, so they blur into one big first memory. I’ll never forget how big the PA stacks used to seem, they were like Everest or something.

What was your favourite song as a child?
I don’t actually know mine, but our guitarist Jamie was brought up on two records ‘Tubular Bells’ and ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ so they had to be his favourite as that was all he knew.

What song makes you laugh?
Nick Drake, ‘Hazy Jane II’. (Lyrics are mental.)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qSZ9oX0rLgg[/youtube]

What song makes you cry?
Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac ‘Closing My Eyes’. (Sad, man.)

What song reminds you of the first time you fell in love? (It’s up to you if you want this to be sweet, naughty, etc.)
‘Led Zeppelin IV’. [You had me at ‘Led Zeppelin IV’… – Ed.]

What song makes you think of being upset / angry? (Example: maybe you heard it when you were angry with someone and it’s still with you, and/or something that calms you down when you’re upset, etc.)
Beck, ‘Soul Suckin’ Jerk’.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OH-MheZmvKE[/youtube]

Which song (any song written in the last century / 100 years or so) do you wish you’d written yourself?
‘Fly Me To The Moon’.

Who is your favourite writer? (This can be a songwriter or ANY kind of writer.)
I can’t answer this, sorry, too hard. 🙂

If you hadn’t become a singer/musician/songwriter/etc., what job do you think you’d be doing right now?
I always wanted to be a pilot, I’d like to think that can still happen as a musician still…….fingers crossed.

If God said you were allowed to bring only one album with you to Heaven, which would it be and why? (Sorry, but double albums do not count.)
It really depends which god?? I believe in all of them so I don’t want to be a kill joy for the dance floor in the sky! I’m a bad DJ, if you know what I mean.

Cheers, Dale, for answering our questions. Have a fab time in Austin!

 
 
 

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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