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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!

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2013: Pop and pop hybrid UK artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Tuesday, 8th January 2013 at 11:00 am
 

It may be hard to believe, but the start of South by Southwest 2013 is a mere 9 weeks away! We’ll be bringing you special features here on TGTF all the way until and through the week of the music portion of SXSW on the 12th to the 17th of March 2013, so keep it here for some great stuff your way. Please note: all information we bring you is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change.

For example, starting this month, on each Tuesday in January, we’ll be bringing you the genre section of the exclusive TGTF Guide to SXSW 2013, profiling all the UK artists that have already been announced to perform at this year’s event as of 5 December 2012. It’s a handy resource if you’re wondering which acts to catch at this year’s marathon week of showcases, parties and secret shows. But I hope it’ll also introduce you to the solo artists and bands you haven’t heard of, because that’s the most exciting thing about SXSW: at any one moment, you could walk into a bar, a club, a hotel, a warehouse, wherever…and you might just discover the next big thing in music.

Today’s genre? Pop and pop hybrid acts. How are we defining pop? That’s often a tough question, since pop can pull elements from other genres of music including urban, dance, rock, folk and country. And it made my work harder, as sometimes I had to question, “is this band pop? Or rock? Or should I put him/her with the singer/songwriters?” I detected a prevailing pop sensibility in all the acts you will read about below.

? (alt-J) – do they really a write-up? Probably not. It’s bothering me more than necessary that they’re playing 9:30 Club in the spring, but if nasal vocals are what DC wants, they will get them…

Read our previous coverage including the 2012 Mercury Prize nomination and win of alt-J, here.

Syd Arthur – not a single singer/songwriter but rather a psychedelic pop band calling Canterbury home. As you might expect, they all have long, unkempt hair but have incredible attention to detail. “Greatly inspired by the sonic pioneers of the late 60s and early 70s, they have patiently learned how to engineer, produce and mix themselves, using an innovative hybrid of analogue and digital techniques.” I’m sold.

Sounds like: exactly how I’d think the Alan Parsons Project would sound in the 21st Century.

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/51432880[/vimeo]

Bastille – I’m not going to write a blurb here since Cheryl had done a very nice one here for Dan Smith and co.’s profile as #2 on our 10 for 2013 poll.

Catch all our previous coverage of Bastille here.

Cave Painting – expansive dream pop from Brighton with touches of Friendly Fires-like escapism and occasional xx-like minimalism.

Catch our previous coverage on the band here.

Charli XCX – Hertfordshire-born, cookie cutter electropop princess. Not really what I think of going down well in Austin. Next…

Charlotte Church – To be honest, I was a little confused to see her name on the first SXSW list. But she’s been trying to shed her good girl, classical music-singing, teenage girl image with a proper pop one, though she runs no risk of sounding like any other UK pop starlet. No, her sound is an unusual blend of the operatic with the whimsy of Patrick Wolf? Not sure about this. Very interesting though to see her singing the praises of Lianne La Havas on Twitter. Future mates?

Now trying to sound like: an operatic Kate Bush (see ‘How Not To Be Surprised When You’re a Ghost’ below)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4IT3aJ90aA[/youtube]

Everything Everything – the Manchester band that defies any description, really, is ready to storm 2013 with a new album ‘Arc’ to be released in a short while, and it’s my hope that their SXSW turn will finally land them an American record deal. Mixing their disparate loves of pop, rock and hip hop to create a sound that can only be described as catchy and earworm-y, missing them at SXSW is not an option.

We’ve been following EE since Gwilym Gold (ex-Golden Silvers) first tipped them in 2009 on Twitter, so for everything (no pun intended) we’ve written on them, go here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKKMfJ8cZoQ[/youtube]

Fear of Men – What a strange name for a band, especially since this group consists of two girls and two boys. (I would have thought it either would have been a girl group, or a bunch of gay men.) Brooklyn record label Kanine Records – aka the American home of Surfer Blood – will be putting out a compilation of the band’s early singles, which means a whole new generation of hipsters will be putting them on their iPods. Really. Hear their latest 7”, called ‘Mosaic’, here; Amazing Radio’s Shell Zenner interviewed the band in 2012 and I’ve embedded a stream of the interview below.

File next to: the Pains of Being Pure at Heart

Gross Magic – Brighton’s Sam McGarrigle makes kinda psychedelic rock, kinda pop. Kinda. Not my thing so I’ll leave it there.

Sounds like: a drugged out Marc Bolan if he discovered a synth (but we didn’t, and that’s why we have T. Rex)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ay-rsScKOmQ[/youtube]

The Heavy – they are a neo-soul band from Bath whose 2009 song ‘How Do You Like Me Now?’ has been popping up in all sorts of popular culture places, on tv shows and video games to…Barack Obama’s election night location in Chicago. (What?) And you know how the line goes, if Barry’s a fan, then…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVzvRsl4rEM[/youtube]

Islet – noise pop quartet from Cardiff who have been blowing minds in the UK for a while now with their challenging blend of percussion driven, yet undanceable experimental rock.

Read our previous coverage of the band, including a review of their 2012 album ‘Illuminated People’, here.

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.

Sounds like: Diana Ross joined the xx and unilaterally blocked Romy and Oliver from singing

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xt1keKvhycY[/youtube]

Lianne La Havas – La Havas has already made a huge impression on an L.A. crowd in November at the Roxy; if the L.A. Times are to be believed, her voice can be favourably compared to those of Joni Mitchell, Sade, Alicia Keys, Meshell Ndgeocello, Jill Scott and, based on a cover on her 2012 Mercury Prize-nominated album ‘Is Your Love Big Enough?’, even Leonard Cohen. Picked up by NPR, she will have no problem gathering fans to watch her sets at SXSW, even if they never heard that she won iTunes’ Best of 2012 Album honours or is a BBC Sound of 2012 longlist alum.

Read our previous coverage on La Havas here.

The Real Tuesday Weld – pop meets jazz cabaret style meets electronic. Founded by Stephen Coates, this band has been around since 1999 and have been involved in a number of high profile collaborations, including providing music for art museum installations, film soundtracks and television adverts.

Polly Scattergood – my first exposure to Polly was the quirky ‘Please Don’t Touch’, which exemplified her folk / pop /electronic style. I’m hoping she’ll fill in the void that’s been left since Little Boots and Ladyhawke have vacated in heading in their respective new directions. New material has a

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNUt3q8joAg[/youtube]

This Many Boyfriends – this Leeds band have already gotten the attention of a local celebrity: Ryan Jarman, who produced one of their recent singles. Pleasant and poppy but not exactly meaty.

Sounds like: they’ve been listening to too many Belle and Sebastian records

Wall. – not to be confused with the articled Wall, a punk band from Tyne, this Wall has an unGoogleable name that isn’t helping, so I’ll stop here.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2xO4hC3dGk[/youtube]

Stay tuned for next week’s installment of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2013!

 
 
 

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