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By Mary Chang
on Tuesday, 9th February 2016 at 11:00 am
What has now become an annual highlight of the week at SXSW is the BBC Introducing and PRS for Music Foundation’s evening showcase at Latitude 30, the home of the British Music Embassy in Austin during the event. Last week, Steve Lamacq announced the six artists that will be gracing the BME’s stage the night of Wednesday the 16th of March, and we can’t wait to introduce them to you. Impressively, nearly every region of the UK is well represented on this list, except for Northern Ireland (which will be putting on their own afternoon showcase on St. Patrick’s Day, when else?) and Scotland (who we hope will have their own showcase as well).
Hailing from the North East of England, Billie Marten is a young female singer/songwriter from Ripon, North Yorkshire. Even 2 years ago when she still sported braces on her teeth, her musical talent was picked up by Burberry Acoustic. Fast forward 2 years, and the young Marten’s delicate, yet smoky vocals have further matured; check out her evocative single ‘Bird’ below. With over 13,000 Facebook likes even before setting foot in America, something tells us mainstream success is just around the corner for this lass.
With a name sounding like they should be a variant of Transformers than a band, Cardiff-based trio Estrons will be representing Wales at the BBC Introducing night. It’s no surprise their fresh and frenetic music has already received backing from BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens and Annie Mac. Fronted by Canadian-Swede Taliesyn Kallström who appear to be channelling the spirit of riot grrls like Siouxsie, Courtney Love and MayKay of Fight Like Apes for her vocal delivery, they’ll definitely be bringing unbridled energy to the evening.
If it hasn’t happened already, Newbury, Berkshire born singer/songwriter Frances will be on the lips of the world’s music pundits before the month is out. Despite having only one EP to her name – ‘Grow’, released last summer via Communion Records – she’s already nominated for a BRIT, the 2016 Critic’s Choice Award. She’s been compared to Florence Welch and Ellie Goulding, but except for the ginger colour of her hair and the length of it, I don’t see much of a comparison. Frances is her own woman.
Isaac Gracie first gained prominence on BBC Introducing Norfolk, but it appears he’s decamped now to the West London area of Ealing. He’s already sold out a who in London, garnered attention from NME, and been anointed with a Zane Lowe World Record on Beats 1. For brokenhearted fans of the late Jeff Buckley, to devotees of Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit, you’ll definitely take to Gracie’s style of rough, dusty, contemplative songwriting, as exemplified in his track ‘Last Words’.
Lammo loves the Crookes. A lot. So I was gobsmacked he’d found another Sheffield band to put his weight behind. The lucky recipients? The Sherlocks, who our own Rebecca has been aware of since her schooldays some years ago in South Yorkshire when they first started knocking around the Steel City. More like the Arctic Monkeys when they began than the Monkeys sound these days, their sound is one of brash guitars and cool rock ‘n’ roll. Have a listen to their debut single ‘Live for the Moment’.
Staying in the North but heading due west, we reach Warrington, whose most famous musical son up to this point has been Ian Brown of the Stone Roses. This is all about to change when Viola Beach (pictured at top) will bring their sunny and terribly infectious indie pop / rock to the BBC Introducing night in Austin. Will they follow in the footsteps of BBC Introducing 2015 night alums Blossoms to bring acclaim to another town outside of Manchester? Definitely. ‘Get to Dancing’ below.
Header photo: Red Hot Chili Peppers by Ellen Von Unwerth
Along with Glastonbury and Download Festival, there is another festival, or pair of festivals rather, that are a staple of the UK festival scene. Reading and Leeds take place in the August bank holiday weekend, which this year falls on the 26th-28th of August.
Reading Festival is actually one of the UK’s oldest popular music festivals, having been around in its current format since the 1970s. It’s become one of the prime festivals in the indie/rock scene due to its ability to gather some of the biggest names in the industry, as well as the occasional controversial headliner.
This year proves to be no different. The first of the headliners announced were Red Hot Chili Peppers, who need no introduction. They’ve been around for over 30 years, had multiple successful albums and have transcended from hard to funk to rock and everything in between. As a festival exclusive, this is the only place you can see them on the festival circuit this year. Along with the Chili Peppers’ exclusive appearance, Reading / Leeds also have the poster boys of peace and rock Eagles of Death Metal, who after the horrendous events in Paris last year have powered on and united the music world more than ever. Along with ‘Eagles…’, Imagine Dragons and Two Door Cinema Club are also exclusive to Reading / Leeds.
Recently announced to join the bill with Red Hot Chili Peppers, we have a joint headline act with Foals and Disclosure, meaning one act will be the main headline at one site, and at the other site the roles will be reversed. This is particularly exciting because Foals, who have worked from house parties to festival headliner, are infamous for live shows that turn to a frenzy, with leading man Yannis Phillippakis ending up hanging from some form of metalwork or walking above the crowd. This spectacle will be paired alongside electronic brother duo Disclosure, who have had a string of hits that have created a boost of momentum in the dance/electronic movement and brought it back into the minds of the mainstream. It’s worth noting that this pairing is not under festival exclusivity, which means we may be seeing these names elsewhere.
Other notable acts for this gigantic festival are the Brit indie group The 1975, who by August will be on their second album, with their fanbase growing faster and faster. We also have The Courteeners, the Mancunian band keeping the spirit of Britpop and the attitude of Oasis alive, while also keeping it fresh. In fact, calling it Britpop would to be selling their sound short: it’s developmental and massive. They have rousing choruses and songs that can get anyone moving, it’s always a great pleasure seeing The Courteeners on a lineup, and they never disappoint.
With these latest additions, this lineup is certainly looking strong. The newly announced acts have given the festival a much more varied approach, with multiple genres being represented, including hip-hop with Fetty Wap. Now we await the final headline announcement – the safe bet is on Biffy Clyro – and we hope Reading / Leeds keep up the quality and quantity they need to stay ahead of the game in this festival monopoly.
For more information and tickets visit http://www.readingfestival.com or http://www.leedsfestival.com.
Now that we’re into 2016, it’s time to get excited for the year’s festival season. We’d already seen a few of the lineup revealed for Live at Leeds (read this previous preview post), but now we’ve been not as much teased but inundated with over 65 new acts.
Joining the already stellar lineup of Circa Waves, We Are Scientists and Jess Glynne, we have a nice variety of genres being represented, from the small and unsigned to those acts who are well established in the festival circuit.
First of the major players is Ghostpoet (picture at top), who you may remember had his 2015 album ‘Shedding Skin’ nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. His is pretty much the name on the tip of the tongue of anyone involved in the industry at the moment. On playing the festival, Ghostpoet says, “It’s nice to be returning to Live at Leeds after playing it for the first time a few years back. Should be fun!”
Another name everyone should be familiar with is Mystery Jets, who over the past 13 years have been unrelenting in their output. Flirting with a mixture of genres has ensured they always have a fresh sound that’s apt for the time. They’ll no doubt be playing tunes from their latest album effort, ‘Curve of the Earth’, which was released last month.
There’s also Stockport’s Blossoms, who return after a triumphant show at Leeds Uni Stylus last year, as well as coming fourth in BBC’s Sound of 2016 list. They are certainly going to be a crowd pleaser and not to be missed.
Milk Teeth are another band that have been gathering a lot of attention of the past few months. Their style is reminiscent of early 90’s pop-punk with a twinge of grunge, a sound that is slowly making its way back into the mainstream consciousness. Their debut record ‘Vile Child’ is out now on Hopeless Records and will no doubt leave a massive impression on those who manage to catch their show.
Live at Leeds is fast becoming a staple in the festival season and is going from strength to strength. The way this lineup is shaping up, along with announcements for other festivals slowly creeping out into the daylight, 2016 could turn out to be one of the strongest festival seasons yet.
The entire plethora of announced acts can be found on the Live at Leeds Web site. Tickets are still available at http://lunatickets.co.uk/live-at-leeds-2016.html.
By Mary Chang
on Thursday, 21st January 2016 at 11:00 am
Following on from the previous announcement back in December that the event would be moving south in the new year, the full line-up for the 6 Music Festival 2016 (12-14 February) was announced on air Tuesday. Tickets are on sale this coming Monday, the 25th of January, at 10 AM, and below are the ‘greatest hits’ of sorts on all the details on the 3 nights of music in Bristol happening in just over 3 weeks’ time.
Previously revealed headliner Primal Scream will be playing Friday the 12th of February at Motion. Bobby Gillespie and co. will be joined by Yeasayer (check out their latest video for ‘I Am Chemistry’ below), Roots Manuva, Savages (who are releasing their newest album ‘Adore Life’ on Matador Records this Friday), !!!, BBC Introducing darlings from Stockport Blossoms and Sherwood & Pinch. Tickets to Motion for this evening will be £35 each (plus booking fee and postage). However, Friday’s festivities are just a mere aperitif to the rest of the exciting weekend in the trip-hop capital of the world.
For indie kids of all ages, Motion’s Saturday headliner Suede (pictured at top, with one of their newer singles ‘Outsiders’ below) are sure not to disappoint. With their newest album ‘Night Thoughts’ – the follow-up to their triumphant 2013 comeback ‘Bloodsports’ – out this Friday, they’re sure to wow with their legendary classics and soon to be classic tunes. Frankly, I’m just a little jealous I won’t be in Brizzle to see Brett Anderson holding court at “the UK’s most unique music venue” (their words, not mine). In this interview and live session Tuesday morning with 6 Music presenter Lauren Laverne, Anderson himself said he was super excited that Elena Tonra and Daughter, who have just released their own new album ‘Not to Disappear’ earlier this month, will be playing the same stage. Other artists on the Motion stage on Saturday night include 2015 Mercury Prize-nominated artist Roisin Murphy and C Duncan, the previously announced Tricky presenting material from his own new album ‘Skilled Mechanics’, Beta Band alum Steve Mason and Sunderland brother duo Field Music, also due to release a new album of their own, ‘Commontime’, at the start of February with Memphis Industries. Tickets to Motion on Saturday will be £35 each (plus booking fee and postage).
Saturday evening activity also kicks off at two more venues. The electronic grooves of Underworld and Roni Size & DJ Krust are the biggest names at the venerated Colston Hall, but they are supported by popular American rockers White Denim, the weird and wonderful Ezra Furman, youth favourite from Essex RAT BOY and Welsh songstress and ex-Pipettes Gwenno (introduced here), among others. The cavernous Academy will see American rock pioneer and Hüsker Dü founder Bob Mould supported by Mystery Jets (fresh off the release of their 5th album ‘Curve of the Earth’ last week) and Spanish girl group and flavour of the moment Hinds. A ticket to gain access to both Colston Hall and Academy on Saturday will £40 (plus booking fee and postage).
On Sunday at Motion, things turn back towards relatively newer indie (well, at least newer than Suede, ha), with Foals, Manchester’s Everything Everything, Beirut, Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls, Polica, Kurt Vile and Mercury Prize-nominated experimental rock band The Invisible. Sunday night tickets to Motion will cost £35 (plus booking fee and postage).
Arguably the stronger night at Colston Hall, when Laura Marling, John Grant, 6 Music presenter and Elbow frontman Guy Garvey and Julia Holter will take the stage, along with many other acts. However, if you’re looking for more mainstream entertainment (to me, anyway) to round out your weekend in Bristol, the Academy will play host to the legendary Buzzcocks, the return and retooling of Bloc Party (seriously, have you heard ‘The Good News’ from their upcoming album ‘Hymns’? If not, hear it below) and the latest of young Liverpudian hopefuls ahead of their maiden voyage to SXSW in March, Hooton Tennis Club. A ticket to access both venues Sunday night will set you back £40 (plus booking fee and postage).
And in case this post hasn’t been enough information overload for you, there’s still the line-up of the 6 Music Festival by Day – artists of spoken word, poetry and performance having their turn in the limelight – yet to be announced next Tuesday, the 26th of January. And for the first time, even sister station BBC Radio 4 is getting into the spirit this time round, with the Miles Jupp-hosted panel show The News Quiz landing in and being recorded in Bristol during the festival. So there’s really no excuse not to be excited by the goings-on down south. Don’t fret if you can’t travel to Bristol or don’t manage to score tickets after they’ve gone on sale. (In case you hadn’t heard what happened in the past 2 years in Manchester and Gateshead, the tickets will fly out the door as soon as they go on sale, so you’ll have to be quick.) The BBC will be bringing you coverage on 6 Music, BBC Red Button, and iPlayer, so they’ll have you covered.
Right. So I’m going to go back to my corner again and sob that I’m missing Suede live again…
As the new year begins, we here at TGTF find ourselves already fully immersed in coverage of this year’s SXSW Music Festival, scheduled for 15-20 March 2016. With only the first two lists of Showcasing Artists officially announced so far, we are already spoilt for choice as we attempt to decide where to focus our efforts, which presents an interesting problem: an ever-growing number of bands we want to cover, but limited time and space in which to do so. It’s a nice problem to have, of course, but nonetheless a challenge. With that in mind, we’ve revamped our preview coverage of SXSW for 2016, most significantly with our SXSW 2016 flavoured Bands to Watch features.
Seasoned readers will know that the SXSW Music Festival is one of the mainstays of our live coverage, typically focusing on UK bands as they attempt to break the American music scene. Last year, we expanded our coverage to include more American and international bands, and we hope to continue that trend in Austin this spring while maintaining our current coverage of up-and-coming UK artists. To that end, we’ve decided to expand our Bands to Watch articles leading into SXSW 2016, in some cases introducing two or three new artists in a single article.
Each pair or trio of artists will be related in some way, but the relationship will vary from article to article. The featured artists might be from the same country or geographic area, they might be on the same record label, or they might represent different facets of the same genre. The focus of each article will be on contrast and comparison, giving our readers a more comprehensive idea of what will be on offer in Austin when SXSW comes back to town.
In addition to our broadened Music Festival coverage, we are excited to announce that TGTF will also have the opportunity to cover the SXSW Music Conference this year. Our indefatigable editor Mary has been approved for press credentials that will allow her to attend and report on Music Conference panels covering music industry topics relevant to artists, industry professionals, journalists and perhaps most importantly you, the music fans. We plan to include these panels in our already extensive SXSW previews, as well as providing “live” panel articles similar to our artist showcase review pieces.
SXSW 2016 is now just over 2 months away, and we eagerly anticipate another week of great music in Austin! We hope you’ll read and enjoy our new features and in the process find plenty of new music to soundtrack the new year.
This may come as some surprise, despite all of the doom and gloom at the moment surrounding the current state of the UK music scene, which seems to be a feeling exclusive among the music-loving public. There are actually a wealth of music-supporting communities and people doing what they do because they love it. Case in point, Handmade Festival in Leicester. Now in its fourth year in (30 April – 1 May) and having upgraded to the Leicester Apollo, it’s going stronger than ever. And even better, it’s completely independent.
Being curated by the same team since its origins, Handmade Festival has seen the likes of Scottish darlings Honeyblood (2015) and indie rock foursome Tellison (2014). Due to its smaller size and the sheer volume of volunteers it sees, people who offer up their free time to make such a great event happen, even more thought and process can go into curating the best bang for your buck lineup.
The move to being just at the Apollo instead of spread across smaller venues, such as Firebug that is managed by one of the organisers John Helps, has certainly not meant that its lost the charm or ethos of a small, independent venue. Utilising these smaller venues for preview show or after parties, they’re able to bring in more national crowds as well as showing off exactly what makes this scene in Leicester so great. It also means they can book larger, more established artists.
This year’s lineup so far has given us We Are Scientists (pictured at top), who interestingly enough are already on the bill for Live at Leeds, as well as Sheffield’s 65daysofstatic. Now three more acts have been announced. Joining the aforementioned heavy hitters will be Welsh indie sextet Los Campesinos, who haven’t released a record since 2013 so we may potentially see new material from them this year in preparation.
Cantabrigians Lonely the Brave, who are well underway with their sophomore effort they are currently recording in Sheffield, have also been announced. Having undertaken a short tour road-testing new material, what we’ve heard so far is sounding as strong, if not stronger, than their 2014 debut ‘The Day’s War’. There is also Pretty Vicious who had a superb 2015. Despite only having released one single and performing a handful of gigs, they were soon signed to Virgin EMI and are gearing up more single releases.
Handmade Festival is one certainly not to be missed. At just £30 for a weekend ticket, it’s easily the most affordable festival you can get to, and with a strong lineup so far, it’d be a crime not to. Festivals like Handmade are a rarity. It’s made by people who truly understand how to make an event memorable, not just another gig in another city. You’re guaranteed to remember every moment. And if that’s not enough to entice you then nothing will.
For more information and ticket purchasing information go to the official Handmade Festival Web site.
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