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TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017: Midlands and East of England artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

 
By on Thursday, 2nd March 2017 at 11:00 am
 

Tourists visiting the UK often overlook the Midlands and the East of England. They would rather visit London and other more ‘famous’ big cities in the country. Unfortunately and unfairly, the same kind of phenomenon happens when it comes to journalists looking for and tipping bands. They’d rather focus on London, Manchester and Glasgow: you know, the places where everywhere you turn, you find a new unsigned artist chomping at the bit for a chance. While it’s true that bands in the UK tend to gravitate towards and relocate to London to try to make a proper go of it, there’s something to be said about refusing to follow the pack, hanging tough in your hometown and being proud of where you’re from.

So today’s edition of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017 will introduce you to a healthy baker’s dozen of acts from the Midlands and the East of England who will have their time in the spotlight next month in Austin. Except where noted, the summaries below were written by our Northern Irish correspondent Adam McCourt. Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2017 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook and official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.

The Midlands

BURNS – electronic / DJ / Los Angeles via Stafford
He used to call Stafford his ‘hood. But highly sought producer, DJ and electronic musician in his own right Matthew James Burns now calls Los Angeles home. It’s no wonder that his eclectic nature blending elements of pop, dance and hip-hop has drawn loads of attention, admirers and potential collaborators, but SXSW 2017 will be his moment to shine on his own. FFO: deadmau5, Kaskade (Mary Chang)

Charlie Cunningham – singer/songwriter / Bedfordshire
Charlie Cunningham lived in Spain for 2 years and has uniquely incorporated the flamenco influences that inspired him abroad into his playing, songwriting and overall sound on his music recent music. This seems to be the thing many people like about the Bedfordshire artist’s music. Following a series of EPs in successive years (‘Outside Things’ in 2014, ‘Breather’ in 2015, ’Heights’ in 2016), his debut album ‘Lines’ is out now. FFO: Bombay Bicycle Club, Chet Faker

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCYHNfMa2uI[/youtube]

HECK – punk / Nottingham
Straight from Nottingham, HECK have been consistent in truly bringing the noise amongst the twiddly, light-hearted, slightly emo math scene since 2009. Formerly known to the math-rock community as Baby Godzilla, Johnny Hall (vocals/rhythm guitar), Matt Reynolds (vocals/lead guitar), Paul Shelley (backing vocals/bass), Tom Marsh (Drums) now perform as HECK. Rest assured, the name change is the only thing that’s changed about them. It took a while, but the band released their debut album under the name HECK ‘Instructions’ last March 2016. FFO: Dillinger Escape Plan, The Fall of Troy, Sikth

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykC0MQNgyM0[/youtube]

Jacob Banks – r&b / Birmingham
R&b artist Jacob Banks incredibly shot to success during his time as an unsigned artist. He was the first-ever unsigned artist to appear on BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge and won the 2012 MOBO UnSung regional competition in his hometown of Birmingham. He has accomplished a whole host of successes in such a short career: a support slot for Emilie Sande on her 2013 UK tour, the second release ‘Worthy’, from his debut EP ‘The Monologue’, featured on hit American TV show ‘Suits’, and as was championed by Zane Lowe. Banks released his debut album ‘The Paradox’ in July 2015 and signed a major label deal to Interscope Records last year. FFO: Naughty Boy, Sam Smith, Emelie Sande, Rag’n’Bone Man

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoIaOKg4Otw[/youtube]

Safone – grime / Birmingham
London might get the lion’s share of attention when it comes to rappers, and yes. there might be less of a critical mass of hip-hop and grime artists in the Midlands. However, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention, and a talented StayFresh crew that spans this part of England has ensured “as a means of releasing and uniting grime music in the area.” One of their own, SafOne (two syllables, please), was picked up by South London rapper P Money for a collaboration on the track ‘Roll Up’, though it’s easy to see in the video below who the true star is. FFO: Giggs, Skepta (Mary Chang)

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAI94SzvWow[/youtube]

Temples – psych rock / Kettering
The biggest name in this edition of the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017 – at least in terms of Facebook likes – is psychedelic four-piece Temples. Since their formation in 2012, the band have released one studio album, ‘Sun Structures’ in February 2014, which charted at number 7 in the UK. Following its success, they then released a remix album in November the same year, ‘Sun Restructured’. They have continued to grow by touring as both headliners and support acts and tomorrow, they release their sophomore album. FFO: The Beatles, Tame Impala

To read what we’ve written on Temples in the past here at TGTF, go here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6zdVaAe0OE[/youtube]

VITAL – hip-hop / Wolverhampton
VITAL is a rapper cut from a different cloth. Beyond what he does with this words and music, he’s also a family man and a motivational speaker, taking from his Wolverhampton and Jamaican roots for inspiration. Outside of the accolades he’s received for his music and videos and support from BBC Radio 1 and 1xtra, his approach in upholding family morals and doing what’s right – considered unusual in his genre – has led to him being recognised as a business owner and entrepreneur.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0c-dRskBo8[/youtube]

East of England

Airways – rock / Peterborough
Airways are a recently formed indie rock band, based in Peterborough. Despite the band’s short career, they have made huge strides in the UK scene, most of which came off the back of their second single ‘One Foot’ released in July 2016. It was named BBC introducing Track of the Week by BBC Radio 1 in August 2016 and gained them a slot on the BBC Introducing stage at Reading and Leeds. FFO: Royal Blood, Foals, Nothing But Thieves

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9x-mVZ7vBgk[/youtube]

Let’s Eat Grandma – experimental / pop / Norwich
Teenage best friends and Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth are two girls who refuse to keep their music in a box. ANY box. Their weird and wonderful music takes from pop, rock, hip-hop and experimental, melding into something you’ve never ever heard before. They signed to Transgressive Records and released their beguilingly unique ‘I, Gemini’ debut album last summer. While they’re so young that they won’t be able to tuck into pints in Austin, they’re sure to be one of the most intriguing acts to catch at SXSW 2017. FFO: Kate Bush, St. Vincent (Mary Chang)

To read more of TGTF’s past coverage on Let’s Eat Grandma, go here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QegNRZ63WmM[/youtube]

Mary Epworth – singer/songwriter / Norwich
Mary Epworth (pictured at top) [yes, she’s producer Paul’s sister – Ed.] meticulously blends what she claims to be West Coast psychedelia with gospel and dream pop to create quite a unique a style of music. Her debut album ‘Dream Life’ was released in June 2012 via her own label Hand of Glory. Supporting the LP, Epworth played sold out shows and a string of festivals throughout the UK. After garnering so much attention from fans and the likes of BBC Radio 1 and 6 Music and Q in the UK, it finally got a North American release in 2015, so her appearance in Austin for SXSW couldn’t come soon enough. FFO: Bright Eyes, Let’s Eat Grandma, Elbow, Florence and the Machine

To read past coverage on Mary Epworth on TGTF, go here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=722dDnXtkgA[/youtube]

Mullally – pop / soul / Great Yarmouth
Filled with life and love, Mullally crafts pop songs that are soulful and have a big heart. A voice that perfectly encapsulates the soul it needs to, he projects and encourages sing along through catchy and memorable lyrics. Maybe not as poppy as you might think, there’s a dark edge to the music, but the pop bones are certainly holding it all together. FFO: Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith (Steven Loftin)

Superglu – rock / Manningtree
“An abstract painter, a disco dancing sociologist, a bloke who lives on a houseboat and a guitarist form a band,” is what the opening line of Superglu’s bio reads on Facebook. It sounds like the start of a joke but to be clear, this garage pop outfit from Manningtree are not joking around. In just 2 years, their ‘laser precise, punk pop workouts’ have received attention from BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens and Radio X’s John Kennedy, performed at Latitude festival, twice and headlined the BBC Introducing stage at Reading and Leeds. FFO: Baby Strange, Spring King

To read our past coverage on Superglu here on TGTF, go here.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1H_6gImH80[/youtube]

Ten Tonnes – singer/songwriter / Hertford
Younger brother of superstar George Ezra, Ethan Barnett aka Ten Tonnes is a singer/songwriter with the draw of a full band. A sound that is reminiscent of ‘90s Britrock, Barnett crafts heartfelt songs with powerhouse choruses you’ll soon be singing along to. The ‘Lucy’ EP is out now and ready for you to fall in love with. FFO: Bombay Bicycle Club, Catfish and the Bottlemen (Steven Loftin)

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNZK0BiPMfg[/youtube]

Editor Mary Chang contributed to this report.

 

Standon Calling 2012 Review (Part 1)

 
By on Thursday, 16th August 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

A 7-year quest to experience Fat Freddy’s Drop live for a second time is almost at an end. In just a few minutes, they will take the stage in the closing performance of an intriguing and enthralling Standon Calling 2012. Even though it was the New Zealand dubsters that had initially piqued my interest in making the 400-mile round trip to Standon, with the benefit of hindsight there is far more to this festival than the headline bands, strong though those may be.

In the preceding 3 days, I have shared the festival with Frankenstein’s monster, numerous wild animals, several air stewardesses (including one with a suspicious 5 o’clock shadow), and the old guy from Up. I have had a contact print family portrait made on a large-format camera, learned the finer points of craft brewing and autopsy (not at the same time, thankfully), shared in the jingoistic delight of watching the GB team win six Olympic gold medals in one glorious day, and delved into the intense backstory of a rehabilitated fraudster. Not to mention one or two memorable musical performances.

First impressions are mixed: the car park is a stubbly field of fibrous stalks which make a horrendous racket underneath the car (as does the eventual exit, the descent of which features a particularly acute angle; the exhaust pipe only just survived). One only wonders what the driver of the ground-hugging 1970s Porsche 911 Cabriolet parked a few cars away made of it all. It’s but a short trek to the entrance, the elevation of which gives pause to survey what’s laid before us.

Nestled into a natural sun-gathering bowl of sweeping farmland, which, if found in the Loire Valley, would be priceless vineyard real estate: the entire site can be seen from end-to-end, making it seem impossibly compact considering the promised delights. Once down in the bowl, there is a lot more space than met the eye just minutes before, and plenty of room in Quiet Camping – although the postage stamp-sized sign gives little confidence that it will be truly quiet. An incorrect assumption, as it turned out.

There’s no finer feeling than one’s first performance of a freshly-opened festival, and Mary Epworth is more than up to the task, her local brew of surprisingly-noisy-at-times folk-prog, combined with her striking looks (tall, flowing blonde locks, giant caftan, autoharp) are a potent combination in the breezy sunshine. A post-set wander confirms the site to be modestly-sized but packed with interest. In addition to the main stage, there’s the smaller Cow Shed stage (yes, in a cow shed), and a funky disco next to the pool, with cocktails and sausages (but not cocktail sausages) for sale.

Yes, there is a swimming pool here, because this is basically a Lord’s back garden that they’ve let the party animals of Hertfordshire loose in. There’s a beer tent dressed up as an old-school pub, adjacent to the little folk tent which will feature heavily over the weekend. The only misstep is the dance stage, which is slap bang in the middle of everything, rather than tucked away in its own space; whilst this does lend a focal point to after-hours activities, the deep bass and foundation-shaking beats have a tendency to overpower the smaller areas; the Folk Stage was particularly badly overrun by the sort of speed garage that was fashionable for 3 days in 1998.

Hours can pass in dream-like reverie simply observing: fake monks vie for dance floor space with beglittered bodies in swimming trunks; a man has combined a tricycle with a piano and pedals around the site playing honky-tonk for tips; people pile into hammocks strung between fake trees. When it’s time to return to reality, Casiokids are playing a party-electro set on the main stage. Coming across as the genuine bunch of geeks that they undoubtedly are (not a single one can dance convincingly), their tunes are just the thing to turn up the wick as twilight approaches. The standout track is ‘Olympiske leker’, a musical tribute to the Olympics, with all 26 events given their own little musical riff; the sports are announced in Norwegian, but enough words are recognisable (diskos, maraton) to make the whole thing jolly and relevant. [Download this song from this previous MP3 of the Day post. – Ed.]

Thence to Beardyman, the clean-shaven Londoner whose set is essentially a history of dance music as reproduced by one man’s voice and loads of computers. A deep vein of sardonicism runs through the performance; each song is dwelt on for the least time possible, various wry comments indicate that Mr. Beardy is only just on the right side of boredom, and there’s some downright rum moments such as the ‘Happy Birthday’ tune for one of his mates, and the subsequent invasion of the stage by a number of randoms in character suits, a la Flaming Lips. Good to see Muppet Beaker making an appearance, though. Eminently danceable and technically impressive though his set is, there’s always the suspicion that the performer is having the last laugh over the audience.

From there on in, things go the way of all good first nights at festivals: blurred and random. After studiously checking for consistency numerous samples of the excellent Meantime Brewery Pale Ale, your correspondent bumps into several members of the local band Maddox, hailing from the rock ‘n’ roll metropolis that is Stevenage. Set the task of staying up until Shy FX’s set commences at 2 AM, what better to do than debate the state of modern music, attempt to tell an original joke (failure), and perform some amateur mind-reading (success). By the time the D ‘n’ B started, the quality of banter was so high (in all senses of the word) that nobody was paying much attention. Cheers, lads.

Stay tuned for the second half of Martin’s review of Standon Calling 2012 appearing on TGTF tomorrow.

 
 
 

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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 is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

All MP3s are posted with the permission of the artists or their representatives and are for sampling only. Like the music? Buy it.

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