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Top Ten Bands To Watch Out For In 2012

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Top Ten Bands To Watch Out For In 2012

Posted on 16 November 2011 by Joe

Last year London band Django Django topped our list of acts  to watch out for  in 2011. As autumn came they didn’t disappoint as they  began unveiling tracks from their forthcoming highly promising debut album.

Another to justify their place on the 2011 list was The Miserable Rich, who unveiled their superb third album Miss You In the Days in October.

This year we look at our top ten bands to watch out for in 2012. Some have already being wowing festival crowds and attracting attention in the blogosphere. As 2012 progresses we predict these bunch will climb up the festival bills and garner even more praise.  Sit  back and enjoy Neonfiller.com’s top ten acts to look out for in 2012.

10. Alice Gun

Just before the 2011 Mercury nominations were revealed a few names cropped up among bloggers, including ourselves, for possible inclusion. One of those names was little known singer -songwriter Alice Gun, whose debut album Blood and Bone impressed us greatly when it was released early in 2011. It’s sparse, it’s eerie and a beautiful debut that was sadly overlooked by the Mercury  panel. Comparisons to PJ Harvey are inevitable, but Gun is her own artist and we are expecting big things of her in 2012 as word  of her talent spreads.

9.Tigercats

Tigercats from London are that rarest of bands, an indie-pop act that you can actually dance to. After a string of singles and EPs they are finally ready to release their debut album in 2012. We’ve had a sneak listen to a couple of tracks already and we predict it will bring them to a far wider audience than the small band of wise indie-kids that have already discovered them.

The album will be backed by a series of tour dates. Among our favourite Tigercats tracks, and one we are keen to see live is Easter Island, which was released in August 2010.

8. Free Swim

Free Swim are one of those unusual bands that pop up in our inbox occasionally that leave us lost for words. The first email we received was to promote their debut EP Two Hands Is Ok, about a man who was so busy he had to graft another set of arms onto his torso. The next time it was to tell us of EP #2 Yolanda the Panda, about the adventures of a mountain climbing Panda. The subject matter may be comical, but they are serious about their music, sounding like a cross between Super Furry Animals and King Missile. A whole bunch of other reviewers from 6Music to XFM also agree.  Live they are a force to be reckoned with as  their bassist becomes a real life Super Furry Animal by donning a giant panda costume. A funny, interesting band that are set to release their third EP in 2012 and continue wowing crowds with their unusual  live show. Here’s some footage we took at one of their 2011 gigs, in Brighton.

7.Kill It Kid

How Kill It Kid are not already one of the UK’s biggest bands is a mystery. Their 2009 self titled debut album’s mix of rootsy blues and rock wowed critics, but failed to shift CDs.  But 2012 could prove to be their year as they continue touring to promote 2011’s excellent second album  Feet Fall Heavy, which features a bigger and bolder sound.  We predict a main stage slot at one of the major festivals in 2012, surely the perfect stage for their ballsy approach to rock. What’s more in Chris Turpin and Stephanie Ward the band, which formed at Bath Spa University, are blessed with two excellent singers.

6.Twin brother

During our visit to Glastonbury this year we made sure we spent alot of time at the BBC Introducing stage. First up on the Friday were Brighton’s Twin Brother and what a performance they put on. Held together by the sumptious vocals of singer songwriter and  multi-instrumentalist Alex Wells, the band evoke classic mid 1980s sounds of Aztec Camera and Lloyd Cole and the Commotions. Twin Brother also played the Anglo-French White Nights festival during 2011 and a string of dates are booked in for 2012.

Here’s an acoustic version by Wells of Send Me A Letter, a track from one of their planned releases during 2012.

5.Two Wounded Birds

Margate’s Two Wounded Birds were another act that dazzled us at the BBC Introducing stage at Glastonbury. Surf-punk is probably the best way to describe them as they mix classic punk, with surf and rock and roll. They are also gaining alot of attention from national radio stations and online broadcasters, including 6Music and NME online.

4. Dry the River

Festivals have been key to Dry The River’s excellent 2011, bringing their energetic live sets to events such as Glastonbury and Brighton’s Great Escape.  Gradually they’ve been building up a solid fan base thanks to their mix of accessible classic rock with an alternative, folk edge.  They start 2012 as part of the Q:Now the Sessions events playing XOYO, London in January and are certain to start climbing up the festival bills during the summer. In a few years time we wouldn’t be surprised to see this band, which formed in East London in 2009,  headlining a festival main stage.

3.Youth Lagoon

Already Idaho 20-something Trevor Powers, who performs under the name Youth Lagoon, has generated plenty of buzz in the US. His debut album The Year of Hibernation, which has been released on the influential Fat Possum label, has been given near universal critical praise, including a coveted Best New Music tag from Pitchfork. His subject matter of love, loss and anxiety is still immature at times, but he is at the start of what promises to be a long career. We are confident that the US buzz around Powers will soon spread to the UK. Watch out for European tour dates in 2012.

2.The Revival Hour

DM Stith is one of the gems of US label Athmatic Kitty’s roster. The multi-instrumentalist has spent much of 2011 supporting label mate Sufjan Stevens on tour and promoting his dramatic debut album Heavy Ghost. For 2012 he is taken a slightly different direction with his new porject The Revival Hour. This collaboration with John Mark Lapham from The Earlies was formed through a mutual love of Roy Orbison and judging by their first single Hold Back they have been heavily influenced by the 1960s. An album is due out in 2012 and is set to feature contributions from Stevens, My Brightest Diamond and Shearwater.  Hold Back is one of our highlights of 2011 and we anticipate the album to be one of the best of 2012.

1. Singing Adams

After splitting from the Broken Family Band its songwriter and lead singer Steven Adams (pic: second from left) has taken an indie pop direction with his next project Singing Adams. Bringing in indie stalwarts Matthew Ashton, Melinda Bronstein and Michael Wood the band perfectly compliment Adam’s bittersweet and often humourous song writing. We saw them in September in Bristol play to about 70 people, a far cry from Adams’ time with festival favourites Broken Family Band. This meagre crowd is set to grow in 2012 once word spreads. They are a well drilled and engaging live act and in 2012 are set to release their second album. Some tracks were trialled at the gig we saw in September and we were left impressed. Watch out for this band at a festival or venue near you, they could soon be your next favourite band.

The band’s debut album Everybody Friends Now was one of our highlights of 2011. Here’s one of our favourite tracks from the album, I Need Your Mind.

 by Joe Lepper

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Glastonbury Festival 2011

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Glastonbury Festival 2011

Posted on 28 June 2011 by Joe

The Glastonbury Festival is something to be enjoyed and endured, especially the latter when the weather decides to play some evil tricks.

With rain lashing down from Wednesday, when the 200,000 festival goers began arriving, through to Saturday morning the vast  Somerset dairy farm site was soon covered in foot deep sticky mud.

Tough slog though the deep mud

Simple journeys to the third world slum toilets, or to one of the dozens of stages soon became a tough old slog. By Sunday the sun came out, the mud dried but we were faced with further cruelty, blistering heat on vast open fields with little shade.

It’s a true endurance test. But thankfully as a local (I live six miles away) and as a volunteer steward (with my earnings going direct to my local school charity) I was spared much of the horrors the paying public endure, such as the traffic jams and the desperate search for a camping space.

For me I could cycle to and from site and stay in the nicer crew camping area with showers. This made all the difference.

Nowhere to hide from the sun on Sunday

Another important aspect to remember is that it is a festival of contemporary performing arts offering something for pretty much any taste, not just those attracted to the chart acts and bland indie rock of the Pyramid stage line up.

For those like me who are not keen on Beyonce or Coldplay there is plenty more to see. I managed to see some of my favourite gigs without seeing a single Pyramid stage act.

Here’s my Friday to Sunday run down of some of the acts we saw proving that there’s far more to this famous festival than just Beyonce.

Friday

With rain forecast and the mud building up I decided to stick to one area for early afternoon, taking in the BBC introducing, John Peel and Oxlyers in West stages. All in tents, creating a better atmosphere and crucially shelter from the rain.

Things started badly with French pop folk act Cocoon whose dull Coldplay-light set in the large John Peel Stage was pleasant enough but uninspiring. Danny and the Champions of the World‘s tired pub rock in the Oxlyers in West also left me deflated.

I sought refuge in the small BBC Introducing tent and thankfully Brighton’s Twin Brother was on hand to provide one of a raft of festival highlights. Just 100 or so turned up to watch their short 25 minute set in this small tent but those that did were treated to one of the UK brightest unsigned talents. The key to their engaging live show was the band’s hub, multi-instrumentalist Alex Wells and  his  deep Lloyd Cole-esque voice. He provided a truly captivating performance on tracks such as ‘Lungs’. His first release is due out in October we are told.

Twin Brother's Alex Wells

Over to Oxlyers in West again for Dry the River who impressed my colleague when they played the Great Escape festival in Brighton in May.  I can see why, they commanded the stage with their fast paced folk rock set. This band is destined for larger stages and the few thousand or so in this medium sized tent were impressed.

As the rain got heavier Oxlyers in West became a bit of a squeeze.  Emmy the Great, aka Emma-Lee Moss and her band, made light of their sudden popularity. “You don’t even know who we are, you’re all welcome though,” she said. The Darren Hayman collaborator delivered one of the best natured sets of the weekend. Her songs such as ‘We Almost Had a Baby’ are bittersweet tracks of love and modern life that have a wide appeal and I expect the rain and the search for shelter will have helped shift a few more CDs for them.

Emmy the Great

Next up for me was the first of the day’s legends; the 1980s band Big Audio Dynamite, formed by The Clash’s Mick Jones.

Despite the rain and the foot deep mud I was more than willing to trudge across site and up a hill to the Park’s main stage, which is set in a slight dip giving it a crater like intimacy.

I stopped off to see The Vaccines on the way, a band I’ve criticised before for being bland without ever seeing live. My feelings were justified as they ushered out their radio friendly electric Mumford and Son’s style hits like ‘Post Break Up Sex’. Their cover of The Standells ‘Good Guys Don’t Where White’ was pretty good though.

Safely at The Park I plonked myself within spitting distance of BAD (I didn’t spit by the way). As they took the stage, I was struck by how old they looked. Jones like a hundred-year-old Larry Grayson in suit jacket and jeans and Don Letts with grey hairs under his hat and wearing what I can only describe as a school caretaker’s brown coat

BAD's Mick Jones

It was great to hear the old BAD songs though with ‘Medicine Show’ and ‘E=MC2’ outstanding, but there was a sadness in seeing these old men play what seems now like quite dated music. Letts looked like he could do with a nice cup of tea to go with his toasting.

Time for another quick word about the Park. It’s a kind of festival within a festival. Surrounding the crater like main stage is the giant ribbon look out tower, Glastonbury sign, and the wonderfully surreal Rabbit Hole venue, in which characters send you on missions to find vegetables and can even cut your hair.

The Park also plays host to a special guest for two nights. They are usually big and this year the rumours where that Pulp and Radiohead would take to the stage.

Trapped by Radiohead

Tonight the rumours were confirmed and it was Radiohead’s turn. Even though I haven’t really liked any of their albums since Kid A I was swept up briefly by the sense of occasion of this giant of festival rock act playing a relatively small stage. But with the rain lashing down and seemingly half the festival site cramming into the Park it became apparent that not only could I barely see anything, but the sound did not travel well beyond a hundred metres from the stage. As chants of ‘turn it up’ rained down around me I decided to miss this precious rock experience and sought a saviour.

Step forward Billy Bragg. This year Bragg was curating the tented Leftfield stage and his  hour and a quarter headline set tonight in the dry was just the tonic.

“If you want subtle political critique you are in the wrong place. I’m just going to belt them out,” said Bragg as he delivered a fine set of classics like ‘Greetings from the New Brunette’, on his telecaster and acoustic guitar, punctuated with some excellent rants and briefly joined by Badly Drawn Boy for some intricate guitar work.

Billy Bragg

The BNP, public sector cuts, tax evaders and U2, who were taking to the Pyramid stage at around the same time, all came under fire. As Bragg finished a sing along encore of ‘New England’ I decided this was a good way to end the day. I choose to ignore the opportunity to watch the pompous Bono in the rain, even though he was getting barracked by UK Uncut protesters.

Saturday

Another perk of being local is being close enough to take my six-year-old son for a day. Under 12s go free and we braved the mud to spend most of the day in the Kidz Area. I have mixed feelings about kids at Glastonbury. Watching some of the parents push buggies around foot thick mud or seeing kids my son’s age surrounded by drunks watching the Chemical Brothers at 11pm makes me question why many bring them.

But after a few hours at the Kidz area I can see why. It was a little oasis of less mud (extra effort had been made laying saw dust) and my son was enthralled by the endless rides and entertainment featuring children’s TV stars.

Kidz Field

After my son was safely packed off home in the late afternoon it was time for music again on this  rainless day. With an hour to kill before California act Fool’s Gold were at the large outdoor West Holts stage I popped into the cabaret tent just in time to see Jeremy Hardy, who expertly handled some drunk hecklers and delivered a set that I would expect from an experienced comedian.

After an entertaining set from Fool’s Gold, who expertly combine sunny California pop with African music, it was time for some more legends.

Reformed for this special gig at the Acoustic stage Pentangle were something of a folk super group back in the1960s and 1970s. Featuring the original line up of guitarists Bert Jansch and John Renbourn, singer Jacqui McShee, drummer Terry Cox and bassist Danny Thompson, for a folk fan like me this was a very special occasion.

Pentangle

Even though they’d barely rehearsed together the old magic was still there. Watching Renbourn weave his intricate guitar playing around Jansch’s riffs and Thompson and Cox’s jazz folk rhythms was one of my favourite  musical moments at the festival. They seemed delighted to be there as they swept though tracks such as ‘Hunting Song’, ‘Bruton Town’, ‘House Carpenter’ and ‘Cruel Sister’. This was an experience to cherish.

Glastonbury is all about simple decisions, such as do I give myself a coronory getting to see a band far away or sit tight. The vast size and distances make travelling around difficult and you have to except you will miss some acts. After Pentangle I was faced with a half hour trek through mud to see Battles at the John Peel stage or the easier option of seeing Janelle Monae at the nearby West Holts. I went for the tougher choice after missing Battles before at an ATP Festival.

Battles

It was worth the hard slog especially to see Battles’ drummer John Stanier, who took centre stage in a set dominated by the excellent recent album Gloss Drop. Among the highlights was the album’s guest singer Matias Aguayo joining the band for ‘Ice Cream’.

Sunday

To say the sun came out is an understatement. Suddenly the rain soaked site became bathed in sunshine with temperatures reaching the late 20s. Gigs in tents was once again my priority with the site offering little other respite from the baking sun.

The BBC Introducing stage was my first port of call with the 80s indie pop of the Yes Cadets and Margate surf punks Two Wounded Birds providing two more to add to our ones to watch list. The latter were especially good.

Two Wounded Birds

Ok Go in the nearby John Peel tent was my next destination. I arrived early to see the last half of The Joy Formidable, one of the most hyped up acts at the festival. Even though their epic indie rock was not to my taste their performance was highly impressive. When the festival returns in a couple of years I expect to see them on a main stage line up. Those fans there felt they had seen one of this long running festival’s classic performances.

I love a band that makes a bit of an effort and Ok Go certainly do that. Known for their inventive videos this US pop rock are equally impressive live. With each member dressed in a bright coloured suit.  I was left impressed with both their showmanship and song writing.

Ok Go

Squeeze are the nearest comparison as OK Go  put in for me the performance of the festival, featuring great versions of ‘Here it Goes Again’ (the one with the treadmill video) as well as ‘This Too Shall Pass’ and ‘Sky Scrapers’ from their most recent album Of The Blue Colour of the Sky. It was a masterclass in audience engagement as they invited a member of the crowd up to play guitar on one track and indulged in some crowd surfing.

Back at the BBC Introducing stage I found myself in the audience of a live BBC 6Music acoustic session from Super Furry Animal frontman Gruff Rhys. Just three tracks, but all wonderful, especially ‘Sensations in the Dark’ from his latest album Hotel Shampoo.

Gruff Rhys

As I bid farewell to the indie tent area it was over to the main Other Stage for my final two acts of the day, TV on the Radio and Eels. The sun was still beaming down during TV on the Radio’s set and while they delivered a polished performance, even with regular lashings of sun cream and water the heat was unbearable.

By the time Eels came on the sun was starting to set and the band fronted by Mark Everett provided a fitting end to my Glastonbury.  All with  giant beards the band delivered a mixture of classic singles and recent album tracks in a quirky Blues Brothers revue show style. It was a mix that worked well for the stadium sized crowd.

Eels

Highlights included ‘Novocain for my Soul’ and ‘Souljacker Part 1’ as well as  tracks from 2009’s Hombre Lobo such as  ‘The Look You Give That Guy’ and ‘Tremendous Dynamite’.

As I cycled home in the dark later that night I thought to myself would I go again when it returns in 2013. Despite being caked in mud, weary and deprived of sleep the answer is still yes.  The festival will still have its critics, some of whom have actually been and experienced the mud rather than just watched it on the tele. But ultimately Glastonbury is so big your experience  is what you want to make it. For me as a music fan it is still an exemplary festival.

8/10 (would have been 10 if the weather wasn’t so cruel)

by Joe Lepper

See Also: Rain and mud greets Glastonbury Festival-goers , Neonfiller’s Best Small Festival Guide2011

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Dry The River – Live at The Great Escape 12/05/11

Posted on 13 May 2011 by Dorian

Dry The River played a great set at The Prince Albert pub on Thursday 12th May as part of the great Escape Festival. Here they are playing ‘Family Tree’. The busiest band at the festival this was the 2nd of three shows they played on the day. Not content with that they play another show at the Concorde 2 on Saturday 14th May at 8pm.

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