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Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent 2020 – Acts to Impress so far

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Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent 2020 – Acts to Impress so far

Posted on 14 February 2020 by Joe

Once again I’m spending February helping the Glastonbury Festival organisers unearth some new talent, as one of a number of music writer judges involved in the Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition.

ETC2020Judge

Over this month I’ll be sifting through around 200 tracks and video clips to find three acts to put through to the next stage in the competition – a place on a 90-strong long list.

This will then be whittled down further to a short list of eight acts, who will compete at a live final at Pilton Working Men’s Club in April to win the top prize of a main stage slot at this year’s festival.

Last year one of my long list acts Roma Palace made it through to the final eight. I’ll be hoping this year’s selection can achieve the same feat.

The winner also receives a £5,000 PRS for Music Foundation Talent Development prize to help develop their career and two runners up will receive £2,500 from PRS.

As with the previous three years I like to focus on some of the acts that have caught my ear so far during judging.

After hitting the half way point today this seemed a good time to showcase some of the competition entries that have grabbed my attention so far.

I’m looking forward to watching and listening to the remaining tracks as well, as my judging continues.

Maphe

Looking back on my notes this is what I wrote about Maphe. “Nice production. Builds up well. Good song. Good live clip. Can’t find anything to dislike” . Looking back again I find something else to like – her delivery of tongue in cheek meanness sung with a smile. Her Facebook biography tells me little only that she is a “small mammal in a world of reptiles”. Intriguing.

Covasettes

Cut them and they bleed indie. Their track Top Drawer delivers with a punch. They look like they can handle a Glastonbury Festival crowd too. Based in Manchester they list Nirvana and The Killers among their influences.

The Bloom

A cut above most other indie rock acts thanks to a nice link up with drums and bass and strong vocals from singer Luke Kordyl. While based in London The Bloom are originally from Fremantle in Western Australia.

The Curious

I’m a sucker for a good guitar delay peddle. Step forward The Curious with If She Only Knew. This London based act list David Bowie, Johnny Marr and The Beatles among their influences which immediately warms them to me. Shouty vocals from singer Dominic Smith is another plus.

My Crooked Teeth

A song about parenthood always appeals, especially when sung well with a great Americana backing band. Oxford based My Crooked Teeth is the moniker of songwriter Jack Olchawski. His biography tells me that he’s shared a stage with Lemonheads frontman Evan Dando, which impresses us after seeing that seminal punk band many times live.

The Borgias

And within seconds I was transported back to the 1990s thanks to Sweet Sound from Birmingham’s The Borgias. Primal Scream and The Charlatans are among their influences and it shows. Strong vocals from KaYc Mundee help.

Jessie Dipper

Great voice and knows her way around a loop or two. This Birmingham singer songwriter describes herself as Folk Grunge and equipped with “pedal board and passion”.


By Joe Lepper

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Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition 2020 Details Revealed

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Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition 2020 Details Revealed

Posted on 22 January 2020 by Joe

Details of the Glastonbury Festival 2020 Emerging Talent Competition, which offers acts the chance to appear on the main stage at the iconic event, have been announced.

The competition is open for entries between 9am Monday 27 January until 5pm Monday February 2020 via the official festival website.

Those entering need to supply one of their original songs on Soundcloud and a video of themselves playing live. This can be at a venue, studio or even in their front room.

As well as a main stage slot the winner is handed a £5,000 talent development prize from the PRS Foundation and two runners up will receive £2,500.

Neonfiller among the judges

This year Neonfiller.com’s Joe Lepper is once again among the longlist judges. Our job is to whittle down the entries to a longlist of 90 acts.

ETC2020Judge

A panel of judges, including Glastonbury Festival organisers Michael and Emily Eavis, will then select eight of these long listed acts to appear at a live finals in Pilton, which is near the Somerset based festival site.

For the last five competitions all eight finalists have appeared at the festival. See last year’s live finals review here.

Last year’s eight finalists included Roma Palace, one of Joe’s three longlist entries for 2019. We caught up with them in August last year to review their follow up single You.

In October, we also checked in with Saachi and Laura Goldthorp, who also made our long list selection on the back of their impressive Soundcloud and video clips.

Roma Palace

Roma Palace performinh at the Glastonbury ETC 2019 finals (pic by Matt Turner)

As with previous years Neonfiller.com will be posting regular updates of the acts that are impressing us during judging and the eventual winners.

Previous winners

Previous winners have included She Drew the Gun, who have gone from strength to strength after winning in 2016. Another notable winner is Declan McKenna, who signed for Columbia shortly after picking up the top prize in 2015.

ETC 2016 winners She Drew The Gun (pic by Joe Lepper)

ETC 2016 winners She Drew The Gun (pic by Joe Lepper)

Last year’s winner Marie White has since signed with Decca Records and Universal Music Publishing Group. As well as performing at Glastonbury she also supported Keane at the Royal Albert Hall last year.

“It’s always such a pleasure to hear the latest crop of amazing, undiscovered music that’s out there,” said Emily Eavis.

“Over the years, the Emerging Talent Competition has helped us to unearth so many incredible artists from across the genres – dozens of whom have been given slots at the Festival. I can’t wait to hear this year’s entries.”

Inspired by the Emerging Talent Competition Neonfiller.com reviews the small stages each year at the Glastonbury Festival with a focus on new and emerging acts. We are looking forward to visiting these lesser known venues at the festival again this year for its 50th anniversary.

By Joe Lepper, pictures by Joe Lepper and Matt Turner

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Duncan Batey  – Little Black Classics

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Duncan Batey – Little Black Classics

Posted on 09 January 2020 by Joe

Its been a while since Glastonbury’s Duncan Batey last got in touch with us, having first impressed us with his acoustic folk Blindsided EP back in 2013.

We caught up with him again four years later at the Glastonbury Calling festival and were warmed once again by his thoughtful, melancholy songs, backed by cello and double bass.

Duncan Batey in Glastonbury 2017. Photo by Joe Lepper

Duncan Batey in Glastonbury 2017. Photo by Joe Lepper

With a new decade underway he’s back again with his debut album, to offer a wider audience a sample of his work.

Once again he’s backed by a welcome string section, this time with a violin added to the mix, aling with accordion, slide guitar and more.

The effect is modern and traditional, mixing a 1960s feel with melancholic modern folk and chamber pop.

This 10-song collection opens passionately with Cleanskin, with strong, often high vocals blending well with the string section beneath.

Little Black Classics, the one with the accordion, has a European feel to it and blends melancholy with pop sensibility well. Imagine Ray Davies on holiday in France.

Stoney Ground is another song to stand out, with harmonica helping further to marry the traditional with the modern. While not a direct ode to Arthur Lee’s timeless band Love, it made me want to immediately go and play their 1967 classic Forever Changes.

My favourite may be Home By Now, a simple acoustic number where vocal and string section combine perhaps the best. It also features the most catchy of this album’s choruses.

Talk Talk

 

Meanwhile, Run is surely influenced by those miraculous final Talk Talk albums such as Laughing Stock.

There’s a range of styles here but with a distince blend of old, new it works well. Like an old friend it has a feel that immiedately hooks me in, as the sounds of Love, Talk Talk and the Kinks swirl around amidst Batey’s vocals and those marvellous strings.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

More information is available at Duncan’s bandcamp page.

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Glastonbury Festival 2019 – Small Stages Review

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Glastonbury Festival 2019 – Small Stages Review

Posted on 02 July 2019 by Joe

This year’s Glastonbury Festival was all about the sunshine. With no rain or mud the site was full of smiles. Getting about from stage to stage was far simpler. This gave us a good chance to investigate the small stages, that are often away from the glare of the television cameras. They also feature some of the event’s up and coming stars and established acts alike.

Here’s some of our highlights:

William’s Green Stage

Once again this small venue excelled at promoting new and emerging acts, with Amyl and Sniffers, from Australia among the best. Performing on the Friday, lead singer Any Taylor was almost upstaged by the mullets of the rest of the band. Not quite though as she snarled through tracks such as Cup of Destiny. Three minute punk pop songs across the board meant their set flew by.

Amyl and the Sniffers

Amyl and the Sniffers

Speaking of snarling through tracks, Irish punk quintet Fontaines DC were busy at the event with gigs at various venues. We were lucky to catch their fiery show at William’s Green which showed they have ready made Festival favourites already, despite being one of the event’s newest acts. Too Real and Boys in the Better Land in particular sounded great. Worth noting that in lead singer Grian Chatten they have a great frontman who patrols the stage frantically, with more than a note of Joy Division’s late great Ian Curtis about him. It was like he was in another place at times – a very angry place indeed.

Fontaines DC

Fontaines DC

Snapped Ankles are another new act to offer a surprising Festival highlight show. Looking like Hall and Oats in the wilderness, dressed as trees and forest creatures they looked the part. The music of frantic dance rock appealed too. In terms of stage prescence they nailed it.

Snapped Ankles

Snapped Ankles

Special mention goes to Sundara Karma who I last saw in the larger John Peel stage during a fairly lacklustre set. Here they were harder, faster and better. A treat for the small crowd assembled.

Sundara Karma at William's Green

Sundara Karma at William’s Green

Avalon Stage

Tucked away near the south-east corner of the festival site is the Avalon Stage, which offered up some impressive sets from festival regulars and those making a return. Steeleye Span were among those we saw, with a mix of original and new members, churning out a back catalogue of fine folk rock, especially Alison Gross, about witches.

Steeleye Span

Steeleye Span

Our highlight was Morcheeba, who were playing for the first time at the Glastonbury Festival since 2003. Often seen as the lesser cousin of the likes of Massive Attack and Portishead they should surely be seen alongside such trip hop greats, with our favourite set of the festival. Hits from Big Calm were the crowd’s favourites, as was an impressive version of David Bowie’s Let’s Dance.

Morcheeba

Morcheeba

The Acoustic Stage

Another venue primed for the wandering music fan is the Acoustic Stage. It features one of the best acoustics at the site and an eclectic line up with the likes of Hawkwind and Keane on stage. Here we’ll mention a couple of our favourites, with Grace Petrie putting in a great performance elevated over the years from some of the site’s smallest venues to the luxury if the Acoustic Stage. She’s a self confessed protest singer and like Billy Bragg she combines songs of politics well with other themes of love and growing up. Black Tie, her ode to her teenage self, was among many highlights.

Gracie Petrie

Grace Petrie

Rodney Brannigan had a great band in tow for his bluesy rock set but it was his solo meanderings featuring instrumentals played on not one, but two guitars that most impressed. The secret is in the sustain.

Rodney Brannigan

Rodney Brannigan

The John Peel Stage

This is as big as this review will get stage wise. Our highlights included an early Saturday afternoon set from Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition winner of 2016 She Drew the Gun. Since scooping the top prize they have used the accolade well, building up their sound and stage prescence. Now complete with backing vocals and light show they get better each time we see them, with tracks from latest release particularly suited to a larger venue. Their version of the Beloved’s Sweet Harmony becoming a steady crowd favourite too.

She Drew the Gun

She Drew the Gun

Low’s light show at this year’s Glastonbury Festival also impressed as the US trio performed their brand of slowcore alternative rock splendidly. While they make good use of feedback the sweet vocals of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker are what makes them so mesmerising live.

Low

Low

Its worth noting that the first two bands each day at the John Peel Stage are filmed by local film students, which was among the snippets of behind the scenes festival news we heard during the event.

Words and pictures by Joe Lepper

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The Billy Shinbone Show – The Billy Shinbone Show

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The Billy Shinbone Show – The Billy Shinbone Show

Posted on 06 July 2018 by Joe

Late, great Glastonbury music scene legend Dan Bradford had a great way of describing his music – “Bitsa – bits of this, bits of that”.

It’s been three years since he died but his tradition lives on with another Glastonbury based artist, Billy Shinbone (aka Jesse Budd from psychedelic popsters Flipron and the Neville Staple Band).

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For this debut album Jesse has taken his love of 1960s psychedelia and merged it with bits of the old country and Cajun music he became engrossed in while touring the USA with Flipron.

It’s a combination that proves effective as within his guise of Billy Shinbone, he creates, inhabits and owns his own world – of an Englishman with eclectic tastes, suited up, with banjo, guitar, accordion and more taking to the stage in the smokey dives and bars of Texas and Tennessee.

From the reverbed guitar, whistling and accordion of opener Mostly Cloudy, Occassionally Sunny to the psychedelic, country finger-picking of Hoard of Hope and Plunder, there is plenty of opportunity to showcase his instrumental skills.

If You think You’ll Get Away With It also has all the hallmarks of lead single. This foot stomping, banjo and harmonica driven track has the best chorus on the album.

Temptation’s Got The Good Stuff, with some smart guitar dampening, runs this track a close second as our current favourite.

There’s a bit of a hoedown going on later on the album with Another Bunch of Flowers before last orders are called for the mean and moody Thanks But No Thanks, Baby.

Fans of Robyn Hitchcock are among those urged to catch Jesse when he tours his Billy Shinbone Show in the coming months in the UK. Hitchcock’s own “bitsa” mentality, of combining the music of his adopted home Nashville with whimsical English pop and psychedelia, is arguably a good point of reference.

With a bit of this, a bit of that working so well here, Dan would have been proud.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

For more information about The Billy Shinbone Show visit his website here.

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Royal Blood – How Did We Get So Dark

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Royal Blood – How Did We Get So Dark

Posted on 22 June 2017 by Sarah Robertson

After an agonising three-year wait, Royal Blood’s second album How did we get so dark has finally launched with pundits predicting it will grab the number one spot in the official album charts this Friday.

It was August 2014 when the Brighton duo exploded onto the UK music scene with their self-titled debut album also topping the charts, the fastest selling rock album for three years.

And how long the agony but how great the ecstasy of reassurance that this band is at the mere dawn of their (hopefully) extremely well-deserved long career.

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This ten track 35-minute album blasts off with the shattering power of an intergalactic rocket. A series of stripped-down anthems move swiftly into a suite of catchy melodic tracks, reminding us that Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher are masters of the instruments that normally sit towards the back of the stage – drums and bass.

It’s impossible to identify stand-out tracks on such a stand-out album. The more commercially appealing riffs such as How did we get so dark, Lights out and I only lie when I love you have been stacked at the beginning, but there’s no filler material here with the rest of the album combining erupting crescendos and gritty thrash, with lyrics characterised by romantic chagrin.

Royal Blood have stuck to formula with this album, which continues along similar lines to their debut and there’s clearly more than enough creative talent between these two men to carry that off with aplomb. How did we get so dark relies on quality writing and presentation alone, there’s no fancy technical studio intervention trying to make it something it isn’t. Kerr and Thatcher are a phenomenal complement to the UK-music scene and I just hope I don’t have to wait three more years for the next instalment.

Royal Blood plays the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury on Friday at 5.45pm.

By Sarah Robertson

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Glastonbury Calling (February 25, 2017)

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Glastonbury Calling (February 25, 2017)

Posted on 27 February 2017 by Joe

Some of the south west of England’s best acts were out in force at Glastonbury Calling, the annual eclectic, one-day festival now in its second year.

With Glastonbury pubs The Hawthorns, The Riflemans, Market House and King Arthur involved, as well as the larger Assembly Rooms and Bocabar, it was as much a showcase of the town’s wealth of venues as its array of talented musicians.

It was the pub venues where we focused our attention, starting at The Hawthorns. Complete with newly knocked through wall this town centre venue now offers a two tier view of the stage.

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Flipron

As host to the town’s regular open mic event as well as local artists’ gigs, Hawthorns is  a home away from home for many of the acts. This includes Glastonbury based Flipron, who on the day eschewed their usual four piece psychedelic pop band persona to present a lounge set, involving singer and songwriter Jesse Budd and Joe Atkinson on keyboards.

It was a stripped back feel that worked particularly well, bringing their late 1960s psychedelic side to the fore and saving the more 1990s indie rock aspect for another day.

Among highlights was Orpheus Inconsolable, a whimsical ditty from their Gravity Calling album that features some splendid Roger Whitaker style whistling and could have come straight out of 1967. Mingers in Paradise, from 2006’s Biscuits for Cerebus album and about aging disgracefully, also worked well in this laid back set.

Gilda Parade

Gilda Parade

A quick five minute walk took us to a polar opposite gig, the windowless back room of The King Arthur where Bristol heavy rock trio Gilda Parade were churning out tracks, such as their 2015 single Devil in Me, at a rate of knots.

Yes, they are full of the rock clichés, such as wearing shades indoors. But with self deprecating banter it was clearly partly tongue in cheek. They offer far, far more than mere clichés too across their tightly played set full of jerky rhythms and dramatic stops and starts.

Next up, back at The Hawthorns was Glastonbury based Duncan Batey, winner of the 2012 Somerset Songwriter competition and playing tracks from his impressive 2013 EP Blindsided.

The arrangements, featuring Dan Shaw on double bass and slide guitar, and Gerry Barnett on cello, brought out the melancholy, thoughtful side to his songs. This also gave his impressive vocals the chance to shine across a passionate set.

Duncan Batey

Duncan Batey

The Rifleman’s was the venue for our final Glastonbury Calling act of the afternoon. This is one of Glastonbury’s oldest pubs, with a 16th century bar at the front and a warren of rooms stretching out back.

Taking the pub’s schedule from afternoon to the evening was Owl in the Sun, a Somerset based quintet that features two married couples among its members. But the similarities with Fleetwood Mac stop there as they put in an entertaining set blending Americana with gypsy folk and jazz.

Owl in the Sun are one of those bands that I challenge anyone to dislike. Their set was fun, engaging and full of beautiful vocal harmonies. It also finished off with one of the best flute solos I’ve seen live.

Owl in the Sun

Owl in the Sun

There was plenty more to go into the evening. Bristol reggae act Laid Blak headlined the Bocabar’s list, DJ sets were carrying on at The Market House and the Assembly rooms featured The Truthseekers, Safehaus and Lazy Daze among others. In total more than 40 acts took part.

One of the main points I take away from my day was how great it was to see every venue busy and full of smiles, with the crowds out in full force, eager to hear new music and see familiar acts alike.

I’m looking forward to next year’s Glastonbury Calling already, as this one day event continues to impress and make its mark on the west country’s already famous festival scene.

Words and pictures by Joe Lepper

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Glastonbury Emerging Talent – Acts To Impress So Far

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Glastonbury Emerging Talent – Acts To Impress So Far

Posted on 17 February 2017 by Joe

For the fifth year running I’m spending February helping the Glastonbury Festival organisers unearth some new talent as one of 40 music writer judges involved in the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition.Glastonbury2017

Over this month I’ll be sifting through around 100 tracks and video clips of UK and Irish acts to find three to put through to the next stage in the competition – a place on a 120 strong long list.

This will then be whittled down further to a short list of eight acts, who will compete at a live final at Pilton Working Men’s Club in April to win the top prize of a main stage slot at this year’s festival.

The winner also receives a £5,000 PRS for Music Foundation Talent Development prize to help develop their career and two runners up will receive £2,500 from PRS.

As with the previous three years I like to focus on some of the acts that have caught my ear so far during judging and are in contention to become one of my three.

Here are some that have grabbed my attention so far.

Palm Honey

Every now and again the British indie scene needs a pick-me-up and Reading’s Palm Honey are just the band to do it.

This psychedelic pop quartet are full of fuzzed up fun and buzzed up ballsy rock and offer something for everyone with their self titled style of “experimental, alternative, noisy, psych-gaze pop”.

Their soundcloud clip of the track I Can Try impressed me and then when I saw their video for the single You Stole My Blackout I was hooked.

Already they’ve earned national attention with the Guardian writing about them and this week BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens played their track ‘Stick the Knife’ to further boost their profile.

Nicholson Heal

Bristol based singer songwriter Nicholson Heal is at home playing with a brass wielding six piece as well as on his own with just his guitar and beautiful voice. There are obvious comparisons to the likes of Elliot Smith but for me he is most akin to Canada’s Woodpigeon.

His is one of the most impressive entries I’ve heard across the five year’s I’ve been involved in the Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition. Love that brass section too on the track Lacuna.

Oxygen

There are a fair few The xx influenced bands around but Maltese siblings Kurt and Katia Abela, aka Oxygen, stand out from the pack with their polished carefully crafted take on dramatic pop. With songs written by Kurt and composer Janelle Borg they list Ed Sheeran, Broods and Daughter among their influences and are proud to wear their heart on their sleeve, “due to the intense emotion they portray in their music”, so says their PR blurb.

Where so many acts of this ilk fall down is to overplay the emotion. But Oxygen’s understated delivery and seemingly genuine passion for the music shines through. A very good Glastonbury Emerging Talent entry.

by Joe Lepper

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Glastonbury Calling – One Day Festival in Somerset

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Glastonbury Calling – One Day Festival in Somerset

Posted on 14 February 2017 by Joe

Bristol reggae act Laid Blak and the indescribable Flipron are among the acts playing at the second annual Glastonbury Calling one day festival in Glastonbury, Somerset.

This year’s event takes place on February 25th and involves around 40 acts across six venues: The Riflemans, The Hawthorns, The Assembly Rooms, The Market House, The King Arthur and The Bocabar.

Profits from the event will go to community radio station Glastonbury FM.

Glastonbury Calling

Highlight’s include an afternoon set (14:30 -15:15) at the Hawthorns Hotel by Glastonbury based Flipron. Describing them is tricky so here’s our latest stab at it – psychedelic pop band, trapped inside a fairground organ and forced to use the power of punk to fight their way out. Others have settled for the more sober “eccentric English rock”.

Laid Blak (The Bocabar, 22:30-23:30) are another highpoint, with the Bristol band currently one of the most talked about British reggae acts, with support slots for among others, Ed Sheeran, the Wailers and Lee Scratch Perry, under the belts.

Festival organizer and Glastonbury FM presenter Ian Liversidge said: “We want to highlight the variety of great new music from the west and show off the cracking venues in the town and show that the town is always full of great music

“We love the early part of the year as there is so much music coming out and we intend to get a jump on the summer festivals and show it off. This year we have an amazing line up over all of the venues and are chuffed to have the legendary Laid Blak headlining the Bocabar.”

Tickets for Glastonbury Calling are available in advance for £10 from Bristol Ticket Shop, Jaywalk Guitars, The Bocabar and The Hawthorns Hotel, or can be bought for £13 on the day.

For more information about Glastonbury Calling and stage times visit here.

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The Tuts- Let Go Of The Past

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The Tuts- Let Go Of The Past

Posted on 15 July 2016 by Joe

The Tuts, one of our favourite festival acts in recent years, have released this nostalgia-fest of a video for Let Go of the Past, the first single from their upcoming debut album Update Your Brain.

This 12 track collection takes in the band’s usual issues of sexism, love, friendship and politics, and also features versions of live favourites such as Always Hear the Same Shit and Back Up

The trio have set up a PledgeMusic page where you can pre-order the album as well as get hold of a host of other merchandise. Those that pledge also get a free recording of their cover of The Clash classic Rudie Can’t Fail.

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