As a judge in the Glastonbury Festival Emerging Talent Competition I’m spending the next few weeks wading through around 200 tracks of up and coming indie/alternative/folk acts, writes Neonfiller.com’s Joe Lepper.
There’s around 40 of us music blogging journalists judging this year, all tasked with picking our favourite three tracks with the aim of creating a long list of talent to go to festival bosses, including Emily and Michael Eavis.
In total 8,000 acts submitted entries and eventually a shortlist of just eight will emerge with the bands asked to battle it out at the Pilton Working Man’s Club for a chance to win a main stage slot at the festival.
It’s a great prize but the competition also gives bands the chance to make contact with the online music journalism community. So even if you don’t win the top prize, or even make the long list, its still a great chance for publicity and to make contact with music journalists.
In this first update I’ll be introducing you to a couple of the acts that have caught my ear in the early stages of judging. Their inclusion here should obviously be taken as an indication that I like them, but not that they will be in my final top three. I’ve plenty more to wade through before I make that choice. Also I ask that any bands that I mention here or in further updates do not get in contact with me during the judging process.
First band to interest me was by coincidence the very first clip I clicked on, Wales’s Swnami and their track Mynd a Dod. They look about 12-years old but play with the confidence of a far older band, with their tracks full of the epic indie rock qualities of Sigor Ros mixed with the smart pop of early XTC or early Foals.
Their unique selling point, not that its that unique in Wales, is that they sing in Welsh, with it’s beautiful rolling vowels giving their music a real edge and a welcome change from the usual Americanisms and mockney we hear among indie rock bands.
Next band that has stood out so far is Super Squarecloud, a five piece that bills itself as Maths rock. Even after a few seconds you can tell they are a little bit different, on their very mathsy track Lolly Moon. The opening heavy guitar riff jerks in and out in time seemingly only with itself, while their vocalist Jo Ford sings sweetly over it. It jerks about a bit more, giving the listener no chance to even get an abacus out to calculate the rhythm.
It’s odd, strange, beautiful pop that you certainly can’t dance to and is all the better for it. Great stuff, especially for fans of other innovative UK bands such as Free Swim and Special Benny. The three of them should tour together; it’d be one hell of a show.
We’ll post more updates after our next trawl through the entries.