Earlier this year I was honoured to be asked to take part in the 2013 Emerging Talent Contest run by Glastonbury Festival. In the past its entrants (for better or worse) have become well known bands, The Subways, Stornoway and 2011's winner Treetop Flyers all come instantly to mind.
The 2013 contest kicked off in early January when new and emerging bands had just a week to enter to win a chance to play on the main stage at the festival (and boy did they enter). Over 8000 entries were received in that time, a record number. That meant 40 of us bloggers (full list) later received a list with approximately 200 acts to listen to, our task was then a relatively simple (but incredibly difficult) job of whittling that number down to just three acts each.
What happens next? Well all the bloggers short-lists (which will be announced in full on Friday March 8th) are sent forward for a panel of judges (including Emily & Michael Eavis) to pick eight (just eight from 8000+) acts who will play at a grand, live final in Pilton in April. The winner of course will play a live pyramid slot at this years Glastonbury but other acts might just find their way onto the bill too. In 2011 I saw Emily & The Woods on the Acoustic Stage after she made the bloggers short-list. All in all, a useful exercise then...
Anyway, bringing the competition to the blog, this long post will hopefully bring a bit of exposure to a dozen of my favourite acts discovered through the competition. Of 200 acts on my entry list not a single act had previously featured on this blog. A singular statement that goes to highlight the breadth of talent in the UK - Glastonbury ETC was UK artists only - whilst naturally the list was a bit of a mixed bag in terms on my own particular taste there were a great number of exciting acts to discover.
Of my own particular short-list some are brand, brand new with only a handful of YouTube/Soundcloud plays (by far the most popular source of stream for entrants - although two bands did go 'old school' with MySpace links!) and some acts that already have a number of EP's and albums to their name with hundreds and thousands of plays. Hopefully you'll enjoy them as much as I did during the judging procedure. The acts are ordered alphabetically in order according to the track I've included in the post.
Please note that I cannot and will not say which of these acts are in my final three until the full results are revealed on March 8th, please don't ask.
Lillian Todd Jones - Butter Soul (website)
"Butter Soul" is the striking, captivating debut from Lillian Todd Jones. Raw and passionate throughout it's a rare track that is dark, intriguing and beautiful all in one go.
Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker - Done (website)
A gorgeous blend of traditional folk and masterful instrumentation topped by a vocal radiant and clear. "Done" is sparse yet uniquely captivating.
Little Bear - The Few and Far Between (website)
Although not the typical band to feature here Derry's Little Bear have music steeped in dreamy, swelling instrumentation and joyful beauty, "The Few and Far Between" is well-crafted, shimmering and has simply exquisite harmonies.
Joyce the Librarian - Follow Me, I'm Right Behind You (website)
"Follow Me, I’m Right Behind You" is a laid-back little beauty with a gentle, whimsical melody and precious, delicate harmonies. Pretty much perfect for an early morning, sun-soaked set at a Festival then (yeah, who am I kidding at Glastonbury).
Sally Archer - For Us (website)
"For Us" is taken from Sally Archer's debut EP Fades, an EP which could lay claim to the young London based singer-songwriter being the UK's answer to Regina Spektor, a strong, passionate vocal and sweeping, emotive sounds.
Luke Wylde and The Japes! - Ghost (website)
A super sweet track that you can imagine being played on both Radio Two and BBC Six Music, gorgeous call and response vocals and full of beautiful, catchy pop hooks, very nice indeed.
Couldn't find an embeddable player - listen at their website here.
Lucid Pattern - Hanging Here
I couldn't find any further information about this act at all but the track submitted "Hanging Here" is all smouldering dual vocals and shimmering guitar textures, they may be a college band or something for now but a few more like this and that might not be the case for too long.
Katey Brooks - In Light of You (website)
A jaw-dropping vocal performance around gentle acoustic plucks, "In Light of You" spends two minutes as a genuinely gorgeous melancholic lament before transforming with a breezy, airy melody that will have even the hardest of souls toe-tapping before the end.
Lion The Weak - Midnight (website)
"Midnight" is a slow-burning minimalistic pop beauty, ethereal, moody and mellow, the sort of track that propelled The XX to headline The Park stage a few years ago...
Lowood - The More People (website)
Another artist I failed to find anything on, Lowood, I'm guessing is a solo, bedroom electronic project of London based Cheryl ..., "The More People" with jaunty synths and cool, smooth vocals highlights a sound with infinite potential, definitely one I shall be following in the future.
Maglia Rosa Group - Nighthawks (website)
Swirling with Siouxsie like mysticism "Nighthawks" is a dark, gorgeous beauty that shines through sparse, rhythmic drums and shimmering guitar textures whilst haunting vocal swoops immerse you fully in its atmospheric grace - a wonderful track.
Gerard and the Watchmen - Stables (website)
Gerard and the Watchmen have a sound that is full of rich, restrained melodies and affecting lyrics. "Stables" is heart-warming and truly beautiful.