In The Dock Stage
Obelisk Stage & DJs
Marc Riley DJ Set | Andy Kershaw's African, Caribbean & Latin Dance Night (Sunday night) | Holy Moly And The Crackers | Serious Sam Barrett | Dancing Years | Buffalo Skinners | Patch And The Giant | Morrissey And Marshall | Cristobal And The Sea | Rhain | Jess Morgan
Listening to Richard Hawley you can't help but feel that his music is at odds with the frantic world we inhabit. The constant ping of smartphone notifications that you can't work out how to turn off. In the incessant world of parenting Richard Hawley is the weary parent's equivalent of date night.
I suspect that Richard's kids are a bit older than ours, indeed one song on his latest record, What Loves Means, is an almost unbearably sad tune about his daughter leaving home. I have a bottle of Prosecco on ice for that...
He seems to find the time in his life to reflect and his music is, if nothing else, incredibly romantic. This is one of the many things that set him apart (additionally he is a guitar hero, 2 x Mercury nominated, a Northern working class hero, has an amazing voice etc. etc.) and why we are very lucky to have him headline.
Kate and I went to see him recently in Leeds and whilst he has many opportunities in his set to cut loose with some impressive guitar shredding there were the inevitable slower tunes in his set when the lights come down, I Still Want You the one that sticks in the mind.
Surrounded by entwined couples of a satisfyingly broad demographic, all pawing each other, in an insane moment I made an attempt at physical contact with the wife, only to be greeted with the inevitable 'no' (FYI Tim Dowling says in his husbanding guide that variants can include 'stop it', 'f*ck off', 'leave me alone'.) I suppose we were officially working, scouting for bands. What was I thinking?
And so for me, as a 40 something, this is the context in which Richard Hawley sits. Listen to Which Way if you are having a life crisis i.e. you have just bought a pickup truck that'll never have anything in the back, and you don't want to get scratched.
If you have managed to get someone to babysit your tented kids you could well enjoy an unexpectedly connected hour with your other half in Richard Hawley's company. Unsettling thought I know.
Surely one of the most exciting bands in the UK. Everything Everything are 3 albums in and showing no sign of running out of ideas. Listen back to their debut album Man Alive from 2010 and reflect upon how self-assured the band were.
As you get deeper, after the initial rush of the music and arrangements the lyrics become ever more intriguing - "It's all right to feel like a fat child in a push chair" from No Reptiles, for example. What would that feel like? "Old enough to run, old enough to fire a gun." Ace.
Live there is an even greater intensity borne of the fact that a lot of their material appears quite tricky to play. There's no braindead strumming in an Everything Everything song. The music is agitated and unsettled. Their songs often unfold to reveal the most sublime bits 2 minutes in. It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall when these tunes are written. In the new world of cheap production, where songs are effectively produced as they are 'written' (we don't name names!) a lot could be learned about modern music production from this band. And it will be painstaking.
Their Friday night headline on the main stage will be THRILLING.
There is one album I played more than any other when I was in my early twenties. It became my soundtrack to hours wasted playing Doom... Strange Cargo 3 by William Orbit. The recording studio where I worked had at some point entertained a William Orbit session and consequently one day a 4 track album sampler cassette arrived in the post.
It became my favourite pastime pinning myself to the back wall of the control room playing this cassette as loud as I dared on the 'big speakers'. I'd never heard anything quite like it before, the sound design was exquisite. And of course the vocalist on Water From A Vine Leaf, the opening track, was Beth Orton. She had quite simply the 'coolest' of starts one could wish for. And I don't think she's ever lost that at any point in her career - Beth later signed to Heavenly and these days is always the go to alternative viewpoint guest on Radio 4.)
As an artist she has always very much been about the vibe. She has a unique voice, fragile and kooky. She has won BRIT awards and had Mercury Prize nominations. Beth remains well loved with all of her albums gaining critical acclaim and she has a new album out in 2016. We are delighted that she has agreed to come up to Yorkshire to play some of it for us, as well as some old favourites no doubt.
Some artists' appeal is further enhanced by other factors above and beyond the music they record and play live. Beyond the X factor even (in the old fashioned sense of the phrase.)
No doubt Elvis had it. School Of Seven Bells did when they played Deer Shed. And Anna Calvi certainly does. Something primeval.
The quality of her music is beyond doubt - 2 albums, 2 Mercury nominations.
Anna has a reputation for hypnotising audiences, as is evident by any video of her performing but we are going to point you at this one because she also introduces the song. We'll leave it with you...
The Saturday night In The Dock headline will be an intense affair. You will not escape unscathed.
It is good, isn't it, when a frontman of a well established band goes onto make music that is as good, if not better than the music made with said established band. And so as Gaz Coombes is to Supergrass, Steve Mason is to The Beta Band.
Steve Mason has a new album out soon, Meet The Humans, we've heard 3 tracks from it, they're all great, the first single off it Planet Sizes is on Spotify above.
Steve played on our main stage in 2014, just before Johnny Marr and he is back in the same slot in July. He was very popular, drew a large crowd in the evening sun with his own brand of melodic side-to-side swagger. I want to say that every Steve Mason track has a swing to it, but that might not be a strictly correct use of the term. It might bounce. Anyways it was great fun, so he's happy to come back and we're super pleased...
He is a political animal, he is a man with things to say about the world and his place in it. And he has a kick ass band which last time out included Oli from Boxed In. He gets everywhere.
A return visit to Deer Shed for the rather wonderful Rae Morris. She played in front of a rapt audience on a sunny Sunday morning at DSF3, perhaps you were there. As one might have guessed after that performance she has grown in popularity, in collaborations as well as with her own band.
The thing with Rae Morris is her voice, its tone, the way it breaks up. One of my very favourite recordings is when she guests with Bombay Bicycle Club on the single Luna. Around 2 minutes in she really kicks off. Sublime I think, all down to tone. Some folks are very lucky to have such thing.
And of course her solo stuff is great to. I've featured Don't Go here, which was the same tune I picked out last time I recall, but do listen to her album Unguarded in full. Incidentally she is coming up from Secret Garden Party to play Deer Shed. Her show for Freddie and the crew finishes at 3am in the morning on Saturday followed by a haul up the A1 to Baldersby Park, on stage at 5pm. That's the kind of dedication to the cause that we like.
There are some bands in the UK producing timeless music which we are convinced will stand the test of time. They are all happy to stray off into the world of complex time signatures and intricate arrangements that sound very hard to play. Everything Everything, Dutch Uncles and of course Field Music. And yet all 3 have a pop sensibility. Do we also have to point out that they are all from the North of England?
Field Music have played at Deer Shed before, DSF3 in 2012, the year we sobbed as the water lapped over the tops of our boots. They played just before School Of Seven Bells and boy what an evening that was. It actually was the best evening of my life so far (pipping a particularly 'successful' house party I went to when I was 17 which I thought would forever hold the top slot.) This was the first time I had seen Field Music live and I was surprised just how compelling they were. Great on record but really great live. We saw them later that year at Wilderness Festival and they were as good on the main stage in the middle of the day.
If you like your music more cerebral but still like to nod your head appreciatively and rhythmically with drink in hand, they are for you.
It's always a good sign if you can't pigeonhole an artist in reference to other artists. So far I've written latter day Talk Talk, 1950s Disney soundtracks, supermarket music and Gabriel Fauré (top Requiem innit.) So there you go, pinned down with the accuracy of a Christmas game of darts after a gallon of ale.
We are very, very excited about C Duncan at Deer Shed. His debut album Architect was nominated for the 2015 Mercury Prize and in our view the best album on the list.
Architect was written and recorded solely by Chris Duncan in his Glasgow flat. Listen to it in its entirety and then reflect on just how astonishing a feat that is. The consistency of the texture of the record, you might expect a debut record to be finding its feet. The effortless hooks. The production. The planning. The architecture(!) The Pringles that must have been consumed...
So we have the future of music, right here, rising above.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that Eagulls are going to be massive in 2016. That's probably the kiss of death right there. And by massive I mean breaking out of their current orbit into a higher one. They are very good, especially the new material from the forthcoming album. I was about to say they're not going to be the next Foo Fighters (for want of a much better example), they're not going to be that big. But why not?
I can imagine 6 music lapping up the new stuff, playing it on heavy daytime rotation. Listening to Lemontrees I can't help thinking that they have captured the mood of the nation somewhat. That is probably something to do with the millennial's despair and the fact it won't stop bloody raining.
They are speaking to me. Their music has something that I can't quite put my finger on. Perhaps it just sounds relevant? It does hark back to the 80s clearly. Perhaps it's a political thing. I was never a Cure fan particularly which is the most obvious reference point, but I love them.
Bloody hell they are good.
Every year there are certain bands who get confirmed late for the line-up that are the icing on the cake. This year Lonelady.
Reading various reviews of her most recent album Hinterland most reviewers seem tramlined, blinkered by her Manchester roots. Manchester is not something that I feel is evident in her music especially if you don't know where she is from. To me she shares the same Manhattan apartment block with Darwin Deez, next door to where Bernard Edwards used to live. Manchester? Pah!
So some very interesting A/B comparison homework for you now. Groove It Out is on the Spotify link above. Ace tune. Listen to it and then compare it to this live video. Same tune. Live Julie Campbell and her band are much more flowing, less rigid, even more appealing. See if you agree.
So on this evidence much to get excited about when they play Deer Shed.
Ed Harcourt is a man who knows what he's doing (6 albums the first of which was Mercury nominated) and has been doing it without me paying much attention for 15 year - this is most embarrassing on my part. But today I've taken most of the afternoon to get up to speed and here is what I've learnt:
The first thing that strikes me about Ed Harcourt is his genre-defying-ness. I think, upon great reflection, that this is a piano thing. The piano is the foundation of much of Ed's music and much like Rufus Wainwright or Nick Cave means, I think, that his music is free to roam in a way that might not happen were Ed to be a guitarist. Is this to do with the fact that the piano is a much older instrument than the electric guitar? I don't know, if I had more time I'd give it more thought. So Ed's music is varied, but rooted and mature. I was previously aware of Ed's standing in the world of other musicians. He is held in high regard and has worked with many artists as a producer but also on stage – guest pianist for The Liberines at Leeds and Reading festivals 2015 for example.
My feeling is that if you are not 100% up to speed with Ed that a couple of hours homework on Spotify will be well rewarded. Live, I think it will be a real treat.
We are ashamed to admit that we haven’t seen Money live, yet. Everyone we know who has seen Money in the flesh has raved about the gig. From Manchester, and you can pick out the Stone Roses if you listen hard. But until someone points that out they are very much their own creation. Incidentally I’ve just taken all the Northern acts off our poster for 2016. Doesn’t leave many. Hoorah for us.
The consensus is that frontman Jamie Lee is quite a force live, the added bonus that his band are the bees knees too.
I am, to be honest, at the point of giving up writing biogs for some bands. When the quality is so high you ought just to point folks at the relevant Spotify URL and be done with it. So here it is.
We are delighted that in the middle of the bill this year we have secured so many great bands and Money are one that you ought not to miss over the weekend, I will be there.
With the best rhythmic piano playing since Linus and Lucy, Boxed In were due to play last year, and then couldn't. It was disappointing, I nearly wept. We saw Boxed In really get under the crowd's skin at Greenman, they were fantastic. I was still sad. But Oli Bayston has redeemed himself by agreeing to come this year though, so happy days. He is forgiven, all is forgiven.
Last year I remember writing that due to the demise of LCD Soundsystem Boxed In had filled that particular genre void. Of course now LCD Soundsystem are back on the road, which is fine but we didn't expect them back due to the way James Murphy announced the split. Like the big send off for friends moving to Australia, for them to return only 3 months later coz it's too hot.
Boxed In is piano riff driven 'live' dance music and is quite infectious, but unlike Jerry Lee Lewis is not so fast that dads can't dance to it. Mystery is the big tune, but I've featured All My Love Is Gone as I love the bass so much.
Please don't miss this. There are not many opportunities to see this kind of band, although they have doubled in the last 12 months.
This Is The Kit
This Is The Kit AKA Kate Stables and Sam Lee (also playing DSF7) are redefining what English Folk music is.
We should be eternally grateful to them for that.
This Is The Kit are amazing. Bashed Out, the 2015 album, is a collection of wonderfully delicate songs with teasing vocal hooks, repetitions and canons. Consequently there is something of Astral Weeks in this album for me. Also, breaking with folk traditions, some feedback electric guitar and synthesizers too - sounds like a Korg Wavestation to me and anyone can have mine for free before it rots in the garage.
Bashed Out is Kate's fourth album, and is said to be her breakthrough, her High Violet. Indeed The National's Aaron Dessner recorded the record. Other collaborations of note include Rozi Plain, who was wonderful at Deer Shed last year. We're off to listen to the first three albums now but do please listen to her fourth as homework before July.
Marc Riley DJ Set
Post John Peel we should cling on for dear life to any outlet that continuously chucks out new music. Here at Deer Shed we would have to work much harder were it not for BBC 6 music sending a steady stream of new stuff our way, and to think that we nearly lost it.
Daytime 6 is not perfect though, if you have to play T Rex how about not just playing the same T Rex song every time. But with the evening slots you can't go wrong, and the evenings are home to Marc Riley's evening show. Fantastic sessions, quality below the radar new bands and an easy going manner. We should thank our lucky stars such things exist.
As well as a distinguished career in radio Marc has of course done loads of other stuff including a stint as guitarist in The Fall.
So we are really pleased that Marc is coming to Deer Shed for the first time after having supported us on air since we started. We are just wondering why we didn't invite him sooner.
Andy Kershaw's African, Caribbean & Latin Dance Night
Last year's Andy Kershaw DJ set was a great opportunity for our festival team to let off steam after a hard weekend and have a dance. It was super so we have asked Andy back, it could become a tradition.
Andy's positive contribution to the world of broadcasting is beyond question, he has more Gold Sony Radio Awards than any other broadcaster and is compelling to watch and listen to were you to spend 5 minutes browsing his output from over the years on YouTube.
It is Andy's love of music that will feature on Sunday night on the Obelisk Stage as he unleashes his African, Caribbean & Latin Dance Night. If you decide that you want to stay over on Sunday night this year, as many of you are, you will be in for a real treat.
Pioneering extraordinary music from all over the world with the motto "We're not here to give the public what it wants. We're here to give the public what it didn't know it wanted." A great finale to what we know will be a great weekend.
Sam Lee And Friends
Due to cruelty inflicted on me as a child I'm not supposed to like Sam Lee, because he is proper English folk. But I like him very much. When I was a kid my Mum had 3 cassettes that she used to play on an evening when she was working writing signs (she now rather usefully and beautifully writes all the festival site signs to order over the weekend.) Anyway, every one of these tapes was a Steeleye Span album. Not Steely Dan, Steeleye Span. It scarred me.
The only other cassettes I had access to were Tubular Bells, Abbey Road and Let It Be, so I got by.
Blackbird featured above from his second album The Fade In Time is really rather lovely do you not think? Sam was Mercury nominated in 2012 for his debut.
"He continues to shake up the folk scene...surely one of the albums of the year" say The Guardian. He certainly does. And from his official biog, which we never like copying and pasting but in this case they put it very well, "Sam is a new pioneer, who along with his band, are helping to define & energise the sound of folk song for today."
And amen to that. We're really looking forward to his Lodge Stage headline.
A Canadian artist Dan Mangan is one of Kate's favourite's that she has been trying to book since his second album came out in 2010. She has finally secured him, and I am playing catch up in writing this having not been paying any attention for five years.
He is very good. I've been listening to his fourth album from last year Club Meds with Blacksmith, his rather brilliant backing band. Not sure if Blacksmith are Canadian or Yanks but you can't help but admire their craft as musicians, not something you can always say of UK bands. Bless.
There is much depth to this record, and it's always an irritation when you have a limited amount of time to digest a clearly fantastic record and to write the biog (mental note to get the CD for the car.) I have however given it sufficient time and thought to arrive at a suitably muso journalistic phrase to describe, 'strident warmth'. Sorry about that.
As ever the Seattle radio station KEXP's sessions on YouTube are a great place to check out over the pond bands. Some lovely drumming in this session.
But there is a lot of variety on the album too with Father John Misty style confessionals and Radiohead style workouts. Like I said before, a new artist to me but a fantastic discovery even if the wife got there first.
This is an interesting story. Gwenno Saunders, is formerly of The Pipettes. A trio I'm sure you'll remember, intent on reviving a 1960s Phil Spector type girl group sound.
It is rather refreshing and surprising therefore to learn more about of Gwenno’s 2015 album Y Dydd Olaf - a political concept album based on a dystopian society ruled by machines, you know the sort of thing. The album inspired by and sharing its title with a novel, in Welsh, by writer Owain Owain. Naturally the album is sung in Welsh too. Ace. Although you know, if you live in Cardiff under a remote Tory government, not that far-fetched as a concept after all.
I’m amusing myself no end listening to her fantastic album and translating the lyrics into English. "Get your foot off my veg patch you fascist robot overlord" etc. etc. One line I picked out from my University days in Bangor ;)
It is a beautiful sounding record although as you might imagine you get the feeling that you're not getting the whole story... I hope at the festival Gwenno will introduce each track to help the non-Welsh speaking amongst us. Sure she will.
Lanterns On The Lake
Lanterns On The Lake's third album Beings released last year is the kind of record that fills me with dread - the thought of writing something about it here that will be sufficiently considered, such is its depth, and depth requires time. By the way no other festival, even the muso ones, spend so much time writing biogs for each band on the bill as we do. Nobody notices. We ought to get a prize for it.
Anyway, listening to Beings is quite a personal experience - it requires a pair of headphones, no distractions and 42 minutes. Although I've already blown that by listening to the opening track twice, as it caught my attention somewhat. If you are a fan of the B side of Hounds Of Love you will find much to like about that particular track. If you are not, you have had 30 years to find out about it.
Who has 42 minutes spare these days? But it is a great album and rewards your investment in it. Incidentally a quick You Tube confirms what I suspected - that live the Lanterns are a bit more spiky than on record, where building soundscapes is a little more dynamic and edgy.
I saw Misty Miller at the Brudenell with the Guardian's Dave Simpson who was going to review her (4/5 stars btw.) I just put that in to assure you that we are hanging out with all the coolest people when we book the line-up. I know you worry.
Misty walks on stage alone, I'm not sure whether she is the roadie, and she proceeds to sing the first tune acapella. Then the band arrive. It is a confident start to say the least. She is ace, the band are ace.
During the gig, to impress Dave, I am racking my brain the try to remember the name of the singer that Misty reminds me of. It will be a top observation when I finally spit it out. Half way through the journey driving home I remember, Maria McKee. I pull over and text Dave. 'OK' he replies, 'nice one'. Listening to both artists she sounds nothing like Maria McKee. Dave doesn't reply to my texts much now.
What a voice Misty has and I can't help thinking that I wish my kids could watch her because she is a fantastic role model for young kids in bands. She does a new song that she has just written, it is for me the best of the night. Very promising indeed.
Seem to remember that we booked Meilyr Jones' old band Racehorses one year for the festival, and then they split up. As John Peel once said, "I wish more bands would do that sort of thing."
Meilyr Jones is part of what seems to us a very friendly and intimate Welsh music scene. We caught him supporting Richard Hawley recently and he had Steven Black (Sweet Baboo) and Georgia Ruth (harpist) in his band - both Welsh ex-Deer Shed artists.
Of course, every musician in Cardiff might hate each other. But it doesn't come across like that.
Meilyr seems to have quite a musical talent in the same way that Neil Hannon does - happy to tackle various musical styles rather confidently. To illustrate this, contrast How to Recognise a Work Of Art above on Spotify with the Refugees video on YouTube.
Anyone who mixes harpsichord with pan pipes deserves your attention.
Our friend, Scottish Paul, grew up in a stone's throw of Edinburgh's music scene in the 1980s. He often recalls the enormous number of bands that he went to see with his mates and brothers during this period. Where I grew up on the edge of the Cotswolds there were no such gigs, or any football teams to support.
So Paul's view on bands, and inevitably Scottish bands is light years ahead of mine. His view on say Aztec Camera is way off mine in terms of their level of coolness (they are much cooler than I'd thought.) And in this way there are certain Scottish bands that appear to be royalty. Emma Pollock's old band The Delgados are one such band.
So Emma Pollock is queen, she certainly has a cult status ten years after the split of her band.
It is her 2016 album In Search of Harperfield that I have been listening to. It is mature, accomplished, she knows her craft, she is expert. Her voice has hints of Aimee Mann in its lower registers. Harperfield is the name of the house that her parents lived in before she was born, she freely acknowledges that the record is framed by the death of her mother and her father's illness. And the weight of this is evident too.
If you have not seen Emma live before, you must, she will not disappoint.
For discovering emerging bands very early you can't beat The Great Escape Festival in Brighton which is where we caught White, incidentally another festival now owned by Live Nation. Whilst Live Nation have some great larger festivals, we hope that their ownership of 'emerging talent' festivals like The Great Escape doesn't mean that artists are put under exclusivity deals even earlier in their careers. Just saying.
We love White, they are a 5 piece pulsating pop outfit from Glasgow and consequently comparisons with Orange Juice and Franz Ferdinand seem common in online reviews. Future Pleasures featured here is more of a nod to Frankie Goes To Hollywood if you ask us. Do you remember thinking that Two Tribes was the most exciting record ever made? Listen to Future Pleasures loud, it is relentless.
What future pleasures have you got in store? Something about Leo Condies's delivery suggests the future pleasures he is talking about are the rude variety. Good for him. Prawn cocktail crisps dipped in salad cream for me.
Do catch them at Deer Shed, they are captivating live. "Are we living in a land where SEX and HORROR are the new gods?" Shocking :)
We welcome the return of our absolute favourite sound-sculptors Marconi Union from Manchester who played a thoroughly captivating after hours set in the big top in 2013, when the wind was in a favourable direction.
The musical trio have steadily released albums of pristine clinical electronic music over the last decade and are now firmly in the vanguard of artists making atmospheric ambient music alongside the likes of Jon Hopkins and Helios. With over 6 million plays of their track Weightless on Spotify, their new album will be released this summer on Just Music.
In July we are again going to present them after hours but after the Nordic Giants sound level fiasco (a heart-wrenching cockup entirely of our own making from 2014) we are going to present them to you between the comfy pads of a nice pair of headphones. We ought to have done the same thing with last year's late viewing of Top Gun. F-14s are not the same with all the bass frequencies rolled off. Nor is Kenny Loggins.
At their most pulsing Marconi Union confidently stray into Steve Reich Music For 18 Musicians territory. But there are dub and dance influences too - you can follow a genre trail through to Massive Attack if you want to.
So a beautiful private stereo image of the finest live ambient musicians accompanied by some beautiful visuals too.
In 1994, sitting comfy on housing benefit in a lovely Clifton flat in Bristol, the King and Queen of the welfare scroungers, Kate and I had a Curve album that we played to death - Cuckoo. Fuzzed-up grunge pop goodness. Tuff Love reminds me of this record, but not as much it reminds me of R.E.M. Reading various reviews I'm surprised no one else has mentioned it.
It takes me right back to the days when R.E.M. were clearly the best band in the world, let's say 1988, and that was because The Smiths had split. The Smiths were of course considered to be the UK version of R.E.M. and vice versa. Let's not get started on their 20 year long decline though. Starting in 1990, painful to watch and very, very long.
OK, I take it back, let's get started. Depending upon your level of music pedantry, this might be really patronising but R.E.M. had 6 or 7 albums BEFORE Out Of Time (the irony) that are all sublime. And they destroyed this legacy year after long year. Sorry Tuff Love but I have been wanting to slot that rant in for 7 years and the opportunity has only just arisen.
Compare Threads on the Spotify link above to R.E.M's Gardening At Night. Guitars picked, strummed, picked, strummed. Compare it to any early R.E.M. track.
And so it is with this 30 year old baton grasped firmly that we expect to be transported to another time, and the youngsters amongst us be inspired for the first time and in our heads we'll pass the baton to Tuff Love in the hope they could pick up where R.E.M. left off in 1988.
BTW the previous Tuff Love DSF appearance was as Pictish Trail's backing band in case you recognise them from somewhere but can't place it.
Lusts are a two piece band from Leicester, and they make quite a noise considering it is just the two of them. Their debut album Illuminations was released last year.
It is relentless, indie radio single after single. Really good. A definite 80s thing going on. Reminds me how much I'd like to book The Church for the festival who are remarkably still touring.
Melody is clearly something that Lusts are very good at, always sat within heavily chorused guitars. Weirdly last night we watched The Breakfast Club for the first time on Netflix, and Lusts would sit just right on the soundtrack.
This will be an interesting live set especially if you are of a certain age, which you probably are, a nostalgic journey back to the days you watched Pretty In Pink with your girl at the Regal.
Cattle & Cane
Despite us suggesting in last year's write up that Cattle And Cane look like the cast from Mission Impossible just before the famous 'storming of the nave' scene they have agreed to return to Deer Shed this year with a Main Stage upgrade. Their performance on the Obelisk stage last year was very well received and loads of you wanted to see them again. And of course since we saw them last they have released their long awaited album Home.
The Mission Impossible video ought to have pointed to the fact that Cattle And Cane are capable of some amazing things. They all look and sound gorgeous. And it seems effortless.
They are not doing anything avant-garde or radically experimental, just great tunes fantastically delivered. There is potential for them to take on the world and win.
Being in 'possession' of a floppy haired youngster who looks very much like Declan my initial thought is that an urgent visit to the barbers is required. But let's give him the benefit of the doubt and dig deeper into the young buck's music.
Some calypso guitars, check. A general uplifting vibe, check. My youngest would love this, it's a bit like The Vamps. However the opener on Spotify, Brazil, is a tune about FIFA corruption. It's a catchy number as you might expect, but the subject matter sets Declan apart somewhat. Somewhat indeed. Not boy meets girl so much as the antics of Sepp Blatter and poor folks tumbling to their deaths whilst doing a spot of welding on top of the Rio stadium roof. So clearly more to Declan than immediately meets the eye.
Winning Glastonbury festival's emerging talent competition at just 16 we are assured that his festival crowd pleasing credentials are up to scratch as he opens the main stage on Saturday. For the young and young at heart.
Having impressed the online tastemakers with their early releases that continuously entered the top of the Hype Machine chart, Mt. Wolf are set for their debut album release in September 2016. The full length release will be preceded more imminently by the worldwide release of their forthcoming EP due in February 2016.
Now grouped as a formidable 3 piece, with singer and guitarist Sebastian Fox, guitarist Stevie McMinn and drummer Alex Mitchell, the band's hallmark splicing of electronic and acoustic elements and layered sounds has not been lost in their new EP recordings, earning them comparisons to the likes of London Grammar, Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky and Sigur Ros.
With a live sound that both fractures and unites the audience as the lyrics move through deterioration to rejuvenation, the band are primed to build on the enormous success and recognition of their history and move into a new thrilling phase.
For a festival there is great kudos attached to being able to book emerging talent early. But how early? I would have thought the earlier the better but of course the earlier you discover the talent the less evidence there is of the quality of your discovery. This has only just dawned on me.
With Holly Macve we have a single piece of evidence, exhibit A if you like. A bedroom demo on the Soundcloud link above. I think you can see why she has very recently been signed to Bella Union, John Grant after hearing her voice immediately offered her support on his UK dates.
Bella Union boss Simon Raymonde has this to say "Little is known of Holly other than she is a 20 year old from Yorkshire who appeared out of nowhere in Brighton late last year. I had a tip-off to go to a basement bar where she was playing. In a room full of beery boys chatting across all the music beforehand, the minute Holly opened her mouth the room fell silent. Hers is a rare gift."
Will be great to hear more from Holly at Deer Shed.
Fronteers are a young 4 piece band from Hull. 'An indie version of the Beatles' is how I remember describing Fronteers when I saw them at Twisterella in Middlesbrough last October. Although I had to leave before the end of the festival they were the stand out band of the day. The room came alive.
So the double vocal parts lead you immediately to The Last Shadow Puppets or Libertines comparisons, which is fine. Live they are very refreshing because you immediately know exactly what you are going to get and consequently you just let their snappy tunes seep into you without having to think too hard - in the cerebral and foot swelling world of watching 20 bands in a day they are very welcome relief.
Accomplished too, for those so young, not to be missed.
The Plastic Mermaids came with a huge recommendation from Andy Carr of Kids Are Solid Gold and Twisterella, quite possibly the most agreeable music promoter ever to walk the planet. However when we went to Twisterella they were playing quite late and some child ferrying commitment meant we missed them.
So without much to say about how they come across live, apart for the fact that Andy says they are great, let's look at their recorded output. The band, from the Isle Of Wight, have spent an age building up their own analogue studio. They stress the analogueness of it, that is not evident to me so much as the fact that they have got time to experiment. Although any warmth in the recordings will have been squeezed out in the mp3 conversions perhaps. Who would have thought in the 1980s that we would happily accept a loss of fidelity in our recorded music?
I very much like Douglas Richard's voice. He is in no hurry, in the same way Graham Coxon isn't, a similar raspy-ness there. The track Saturn illustrates how eclectic this band are, a pretty mental mix of oriental strings, western strings, marching snare rolls, congas, Gregorian choirs, ending with a Level 42 bass workout - all wrapped up snug in an analogue blanket.
Amber Arcades is the musical project of Dutch musician Annelotte de Graaf who has recently signed to Heavenly Records. Always a good sign.
Turning Light is her first release on Heavenly and shows much promise - her sound is right up our street very much invoking the spirit of Stereolab, intentionally or otherwise. We look forward to hearing more soon, her album is out later in the year.
As well as Deer Shed I notice she is also playing SXSW in Austin. Remarkably I have been given a pass out to attend the Texas festival unaccompanied(!) this year and want to catch Amber Arcades if I'm not too 'lost'. Whilst quite glamorous on paper I shall be slightly concerned about my well-being, I can imagine being turned away by US immigration because of my beard or that time my Dad-band tried to shoot a video for our single during a royal visit to Richmond only to get bundled out of County Durham in a police van with strict instructions never to return. Another story for another day.
Anyhoos I'm off to Spotify French Disko with the volume well up. Suggest you do the same whilst we wait for Annelotte's album to land.
Fews are an American-Swedish hybrid 4-piece, it's not immediately clear where they live now. A quick search on the internet reveals very few American-Swedish anythings, none actually, perhaps Fews are the exception.
Musically they roll along very nicely in a shoegazy Cure sort of way, highly early 80s influenced. Quite mesmerising in fact especially the 8 minute long single Ill. A great live prospect we think.
Interestingly, for me at least as an ex-recording studio slave is Fews' collaboration with Dan Carey's Speedy Wunderground project - a one day recording, one day mixing regime based in producer Dan's London studio. Speedy Wunderground has a 10 point plan to record making, stressing doing things quickly and knocking out limited 7 inch releases as swiftly as possible. What's not to like.
Saint Sister's music is a nice twist on an arguably well-worn path. The duo from Ireland describe their music as "electronic atmosfolk". So yes, harps, Irish branded etherealness, but the title track from their 2015 album Madrid mixes some bass and beats to great effect. And of course we take great voices for granted in this genre, at least I do.
They are often described as 'bewitching' online (not to be confused with Bewitched, no dungarees here, no sir.)
There is some talk lyrically of "frequently kissing feet on dusty sheets", which is a bit weird, but this will be an interesting mix of styles beautifully delivered we thinks.
Mahalia is a young singer from Leicester, a heart on her sleeve kinda singer. Hence perhaps her friendship and collaboration with Ed Sheeran. For Ed is a young female soul singer trapped in the body of a ginger bloke. Another top observation from me there. They are soulmates.
Like Ed, Mahalia is "so sick and tired of feeling desired." Certainly one of the more tiresome aspects of my life.
Horseplay aside Mahalia is young, positive, soulful of course and by all accounts a heart-warming live performer too.
If you don't commute every day you forget how the act of simply sticking some earphone buds in your lugs can transform the everyday visual experience into a poignant short art-house film. This is how it is as I sit in Thirsk waiting for a train down to London, tasked with writing about Dancing Years, a young band from Leeds.
The very name of the band suggests ageing and as I sit watching the waiting room scene surrounded by old folks moaning about the delay to the 16.51 I'm transported to Simon and Garfunkel's Central Park, watching old friends sat on a bench like bookends. No newspaper blown through the grass though, for there is no grass.
So more waiting than dancing. Dancing Years are seemingly masters of slow-evolving emotive tunes, not much use to dance to, but perfect for the scene in front of me. If you are familiar with Jeff Buckley's Grace, you will feel comfortable in the world of Dancing Years for the singer's voice has much in common with Buckley's vibrato and meanderings. Much recommended.
With over 40 of these previews to write, and since Buffalo Skinners only played last year, you'll forgive my tired brain if I recycle...
If there's anything a good busking band can do it's entertain the masses. The Buffalo Skinners started life as a busking band in 2010, channelling old folk and skiffle heroes to appreciative ears in northern coastal towns. Four years together now finds them leaning towards a fuller electric sound borrowing from 60's rock & roll, British invasion bands and still, from their first love, folk. Their live show comes equipped with infectious energy and an arsenal of instruments; Fender Rhodes keyboard, violin and accordion, topped off with their signature 'harmonious vocal cacophony.'
By all accounts they accompanied an legendary after hours party last year in the Obelisk bar, which most of our team missed (something to do with getting 6 knights on horseback through a time portal.)
Steven James Adams
Kate tells me that when Broken Family Band first came to the fore part of the story was that main man Steven James Adams was a little older than the norm - more of this sort of thing please.
Whilst on one level Steven's music feels wholesome with all the instruments melting into each other like ill-disciplined playdough management, he has a degree of cynicism, indifference and general downtroddeness which might well be familiar to the older gentleman. This malaise is very well illustrated by the video to his track Tears Of Happiness. Steven appears to be the sort of bloke I would enjoy talking to at a wedding where I don’t know any guests and Steven doesn’t like the guests that he knows. Of course I might be entirely wrong about this.
It's all quite Belle And Sebastian, jaunty yet miserable. Brilliant.
Serious Sam Barrett
Sam is an old friend of ours and the festival, he played our first Deer Shed and we also booked him in the old days when we used to promote In The Dock shows at the Thirsk Courthouse (hence the stage name of course.)
With an always impeccable line in white t-shirts and vests Sam is a master of 'Yorkshirecana' as he calls it. Whilst being a Yorkshireman to the core he is submerged in an American blue, folk and bluegrass tradition. He plays a 12 string resonator guitar which we seem to remember Sam named after an old girlfriend or we might have mis-remembered that.
We are looking forward to catching up with Sam in July. Since we last met he has played some big festivals, supported big names and generally found a big audience for his tunes from the Leeds delta.
Holy Moly And The Crackers
At any festival there is always time for some raucous folk music. So a return from the band who were the favourites of many last year, literally cooking up a storm on the Obelisk stage. Unlike other festivals we don't have much raucous folk, but when we do, we get the best purveyors of it (raucous folk) around.
One review I have just read says that they are from the Bohemian Quarter of Newcastle (I'm struggling with this concept a little to be honest, though I'm no native and can only ever reliably navigate to the Life Centre car park.)
So a great, great band. Lively songs about death, whiskey, bandits, fiddles, firearms, staying up late, dancing, dancing with the devil, dancing with the devil whilst playing the fiddle, selling your soul (to the devil) and gambling (with your soul.) On reflection a night out in Newcastle with the band seems like the only thing to do.
Patch And The Giant
Patch And The Giant are another raucous folk band for this year. Holy Moly and these guys will take it in shifts providing you with non-stop tag team jollity until you fall down and can’t get up again.
Vouched for by our Megan who very much enjoyed their set whilst skiving off working at Greenman last year.
So that you can compare and contrast with Holy Moly And The Cracker above, they too write lively songs, but more nautically themed. Namely about the sea in general, peril at sea, boats, warships, albatrosses, all hauling together (heave ho, heave ho boys etc. etc.), sheltering from the storm (in a harbour presumably), one's true love gone to sea, one's true love returning from sea but not quite the same as when he/she went. Blame the mermaids.
Actor is the alias of Louisa Osborn, collaborating producer Chris Mulligan and drummer Ste Anderson, who started writing their caustic and atmospheric alt-pop in a murky art space once home to a bomb factory in Leeds.
The songs by Actor feature exaggerated tales of larger-than-life characters personifying experiences of social anxiety, relationship breakdowns and constant migraines. On how she writes Louisa says "Each song has this detached narrative that draws you into the stories behind it. I like to feel like I'm Actor and storyteller, ultimately immersed in every song but not defined by anything or anyone within them".
With the track Feline Actor's brooding vocal floats over a hypnotic back beat and rumbling bass, we like it very much. With a growing clutch of songs varying in mood from sharp-edged ballads to brittle alt-rock Actor have a suitably incendiary element to their music in live shows.
Morrissey And Marshall
When Greg Marshall decided to climb, uninvited, upon the stage already occupied by Darren Morrissey, and his (former) band to accompany him, the ensuing combination of two vocals created the magical moment..namely the birth of Morrissey and Marshall. They have been writing and performing together ever since.
Hailing from Dublin, the pair were already no strangers to the world of music, but it was when they teamed up as frontmen for a previous rock'n'roll band, that people really started to sit up and take notice. Playing to sell out crowds and scoring an Irish chart hit single.
In 2011 and, by now, consummate composers with a considerable arsenal of songs, the pair left their hometown and established themselves in London as a duo. The irresistible harmonies drew comparisons with The Everly Brothers and Simon and Garfunkel with an Irish twist.
Jess Morgan is clearly inspired by a genre of music vaguely know as 'Americana'. Some very nice finger pickin'. Sounds about smoking and pickups breaking beyond repair. Darn-it. Freight trains and bar maids. It would be interesting to know that draws one to write within this genre, to feel the Americas to such an extent that you can appear to be a native. An early trip to Disneyland? Probably not.
"Let's go out West" - a fairly meaningless concept in the UK but in the US a different story, the whole idea of traversing left to right is so alien. Up and down yes. Going up North, that makes sense to us. Going West? What you talking about? You'll not get far son!
Anyway, directional instincts aside Jess is a highly acclaimed singer songwriter and we think you will be suitably seduced by her intimate storytelling.
Rhain was recommended to us by Emma at Kendal Calling as an artist she is a big fan of. We very much take her at her word as there is very little known about this Bristolian emerging artist. Her first track is available on Spotify above and, as an aside, I notice with interest that John Parish plays on the track above. Another fan of Rhain is Alex Lee of Florence & the Machine so she must be doing something right.
With huge vocals and natural charm, she is certainly one to watch.
Cristobal And The Sea
The ongoing dispute over explorer Cristobal Columbus' nationality shows some arguments between countries will stay forever unresolved, but other countries are born to harmonise, as in the case of Cristobal And The Sea. The London-based union of Alejandro 'Ale' Romero (bass, vocals, Spain), João Seixas (guitar, vocals, Portgual), Leïla Seguin (flute, vocals, Corsica/France) and Joshua Oldershaw (drums, UK) harnesses an altogether fluid, rhythmic and exquisitely melodic energy as colourful and evocative as their band name, forged from different strands of DNA, primarily bossa-nova, Afro-pop and Western folk and rock, but even here it's varied, as much Animal Collective as it is Arthur Lee's Love.