Friday, March 18, 2022

New Bands ETC

Today turned out to be unexpectedly musical, thanks to this news, which I saw at NME. To save you a click, it's the long list for Glastonbury Festival's 2022 Emerging Talent Competition

I always read the full line-up for Glastonbury and I usually watch at least some of it on tv but I confess I wasn't aware the ETC was a thing that existed. This does seem a little remiss of me, especially since it's very far from new. 

It's  also surprisingly hard to research. You'd think there'd be a Wikipedia page listing all the winners, at least but there isn't. Eventually, I tracked the origin of the competition down to around 2003, based on this piece from BBC Somerset in 2008, which mentions it was then in its fifth year. 

The number of entries and the method of selcetion seems to have varied over the years. At one time there were as many as a hundred and twenty acts on the long list and as recently as 2019 the selection was made by "30 bloggers", which does get the pulse racing, although I suspect that description may be interchangeable with this year's panel of "30 music writers".

The long list for 2022 is ninety strong, culled from "thousands" of submissions. The official Glasto website has a handy breakdown of the thirty participating music journalists, each of whom gives a brief account of their three favorites. 

Supposedly, you can hear a sample track from each and every one of the ninety on this official ETC Soundcloud playlist, although for the life of me I can only see seventy-four tracks. What's more, some of the sixteen missing artists are ones picked out as standouts by the panel. It's hard to miss when one of the awol artists is the wonderfully-named My Fat Pony.

There appears to be a good reason for My Fat Pony's absence. Despite one of the entry criteria to the competition being "a link to one original song on SoundCloud", a search on the site itself finds only a picture of the band and a blank "Nothing to hear here". It's a pity because the band looks very intriguing on their one and only YouTube video, a half-hour live performance. The sound quality's terrible but I do like a trumpet.

Enough about what's missing. Let's get back to what's there. Seventy-four songs by seventy-four acts. I had a quick look through for names I recognized. I found two: Barbara, who we had here only the other day, when I was picking through the Louder Than War list of hopefuls, and English Teacher, who have been on a bunch of up-and-comer lists I've seen.

English Teacher are very much in that current wave of bands with singers who don't sing. It's a big thing at the moment, Yard Act being probably the prime proponents. We've had them here, too, but I don't think we've had English Teacher yet. I could be wrong but in case I'm not, let's have them now.

R&B - English Teacher  

I listened to at least some of all seventy-four tracks this afternoon. The quality was astonishingly high. Not everything was to my personal taste, although there was very little I wouldn't happily listen to if it came on the radio, but other than the sheer quality, at the risk of repeating myself, the most striking thing about the experience was how very familiar almost every one of them sounded.

It's about time I just accepted that everything mirrors everything else now and got on with it. It's either good or it isn't or I like it or I don't. I'm not going to stop making historical references when I talk about these things but I am going to stop sounding surprised about it. 

Choose A Life - Wings of Desire

The very first band on the playlist turned out to one of the most impressive of all. Wings of Desire isn't a great name in my opinion but with a sound as thick as theirs they don't need a hooky name. And it does have the merit of being easy to remember. If I heard that coming out of Radio 6 I'd be googling them in a heartbeat.

They're another of those talk-sing bands. The Germans had a word for it all the way back in the nineteenth century. Unlike all the others I 've heard, Wings of Desire also have a monolothic slab of a sound that never uses two chords when one will do. I have always been an absolute sucker for that. Wouldn't you love to play bass for them? I would. It's one note ffs!

They're so good we ought to have another. I listened to most of their stuff on YouTube and it all sounded like like this, like the Jesus and Marychain wanted to be Talking Heads instead of the Beach Boys. I hope they just keep on doing it and don't end up all sludgy like the Marychain did.

Strawberry Milkshake - SOFY

You know that cliché, where Americans hear a British voice and go "I really love your accent"? Fun fact: British people feel exactly the same about British accents that aren't exactly the same as their own. Just listen to the way she says "feel". I just love it. Rex Orange County has the number one album as I write this. Just sayin'.

FUZZY - Bandicoot

If SOFY sounds like it was written and recorded this year... okay, I know I said I wouldn't but seriously guys? I do like a bit of glam, even now, though. Me and Kanye both. One of my favorite songs of the nineties was called Fuzzy, too. It all comes together. 

 dial your number - Julia-Sophie

Bandicoot like ALL CAPS. Julia-Sophie's lower case. I know which I think is cooler. When you leaf through lists like these you're always hoping you'll find someone you'll end up following for years. Sometimes it happens but you can't make it happen. Just the possibility is exhilarating, all the same. I got a frisson of the future from several of the tracks I heard today. This was one of them.

Sparky - Nuha Ruby Ra

This was another. It's the one that feels the most "modern" to me even though it also sounds really eighties. It's more talk-singing too, isn't it, even though it sounds absolutely nothing like the others. You know stuff like this used to chart, right? Does it still? I don't follow the charts although I'm wondering if I ought to start. Start again, that is.

Deirdre's Luggin' Boxes at Bargain City - Joel Harkin

Cheating a tad here. The track on the playlist is Vada but after I heard it I went looking for a video on YouTube and there isn't one but there is this, which is just wonderful. The title grabbed me by the scruff and dragged me and then the performance is so... it's so there, isn't it? His bleach-blond pudding-bowl haircut, the bass player's truly unfortunate trousers, the way Nicole's mic is just a hair too low in the mix, the fucking intensity of it all... They're Irish, of course, as if you couldn't tell.

Chew My Cheeks - Prima Queen

Everything doesn't have to be raw emotion. An arched eyebrow and a quirky dance routine can take you a long way. Just ask Wet Leg. Of course you have to have the killer tune. Luckily Prima Queen have more than one.

What If - Sasa Zola

We seem to be in the cool zone now. This just oozes sophistication. Remember when this what what you put on the stereo system when you were giving a dinner party? Oh yes, that was a thing that happened. No use trying to pretend it wasn't.

Stuck - Smoothboi Ezra

There was a time when everything seemed to sound like this and it wasn't that long ago. For me it represents the moment in the timestream when I began to slip back in. Laura Marling, Peggy Sue and the Pirates, it seemed so new to me, the way they sang. It was so different to the way people sang before and somehow I'd missed the transition. Thanks, EverQuest. Now it's the way people sing but only one of the ways because everyone sings so differently to how they used to sing and it's SO. MUCH. BETTER!! Really, I don't know how we used to put up with music the way it used to be.

Mean Rock N Roller - MeMe Detroit

Then again... It would, as they say, be so boring if we all liked the same things, right? Not sure what it is about this one but there is something...

Okay, I could keep this up all night (I said they were all good and there are seventy-four of them, not to mention all the others I found in the YouTube suggestions...) but I'd probably better wrap it up. Let's go out in style.

Night Wars - Lees

Speaks for itself, I think. 

The long list gets boiled down to a shortlist of just eight. Not sure when that happens but I'll try and remember to come back and report on whether any of my picks made the cut.

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