What would you do with a huge lottery win? It is a question that we have surely all allowed ourselves to indulge in from time to time. For me, the Bentley, new home, world travel or plastic surgery would have to wait. I have always dreamed of owning my own record label – that’s where my cash would go. The chance to inflict my own esoteric taste on the public would be too much for me to resist.
So what sort of artist would I be attempting to sign? Let me guide you through some of the buried treasure I have unearthed of late…
The Venus Bogardus are a married couple who live above the bookshop that they own. If that kind of bookish domestic bliss conjures images of fey indie strumming then you couldn’t be more wrong. The Bath based duo deal in a warped, fuzzed up take on arthouse rock with added English eccentricity. Sonic Youth guitar blasts, drawled vocals and clever dense lyrics. Think the Velvet Underground with Peter Gabriel on vocals.
Age of Sinatra is built around James Reich’s treated guitar tones, smeared with noise and melody. The foggy piano led Tales From Fire Island is a serene mix of Low and John Cale‘s solo work. 4AD would be a great label for them, but I would want them for myself. They are currently gigging around the South West of England and shouldn’t be missed.
Danielle Lucchini has only been making electronic music for about a year. The starlight soundscapes that she produces under the Breathehope alias are static lullabies for starlit winter nights. It may be the Oklahoma skies of her home state or her wedded bliss that fire her musical imagination. Whatever the spark, the results are dreamlike and charged with longing.
Spite is Björk locked in a room with a music box and a faulty electronic typewriter, all neon streaked awe and broken machine rhythms. The dub bass and reverse vocal washes of Shine are like those brief moments when you first wake and still dreaming. Imagine Sigur Rós remixed by Andrew Weatherall and you get an idea of the stark beauty of the track. This would be a perfect comedown soundtrack, perfect for on one of those chillout mix CDs.
If Breathehope are the soundtrack to the come down then Team Everything are high octane night before. Team Everything are a San Francisco based collective who orbit around the creative centre of Alex Ryan. They combine super tight playing with funky samples to get you up on the dance floor.
Okay Amigo is the Avalanches and DJ Shadow getting high and happy in an underground club. The precision beats and guitar licks are mighty fine. Tube to Japan is a little more out there but wonderful for it. This is the sound of Kid606 with a library of language tapes and with a Roland TB-303 in full acid mode. Put on your dancing shoes.
Heartbreak High are two English school friends with a love of ’80s pop and a wining way with a simple synth riff. They have absorbed their parents’ record collections and filtered them to create classic sounding electro pop. I was pleased to find a young band who where not attempting to become the next Arctic Monkeys.
I’m Coming Home for You is like a long lost Depeche Mode out take from the time Vince Clarke was still a member. The melody may be simple but it’s brilliantly executed. The deep bass bleeps and sustained chords of 20 Questions recall New Order‘s first steps into electronics. This is classy song writing with watertight tunes. Heartbreak High could be the band to launch the new Smash Hits.
A Women Of No Importance
I have learned the hard way to almost always disregard the influences bands list on MySpace. The problem is that so many bands struggle to play in time let alone sound vaguely like anyone a quarter decent. A Women of No Importance are the exception to any such rule. They sound like a marriage made in heaven between The Smiths and Billy Bragg, with added strings. This Peterlee based band mine a rich romantic seam of kitchen sink drama and bittersweet melancholy.
The Common Cold is simply beautiful and sends shivers down the spine when it reaches the chorus. Glorious. Tragedy of Being A Girl is all sweeping guitars, alcohol and longing. In all honesty I am surprised the band haven’t already be signed. This is accomplished indie that touches the heart.
Yules are French brothers Bertrand and Guillaume Charret. They could easily become the next Magic Numbers. These songs are so faultless that they could be released without any further interference. This is rich, heartwarming stuff.
They’d go down a storm at the summer festivals. It’s the little touches that elevate the material and make it memorable; the summery organ tones that surface on Desperation Land, adding colour and drive, or the vigorous breezy guitars that slice through Carry On. There are shades of Simon and Garfunkel, Kings of Convenience and the crunching power pop of The Shins. Yules could be the greatest French import since Thierry Henry.
And there it is. From the North East of England via ‘Frisco to France, so ends my first tour of the world of unsigned bands. Inspired by this lot, I will be diving straight back into the maze in the hope of discovering more hidden gems.