Welcome to the seventh edition of our handy guide to the wonderfully unsigned.
This time we travel with acoustic guitars and dubby drums from Bristol to Chicago via New York and Glasgow.
After having my head pummelled by Scott Walker’s The Drift for the last three weeks I started my search looking for some calming sounds to soothe my frayed nerves. A little acoustic balm seemed the order of the day.
MySpace is awash with sensitive singer-songwriters who want to be the new David Gray. Happily, there are some acts out there who’re better than that…
The first is Stanton Delaplane. Something in the way he presented himself fired my interest. His look, best described as hobo chic and his beard (it would shame Devendra Banhart) marked him out as someone different.
Delaplane’s songs flicker with delicate Nick Drake style touches and the wit and elan that marks out the best of the current crop of Acid Folk. This material would sit perfectly on Michael Gira‘s Young Gods label. He is touring in the South West at the moment and well worth an evening of your time.
The second acoustic based act I fell in love with was Gig, a mysterious twentysomething Glaswegian. These are basic lo-fi recordings, you can hear the static and hiss in the air. Yet buried under the layers of audio static are songs that carry a keen sense of melody and pithy lyrics.
There are shades of The Tindersticks and Josh Ritter in the way the songs slowly unfold like chapters from a novel. The American Dream is constructed around a cleverly picked melody that sparkles like ice melting at dawn. The dusty strum of I Miss You is a nicotine hangover, all pealing wallpaper and failed bedsit romance. It’s as wonderful as heartbreak, as simple as rain, as glorious as summer.
Moving onto something with a little more round sound next up we have Cusack. They deal in the kind of low-key melancholy that tugs at my heartstrings. The Essex based band mix minor key acoustic guitars with peeling riffs and warm vocal washes.
Audrey Hepburn contains a killer set of lyric’s full of self-depreciating wit and longing. The melody is pure sliver, the vocals hushed like a confession. There are shades of the Lemonheads bruised beauty and a hint of the stripped down country of Smog. This is a perfect Sunday morning soundtrack.
Hips Like Cinderella
Stafford based five piece Hips Like Cinderella are bursting with small town ennui and dreams of escape. Andula is the The Smiths jamming with The Cure circa 1989, just like heaven in fact.
The twin guitars deliver punch and panache in equal measure. Vocalist Ad Price sings like a teenage Morrissey and looks like a young Matt Bellamy from Muse. Charisma, tunes, pace and passion are all on show here. Can you really ask for anything more. Tonight’s snare and intertwined guitars sound like bright blue sky glimpsed through grimy pub windows. Stick them in a studio with John Leckie and you would get indie gold.
Kim Wayman comes from the opposite end of the indie spectrum. This New Yorker produces a wonderful spaced out noise. Its off kilter pop, killer hooks, swirling atmospherics and the voice of a frostbitten angel. Wayman’s vocals are the perfect match for the hazy soundscapes that wrap around the songs. Think Bjork and Sparklehorse sharing a flying saucer trip to Mars.
Lovescene already sounds like a huge hit in waiting. The future gospel hymn of The Strongest Ant is gorgeously hauntingly. Built around little more than a set of dissolving dubby organ chords and Wayman’s huge voice it catches fire with the addition of Marc Bolan‘s guitar beamed in from heaven. Someone please sign her up now.
From New York we skip next to Chicago. Otter Petter are a five piece dealing in crunching power pop. The Americans always seem more skilled at blending dirty guitars and huge soaring harmonies.
The songs are sugar sweet but with hard edges. Michael Pritchard’s writing recalls acts like Weezer, The Shins and The Postal Service. From the Beginning has a chorus like a confetti missile, high octane and sparkling. The jangling opening melody of Winter Days is a drunken Decemberists windsurfing on Lake Michigan. It’s low key approach displaying that Otter Petter have range as well as dynamics well mastered. It brought a smile to my face and blessed relief from my Scott Walker induced nightmares.
So there is music to calm anyone’s aching head or worried brow out there. If any of these artists are playing near you go and check them out.