musicOMH New Music Guide: 2

A wise man recently said to me that acts are ‘unsigned’ for a reason:the vast majority are dreadful. Since the first edition of the musicOMH New Music Guide, our inbox has swollen to bursting with review requests. The majority can’t be met, and a sizeable chunk we wouldn’t dream of inflicting on you, dear reader. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t the occasional jewel amongst the proverbial rough. All artists (aside from the pre-fab pop types of course) were, after all, without a record deal at some time or other.

With this encouragement, we strive on. And once again we have succeeded in finding hope among the hopeless.

52 Teenagers

First up this edition are Manchester’s 52 Teenagers and whilst they could probably be classed as emo, they represent its rather acceptable face. Older songs like You Said No recall Jimmy Eat World, whilst material from their latest single moves into a darker, more tightly instrumental direction.

Part of what really stands out about 52 Teenagers’ work is its production quality. Whilst the production on many unsigned bands’ demos can be scratchier and more intrusive than a sandpaper thong, 52 Teenagers’ material sparkles with professionalism. The talent of this band is not to be underestimated though: instrumentally, vocally and lyrically, 52 Teenagers are at least the match of many signed and successful bands.

At Sea

At Sea have perhaps the shortest name in post-rock. It’s no A Silver Mount Zion Memorial Chorus and Tra-La-La Band With Choir for example, but what they may lack in moniker length, they make up with the ‘epic’ nature of their music. Drawing their cue from 65daysofstatic, At Sea make music that is at once violent and somehow beautiful.

Songs like Film Script build from humble beginnings into monstrous beasts of contorted noise that wears the name ‘prog’ with style and vigour. At Sea are a young band too, and whilst superstardom doesn’t exactly await (it’s not exactly radio-friendly this stuff), I think we can expect much more from such promising beginnings

William Besson

Long journeys in France with only a radio for company have left me with a deep mistrust of any sort of music vaguely associated with the place. William Besson is, I am pleased to say, slowly undoing the musical havoc wreaked by president Jacques Chirac’s airtime for French artists laws.

Besson was born in France but now works in London and sings in English. He produces what he calls “electri-pop” – a fusion of electro, trip-hop and pop. The result comes close to Portishead, but Besson adds a lyrical dexterity that’s reminiscent of Morrissey. All in all, it’s certainly strange, but it’s innovative and interesting and not without a certain je ne sais quoi, you might say.

The Cold News

The Cold News is Chris Blundell, who has split his personality into four band members: Chi, Jude, Aaron and Gideon, thus making The Cold News “the world’s only four piece solo project”. As you might perhaps expect, the music he produces is as confusingly innovative as the back story.

It is attracting quite a buzz though and rightly so, The Cold News produce music that is strikingly different to anything else around. It’s an insight into the very unique mind of its architect, over an arrangement of guitar, drums, bass and voice that you’d never have imagined before. This is one particular bandwagon that everyone should jump onto.

Paul Wilkes

If that’s all a little bit too experimental for you, perhaps the simple, acoustic style of Paul Wilkes will be a bit more up your street. Irish born, and not lacking a resemblance to the late George Best, Paul Wilkes’ music has received praise from no less a figure than Paul McCartney.

This is gently meandering acoustic music that trickles like cream out of the speakers. Relentlessly warm, comforting and easy to listen to, this surpasses David Gray and Damien Rice by a mile, and whilst obviously solo acoustic acts can descend into tiresome drudgery, this is just too damn lovely to grow weary of.

The Pitchfork Disney

I have to come clean and say that I know members of this band, but even if I didn’t, I’d still be a big fan. The four-piece from the Lake District (now operating mostly from Manchester) find their closest comparison in their Lakes neighbours British Sea Power and Mancunian giants, New Order.

Which is not to say that their music is derivative in the least. The Pitchfork Disney are very definitely their own band with rumbling bass shot through by sharp guitar and with the ability, like Editors say, to pick up the tempo or slow it right down. They’re great live performers too, and even though I am, admittedly, a tad biased toward them, they’re one of my favourite bands.

So draws to an end the second instalment of our unsigned guide, taking some of the time, effort and aural abuse out of finding great new music.

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