SQ Magazine

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The SQ Showcase: May ’13 (Great Escape Special)

Posted on Wednesday, 22 May by

The SQ Showcase (TGE Special)

Welcome to May’s Showcase – a sort of Great Escape special. If any of you were lucky enough to attend The Great Escape festival, you’d have discovered a plethora of awesome bands on the rise. Or just got inebriated for three days. Or both!

If you couldn’t make it to The Great Escape or suffered slight amnesia and forgot who were good, we’ve listed just some of the best South Coast sounds at the festival.

Anuska – Yes Guess

The Brighton-based duo, comprised of Max Wheeler and Victoria Port, might evoke similarities with AlunaGeorge in set-up but their musical influences occupy different spectrums. On ‘Yes Guess’, Max constructs a moody techno beat with 90s keys while Victoria splashes it with soulful vocals that breathe life into the track. After seeing AluneGeorge make waves all over the radio with their modern twist on RnB, it’s difficult to see why Anushka can’t make a similar impact. In essence, a thoroughly danceable track from a duo with plenty more to give.

Pipe and Tabor – The Love Settee

Pipe and Tabor consists of Horsham-duo Carly Stubbs (vocals) and Dean Morris (acoustic guitar). They knit a picturesque brand of British-folk that evokes images of idyllic countryside with a humorous twist in the lyrics. Due to the nature of a minimalist set-up, Pipe and Tabor’s appeal hinges on the Carly’s charming vocals while Dean shapes masterful melodies with his guitar. Their modern interpretation of traditional folk is delightfully simple and ‘The Love Settee’ will help you gleefully frolic the days away.

The Wytches – Beehive Queen

It’s really annoying being forced to come back to a band we talked about only two months ago. But it’s simply impossible to resist. They made a thumping impact at The Great Escape and judging from their new track ‘Beehive Queen’, you can see why. The Wytches conjure up a sound that’s still wreathed in surf-rock guitars but delivered with ghastly pomp. And Kristian Bell sings with such aplomb you’d expect a party-demon being summoned from the shaking earth beneath your stomping feet.

Tall Ships – Phosphorescence (Live Acoustic)

If you’ve heard their keyboard-driven ‘Phosphorescence’ that’s full of instrumental delights, you’d be forgiven for thinking that an acoustic version might not work. Quite the opposite. In fact, the stripped-back version produces an alluringly tranquil track that’s more reflective of the song title. The highlight is Ric Phethean’s vulnerable vocals which you don’t get in the full-blooded version while the gentle guitar sends you into a wistful daze. But the best thing of all is that you can download it for free straight from their SoundCloud.

Rachel Hawker and The Remedies – Enough To Go Around

Rachel Hawker is a singer-songwriter who’s indulged in music from the age of 8. And since then, she has been developing her craft to produce a smooth, eloquent sound with a soulful flourish. Although she can play solo, Rachel is often accompanied by a backing band, The Remedies, who not only provide extra instrumental layers but also backing vocals. ‘Enough To Go Around’ is a dainty little track with considered arrangements; a soundtrack for glowing amber sunsets.

Fear Of Men – Seer

Inherently, Fear Of Men are a four-piece with pop sensibilities but there is also a driving desire to experiment. Perhaps this is a result of the time Jess (lead vocals) invested into her Art degree – which also explains the glistening aesthetics to their sound. But in the end, you’re left with a charming track strung together by jangly guitars and quaint vocals that evokes memories of C86 bands; the kind of bands that made this brand of indie-pop cult classics. It’ll be interesting to see whether they follow the likes of The Field Mice or if they’ll become a more mainstream success.

The New Union – Staying Friends

Immediately, the riff pulls you in and coalesce the whole track together. It is undoubtedly a more pop-centric venture than their previous tracks but the Brighton-based quartet are simply exercising their ability to adapt to the nature of a track. ‘Staying Friends’ blends indie-rock guitars and sentimental themes with assured swagger. Guitar bands tend to struggle nowadays though, so it’ll be interesting to see if The New Union continue on their current path or try and take their sound to another level.

Dave Blackwell – Down To The Sea

The folky singer-songwriter very recently released an EP titled The King of England and to be honest, any of the tracks could have featured here. Dave weaves intricate melodies and sings with poignancy; a potent mix for songs that simmer with emotion and glide with guile. This is best reflected by the understated ‘Down To The Sea’, a delicate number directed by Dave’s baritone vocals spinning pastoral images. As usual though, it’s never about one track. If you like this, download the entire EP for free from Dave’s SoundCloud because the title track also carries a soothing charm.

IYES – Glow

There are two things to note about The Great Escape festival: one; you are not guaranteed entry into capacity-limited venues and two; The Alternative Escape (which is free) runs alongside the main events. Fellow Brightonians, IYES seemed to be aware of this because despite playing at The Blind Tiger for BBC Introducing (which it must be said is a popular but certainly not the biggest venue) they also played at The Mesmerist for The Alternative Escape. So there really was no excuse for missing IYES’ fantastical sounds full of spritely textures and subtle hues. In ‘Glow’, the indie-electro duo unite euphoric vocals with ethereal soundscapes. The palette of sounds is vibrant with a mystical vibe reminiscent of Zelda soundtrack. It’s just a shame this is only a demo version and therefore too short.

Star Submission

London Grammar – Wasting My Young Years

It must be confessed, we’re slightly ashamed borders have been crossed in order to select this track. And it’s not as if The Great Escape was lacking local talent. Put simply, London Grammar’s ‘Wasting My Young Years’ is a track that instantly pricks ears. Goosebumps rise with enthusiasm as the sound of a tender piano and Hannah Reid’s soothing vocals fuse with aching beauty. Then hairs stand on end as the track soars into a skyline swathed in dreamy guitar hooks and airy synths. It’s a tune that brings the night alive. And if you were lucky enough to catch the London trio at St. Bartholomew’s Church, you’ve probably still got that vivid soundscape they imprinted in you.

The SQ Showcase is our attempt to provide a platform for some of the best unsigned talent in Sussex. We’ve received tens of thousands of plays since launching this flagship feature in late 2011 and this year, we’re aiming for even bigger and better things.

To get involved, submit your tracks here, or send a message on Facebook with a bio.

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Matt Yau

Matt Yau

Showcase Critic at SQ Magazine
Freelance music journalist with a reputation in Sussex for uncovering new music. Has led SQ Magazine's 'Showcase' since 2013. Obsessive thinker, habitual music listener and timid photographer.
Matt Yau

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