I was honoured and happy to be asked to form part of the 40 strong panel of bloggers who help with the judging of the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition (head to the official Glastonbury website to read more about the contest). The 2015 edition of which saw more than seven thousand fledgling UK/Ire based acts enter the competition with the aim of winning a main stage slot at the festival (and with an added bonus of a monetary prize for three acts thanks to the PRS for Music Foundation Talent Development).
All entries are shared equally amongst the initial judging panel with the aim of compiling a longlist of 120 acts. The longlist will then be whittled down to a shortlist of 8 artists by judges including Glastonbury organisers Michael and Emily Eavis, before the live finals at Pilton Working Men’s Club in April to decide the winning act.
Of my entire judging list not a single act had been previously covered here. A singular statement that goes to highlight the breadth of talent in the UK - Glastonbury ETC is UK/Ire based acts only - and whilst naturally the list is a bit of a mixed bag in terms on my own particular taste there were a great number of exciting acts to discover.
I managed to whittle my longlist down to twenty quite easily but reducing it to ten was more difficult and then from ten to my final three almost impossible (there were a couple of entries I really wanted to but through but could not) - each blogger gets three selections to form the overall longlist.
On this post I'm going to let you in on my final ten from which my three selections will be published (I won't be telling you which yet, the ten are listen in alphabetical order below). The final longlist and individual top threes (this is just my own judging list remember, so don't worry if you aren't including, there are 39 other judges) will be published on the Glastonbury website in early March.
Good luck to all acts involved:
Cattle & Cane - Facebook
Cattle & Cane are a North East quintet whom immediately stopped me in my tracks with "Skies", it sees immaculately crafted, deftly shaped sibling harmonies and exquisite instrumentation entwine seamlessly. Imagine this rich, dynamic melody and vocals full of emotion and fragility and you'll come close, guaranteed to leave you with a lump in your throat. "Then You Came Along" is an absolute gem too, bring tissues.
Chris Keight - Twitter
Gentle finger plucked acoustic and softening vocals guide a beautifully intimate track that slowly builds to an urgent, soaring outpouring of emotion in its finale, a track that deserves to be heard by audiences old and new.
Plastic Mermaids - Facebook
Meandering soft psyche pop with a swirling, abstract melody, guaranteed to create some weird, hazy daydreams.
Almost perfect for hearing in a field at a festival then.
Pockets - Facebook
A Galway based quartet who deal in beautifully spacious, slow-motion ambient rock that simmers with brooding intent around intricate instrumentation and a gorgeously controlled, versatile vocal. Both "They Will" and "Alone" enrapture with darkly emotive, immersive soundscapes.
Polar Maps - Facebook
A trio from the Isle of Wight who create easy on the ears guitar pop, complete with nifty arrangements and sing-along chorus you feel like you've been transferred back to your favourite school bands of the mid 90's.
Rachel Clark - Facebook
Rachel Clark is a sixteen year old singer-songwriter whom instantly grabbed my attention with her earworm vocal and the brooding intensity of "Invasion", slowly building from circling guitar patterns with the most rewarding of conclusions.
A name to be heard in the future for sure.
Stina - Facebook
The first thing that you notice with London's Stina is her beautifully rich vocal, melting hearts around gradually swelling instrumentation on the lovely "Call The Guard", a track guaranteed to warm even the coldest of days.
Sula Mae - Facebook
The Google search translation of Mellifluous" is '(of a sound) pleasingly smooth and musical to hear'. I couldn't think of a better way to describe the song of the same name by Sula Mae, a deliciously soft vocal that you wish you could bottle and a beautiful, floating melody, the result is glorious daydreams.
Tekla - Facebook
"The Brightest Lights" sounds like a haunting music box, a lulling, soft beauty that pulls you in to an alternate, serene world. There's an EP of similarly stark, naked folk portraits that remind me of Serafina Steer's quirky, enticing wonderfulness, Manchester's Telka is quite the discovery.
Tyrants - Facebook
Tyrants are a trio from the Capital who yield an unrepentant combination of old and new rock that brims with tension and drama, creating a raw, unnerving sound that is delivered with screeching riffs and viciously confident vocals.