The Great Escape 2011 - Bands to Watch (Part Two)

If you missed Part One it's here. This is the second part of bands that I think are well worth your time seeing at The Great Escape 2011, after the last part being non US acts, these are all UK based, Rule Britannia and all that (or am I a bit late for the flag waving now 'The Wedding' is over?!) ...

Can we have weather like in the picture please, running between venues in the rain isn't that much fun. In alphabetical order:

         Audio (Alternative Escape), Friday 13th May 23:00
         The Loft, Saturday 14th May 23:30

Here's a band I'm looking forward to seeing for the first time, London based duo Alpines whose self-penned genre 'Night Pop' has been rapidly gaining them more followers (and a record deal), with tracks such as the glacial "Ice & Arrows" and "Empire" where brooding, ambient and enormous synth beats sweep away with infinite ease and beauty it's really easy to see why. Three Edited - Two chances to see them which always helps with the clashes too.

For fans of Portishead / Massive Attack / Bat For Lashes

         Latest Music Bar (Alternative Escape), Friday 13th May 21:00
         The Fishbowl, Saturday 14th May 14:30
         Life, Saturday 14th May 20:45

Daughter first caught my eye in November last year with a stunning four track demo EP, one of its highlights "Run" went on to sweep the internet and enlist an army of fans and industry praise alike, since she's released a new EP 'His Young Heart' and gained even more. See "Landfill" for a perfect example of her hauntingly soft voice and emotionally bare song-craft. Daughter is a folk artist in a time when there are a mass of folk musicians but Elena manages to stand above most of the thanks to her incredible lyrically honesty, which are equally despairing and heart-warming.  Make sure you catch her in Brighton.

For fans of Laura Marling / Emmy The Great / Alessi's Ark

Echo Lake
       Green Door Store, Thursday 12th May 23:30
       Horatios, Friday 13th May 21:15

I've seen London shoegaze group Echo Lake a couple of times now and they were really quite exceptional on both occasions, dense and dynamic with layers of shimmering noise, chiming guitars and a hazy (sometimes indistinguishable) vocal. Since I first posted the band in January they've released (and sold-out of the physical version) a superb EP 'Young Silence', one of the highlights is the opener "Sunday Evening", absolutely lush, hypnotic, stunning. If you are yet to see Echo Lake live and decide to take a chance then you'll be richly rewarded.

For fans of My Bloody Valentine / Cocteau Twins / Warpaint

Fear of Men
       Shipwrights Yard, Saturday 14th May 12:15
       Green Door Store, Saturday 14th May 19:10

It'd be wrong not to see at least a few Brighton based bands at a Brighton based music festival and first up we have newly formed indie fuzz-pop band Fear of Men, I described the four-piece at the end of March as 'Shimmery and jangly guitar riffs combining blissfully with catchy melodies and beautiful, ethereal vocals' - sounds perfect for a Saturday lunch-time outside gig at Shipwright Yard then, with the sun out of course, see you there.

For fans of Warpaint / Best Coast

         Komedia (upstairs), Saturday 14th May 22:15

I saw Guillemots about six times on their first album 'Through The Windowpane', it was a stunning debut. The follow up 'Red' had it's moments notably "Kriss Kross" and "Falling Out of Reach" but was perhaps a little bit too experimental and eccentric for its own good, after a short break for Fyfe to release a solo album the band are back with their third album 'Walk The River' which for me is a real return to form. More sparse than 'Red' and captivating for it, it twinkles and shines which melodic grace, an expansive beauty and I'm looking forward to seeing the band live again for the first time since 2008.

For fans of Guillemots (as one of the biggest bands on the billing I don't think I need to compare them).

The Joy Formidable
        Hectors House, Thursday 12th May 22:30

This will be my hat-trick of seeing The Joy Formidable at The Great Escape (I've seen them a few times in-between) and probably the last ever time they play such a small show, Hectors' House is friggin' tiny so be warned, if you want to see this show as much as I do, get there early or you will miss it. I don't need to ramble on about TJF much, if you've read this blog for any length of time you'll already know my thoughts, the band are recently back from an extensive eight week US tour - let's show them we missed them. Can't wait.

For fans of The Joy Formidable (surely they are big enough to avoid comparison by know - I do keep reading Pixies although I'm not sure I see much there myself).

Lanterns on The Lake
         Queens Hotel, Saturday 14th May 15.15
         Komedia (upstairs), Saturday 14th May 20.15

I've still only seen Lanterns on the Lake once, and I missed the opening couple of tracks even then, that was at the Slaughtered Lamb last September or so, what I heard was more than enough to wet my appetite and I've been religiously on the hunt for new information since (although not much has been made public since they signed to Bella Union late last year). The band have been tucked away putting the finishing touches to their debut album which is due later this year, if it's anything like their EP's expect some of the most spellbinding and dreamy music you'll hear this year. Lush instrumentations alongside Hazel's delicate, beautiful voice. There's an added intensity to that live show, looking forward to seeing them again.

For fans of Sigur Ros / Bon Iver / Beach House

Lungs Quicken by Lanterns on the Lake

Let's Buy Happiness
          Prince Albert, Friday 13th May 21.15
          Queens Hotel, Saturday 14th May 14.30

Another one of my hopes for 2011, Let's Buy Happiness are a band I first saw at 2010's Great Escape and have been mentioned here numerous times since, not unsurprisingly given the quality of their music. From their debut EP 'Not Hot Ashes' through to their two singles 'Six Wolves' and 'Fast Fast' the Newcastle group have been quite to set a blueprint for their sound, glacial indie-pop with tight percussion, shimmering textural guitars and above all the distinctive ethereal (and totally bloody gorgeous) vocal of Sarah Hall. I last saw them in London a few months ago and they had some brilliant new songs too, can't wait to hear them again.

For fans of The Shins / That National / Death Cab for Cutie

Rachel Sermanni
        Green Door Store, Friday 13th May 13:45
        Prince Albert, Friday 13th May 20:30

Scotland's finest folk young singer-songwriter Rachel Sermanni has about five times the number of fans on facebook than when I featured her in March, a sign of the impending rise on the folk scene, it's not dfficult to see where when you listen to her songs either. "Eggshells" and "Song For a Fox" are both beautiful tracks, Rachel has a slightly kooky voice and her graceful, mature writing ability belie her young age.

For fans of Laura Marling / Joni Mitchell

          Fitzherberts, Saturday 14th May 12:30
          The Loft, Saturday 14th May 23:30

My second home-town group are Ramona who were picking up quite a lot of press towards the bag end of last year thanks to a sparkling double A-Side single 'How Long / Steve McQueen', it went quiet at the start of 2011 as the group recorded some new material in New York but now slowly but surely the PR machine is starting up again with a new version of potential smash hit "Tell That Girl" and even an acoustic cover of David Bowie, Ramona blend indie-pop with a spark of punk spirit, "Steve McQueen" an anthem in waiting.

For fans of Blondie / Pretenders / Texas (well they are managed by Sharleen Spiteri)

Still Corners
           Audio, Friday 13th May 20:45

Still Corners have been quietly getting signed (to Sub Pop no less) and recording the  follow-up to the lush psychedelic dream-pop of "Don't Fall In Love" and shimmering gorgeousness of "I Wish". I tend to draw similarities between Still Corners and Lanterns on the Lake and that's the case with their live show as well, I've seen SC's three times now and they've not failed to impress me, Tessa's dreamy, ethereal vocals are beautiful but the star for me is Leon, he's one brilliant guitar player and the live arena gives him chance to expand on his sound somewhat, they are playing a Drowned in Sound night, it's going to be busy, get there early.

For fans of The Shins / Beach House

          Horatios, Saturday 14th May 21:15

I've seen 2:54 three times now and they are getting better and better as a live act, they've been picking up some considerable press along the way including the nme (whose stage they play on at TGE), the dirty, grungy sounds of the moody single "On a Wire" sum up what you can expect from them, distorted, ominous and hypnotic guitars with Colette's seductive vocal. Romy xx is a big fan and it's not diffficult to see why.

For fans of Mudhoney / Blood Red Shoes

Now there's about twenty acts (a few more) that I recommend seeing at The Great Escape, wish me luck in seeing as many of them as I can, I might need a few day off afterwards!