Latitude Festival 2012 - Preview Part One

Latitude Festival is in (slightly less than) two weeks now, I really cannot wait. I've not been to Latitude before but in a year without Glastonbury (though after last years mud-baths, ever increasing capacity / mainstream line-ups and old age catching up with me it could be my last) I've been looking for a few smaller, less 'mainstream' festivals to get my festival fix. Latitude is the first traditional festival where I'll be taking my tent, rather than basking in hotel based glory as at The Great Escape. I've got absolutely everything crossed for the weather, surely we are due a few days without rain soon?!

Latitude's sub-card is exemplary, the main stage commands the biggest names, Elbow, Paul Weller and more but it's in the smaller stages where I plan on spending most of my time (a couple of exceptions to come in my previews), split over two parts I'll now give a dozen acts who I recommend you check out if you are heading to Sufflok yourself (or if you want to discover some great music).

First though, a massive hat tip to Bands with iPhones whom without I wouldn't go attending at all, I owe her (sorry!) quite a few beers and gigs!

Sharon Van Etten - Facebook
Saturday 14th July - The Word Arena

Sharon Van Etten's Tramp is one of the albums of the year so far, she opens Latitude's second stage The Word Arena on the festivals second morning, Saturday and I expect it to be a busy start as people wearily leave the confines of their tents and head to hear the heavenly tones of the Brooklyn singer/songwriter who, after three albums each better than the last is finally seeing some commercial and critical reward. Expect Tramp to feature heavily in 'tastemakers' end of year polls too.

Unmissable for everybody who is not out partying too heavily on Friday night!

Josh T Pearson - Facebook
Saturday 14th July - The Word Arena

Josh T. Pearson is a must see, a genuine must see. If you take my infallible love of The Joy Formidable out of the equation last year's Last of the Country Gentlemen and the JTP live show at The Great Escape last May were my favourite album / live show of the year, and believe me it's just as amazing now as it was about 14 months ago when it was released.

Josh doesn't seem to play its devastating centrepiece "Honeymoon's Great! Wish You Were Her" live but the whole album is delivered with such heartbreaking fragility and beauty that I can't say any more come along and you will not regret it. The live show promises all that and bad jokes, bad jokes about Willie Nelson and more bad jokes. Cannot wait.

First Aid Kit - Facebook
Friday 13th July - Obelisk Arena

Another of the years finest records so far is First Aid Kit's second full-length The Lion's Roar. The Swedish sisters have long been a favourite folk-leaning act of mine, since I first saw them at back at Glastonbury 2010.

They've grown since and now backed by a full band have a full, deep sound that perfectly suits their breathtaking harmonies and(cliché time) mature-beyond-their- years lyrics. Sincere and heart-felt, latest single "Blue" the perfect insight to their beguiling balance of sweet voices and rich production.

Playing the main-stage of the festival on Friday afternoon, it'll be a far cry from the Glasto set in front of about 40 people at the Greenpeace stage but one that promises to leave those in attendance spellbound.

St Vincent - Facebook
Sunday 15th July - The Word Arena

If you've been following this blog for about a year this pick is about as obvious as they come, I'm not quite sure why Annie Clark hasn't found the success in the UK her three exceptional albums deserve. I guess she's played Shepherd's Bush Empire but St Vincent deserves more. Much more.

Last years Strange Mercy perhaps best highlighting her ability. Annie Clark's vocals are one minute venomously strong, the next serenely sweet and her dense, inventive melodies equally prone to frenzied, rock spikes as experimental, electronic edges. Unorthodox, unique and Stunning.

It is though her extraordinary guitar playing (if you don't believe me check out her cover of Big Black's "Kerosene" below) that makes her so good to watch.

Greg Davies - Facebook
Friday 13th July - Comedy Arena

What's this comedy on a music blog? Pah. No seriously, Greg Davies is good, very good infact.

I was meant to be seeing him in February but snow put pay to that and I shall (extraordinary circumstances depending) be there on Friday afternoon to put that right.

I don't really know what to say about comedy; he's funny come and see him!

Bat For Lashes - Facebook
Sunday 15th July - Obelisk Arena

The Internet (well sections of it) went a bit stir crazy a couple of weeks back when Natasha Khan annouced her long awaiting return with Bat For Lashes third album (The Haunted Man due October 15th), some not so hot quality live qualities soon did the rounds, but I'm trying to hold off to experience the new tracks first hand as on the main stage of the festival on Sunday evening.

If it's anything like the first two albums we won't be dissapointed and to steal some words direct from the BBC's review of the first Bat For Lashes album, I'm hoping for a show that is 'ethereal, cinematic, fantastical'.