End of the Road 2012 - Festival Preview Part One

I've been looking forward to the End of the Road festival for some time now, thankfully the time is almost here. One of my favourite labels Bella Union are curating an entire day at the festival, the Friday, and they have put together an exceptional line-up to start off the (hopefully rain free) weekend. I'll split my 'ones to watch' posts in two, one concentrating on the BU day and another on the rest of the weekend, both with six of the best acts to watch (there are plenty more acts to see) if you are heading to Dorset, or just a few recommendations if not.

Outside of the music the festival promises much too, laid-back atmospheres, lot's of variety in food and drink (one of my major criticisms of my last festival, Latitude), comedy, literature, family activities and incredible scenery and walks around Larmer Tree woods, a weekend is sure to fly by but with no further rambling (pun), I'll had straight into part one of my festival picks:

Mountain Man - Facebook
Garden Stage 12.30

Arguably the act I'm most excited to see is the opening act of the entire festival, Mountain Man had me spellbound back in 2010 with a breathtaking performance in the Crow's Nest at Glastonbury (check this video for proof), with a later show at St Giles Church in London living up to my initial introduction but since then, late 2010 we've had a period of silence, an EOTR performance last year was postponed with the girls later taking on a role in Feist's backing band.

Thankfully this year the girls make amends and return to these shores (though perhaps strangely there don't appear to be any other UK shows).  Largely acappella and always sparse, the trio's harmonies are from the heavens, their debut album Made The Harbor a timeless collection of understated, aching beauty. I cannot wait for this performance and the follow up album which hopefully must be nearing completion. (I live in hope).

Hannah Cohen - Facebook
Tipi Tent Stage 13.45

I've not seen Hannah Cohen since her performance at The Great Escape back in May, I'm expecting this show to be equally gorgeous. A sure fire entry into my top albums of 2012 with her exquisite debut Child Bride Hannah's to-die-for voice, haunting and intoxicating is bound to turn her audience into silent devotees and have them clinging to her every word, wrapped in melancholic acoustic plucks, her early afternoon set is sure to be an emotional, beautiful experience.

Still Corners - Facebook
Big Top Stage 15.30

As well as an exemplary field of Bella Union acts, the label have also invited some non-Bella friends to play, amongst them the divine Still Corners who I saw deliver possibly the best set I've seen (out of a good six or seven times) at Scala in May in support of EMA, their sound was fuller, darker and wrapped in sumptuous, mysterious beauty.

The band are working away on their next release currently and I'm very much looking forward to that, Creatures of an Hour introduced their exceptionally crafted film-noir aesthetics, otherworldly, kaleidoscope and damn-right wonderful. The live show is very much the same and should not be missed.

Lanterns on the Lake - Facebook
Big Top Stage 17.00

Another act who released one of my favourite albums of 2011 that I've not seen for too long are Lanterns on the Lake and I'm looking forward to breaking a duck which goes back to the start of the year and getting re-acquainted with the sextet's enthralling live show...

Hopefully combining tracks from Gracious Tide, Take Me Home (my number three album of last year) with a couple of new tracks, their rich tapestry of intense, emotional melodies are spine-tingling in their beauty and sure to tug at your heartstrings, masters of multi-instrumental atmospheres, Lanterns on the Lake are not to be missed.

Veronica Falls - Facebook
Big Top Stage 20.30

As with many of these acts, Veronica Falls are a band I've seen and blogged on more than a handful of occasions over the past two or so years, the repeated superlatives used with these acts are to be forgiven though because without exception the acts are stunning.

Veronica Falls are no different, though switch the sweeping, celestial and cinematic soundscapes of my last couple of recommendations for a darker, faster macabre pop, bewitching in their intent, both bitter and sweet their delicious melodies and deadpan delivery will provide some of the weekends finest sing-along's.

Beach House - Facebook
The Woods Stage 21.30

A somewhat obvious choice of headliner but when it's Beach House, it's not important. A rare band who've managed to juggle commercial and critical success for two albums now with no sign of giving up. Bloom a perfection summation of the bands talents, perfectly constructed pop tracks combining both choruses with sparkling, impeccable melodies.

Its first single "Myth" brought the same magisterial, melodic dream-pop sensibilities that brought swooning reviews from all quarters but seems more dramatic, richer and larger in scale. Twinkling keys and shimmering guitars wrap around Victoria's trademark vocal, much like 'Take Care', "Zebra", "Walk in the Park" etc etc,

Beach House are simply not to be missed and their show will bring all sorts of goosebumps to lovers and dreamers all over the world, or in this case, festival.