Amelia’s Magazine | Glastonbury Festival’s 2014 Emerging Talent Competition: My Top Three Acts

Alev Lenz memphis video still

I was very flattered, when, thanks to a recommendation from Stay Loose music PR, I was asked to be one of the judges for the first round of Glastonbury Festival’s 2014 Emerging Talent Competition. The panel is made up of ‘about 40 of the UK’s top online music writers’ that includes the likes of Drowned in Sound, TLOFBF and Breaking More Waves, so I am indeed in good company. Together we have compiled a long list of 120 acts from around 8000 entries (with the selection sent to me predominantly consisting of folk, electronic, acoustic and pop acts, at my request), from which the second stage judges must pick the 8 finalists and then the final winner. Over the years I have frequently been very impressed with the bands that have been highlighted by this competition as ones to watch, and so it was a real honour to be included in the early stages. The Emerging Talent Competition gives new and unsigned artists a chance to showcase their wares on a main stage at the festival, and previous entrants have gone on to great things, including Stornoway and Treetop Flyers.

Given so much talent I found it incredibly hard to make my final three choices, and in the end based much of my decision on the professionalism of the acts and the need to pick a balanced offering. So I choose my very favourite best tunes – the ones that had me hit the virtual rewind time and again – and then I looked for a good stage presence since this is essential in a festival setting (this was sadly a let down with a few acts that I really liked) and finally an aptitude for self promotion, as I feel this is vital today (again, too many acts had not really thought this through, which I feel shows a lack of ambition or belief, both of which are necessary to survive). It is perhaps no surprise that my top act is coincidentally one that had previously (before the competition) contacted me to cover their music, which I did, you can read my post here: I love a bit of get go in a creative!

Here, without further ado, are my top three choices: I hope at least one of them makes the final cut! And I hope to write a further blog post recommending some of the other great bands I found but which sadly did not make my final three. Click on the titles to hear the tracks on soundcloud.

1. Arthur Rigby & the Baskervylles – Moonlit Strangers

Arthur Rigby

Arthur Rigby & The Baskervylles - Moonlit Strangers By Warren Clarke

Arthur Rigby & The Baskervylles – Moonlit Strangers By Warren Clarke.

On Moonlit Strangers the Leeds based band Arthur Rigby & the Baskervylles employ lush orchestration and multi-layered vocals to tell a tale of loneliness and heartbreak. It’s a brilliant showcase for their exuberant melodies, with a folksy violin curling around the lead vocals, all backed by an enthusiastic brass section. The anthemic tunes and sing-a-long choruses are perfect for the Glastonbury crowd. (NOTE: between the time of writing this blog and the announcement of the long list Arthur Rigby sadly announced their demise… so it seems I did not pick a good horse after all. Here’s hoping that my other two choices fare better in the cut throat music world. I wish I could have given someone else a chance.)

2. Alev Lenz – Memphis

Alev Lenz, photo by VIKTOR VAUTHIER

Alev Lenz, photo by Viktor Vauthier.

Alev Lenz by Hannah Boothman

Alev Lenz by Hannah Boothman.

The opening notes of Memphis bear the woozy electronic hallmarks of German/Turkish singer Alev Lenz’s collaboration with acclaimed Finnish drummer Samuli Kosminen (Múm, Hauschka, Kronos Quartet, Jónsi). Her swooping vocals carry a beautiful melody of heartbreak and dreams across softly twinkling keys, a style which is further showcased on Song No.1. In other tracks she effortlessly combines classical influences with electronica to create a unique and engaging sound. I think Alev Lenz is an exciting new talent that we will hear much more from. 

3. George Boomsma – How High The Mountain

George Boomsma

George Boomsma by Angela Lamb

George Boomsma by Angela Lamb.

How High The Mountain is a simple slice of folk which showcases swoonsome vocals from North Yorkshire’s George Boomsma, all bound together by an elegiac violin. I found his live version of the song absolutely mesmerising and feel it would be sure to turn heads and gain fans at Glastonbury. I was also impressed by further tracks, with rollicking tunes and plentiful harmonies. 

I hope you will help me spread the word about these talented musicians, all of whom deserve further recognition x

Categories ,Alev Lenz, ,Angela Lamb, ,Arthur Rigby, ,Arthur Rigby & the Baskervylles, ,Breaking More Waves, ,competition, ,Drowned In Sound, ,Emerging Talent, ,George Boomsma, ,Glastonbury Festival, ,Hannah Boothman, ,How High The Mountain, ,Memphis, ,Moonlit Strangers, ,Samuli Kosminen, ,Song No.1, ,SoundCloud, ,Stay Loose, ,Stornoway, ,TLOFBF, ,Treetop Flyers, ,Viktor Vauthier, ,Warren Clarke

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Amelia’s Magazine | My favourite finds from the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition 2014

Ellie Ford by Daria Hlazatova

Ellie Ford by Daria Hlazatova.

A few weeks ago the final showdown between 8 finalists was held at Pilton Working Men’s Club, with the ultimate winner of the 2014 Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition announced as M+A with their super catchy tune Down the West Side, below.

When I wrote about my top picks for the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition I promised to also share some of the great bands and tunes that did not make it on to my short list. I was given a long list of 140 bands and musicians to listen to, from the genres of folk, country, dance, electronic, dance, indie, pop, acoustic and singer/songwriter – so obviously this selection reflects that choice. The eagle eyed amongst you may note that I was mainly given those bands with names starting in the early or late sections of the alphabet. I hope you’ll enjoy these finds as much as I did – you can hear all the tunes I like in no particular order on my soundcloud playlist, embedded directly below. I have a feeling I might be making more of these, and I am certain we’ll be hearing more from a few of these bands too.

I was really taken with the giddy oddity of Maxine, We’re Alive! by Liverpool duo A Lovely War. Unusual, weird and wonderful.

Sunsets is a great tune from Irish singer songwriter Wendy Jack, based in County Tyrone. Over the years she has worked widely to raise awareness of human rights and environmental issues.

Beautiful folk with a harp; Low is from Brighton based Ellie Ford, who is playing at this year’s Wood Festival (listing here).

Who Made Heaven is a beautiful slice of subtle country infused folk from Charlie Law, released through the The Davenport Collection folk label late last year. Despite a foundation in tune making of yesteryear the bittersweet lyrics tell a very modern tale of cross cultural love.

Bless is a slice of Japanese ambient electronica by Akisai.

Live For is a stunning banjo driven duet between Elvina and I.

Horses in Midstream by You, Me and Him was one of my favourite tracks, featuring a distinct 80s vibe in this epic tale of deception and greed.

Firewoodisland by Daria Hlazatova

Firewoodisland by Daria Hlazatova.

Simon is by the enigmatically named Firewoodisland, rollicking ‘celtic viking’ infused folk music made in Cardiff with a Norwegian lead singer.

A strummed guitar is the back bone of Stranger, a luscious slice of folk from Fenne Lily.

A harmonica opens a sweet little ditty called Back On The Bike by Four People.

Think Again is rollicking folk from Welsh singer Geraint Rhys.

And We Disappear is a prime example of 80s influenced dark wave electropop by AlterRed.

Alaskan Faction by Catherine Pape

Alaskan Faction by Catherine Pape.

We Disappear is super twinkly indie from Alaskan Faction.

A touch of the Cure, no? The Heart Transplant by Adam Clark has a subtle start but soon takes on their trademark wobbly vocals.

Like Ted Dexter by Alex Moir is feel good indie a-go-go with a psychedelic interlude!

Lost is by North Ireland based band Amidships.

Empty My Head by Youdid is a catchy piano tune with a female vocal from German singer Judith Severloh.

SwanSong is another cool indie tune featuring soaring vocals and a curling fiddle, from the London based Amberlandband.

There’s something about this that I quite like… Blackpool based Avishek Choudhury sings of the Journey Of A Lifetime in this jaunty tune featuring a female backing singer with bleeps and sirens set against a piano and driving electrobeat.

I like the jazzy big band sound and sultry vocals from rising star Ally Kemp in The Tardis.

Freya Roy is a very young Suffolk based singer songwriter with an ear for a bouncy tune, as shown in her entry Tomorrow.

Local Town comes from Brighton boy Ally Jowett.

They’re going to turn me into sushi & chips…” So goes The Whale Song by All At Sea… overly chirpy or an apt way to draw attention to a big issue?

Kids from the Sky by Young Stadium Club features jangly guitars aplenty in a soaring tune that features a veritable choir of backing vocals.

A Drastic Love by Younger Hall features a grungy baseline combined with a pounding piano. They hail from St Andrews in Scotland.

I loved the soaring Ten Years by Baby Gold, a duo from Leeds, but for some inexplicable reason it’s a private link on soundcloud so you will have to trust me on that one. Their lack of an online presence is a serious down point, but I look forward to hearing more from these guys.

Similarly I can’t share Only One by Devon based Alice Jemima, featuring a lovely breathy vocal over carefully picked chords and a nice little beat.

Finally, I can’t finish without including my favourites: firstly the clever Memphis by Alev Lenz.

George Boomsma by Simon McLaren.

George Boomsma by Simon McLaren.

And the wonderful folk sounds of George Boomsma in How High the Mountain.

Sadly my first choice disbanded just as I chose them to go through (brilliant timing!), hence my renewed desire to give some promotion to all the other bands that impressed me.

Categories ,2014, ,A Drastic Love, ,A Lovely War, ,acoustic, ,Adam Clark, ,Akisai, ,Alaskan Faction, ,Alev Lenz, ,Alex Moir, ,Alice Jemima, ,All At Sea, ,Ally Jowett, ,Ally Kemp, ,AlterRed, ,Amberlandband, ,Amidships, ,And We Disappear, ,Avishek Choudhury, ,Baby Gold, ,Back On The Bike, ,Best Of, ,Bless, ,Catherine Pape, ,Charlie Law, ,country, ,dance, ,Daria Hlazatova, ,Down the West Side, ,electronic, ,Ellie Ford, ,Elvina and I, ,Empty My Head, ,Fenne Lily, ,Firewoodisland, ,folk, ,Four People, ,Freya Roy, ,George Boomsma, ,Geraint Rhys, ,Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition, ,Horses in Midstream, ,How High The Mountain, ,Indie, ,Journey Of A Lifetime, ,Judith Severloh, ,Kids from the Sky, ,Like Ted Dexter, ,Live For, ,Local Town, ,Lost, ,low, ,ma, ,Maxine We’re Alive!, ,Memphis, ,Only One, ,Pilton Working Men’s Club, ,pop, ,Simon, ,Simon Mclaren, ,singersongwriter, ,Stranger, ,sunsets, ,SwanSong, ,Ten Years, ,The Davenport Collection, ,The Heart Transplant, ,The Tardis, ,The Whale Song, ,Think Again, ,Tomorrow, ,We Disappear, ,Wendy Jack, ,Who Made Heaven, ,Wood Festival, ,You Me and Him, ,Youdid, ,Young Stadium Club, ,Younger Hall

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