Kate Tempest is a poet - she sometimes performs her poetry against a backdrop of throbbing beats, as she will at Deer Shed, but she is still, in essence, a poet. All previous attempts to describe her massive talent as an artist in default musical terminology have not been at all satisfactory!
Hands up, I'm not an expert in contemporary poetry, but Kate is widely regarded as a leading light, perhaps the most acclaimed of her generation. She certainly speaks to me, she draws me in, inch by inch, line by line.
'Poetry' is a word that is loaded for some, isn't it? But we all try to compose the perfect tweet or the sweetest retort on The Guardian comments section. It is powerful, perhaps more so than music, and in these politically charged, post-truth times Kate's work seems to offer us a window on humanity and who we are.
And another thing - Kate appeals as much to my Mum, who frequently reports hearing her on Radio 4, as she does to my youngest daughter who is drawn to the lyrics of the track Circles - "I go round in circles, not graceful, not like dancers, not neatly, not like compass and pencil, more like a dog on a lead going mental."
I think it is fair to say that we are extremely honoured to have an artist as relevant, of the moment and as culturally significant as Kate Tempest.
In a year of surprises, the few things on which we can rely have taken on greater significance in our lives. We all need a comfort blanket in days like these. We need a cosy night in the pub with friends. We need to go sledging with our kids. We need fish and chips after a long walk on the beach. We need tickets to a sold out show at the Brudenell Social Club. We need our favourite band.
We need Teenage Fanclub. The melodies. The harmonies. The guitars . Stability in an ever changing world.
Their 10th album released this year is just as good as the first. Many bands have tried over the last twenty years but only Teenage Fanclub can sound like Teenage Fanclub. Alan McGee knew it, Kurt Cobain knew it and after eight years of trying, next summer Deer Shed will know it too.
For months we had a photo from Twitter on our fridge of Norman from the band holding up a sign which read "Remember that, whatever happens, everything flows". It's a nod to their first single. The original tweet was posted on the eve of the Scottish Independence referendum but it's a mantra we've had to turn to many times since. We finally took the photo down the day we heard the band would be playing because we knew that everything was going to be ok after all.
Teenage Fanclub will be headlining on the Friday night at Deer Shed; they’ll finish the set with Everything Flows and it's going to be great.
The Divine Comedy
We have a feeling that Sunday at Deer Shed will be at its most joyous in 2017 as The Divine Comedy takes to the main stage in the afternoon sun.
Although the line-up has changed radically over the years, we all know that The Divine Comedy is essentially Neil Hannon.
And is Neil Hannon some kind of genius or what? Yes, he is, and a national treasure to boot. Neil has created a luscious musical space for himself that nobody else inhabits, or ever will.
The Divine Comedy's 2016 album Foreverland is the eleventh studio album and consequently that's 11 album's worth of great material from which to pick a festival set. So let's make a start on that. Stand by.
I'm hoping for one of my favourite ever songs, a piece of pop genius, Come Home Billy Bird, with Lauren Laverne on backing vocals (a little-known pop fact). How about Our Mutual Friend, perhaps one of the most middle aged nostalgic love songs, until the end where it goes wrong? Been there, done that.
National Express of course. At The Indie Disco, another tune steeped in nostalgia. Generation Sex. Absent Friends - "Steve McQueen jumped the first one clean...". The Certainty Of Chance. Becoming More Like Alfie - "Everybody knows that no means yes, just like glasses come free on the NHS".
So yes, idiosyncratic and hugely entertaining. Expect multiple historical costume changes!
Ibibio Sound Machine
On Sunday afternoon at Deer Shed in 2015 the long expected drizzle finally arrived, although quite a bit later than the weatherpeeps had suggested. But all was not lost, Ibibio Sound Machine hit the main stage and bought sunshine, unfortunately not literally, but boy they started a party.
So, a return for the London based outfit who specialise in an updated version of African highlife and Afro-beat mixed with electronics and a hint of George Clinton madness. Indeed, at least two tracks on the album have been beamed straight down from the Parliament mothership.
Their track Let's Dance featured here highlights the more playful side of Ibibio Sound Machine, leaving you in no
doubt that should you so wish, you could let your hair down and jive to what will be a highly energised performance. However, the album crosses so many stylistic boundaries that we strongly suggest giving the whole thing a listen on Spotify. It's easy to forget this is a debut album, each track is a gem (and they have a brand new album coming very soon.)
Teleman have lit up Baldersby Park before, in 2014 in fact, and since then they have grown in reputation and stature, we thought we would ask if they'd like to return.
Listening to their most recent album Brilliant Sanity I'm struck by their 1980s influences in a way I don't recall from writing their biog the first time around. They have a quirky element reminiscent of Sparks.
But really, due to the very distinctive voice of frontman Thomas Sanders they have an unmistakeable sound. We love bands that sound like themselves! I think it frees bands to explore, safe in the knowledge they will always recognisable. Dutch Uncles would be another example, or C Duncan, both bands I'd have back every year if I was allowed.
Another enviable trait I have observed is how well they integrate synths into their sound, perhaps something to do with the mighty Prophet 08 as seen in this vid, the Xmas present I'm simply never going to get. And whilst we're on with videos here is a great showing on Later of their tune Düsseldorf. Up there with another great tune on the same subject.
Admirably and somewhat remarkably, John Smith has maintained his independence from any record label over the years, choosing to self-fund all four of his albums to date. As an independent festival, Deer Shed understands all too well that doing things your own way can lead to truly wonderful things. This is certainly the case with John’s songs. Listening to them at times almost feels as though he is sat in the room with you, whispering musings directly into your ear, such is the level of personal and emotional investment evident in his writing.
John's music is such a treat for the senses. Stripping back the instrumentation for his fourth studio album, Great Lakes, seems to have been a masterstroke, as his guitar flows seamlessly beneath a voice that – to borrow one of his phrases – is soft as silk. The track Salty and Sweet deals with the contrasting sensations in the title by combining bitterly tragic lyrics – 'I told my mother, my violent brother / All they give me is a reason to leave' – with his distinctive string melodies that have influenced the likes of Ben Howard over the years.
The folk artist graced the Deer Shed Festival 5 arena back in 2014 on his lonesome, as Deer Shedders of all ages swayed along entranced by the passions of his music, in 2017 he'll bring his band too.
Hooton Tennis Club
If there has ever been a band able to capture a spirit of unwavering optimism, it is Hooton Tennis Club - they appear dedicated to exploring the joy in what a far less astute observer might otherwise mistake for everyday banality. Their persistence with the pursuit of optimism perfectly juxtaposes the doom and gloom of the current national mood.
The band released their second album, ‘Big Box of Chocolates’, on October 21st 2016, and it’s a corker. The title is apt: listening to each song is like tasting a new delicious treat from the choccy selection box (with the possible exception of the Bounty that always seems to be left until last).
Resonating a sound of youthful – though certainly not juvenile – defiance, their lyrics consistently seem to remind us of the truly important things in life. They often recount the simple pleasures that the people close to them provide through their most subtle, unique actions, as with the song titles Camilla Then Drew Fourteen Dots on Her Knees and Kathleen Sat on the Arm of Her Favourite Chair. Hooton Tennis Club's lovely observations and interest in human behaviour shines through in their lyrics, always managing to find romance in the ordinary; delight in smiling and being smiled back at.
I caught Palace Winter on an impromptu night out in Leeds at Oporto, a venue I'd never been too before, but which restored some faith in the delights that Leeds City Centre has to offer after dark. And a bonus feature of the venue was being able to get up close to the bands whilst sat down!
Palace Winter is a combination of band members from different places (Australia/Denmark) and that I feel does come across in the performance. Beaut. Keyboard man, Caspar, who looks the split of J Tillman, beavers away on not only highly effective synth duties but also bass parts, for Palace Winter has no bassman. He works harder and is more effective than any other synth player I think I've ever seen in what is essentially an indie rock band.
The rest of the band are just as impressive. The drummer is absolutely relentless, not flashy, just unstoppable. And sat down enjoying this fantastic band I can't help reminisce about that other great Australian band, The Church (would recommend 1988 album Starfish as a starting point.)
Also, a new discovery for us, playing that night in support, were a great Leeds band Sympathizer. We will try very hard to find a slot for them in 2017 if they'd like to come. But back to Palace Winter, don't miss them at Deer Shed, a very satisfying watch, sat down or otherwise.
If you're at all worried about the kids not paying attention at school or simply not enjoying their classes, taking them to a BC CAMPLIGHT set at Deer Shed Festival 8 might just be the answer to all of your problems...
Multi-talented multi-instrumentalist Brian Christinzio, in his distinctive, ultra-smooth falsetto voice, lambastes truancy in the first track, You Should’ve Gone to School, from his third studio album, How to Die in the North, released by Bella Union in 2015. If Christinzio – often adorned with shades; always effortlessly oozing coolness through his on-stage persona – lamenting 'you should’ve gone to school..you fool' doesn't convince them to get an A, nothing will!
The former keyboard player for Kurt Vile and War On Drugs cohort moved from Philadelphia to Manchester in 2011, he fell in love with the North of England (join the club!), even claiming that it 'saved his life'.
She Drew The Gun
She Drew The Gun are a quartet from Liverpool that are most often described online as 'psych-pop' which I don't feel is a wholly accurate description, nevertheless they do stomp on the Space Echo now and again. And whilst on the subject of Liverpool and psychedelic music how could we not recommend a trip to the Liverpool Psychfest, absolutely no need to head down South for such a thing.
Genre debates aside, they are a great outfit, singer Louisa Rouch has I think quite a lovely soulful voice and clearly this band are one of a new raft of more politicised bands that are emerging as we speak. Incidentally friend of Deer Shed, Andy Kershaw has much to say about protest music, amongst other amusing topics here. The most immediate example of She Drew The Gun's travels into this political sphere is the track Poem featured above on Spotify, the pleading refrain 'life give me something to believe in' seems most apt at the moment.
Oh, and they won the 2016 Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition and I also sat next to Louisa on a Sound City panel discussion about how hard it is for new bands to get shows at festivals, although one way is to sit next to a festival booker on a panel ;)
Man Of Moon
Both members of Edinburgh duo Man of Moon have just entered their twenties. On the very first listen to their tunes, you immediately realise that age certainly doesn't matter when it comes to writing great rock songs (providing you've been given the right music education, of course).
A multitude of different influences came to mind when we first heard their new EP, Medicine, released in 2016 by Melodic Records. The whole EP begins with a psychedelic guitar drone on the track I Run, reminiscent of the experimental Krautrock genre popularised in the late '60s and early '70s.
The quality of singer Chris Bainbridge's vocals and the backing harmonies truly shine through on When I Wake, which are complemented by a wondrous blend of atmospheric, shoegaze-y (ok, we know that isn't really a word) instrumentation, and embellished with some hypnotic reverb.
NME claims that had the band hailed from the English capital city rather than the Scottish capital city they 'would probably be a fair bit bigger', and we’re convinced you will love their nostalgic alt-rock sound.
Once more we have an artist, Laucan in this case, who the world knows very little about, and what we do know about Laucan we can't tell you about anyway as it is embargoed by the record company (Sunday Best in this case.)
So apart from a signing to one of the UK's hippest labels we have a single piece of evidence, the track DLMA on Spotify. And of course, as we've said before, for a festival there is great kudos attached to being able to book emerging talent early, but the earlier you discover the talent the less evidence there is of the quality of your discovery. Damn.
Anyhoos we very much like what we have heard so far. A little bit Jeff Buckley, of course, but also reminds us of one of our all-time favourite artist from Leeds, who very few people know about either, Lone Wolf.
Of course, when we can say more, we'll let you know!