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!
Arab Strap are often misunderstood. Yes, some of their songs mention drinking and drugs and sex but really, when you strip away the cussing, most of their songs are about life and love and getting by. Not that fuzzy warm pretend love that makes an appearance in most pop songs but real, confused, contradictory love.
After a 10 year absence, Arab Strap are back. As we witnessed on a recent Saturday night out at Barrowlands in Glasgow, they are bigger, bolder and, like the rest of us, a good bit older than before. Beefed up by the addition of live bass and drums, this was not the intimate affair that Arab Strap gigs once were.
We've seen them many times over the years and were accustomed to the reverential silence of the crowd as Aidan’s acerbic words weaved their way over the top of Malcolm’s beautiful guitar work. Instead, we were treated to a relentless, rollicking celebration of the band’s astonishing catalogue. A new bigger, louder, more assured sound but still undeniably Arab Strap.
If you were lucky enough to catch them in the distant past then you’re in for something new. If you’ve never seen them before, perhaps leave the kids with a responsible adult (depending upon your household swearing policy) and join the rest of us in celebrating the beauty that can be found in everyday lives.
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.)
Continuing our usual heavy representation of Scottish acts at Deer Shed we present King Creosote, also known as independent singer-songwriter Kenny Anderson from Fife. Although still technically an independent artist – having previously set up his own record label, Fence Records – Anderson now co-releases some of his albums on Domino Records. Understandable, considering the hard work required - he has self-released over forty albums throughout his longstanding career!
Among those forty-something albums is Diamond Mine, a record released during March 2011 in collaboration with Jon Hopkins, which was nominated for both the Mercury Prize and the Scottish Album of the Year Award. The Scot is also well known for performing with his Scottish-Canadian band, The Burns Unit. His latest release, Astronaut Meets Appleman has received widespread critical acclaim, with The Guardian claiming its 'audacious musicality is masked by an understated charm and wit'
It is a delight to us that the quality of Kenny's music seems to get better and better with every album release. Awesome, don't miss him.
Honeyblood are an alt-rock guitar and drum duo whose name is one of the most apt we have ever heard for a band. Stirred up by Stina Marie Claire Tweeddale's distorted ringing guitar and vocal performance, the band present rage-filled, but beautifully written, songs with Cat Myers's powerful drum beats constantly driving them forward.
The song Super Rat – from their self-titled debut album, released on 8th July 2014 by Fat Cat Records – is a perfect demonstration of their bittersweet sound and lyrical themes, as Tweeddale shouts 'I will hate you forever / Scumbag, sleaze / Slimeball, grease / You really do disgust me' above warmly overdriven, reverberating guitar chords. I've truly never known such an ambient piece of rock music to sting so much.
We are hugely excited to welcome Honeyblood back to the Deer Shed stage. Their latest album, Babes Never Die indicates that they have continued to blossom as a band, fully embracing their grunge roots throughout the record.
Few budding musicians possess the bottle to tell those tipping them for success where they can stick it, particularly if those admirers happen to be a national tabloid newspaper sometimes perceived as having a monopoly over public opinion. A newspaper that boasts to have toppled governments, let alone lowly northern punk bands. But if there is one thing even the most complete embodiment of an establishment so despised by Cabbage could never deny, it is their bottle.
Their Twitter response to being listed by The S*n as a potential "next big thing" for 2017 propelled them into the viral stratosphere - they spat a tweet back at the tabloid with the same brash and bold venom featured in their lyrics. "They exploit every single one of you and affect the way you think...don’t buy The S*n. Don't even walk past it without burning it", the onslaught read.
Cabbage are Manchester’s latest export, with guitar riffs that will induce reminiscence of Joy Division, and satirical – but often bleak – politically driven lyrics that could make any passive abstainer at least a little red in the face at the country's current state. The boys are pioneering a fresh, almost ironic, revitalisation of punk fused with hints of art rock, and we are preparing for them to take Deer Shed 8 by storm.
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.
In November of last year, Jesca Hoop released a new single, The Lost Sky, alongside an announcement that her new album would be released in February of this year. We've heard that the release, Memories Are Now, covers a great deal of ground, showcasing every edge and curve of Hoop's captivating voice, with sounds and themes ranging from the mythic to the deeply intimate. It's scheduled to be released on 10th February, meaning Deer Shedders will be treated to some new material for her set in the summer!
Hoop was once nanny to the children of Tom Waits and his wife Kathleen Brennan. Though not known for his public admiration of other artists – preferring to project a cool, detached persona – Mr Waits waxed lyrical about the immense talent of Jesca Hoop, claiming that her music is like 'swimming in a lake at night'.
Speaking of Hoop's friends in high places, the song Murder of Birds from her 2009 album Hunting My Dress features vocal harmonies from Guy Garvey of Elbow, and is one of the most evocative pieces of acoustic music you are ever likely to listen to.
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.
Warhaus – the alter ego of Maarten Delvodere, who has embarked on a solo project away from the band Balthazar – released his first album in the autumn of 2016. The album, called We F*cked a Flame into Being, referencing the D.H. Lawrence novel Lady Chatterly's Lover, features a black and white picture of Delvodere that hints at his sound. Complementing his rich baritone vocals, Warhaus's song-writing is steeped in cynicism and fatalism recognisable from noir fiction.
His dark explorations of love and desire are enhanced by the soft voice of Sylvie Kreusch, and the two together create harmonies that would make the greatest fans of The XX swoon. It is fitting that Warhaus's first album was released in the same year as the sad passing of Leonard Cohen: his soul and jazz influences are truly reminiscent of the musical legend, and his brooding lyrics would not appear out of place among Cohen's more melancholic works.
Warhaus is a little crazy, though. He recorded much of the album on a tugboat, with his artist name written on it. Crazy or not, it seems being on a boat would be fitting for the creative process of making a record that features heavily on isolation and misanthropy. Until its release, Warhaus had shrouded the project in mystery, but that will all change for lucky Deer Shedders this year.
Andy Kershaw's Global Dance Party
Now I think officially part of the Deer Shed furniture we are delighted to welcome back Andy and his magic mediocrity slaying DJ box. Andy's amazing choice of tunes from around the globe always proves to be the perfect accompaniment to the last night of the festival - a great opportunity for our festival team to let off steam after a hard weekend and have a dance.
Andy's positive contribution to the world of broadcasting is beyond question, he has more Gold Sony Radio Awards than any other broadcaster and is compelling to watch and listen to were you to spend 5 minutes browsing his output from over the years on YouTube.
If you decide that you want to stay over on Sunday night this year, as many of you are, you will be in for a real treat.
Pioneering extraordinary music from all over the world with the motto 'We're not here to give the public what it wants. We're here to give the public what it didn't know it wanted.' A great finale to what we know will be a great weekend.
Marc Riley DJ Set
Post John Peel we should cling on for dear life to any outlet that continuously chucks out new music. Here at Deer Shed we would have to work much harder were it not for BBC 6 music sending a steady stream of new stuff our way, and to think that we nearly lost it.
Daytime 6 is not perfect though, if you have to play T Rex how about not just playing the same T Rex song every time. But with the evening slots you can't go wrong, and the evenings are home to Marc Riley's evening show. Fantastic sessions, quality below the radar new bands and an easy going manner. We should thank our lucky stars such things exist.
As well as a distinguished career in radio Marc has of course done loads of other stuff including a stint as guitarist in The Fall. So we are really pleased that Marc is returning to Deer Shed in 2017 after having supported us on air since we started.
Merchandise are a band that refuse to be pigeon holed into one or two genres. I am not saying that lightly either: I've been sat here tearing my hair out from my frivolous attempts to define them. They float seamlessly from track to track between classic indie rock, synth pop reminiscent of the '70s and '80s, shoegaze ambience, and post punk doom and gloom. See what I mean? It sounds as though I'm just listing genres erratically. It really shouldn't work, but it absolutely does –with amazing effect.
The band felt they abandoned this eclecticism for their debut album After the End in favour of straight up rock, but their latest album, A Corpse Wired for Sound, has revived what they clearly felt made them so special. The first track on the album, Flowers could almost belong on a Duran Duran record, for all its brilliant synth riffs, dulled reverberation and brooding vocals. Anyway, don't just take my word for it – in terms of Merchandise, seeing (and listening) is believing.
They nearly made it to Deer Shed a couple of years ago but had one of those fell off stage/split up/band member went missing moments which left us in a rather gloomy state. But they will be coming all the way from Tampa for Deer Shed 8, don't miss.
Let's Eat Grandma
Inevitably it is hard to talk about Let's Eat Grandma, as a parent, without relating their successes to those of your own kids. Those same kids that you have encouraged to play an instrument, painstakingly nagging them to practise, spending a fortune on lessons only to be met with begrudging faces. But there was a point when our oldest lass didn't need nagging anymore, and it was a proud moment (and a relief). Imagine seeing your 16 year old daughter on Later...
And herein lies the slight problem with writing this, whilst they are brilliant, I'm writing this though the prism of music obsessed parenthood, but whatever the age of the listener I defy you to name a more charming record than Eat Shiitake Mushrooms featured here on Spotify.
Let's Eat Grandma is made up of childhood pals Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth from Norwich, both of whom are yet to turn 18. The two are so diverse in their style, with their 2016 debut album I, Gemini featuring tunes that range from electronic dance with up-tempo beats and humorous raps, to a far more ambient and atmospheric shoegaze-y sound.
Stereogum called Let's Eat Grandma's first release 'a fascinating, genre-defiant introduction to the group', and we couldn't agree more. Their willingness and enthusiasm for creating truly experimental music has produced a thing of eclectic beauty. We'll leave it at that, but please don't miss this in July.
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.
Happyness gained widespread critical acclaim for their debut album, Weird Little Birthday Girl. The record featured charming lo-fi indie fused with lyrics from seemingly downtrodden souls that are still capable of clinging on to their good humour, as with the lines from the record's title-track, "I don't know just when you get down / But I know it's not when you're eating". The music makes for relaxed listening, whilst the words hint at subtly darker themes.
The band have fully embraced the charming lo-fi sound that so many now identify them with. Their latest album, Write In, scheduled for release on April 7th via Moshi Moshi Recordings, was purposefully recorded in environments that would enhance such an intimate, DIY production characteristic: the band's own studio above a now-abandoned bookshop, before being finished and mixed with Adam Lasus at his LA home studio.
The first single from the new album, Falling Down, signals that the band are moving forward with each release. It features some lovely ringing guitar underneath another good dose of lyrical melancholy. Roll on spring; roll on the new album!
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 ;)
H. Hawkline is the artistic solo project of Huw Evans, a Welsh singer-songwriter originally from Cardiff who is now based in Los Angeles.
His music is steeped in obscurity, particularly true with his first release, A Cup of Salt, in which he experiments with sampled sound in a way apparently influenced by a childhood spent watching his father edit Welsh Language radio interviews on a tape machine. The first track, for instance, introduces us to the album through what sounds like a lo-fi tape recording of an old lady happily singing, before H. Hawkline's grainy, fuzz-embellished guitar kicks in with almost psychedelic effect.
His latest album, In The Pink of Condition, released in 2015 by Heavenly Recordings, retains much of the obscurity of Evans's previous records, though the form of its featured tracks are arguably more accessible. The use of collaged samples is left behind in favour of pure songs: a fusion of psych rock and indie that H. Hawkline himself has branded 'strange pop'. So alluring in its strangeness, it has left us desperate for another album for the best part of two years, but we’ve been assured an announcement will be soon!
The last Stereolab performance took place in June 2013, with the band partially reforming on stage to perform Blue Milk, the eleventh track from their 1999 album, Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night. If you are anything like us you will be missing the '90s avant-pop band somewhat. Just Spotify French Disko if you need bringing up to speed.
Luckily for us, the band's French lyricist and vocalist Laetitia Sadier is still writing and performing her own brilliant post-rock songs as a solo artist. Her music retains the same cool charm that Stereolab were popularised for, as her breezy and balmy vocal continues to smooth over those jangly, reverberated guitar tones and analogue synth sounds that characterised much experimental art rock – pioneered by Stereolab – in the '90s.
Her latest album – Something Shines, released via Drag City in 2014 – underlined Sadier's ability to write pop songs that are out of this world, both in quality and tone, and we are over the moon that she will be performing them at Deer Shed 8.
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.
Hannah Lou Clark
After the band FOE parted ways in 2013, we at Deer Shed felt the world had lost an unbelievably talented group. We were certainly not alone, either – they had developed a loyal following after the release of their 2012 EP, Bad Dream Hotline. From the ashes, though, Hannah Lou Clark emerged.
Clark combines the crunch of her guitar, which would not appear out of place among the odd moments of calm and restraint we once saw from alt-rock greats Kurt Cobain or Billy Corgan, with a dulcet voice that soars above the fuzz, reminiscent of Karen O’s vocals for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Her second EP, named It’s Your Love, was released on 22nd April 2016 by Quatre Femmes Records, and its quality has prompted NME to feature Hannah Lou Clark as one of their 100 best new bands and artists for 2017. She has previously played at The Great Escape Festival, Green Man and Secret Garden Party, amongst many others, and we are delighted to have booked her in a year that could see her name explode across the UK indie music scene.
Having originally performed in Waikiki and then the band’s second incarnation, Howling Bells, with her brother on lead guitar, Juanita Stein has now launched her solo career. In these bands, Stein's often soft and angelic vocals float above a sometimes chaotic, alternative rock backdrop of screeching distorted guitar and a driven rhythm section.
Titled Stargazer, however, her debut solo single – and only solo release to date – seems to enhance the dulcet qualities of Stein's voice by expanding such a sound into the instrumentation that surrounds her. The reverberated guitars and laidback percussion complement her style beautifully and, coupled with poetic lyrics about stargazers and daydreamers, allow the listener to parallel the song with the loveliest of lullabies.
It seems Stargazer could potentially mark a return to songs more close to the folk genre that Juanita Stein once played at university. With such a diverse repertoire now seemingly under her belt, Deer Shedders will be in for a treat when she takes to the Lodge stage this summer.
The Lake Poets
The Lake Poets is the alias for singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Martin Longstaff from Sunderland. His honeyed voice glides over beautifully intricate guitar riffs in every track featured on his 2015 self-titled album, to create a sound that soothes, understated like watercolours of an idyllic landscape. This sound, coupled with lyrics of love and heartbreak that rival Damien Rice's as a laureate of loss and despair, has situated him as a jewel in the crown of northern song writing.
The name 'The Lake Poets', in Longstaff's own words, is taken from a book called Recollections of The Lake Poets that explored the works of 19th century romantic poets such as Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey - apt as his sublime musical style evokes the same delight in the listener that the Romantics strived to create for their readers. While the songwriter's lyrics have the capacity to devastate, the gorgeous melodies contrast this feeling to foster a profound sense of catharsis.
At the age of just 24, The Lake Poets has already supported giants of the UK music scene, such as Tom Jones, James Morrison, Jake Bugg and Lucy Rose. For Longstaff, there is nothing better than to stun an audience into silence: "I still get the biggest buzz when alone on stage and I silence an audience within a few bars of a song".
As I write this, it is Blue Monday, the January day that is believed to be the most depressing of the calendar year. It's cold, wet and grey outside, but putting SHELLS on, as the artist name might suggest, feels like being transported to a warm beach in the midst of a tropical summer. With songs that feature haunting melodies and stunning anthemic choruses, blended by some wonderfully intricate production, her debut EP, Shapes, was released in 2016.
SHELLS turned down offers from multiple record labels in order to retain creative control of the production process of Shapes, and such a bold move seemed to pay off: her first single Gold received numerous plays on Radio 1 and became the Number 1 track on Hype Machine.
2017 is already shaping up to be a huge year, beginning with SHELLS providing support for The Naked and Famous on their international tour that will arrive in the UK in February.
Still hot off the press, Eat Fast have just released a new two-track EP – available as an MP3 or 7" vinyl – called 'Public Displays of Affection / Sand Drone'. It features some real smack-you-in-the-face fuzz guitar that is so prevalent in the current alt-rock scene – a natural continuation on from their earlier releases, such as 'Stammer' and 'Fenham Dreadlock'.
The popgaze quartet from Newcastle are putting everything into creating their adrenaline filled music, an attitude exemplified by Adam Pearson who dropped out of his PhD at St. Andrews to concentrate on writing songs. Eat Fast have much, much more in the pipeline, including a sixteen-track LP – yep, that’s SIXTEEN tracks of fuzzy goodness.
We saw them live in Manchester as part of the Off The Record industry day out (one of those 20 bands in 3 hours until your feet hurt.) Due to nervousness at the thought of missing the train home we only caught the first 5 minutes of the set, but that was enough to suggest to us that they ought to be part of Deer Shed 8.
Hailing from South London, Goat Girl are a teenage rock band who have just signed to Rough Trade Records. Their debut release, Country Sleaze / Scum, is a wonderful introduction to the band, which features Seattle-sound guitars and lethal lyrics commenting on the state of England into a record that leaves you dying to hear more.
It's apt that both titles of this double a-side feature the words 'sleaze' and 'scum'. NME reckon "the gritty new track packs a sludgy bassline, jangling guitar and some pure unchecked, uncensored criticism of the world right now": "I'm disgusted, I'm ashamed of this so-called human race".
It's easy to see why this band went viral by trending on Twitter when Country Sleaze / Scum first hit our speakers. Goat Girl are close to the bone, attitude-driven artists who ooze originality.
Her shimmering guitar is actually beginning to become a bit of a trademark of Nilüfer Yanya's, most notably featured on her debut single, released in September 2016, called Small Crimes. Vice notes that it is 'a song marked less by the notes she plays and more by the ones she doesn't: a Jeff Buckley-esque restraint on the guitar'. Her vocals are as sleek as the guitar tone, and her lyrics are also marked by soulful maturity: 'Don't get to be human / When you're a hooligan'.
Her influences are clearly wonderfully diverse, citing artists as wide ranging as Cat Stevens and Bob Marley, via Simon Garfunkel and even Nelly! Another influence we wholeheartedly endorse is The Pixies. Among Yanya's demo releases is a cover of Hey by the Boston band, which is so steeped in the unique characteristics of the London girl's own writing that anybody who hadn't heard Frank Black blasting it out wouldn't think twice about it belonging to her growing repertoire of originals. That is possibly the highest compliment payable to any artist covering another's song.
Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker
In an age where folk music has been modernised and – love it or hate it – commercialised, it is easy to forget just how moving the far more traditional incarnations of the genre are. Particularly when sung by somebody like Josienne Clarke. Clarke's traditional folk vocals are so bewitching that you could imagine her, like it goes in the movies, standing on a table in an ale house and stunning a drunk rabble into silence with a softly whispered acapella song.
It is for this reason that if you see yourself as a little bit of a musical traditionalist, we really can't recommend watching these two enough. Hell, even if you take your music without a hint of analogue or acoustic, we implore you not to fall for the timeless sound of Ben's masterful guitar and Josienne's angelic voice.
Xylaroo are a musical duo consisting of sisters from East London, Holly and Coco Chant. Their first single, Sunshine, is aptly titled: it really is like a ray of sunshine, with delightful harmonies, jangly strummed acoustic and some lovely organ riffs. Add to that a B-side featuring one of the most unique covers we have ever heard of Artic Monkeys’ I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor – one of those songs that is widely covered by bands but rarely enhanced, developed or adapted – and the record stands as a fantastic debut.
The two grew up together whilst travelling the world due to their father's career taking them to Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Switzerland, Sri Lanka and, of course, England.
Their first album, Sweetooth, released on June 3rd 2016 via Sunday Best Recording, seems to mature their music from the joyous pop on display in Sunshine , enhancing the country vibes and allowing their song writing to blossom through the exploration of darker themes, to the point where they begin to remind us of First Aid Kit.
Maia are perhaps the most unique band on the Deer Shed roster for 2017. They have labelled themselves as the pioneers of a wholly new genre: psychedelic sci-fi folk! Back in 2015, our audience at Deer Shed 6 were blown away by Maia's syncopated rhythms, ingenuity and creative story-telling in song form.
The Yorkshire Evening Post noted that Maia were having a ball on stage [at Deer Shed 6] and their enjoyment was mirrored by an audience who clearly found their irreverent, deadpan patter and quality tunes – some from new album Pepper Stars – a delight. It was just a shame they weren't on for longer. Well, we took the hint. The band are back for Deer Shed Festival 8, and we can’t wait.
One thing that has not changed in the last 2 years is their paisley shirt press shot, we're still not quite sure about that many paisley shirts in the one place. But hey, there are no rules :)
Mi Mye, also known as Jamie Lockhart, is something of a legend in the Wakefield music scene, having moved to the city from northern Scotland some ten years ago.
Lockhart writes stories of heartbreak, addiction and isolation that evoke the same emotional response from his listener as some of the most heartfelt works of Conor Oberst; even perhaps the great Elliott Smith. His voice – in his most intimate releases – is also capable of the same lush, whispered restraint utilised often by both the aforementioned.
His latest album, The Sympathy Sigh, is an absolute gem. Ok, we may be slightly biased: its narratives focus partially on Mi Mye's experiences of Yorkshire, so the record is clearly going to be close to Deer Shed hearts, but it really is a beautiful record. The track Methadone Church, for example, takes its title from what addicts in Armley have apparently named the town's Methodist church. Night City Air is a nocturne depicting serene Leeds after dark. Perhaps Baldersby Park in balmy July could provide the inspiration for his future Yorkshire tales...
Jalen N'Gonda is a true student of music, having studied at Liverpool's Institute of Performing Arts, which was established by Sir Paul McCartney. He is one of the latest sensations on the LIPA conveyer belt of pure talent to make substantial ripples in the current UK music scene, rising alongside other alumni, such as Ady Suleiman.
Originally hailing from Maryland in the US, N'Gonda first burst through our speakers with his debut Double A-Side release, which features Holler (When You Call My Name) and Why I Try. Both tracks reflect the artist's fusion of soul and rock 'n' roll influences, and the sheer power of his vocal performances are something to behold. His vocal has the potential to actually befit the title of a once in a generation voice, akin to James Brown.
Holler (When You Call My Name) went viral upon its release – it seems the Internet is as excited for more music from Jalen N'Gonda in the near future as the Deer Shed team!
Perhaps a contender to be the heaviest band on the bill for Deer Shed 8, October Drift are a four-piece band described by many as 'indie', although we see them as more on the scale of alternative-rock and noise pop, emanating a sound that seems to have been schooled by the likes of The Smashing Pumpkins and My Bloody Valentine.
With their most recent EP, 'This Is Nowhere', released on October 7th via Bad Rival Records, October Drift managed to raise their own high bar, once again fusing an ambient, atmospheric sound with crunchy guitars that really do punch you right in the face... in the best possible way, of course.
The October Drift have a reputation for being somewhat special live – one that precedes them to the point where their first tour had sold out before their debut single had even been released. For this reason, we are eagerly anticipating their set at Deer Shed.
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 instance.)
So apart from 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!
Our first official glimpse of Tom Joshua was through the single You Me Alone, a song set to be the title track of his long awaited debut album. The single was released in October 2015, meaning this will be one heck of a long awaited record.
You Me Alone is a deeply moving track that begins with singer and front man, Tom Joshua, combining his stunning voice – sounding like a gorgeous mix of Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes and even David Gray – before his seven-piece band join in to support him. The band's instrumentation includes guitars, cellos, trumpets, bass, drums and keys, which, when combined into a crescendo, really knocks your socks off.
Originating from Middlesbrough, Tom Joshua is a shining example of the depth of music talent hidden within the cities surrounding the Deer Shed Festival gates. We’re incredibly excited for Deer Shedders to hear his unique mix of traditional folk, modern indie, cello-heavy soundscapes, lullabies, and nursery rhyme trumpet fanfares.
Stillhouse are a three-piece fusion of progressive acoustic folk, jazz and bluegrass. Their instrumentation comprises of a guitar and double bass, both driven by intricate mandolin riffs that will induce nostalgia for traditional folk fans.
What strikes us most about the band is that they seem to simply play the music they're in love with. When on stage, each member appears to find genuine joy in the sounds that one another are creating – a joy that is infectious for any crowd. It seems clear from their live performances that Jonny Neaves and Polly Bolton, the two vocalists, have been making music together for almost ten years, such is the strength of their rapport and depth of their harmonies. Their ability to captivate audiences from the first note they play on stage positions Stillhouse as another excellent example of the thriving Yorkshire music scene, with the trio originally hailing from York.
Presenting beautifully crafted original songs and meticulously arranged instrumental material, Stillhouse are ready to bring the sunshine to Baldersby Park this July.
The Obelisk stage has always been the place to be for Deer Shedders who want to boogie! For 2017, we're hoping to raise the jiving another level to even dizzier heights, meaning we were desperate to book 6-piece, high-octane folk rock band, Aelfen.
The band is comprised of two guitars, a bass, violin, drums, and a bouzouki – that's a Greek plucked string instrument, for those not completely clued up on Greek traditional instrumentation.
Aelfen's create jaunty, up-beat and syncopated rhythms – which quite often border on wonderful folk chaos – influenced by a vast span of traditional genres, including bluegrass, folk, jazz, pop and acoustic music. We defy you to resist at least tapping your foot along to this wholly jig-inducing lot!
Agbkeo, an 11-piece, high-octane, afro-rock-funk-psych band from Manchester are making waves in the UK live music scene with their modern world music. The band are largely influenced by African music – mainly from the cultures of 1970s Nigeria, Ethiopia and Ghana - which is clear from the energy and ecstasy they appear to bring to every single live performance.
Expect to hear messages of love and peace in their lyrics; a perfect example of which can be heard in the colourful and chaotic song (There Must Be) Another Way. Among jazzy sax solos, brass accompaniment and head-banging drum beats, the lyrics, People fighting with their brothers, / People warring one another, / Surely there must be another way, emerge through the musical mayhem to embody what Agbeko are all about. It is rare to witness what seems to be such a close-knit group of performers, particularly with the size and vast array of talent that these world musicians so clearly possess.
There are whispers that the band will be producing their first official release in early 2017, and we could not be more excited to hear their consummate live performances translate onto record.
Jolly and the Lightweight
After forming in their student accommodation at the University of Leeds, Jolly and the Lightweight developed their clear roots in traditional folk music with the welcome bonus of beautifully poetic lyrics sung through soaring vocal harmonies.
The three-piece band – comprised of two acoustic guitars and a banjo – have been seen their reputation in the Leeds music scene grow since their formation in 2014. It really is something to behold when lead vocalist Conor Ludnow belts out the high notes above the blissfully chaotic trio of strings.
This will be Jolly and the Lightweight's second year at Deer Shed Festival, having performed for us last year at DSF7, and we're so happy to be having them back for 2017.