Representing the best of British in some style, Sound City’s selection of UK music is something special this year, Getintothis’ Patrick Clarke picks the cream of the crop performing this time round.
With a bigger UK festival comes bigger UK bands, and big is most certainly the word when it comes to this year’s Sound City. A much-discussed upsize to the docks and move away from the city centre was always going to bring a change of atmosphere, and given that its former guise was so legendary in the Liverpool calender there was unavoidable trepidation at the shift.
Thankfully the corresponding effect on the line-up has been strong enough to allay much of those fears, and from all corners of the nation come British bands both legendary and en route to such status, as well as some of the UK’s most revered cult outfits, all of whom are poised to help deliver this year’s new-look festival in style.
It’s all but certain, for example, that twee-pop favourites Belle & Sebastian are set to deliver a starry-eyed Sunday headline slot to set their legions of fanatics weeping with joy into their Oxfam jumpers, while fellow big-hitters The Vaccines have the opportunity to cement their step-up to bill-topping stature on their Friday finisher.
In support of the marquee bookings on the big stage there’s the likes of The Cribs, who still ride high on fearsome live reputation, the much-acclaimed Everything Everything and singalong specialists Spector, while across other stages there’s Fat White Family to bring some much-needed debauchery, Peace offering what seems like their 20th Liverpool show this year having brought down almost every house in Merseyside over the last four months, and a welcome return to Sound City for Gengahr, Slaves and more.
Even all that’s to say nothing of the cornucopia closer to home – our picks of the native bunch already discussed – but on top of all that there’s still an avalanche of ace outfits from these shores that, although lower down the bill, are set to kill it come that May weekend. So without further ado, here’s our definitive pick of the UK artists you really need to catch this year.
10. R. Seiliog at Baltic on Saturday May 23
Also known by the more pronounceable Robin Edwards, R. Seiliog unravels alternative electronica of the avante-garde’s highest order, with dovetails of ambience, krautrock, dance and psychedelia garnering a live reputation to precede the North-Welsh producer. Either a blissful opener for day two, or the most intense half hour of your life, depending on the kind of state you find yourself in, early on a Saturday afternoon.
9. Neon Waltz at Atlantic on Friday May 22
Making the big-stage step-up should be little bother for Scottish outfit Neon Waltz, whose new EP Sombre Fayre is setting out an early stall for just such a setting. Festival-ready hooks and a healthy dose of explosive choruses soak their early treats of material, seeing the six-piece find Radio One acclaim and just about every festival going clamouring for their signature.
8. Bad Breeding at Baltic on Saturday May 23
Confrontational to the core, Bad Breeding are bursting out of deepest, darkest Stevenage with one of the most uncompromising sounds on this year’s bill. Relentless powerchord chugs of guitar collide with the ferocious roar of a nowhere town and the disaffected opacity of 80s post-punk tones at their most visceral. The perfect warm-up for a Saturday evening then.
7. Hidden Charms at Cargo on Sunday May 24
London rock ‘n’ rollers Hidden Charms seem made for the Liverpool stage. Revivalist but still vitally vibrant, the sartorially seasoned four-piece hit an effortless stride among influences from vintage Rolling Stones, 60s psychedelic pop and old-school R&B. With a growl to the vocals Jagger would be proud of and hip-shaking melodics in abundance, they’ve got the chops to please even the most discerning of old Merseybeaters and the swagger to set the youth alight.
6. Loyle Carner at Cargo on Friday May 22
Representing the very pinnacle of intelligent new British hip-hop, there’s a reason South London’s Loyle Carner has bagged support slots with the likes of Joey Bada$$ at just 20 years of age. Namely that his substantial smattering of Soundcloud sensations to have surfaced so far exhibit a mazing eloquence in his flow and fresh, unwinding production in sumptuous neo-soul backing that are as absorbing as they are articulate.
5. Clarence Clarity at Baltic on Sunday May 24
Bella Union prospect Clarence Clarity‘s headspinning blend of alternative electronica is one of the most intriguing prospects on this year’s lineup. So off-kilter, so unexpected are the delights of sprawling debut album No Now that it’s tricky to decipher just what’s going to go down at his set. What’s certain, judging by the standard of his well-orchestrated squalls on record, is that it’ll be a memorable half hour to say the very least.
4. YAK at Baltic on Friday May 22
To share Friday’s Baltic bill with such guaranteed bludgeoners as Iceage, Slaves and Swans and still come out one of the heaviest prospects of the day is some feat, yet with a peppering of almighty assaults already to their unestablished name, three-piece rockers YAK are set to be just that. Expect a bloody nose before the big-hitters have even thrown a punch.
3. LoneLady at Cavern on Saturday May 23
LoneLady, also known as Manchester art-pop polymath Julie Campbell has the task of warming up a groove-hungry throng before All We Are‘s low-key Cavern set on Saturday, and though quite the challenge it’s one that she’d seem more than capable of. Blending St. Vincent-ish mastery of all things left-of-centre, a stomping groove or ten and an eye on the most elegant of alt-pop melodics, it’s hard to find a more ideal fit.
2. Fossa at Cargo on Saturday May 23
Alternative is the broadest of definitions, yet so eclectic are London-based Fossa that it’s the best we can come up with. Lilting from a Coral-esque psychedelic waltz to Wild Beasts explosions of operatic life, to grubby descents of guitars and clean arpeggios of garden-fresh acoustics – often all in the space of one song – that they can tie their abounding sonics down to such a polished final article is nothing short of astounding. Should they be able to translate that prowess live, they’ll be something to remember.
1. Blossoms at Atlantic on Sunday May 24
To many of those native to the Merseyside circuit, we needn’t explain why Manchester psych-poppers Blossoms are our number one pick. Sitting pretty among a selection of Merseyside favourites on Sunday, they’ve impressed in the city to no end with a series of tight, charismatic sets, peppered with modish stings of organ, stings of guitar and imperturbable presence onstage.
The Atlantic will be the group’s largest Liverpool stage yet, but with the clout of The Coral‘s Skeleton Key Records behind them and some of the most flawless pop songs Manchester’s seen in years, it’s the kind of thing that’ll be nothing but the norm come a year or two for one of this year’s most unstoppable prospects.