With memories of knockout sets from worldwide gems at last year’s Sound City, Getintothis’ Patrick Clarke and Craig MacDonald search from Israel to India for ten knockouts-to-be this time around.
Though forever anchored to its Merseyside roots, one of Sound City‘s truest strengths is the wealth of international talent that descends to the docks each May.
The wealth of worldwide delights on offer is one that goes far beyond the bigger names. Though the likes of alt-rock heroes The Dandy Warhols are to almost certainly smash it on the Atlantic Stage, it’s in the nooks and crannies that the gems truly reside.
Last year, for example, for all the life-affirming joy of the Flaming Lips and head-crushing power of Swans, there were similarly glorious scenes in the backwaters, from Japanese twosome Moja‘s bludgeoning thrash-punk mini-masterpiece of a set that saw drums collapse under their own weight to the Israeli psych-monolith that was Tiny Fingers‘ warehouse set.
The only question this year is just whom among the host of (for now) unknown names will be providing the same surprise highlights this time around. In an attempt to narrow it down, and in no particular order, here’s our top ten picks, in no particular order, from Israel to India, Seoul to Vienna.
10. Blick Bassy: The North, Saturday May 28
Hailing from Cameroon, Blick Bassy has helped to evolve the bassa language to bring it into modern day music with tremendous results. Having moved to Paris a little over ten years ago, Blick has drawn influence from the likes of Miles Davies to African freedom fighters to create his soulful, melancholy warmth.
His latest release, Akö, could be the singers most adventurous to date. Combining influences from Blick’s travels, the long player features both sounds from his homeland as well as the rawness of Mississippi blues, wth a subtle dose of Brazilian flair for added effect.
9. Leyya: Cargo, Saturday May 28
From the mountainous plains of Austria come electropop duo Marcuo Kleebauer and Sophie Lindinger, better known as Leyya. The Viennese pair provide spine tingling goodness, with an abundance of electro beats that collide spectacularly with fragile vocals, to create tracks that truly race through your nervous system.
Their debut album, Spanish Disco, is filled with angelic, wistful cuts. Musically, the group have a raw element to their delivery as they flow from ambient trip hop to soft electro via obscure, experimental dream pop. At times reminiscent of Portishead, this will be a group that will stick with you long after the festival ends.
8. Cherie and Renno: Cargo, Saturday May 28
Absurd, unhinged, and off-beat, Israeli twosome Cherie and Renno tread that glorious line between brilliance and the brink of collapse.
Scratchy, whacked-out pop with a healthy dash of sleaze, the project’s a spin-off of Israel’s entrants to the 2012 Eurovision song contest, Izabo. In the greatest miscarriage of Europop justice since Dustin the Turkey they never made it past the semi-final. A true travesty, if this side-project’s headspinning squalls are anything to go by.
7. Las Aves: The Tall Ship, Saturday May 28
Mysterious French quartet Las Aves will be bringing a dose of euro acid pop to proceedings this year, when they play The Tall Ship stage. With flairs of hip hop and R’n’B merging together seamlessly, they galvanise pounding beats with captivating melodies.
On tracks like Leo, the Parisians absorb upbeat electro pop while harnessing an underbelly of punk soaked beats to create something special. With their debut album Die In Shanghai set for release the day before, you can expect them to be a true tour de force.
6. Dead Buttons: Atlantic, Saturday May 28
Fresh from blasting the Blade Factory at FestEvol earlier in the month, Seoul dance punk duo Dead Buttons make their second appearance in Liverpool this month, with the groups sound continuing to develop.
The pair have moved on from the raw, unadulterated, feral savagery of their first album Whoever You Are, with their latest release Some Kind Of Youth seeing the group polish their roughened edges bearing great result from their efforts. The group are a commanding spectacle and one that will transit plenty by the river.
5. Postaal: The North, Sunday May 29
Another trans-national duo, Postaal is a Paris-London duo whose deft, sweeping electronic pop has spent the last year or so setting Souncloud alight.
OK, so they’re only half ‘international’, but so sublime is their soul-stirring blend of deep, inky dance that it’d be a crime to leave them off the list. Their late afternoon North Stage set should be the perfect precursor to the last Sunday night hurrah.
4. Surf Dads: The Cavern, Sunday May 29
Though much of Surf Dads‘ heady, landscape indie rock is devised long distance – the duo spreading their wings between the US and Canada – it’s no less tight, their latest EP A Nice Boy recorded over a 9 hour reunion last year.
Lathered in sweeping, fuzz-soaked riffs and laid-back melodics, it’s a perfect storm of melancholy resonance and straight-up melodic graft that’s ideal for a Sunday evening.
3. 57: Cargo, Sunday May 29
Charged with an ferocious amount of energy, South Korean pair 57 are renowned for their super charged live shows. Originally a three piece in their hometown Jeonju, the duo of Yoon Jun-Hong and Kim Seol have been unleashing their blend of garage, alt rock.
Taking their name from a song by Biffy Clyro, the group do take influence from the Scots noise makers as they combine to make thunderous, neck breaking tracks as demonstrated on their self titled EP 57. If their is one way to blast away the cobwebs from Saturday’s late night antics, this is it.
2. Temenik Electric: Atlantic, Sunday May 29
Searing Arabian grit from the depths of the Marseille underground, Temenik Electric are an underrated apex of the wave of outstanding desert rock bands coming our way at present.
A clash of relentless riffs, ferocious rhythm and a dash of eddying electronica, it’s a heady brew readymade for an opening second day slot to blitz away the Saturday comedown.
1. Lifafa: The Mailchimp Record Store, Saturday May 28
Representing India’s cutting edge of psychotropic electronica, Lifafa, which is Urdu for ‘envelope’, is the project of New Delhi beatsmith Suryakant Sawhney, and ‘envelope-pushing’ puns aside is to be adored.
At times riding the crest of a blissful ambient wave, at others buried in evocative fuzz, glints of Indian samples pepper Sawhney‘s work with transporting atmospherics. Expect nothing less than bliss in the intimate confines of the Mailchimp Record Store on Saturday night.