Glastonbury is huge. You know, really big. So many stages, so many bands. How does one ‘review’ such an event? Our way was to stick to the Can-You-Whistle-It mission – looking for well-written, structured songs in the contemporary idiom with a bias toward the emerging products of the British Isles. So we stayed away from considerations of the Pyramid and Other stages, because there we would only find major, established acts. The lesser stages are where the burgeoning promise is to be found. And despite the best efforts of the me-too mainstream, I am pleased to report there is plenty of promise.
Reported here are those promises, and not the dozens of other acts on the undermentioned stage. We gave them all a listen. Below are the British and Irish acts and songs that rose to the top of the heap for their standout songwriting ability and expression.
BBC Introducing is a website to which new artists can submit their music. There it is auditioned initially by presenters from BBC local radio and then potentially by national stations, starting with Tom Robinson’s excellent radio 6 Music show. And then who knows – Radio 2 and instant stardom, perhaps?
BBC Introducing has its own stage at the festival. Here are CYWI’s recommendations from acts appearing on it.
Happy Endings – ‘Uncomfortable’
Well-structured, melodic, beautifully produced harmonies. An inviting switch from acoustic to electric for the bridge. By the way, couldn’t help but be reminded of the Move’s ‘Blackberry Way’.
Matt Maltese – ‘As the World Caves In’
Wonderful, panoptic, apocalyptic ballad. Superb lyrics delivered by a unique vocal presentation.
Sherlocks – ‘Will You Be There’
Now here’s an outfit that knows how to use a riff as an adornment or scene setter rather than the basis of a repetitive melody. Exciting chord progressions throughout this satisfying rocker, slightly reminiscent of the Kaiser Chiefs. The chorus sticks to the main style of the song, but employs an alternative tune. A satisfying piece that rolls through to a solid ending.
Wildwood Kin – ‘Warrior Daughter’
Carried by a Celtic folk style. This comes through in both the choice of acoustic instruments and the melody. Puts one in mind of ‘Game of Thrones‘, perhaps.
WOWH – ‘Right Way’
Fun pop with style. Engaging, if even charming lyrics over a strong melody. While listening, this reviewer suddenly realised his cynical and musically jaded head was nodding along to the beat. Surprise chord changes, which is always an added pleasure. Nor is it without wit and irony, as the vocalist muses “We’d better keep it cliché.” Touch of ‘The Feeling‘, another band unfrightened of melody.
Best of the Rest
John Peel Stage
The Amazons’ single ‘Junk Food Forever’ plays on their website. While the accompanying video is a depressing message of desperation in the face of routine, the song itself is a powerful and energetic presentation. There are hooks throughout and good distinction between the song’s various acts.
Barry’s single ‘Higher Than the Top’ is a powerful and satisfying soul ballad owes more to Motown than Atlantic and brings with it shades of Seal.
This Irish singer songwriter released her third album ‘At Swim’ in 2016. Hardly an up and coming act, but given the effort she puts into her compositions, is much deserving of all appreciation. Approachable, accessible and emotional songs, with beautiful melodies. Recommended.