22 Mar 2016

A comprehensive guide to every band you need to see at The Great Escape

The Great Escape takes place every year in May, in Brighton, and for me its line up is one of the more exciting lists of names to come out every year. Essentially, it's a festive that started off as an industry thing, and showcases the artists that lots of people tip to be big later on in the year. If you can think of someone big in indie, alt and even pop circles, chances are they've played this festival at some point. Here's a pick of the 10 bands you really gotta see at TGE, if you're going, don't know anyone on the bill and want to get a taster of what's to come... // there's a massive playlist at the bottom a-ready and waiting for ya...

Leeds quintet Eagulls are a probably the finest of the angry youthy punk bands making Joy Division, Pere Ubu or Cure pastiches in the current musical climate. Their debut was crammed with so many scorching post-punk nuggets, each of the ten tracks a phenomenal explosion of twitching, claustrophobic rock. They've got a new album chalked up for the same month as TGE, called Ullages... so far they've put out three songs from it, and they're hinting that the band are moving away from invasive punk rock into the territory of dystopic dream-pop a la Disintegration.
FFO: Joy Division, The Cure, Killing Joke, Iceage

NYC based dream-pop band Cigarettes After Sex make some of the world's most comforting, intimate and dreamy music in the entire world, and the Great Escape show is a really rare UK show. In 2012 they released an EP called I, featuring the cuts Nothing's Gonna Hurt You Baby (you've probably seen it in yr YouTube suggestions) and I'm A Firefighter, which critically and commercially went by unnoticed at first, before in late 2015 it took off in a very big way. The band's dreamy guitar ambience is breathtakingly beautiful, with singer Gonzalez's voice sounding like Neil Halstead's, and wilting guitars sounding like Galaxie 500 or the Jesus & Mary Chain, Cigarettes After Sex's incredibly soothing dream-pop music is quite possibly the best to come from the genre since the nineties, and that's no exaggeration.
FFO: Slowdive, Jesus and Mary Chain, The Cocteau Twins

Hailing from my hometown, Melt Dunes combine spiralling, heavy riffs, trembling psychedelic guitar tones, and absolutely batshit song structures that have more in common with Ornette Coleman than they do Animal Collective. Notable for their heavy, pummelling live shows, seeing them is such an essential experience because they're really unlike every single band in the entire world... see them at The Great Escape, they're essential to see before you die.
FFO: Black Angels, Les Rallizes Denudes, The Wytches

Dressmaker are East London's premier gothic punk band, and a four piece that draw on noise, post-punk and shoegaze to create something equal parts invasive and transcendent. Their 2014 Glass EP is their only proper work to date, and it's bloody incredible, but as a live band they're mesmeric, a real force for sonic disturbance. Think Spectres' colossal noise-scapes, Joy Division's pummeling basslines and Elias of Iceage's twitching vocal croon, and you've got Dressmaker, the best band you'll see at TGE 2016.
FFO: Joy Division, The Horrors, Spectres, Loop

The razorsharp voice of Katie Monks is what makes this four piece more abrasive and ultimately more interesting and worthy of your attention than most punky garage-thrashers, echoing the likes of Courtney Love and Kim Gordon through its shrill majesty. Dilly Dally are a Canadian group that probably muscle their way under the punk umbrella with their unstoppable angst and gravelly tones... if yr off to TGE for a new favourite rock band then Dilly Dally will probably be it.
FFO: Sonic Youth, Hole, Pixies

Waltzing Canadian indie darlings The Velveteins are a band whose rich melodies combine surfy indie pop with a wall-of-sound Phil Spector influence to great effect. It's kind of like a more ethereal Mac DeMarco, albeit with a bit less character. The band compose very tight pop songs, and are ones to watch if indie music is your thing, because they're a cut above most new indie bands and should be a nice sonic backdrop for yr evening in Brighton.
FFO: Mac DeMarco, The Libertines, The Kinks

Bedroom pop queen, Frankie Cosmos is one of the finest of the many great artists making music in a DIY environment. Over the past 3 or 4 years Frankie (real name Greta Kline) has released as many albums of little twee songs about life and love. Her allegories are like mini coming of age films, as she taps into an air of relatability that most Normal Indie Bands Of Normal Lads miss completely.
FFO: Courtney Barnett, Teen Suicide, Waxahatchee

Amber Arcades is a psych-pop songstress hailing from accross the channel - The Netherlands, to be exact. She combines motorik drum machines, dreamy deadpan vocals and shimmering ethereal guitars to make something that is subtly transporting. She signed to LDN-based label Heavenly earlier this year, and I'm fairly sure that she'll be one to watch as she releases more and more music this year.
FFO: TOY, Jane Weaver, Gwenno


Chastity Belt are actually one of the blog's favourite bands, so you can prime yourself for their TGE set by reading this interview with frontwoman Julia and also this bit on just why their Time To Go Home album was our #3 record of 2015.  The fact they're playing TGE is music to our ears, because it's all too rare that they venture to this side of the pond. They have a really unmistakeable deadpan sound, messy scratchy guitars, and their songs are little documents of nightlife on the Seattle scene. They'll definitely be a band to watch.
FFO: Sauna Youth, Courtney Barnett, Speedy Ortiz

The forlorn folk of Aldous Harding is stirring, haunting and above all beautiful. There's something really enthralling about her rich voice, and completely timeless forlorn sound. Of all the artists on TGE lineup, she'd be the one you'd probably come away most over-awed by, as I'd imagine her voice is just something else in a live environment... primal, powerful, compelling, the New Zealander is basically a must see in May.
FFO: Laura Marling, Joanna Newsom, Purson

Angsty guitar music is one of the best genres known to man, and these Brighton based lads are prime provocateurs of such thing. Think a ketty Arctic Monkeys, with energy and catchiness being juxtaposed with snarling teen angst and reverb, and you've got Egyptian Blue... famous for their live rep, their studio stuff is impressive, but try catch them at TGE and feed off the raw energy and feedback they exert.
FFO: Black Tambourines, Ramones, Cramps

Mighty psychedelic goliaths, TCODC's Great Escape show promises to be among the noisiest and among the shows most likely to leave you walking around feeling as though you've had your mind expanded by some kinda Class A* drug. Thoroughly having honed their craft, the Notts band sound like a mental breakdown sucked deep into the K-hole with a bit of added Spacemen 3 influence sprinkled on for good measure. This is one of the few bands playing that I know for sure I'll cancel each and every possible plan to see.
FFO: Spacemen 3, simulating what it'd be like to be abducted by aliens, Destruction Unit

“Chav grimes”, “reject Camden youth MP” or voice of our generation? Don’t let the YouTube comments put you off. London’s Girli is a neon pink fireball of quick wit and hip-hop ecstasy. Her music may be divisive, but her batshit performances have put her out there as a hugely promising new talent. 
FFO: Lily Allen, Brooke Candy, Spice Girls

This four-piece have been tipped by basically everyone to be the next big Wolf Al style indie band, and basically the Big Moon personify what it is to be very good. Sharply written pop songs like Sucker and The Road essentially are satisfying, catchy and basically justify the hype that's been piled upon the shoulders of this quartet, and I think seeing them live at TGE might just sway me and everyone else towards thinking that they're as good as everyone makes out...
FFO: Wolf Alice, The Maccabees, Inheaven

If there's a few things you want from garagey indie pop, those things are catchiness, energy and a balance between chaos and melodic sensibility. Scotland's Tuff Love prevail strongly in all three, certainly a band in the upper quartile of the best bands of their type. Messy teen anthems, I just know that if I were in a band we'd be a shit version of Tuff Love, so lend 'em yr ears.
FFO: Joanna Gruesome, Honeyblood, Jesus and Mary Chain

The members of this duo are 16 and 17, but Christ On A Biddly they transcend any age based expectations you might have lumped upon them. Childhood friends Rosa and Jenny's sound is really quite ethereal, slow-burning and self referential, they're kinda like Norwich's spaced out answer to Girlpool. Their first effort, Deep Six Textbook is startlingly poignant, and their spot at the festival basically encapsulates everything about why TGE is such an exciting event.
FFO: Girlpool, Cocteau Twins, Heroin Party

Oddball artistic pop, Meilyr Jones' quirky postmodern ballads that ornamentally tackle such themes as art and human relationships with a medieval tinge are kinda what you just wish the majority of pop music was. His Paul Heaton-style voice and perfect sweaters are the things that will provoke the question "do I want to see Meilyr Jones at The Great Escape or do I want to be Meilyr Jones potentially in a remake of [the film] The Great Escape?" to which the answer is inevitably both.
FFO: Julian Cope, Sufjan Stevens, Hunky Dory

Teenage riot grrrls Skinny Girl Diet are a thrashy antidote to all the tepid indie bands that regularly pollute the pages of NME and DIY. Ragged, rough round the edges, they're one of the most immediately pleasing punk bands you'll hear all year, and their live shows are a great spectacle. Their slot at the Great Escape might be the call to arms you need to Reclaim Your Life.
FFO: Bikini Kill, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Hole

Your archetypal snotty-nosed snarling garage punk duo, the Brighton based thrashers are basically everything you wish that Drenge still were. Energy is the key ingredient in distinguishing them from the rest of the bands they resemble, each of their songs sounding like mini Coming Of Age Film soundtracks. Fuck Royal Blood, if one two-piece is going to steal 2016 it better be these.
FFO: Drenge, Dinosaur Jr, Honeyblood, Birdskulls

Belgian band The K. are fucking cool. This is A) because their name has a crucial piece of punctuation in it. B) their sound is dark, woozy, and raw, sort of rock music with attention to detail in the guitar tones and vocal inflections. C) they're reviled for their energetic, pummeling live shows. D) their name has a punctuation mark in it, wowza.
FFO: Savages, God Damn, Tigercub

Space-age psych revivalists Telegram put out their stellar debut album Operator last month, and look to ride the crest of the wave for it as much as possible. Over the past few years, they've grafted a reputation as one of the best psych bands in East London through hard work, loud noise and a taste for the past. Their sound is the perfect product of their expansive geeky record collections, but maybe the best way to describe it is Tom Jones fronting a Hawkwind meets T Rex meets Ride kinda outfit.
FFO: Hawkwind, Fuzztones, King Gizzard

Catch you at as many of the above as possible... we know we will... 

[disclaimer] This ain't actually 100000% comprehensive, maybe. If ya think we've missed any out, drop us a line via our email or twitter because we absolutely adore getting new music recommendations///

buy yr tickets here
see full lineup here

(written by calum cashin)