You say you wanna Evolution...
There are 43 acts playing this year’s Evolution Emerging and I’m looking forward to 42 of them (I do think that one of them sounds like Philip Schofield being sick into a cement mixer, but, hey, maybe that’s just me). The knack, on the day, is trying to fit in as many performances as possible and that’s always a huge part of the fun as you pinball between the 10 (10!) venues taking part. Among 2017’s Must See headliners is this Lulu James - pictured above. She first burst onto the scene a couple of years ago with some incredibly arresting singles that saw her skip hand in hand with 21st soul down some incredibly interesting paths deploying sizzling electrogrooves and her sultry vocals to stupefying effect. Her upcoming releases feature work with the award-winning producer Ronni Vindalh, who has written and produced albums for Kendrick Lamar and MO, so my expectation levels are tipping the scales at Maximum Thrills.
Another act to stick on your ‘Let’s See What This Lot Are All About, Then’ list are Coquin Migale (pronounced “Co-Kane Mig-elle”). The Newcastle three-piece knock out grungy indie rock that has a lightness of touch that elevates it from the sludge that other bands find themselves bogged down in, instead arrowing their sounds up towards the cosmos. They’re as exciting as finding a 20 quid note in the back pocket of an old pair of jeans and have already won over the likes of Huw Stephens, Tom Robinson and that crowd.
EAT FAST are another band given to bouts of frazzled fretboard frezy, with this four-piece – who have seemingly arrived fully formed out of nowhere – quickly catching the attention of BBC Radio 1 and BBC Introducing (who invited them to perform at Reading and Leeds). Their helter-skelter guitars and thumping drums are propelled by some sugar-rush melodies in a move that keeps the band in the fast lane with their top defiantly down.
BLESH have described themselves as “three Geordie lads making music about beans,” which is surely the only kind of My New Favourite Band invitation that you’re ever going to need. The three-piece have been turning heads on the local scene for around 12 months now and why wouldn’t they with their finely crafted indie sound which is resplendent with the kind of hooks that you can really hang your hat on. I’m on board.
I’ve had Milk Tooth, the latest goodie-bag from Keiandra, on repeat play for the last few months for the simple fact that it’s one of the most stop-you-in-your-tracks songs that I’ve heard all year. It sounds like The Cure trying their hand at dream-pop, or maybe Warpaint trying to write a Cure song, and Keiandra’s hypnotic vocals have me, well, hypnotised every time I listen to it. This Newcastle lass is the real deal and I can’t wait to see how 2017 unfurls for her.Fletcher Jackson is someone else who knows how to put over a vocal. This precocious 18-year-old has a real ear for a rollicking tune, in the manner of say Jake Bugg, and he appears to have steeped himself in the history of rock and pop for a sound that touches on everthing from Iggy to Bolan to Bowie. And I’m having some of that.
Shamu (pronounced “Shamu”) write pop songs of a distinctly alt variety, their latest Where to Land, being a case in point, a song that zigs and zags very pleasingly in the manner of say a Wild Beasts or a Glass Animals. And they juggle their use of electronics and samples with the kind of dashing aplomb that gives me that tingly, someone nibbling on my ear, feeling. Just gorgeous.I don’t have space to pick out all 40+ acts here, but I’d also like to give mentions to Chaos Jigsaw (the product of Middlesbrough-based rapper Dylan Cartlidge who pulls guitar driven music into his orbit for an incredibly fresh sound; I’m really looking forward to his debut EP, which is being released later this year); Eve Conway (who I waxed very lyrically about on our Local Scene page earlier this year – her raw and emotive vocals sit atop the kind of folky-alt-pop that I swoon for); Harri Endersby (another lass I’ve fallen under the spell of on our Local Scene page who has one of the purest voices in the north-east – she’s from Durham – and pens the most beautiful of melodies); and Mony Tanero (an intriguing two-piece from Sunderland who are not afraid to push every unashamedly pop button going).
Evolution Emerging, Saturday 27 May, Ouseburn, Newcastle, 2pm-2am, £10. Tickets and information about all the acts taking part this year from: evolutionemerging.com