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Music Editorial

stocktonfield.jpg Stockton Calling is BACK!

Over 70 bands (over 70!) at nine different venues (nine!) will make up this year's Stockton Calling, which  – and I don’t think I’m putting anyone’s nose out of joint here – looks set to be their best ever.

Yep! Everything about Stockton Calling this year screams BEST EVER from the headliners down to some of the top local acts around. And those headliners include luminaries such as Lightning Seeds, Field Music and We Are Scientists. Lightning Seeds always bring the party when they perform live and with little wonder as they’ve got one of the most infectious run of hit singles of any UK band including Pure, The Life of Riley, Lucky You, Marvellous, Sugar Coated Iceberg and many more. Sunderland outfit Field Music (pictured) are also fanning that Best Ever flame by releasing their seventh, and, yes, best, album in February in the shape of Open Here. Their single Count It Up has been on heavy rotation on the likes of BBC 6 Music, and the rest of album matches that standard with a tick-tocking math-funk sound that is pitched somewhere between Around The World In A Day era Prince and Talking Heads. Californian band We Are Scientists have their eagerly anticipated new album Megaplex out in April and they’ve trailed it with their excellent One In One Out single which sees the band ramping up their synth-driven electro pop to grandstanding effect.

I’d also like to flag up the delights of Watford four-piece The Spitfires, a raucous bunch of modernists who are packing songs as sharp as their threads, and live favourite Mark Morriss. Morriss, of course, is the lead singer with The Bluetones and his melodic stuff is always a real treat. I’ve also got a soft spot the size of the moon for Twisted Wheel who I first caught supporting Oasis back in Heaton Park back in 2009. This bunch are a real tonic for anyone in thrall to the classic sounds of The Jam, The Stooges, The Rolling Stones and The Small Faces etc and always bring IT when they play live.

There are plenty of other acts appearing who are also worth getting into a real froth about including Llovers (who are making waves with their own brand of indie-pop), Cape Cub (polished indie-pop from this lot who already boast millions of Spotify plays – it won’t be long before they’re a household name), Fire the Unstoppable Force (expect raucous psych-rock from this Hull band), Plaza (after knocking Reading/Leeds out of the park this Hartlepool band are on the up and up), Queen Zee and The Sasstones (a band on the lips of all the music press at the moment, they look set to really seize 2018), Man & The Echo (combining glam, soul and new wave indie into their own brand of rock and roll), Tom Joshua (with his unassuming but unique takes on life and love, which is breaking hearts across the country), Mi Mye (creating lush, emotional landscapes), Abel Raise The Cain (the Teesside heroes will be hitting us up with their epic, anthem filled post-rock), The Old Pink House (these Crack faves combine blissful harmonies and electronica), Serinette (another Teesside band bringing the pop/rock), Echo Town (a Cornwell band noted for their chilled acoustic surf vibe) and Leddie MC (the Middlesbrough rapper who is turning heads wherever she plays).

As mentioned above, there are over 70 bands playing this year, and we don’t have the room to flag them all up, but I need to mention a few acts that we’ve previously banged the drum for in these pages in the past. One such person is Darlington lass Eve Conway, a real up and comer who packs a singer/songwriterly punch with her gritty pop sound which zigs where others zag. Raw and throbbing with emotion, she’s a performer with a big future in front of her. Swine Tax are a Newcastle based band who haven’t been around too long but they’ve already nabbed our Single of the Month slot a couple of times. They hark back to a classic 1990s indie sound (think: Pavement more than Britpop) and imbue their songs with more drama than the Edinburgh International Festival. Another Newcastle band we’ve batted our collective eyelashes at are Twist Helix. This three-piece have captured our alt-electro-pop hearts and the last time we wrote about them (February this year) we were chucking words around like “New” and “Order”. Darlington singer/songwriter Hayley McKay is someone else who has graced our Local Scene pages. Her beautiful songs have a distinct Stevie Nicks vibe (which always gets a “Woo Hoo!” from me), and she marries pop and country, with electronic flourishes, in the most pleasing of manners.

All of the usual venues will once again be showcasing this huge compendium of talent (ARC, The Green Room, Ku Bar, The Vault etc) and returning to the fold will be Room 21. Totally new to this year’s festival will be the none better named Whole Latte Love. The full line-up (including which venue the bands will be playing at and times etc) can be gleaned from the website, below. Fill your boots.

Stockton Calling, Saturday 31 March. Tickets £22 in advance/£25 on the day. Available from ARC 01642 525 199; Georgian Theatre 01642 606 525 and stocktoncalling.co.uk