IN THE CITY UNSIGNED 2003
For the team here at Designer Magazine the most important part of In The City is the Unsigned Showcases. The bitch fights on the day time panels and top secret gigs are all well and good, but when you consider the track record of the A&R team for ITC it's these showcases where you get the real exclusives. Last year we backed the Darkness, Kinesis and The Raveonettes in a list of 15 bands we felt were going to go all the way. This year it's been even tougher as the standard has been higher than ever and from over 50 bands playing the official unsigned showcases we've chosen the 8 we believe you'll be hearing a lot more of next year.
As soon as the demo arrived in the Designer Magazine offices there was an immediate buzz about them. We hadn't seen the pictures at this stage or even bothered reading the biog, but the dual attack of both "Powerless" and "The New Radio Station" was enough for us. It turns out Wry have relocated to London from Brazil where they released an album "Heart Experience" on Monstro records. Wry are the band that everyone wanted the Libertines to be and manage to cram more into one demo than most bands do in a career. Raw, instant, melodic rock n roll - Wry are our band of In The City!!! (NB: At the time of going to press we were under the impression that Wry were playing the ITC Unsigned Showcases. It has now been revealed they are playing 2 ITC Live showcases instead) - READ THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE
Following in the footsteps of The Vines and Jet, Spencer Tracy prove yet again that there's more to Australia's musical output than Holly Valance and Jason Donovan. Currently signed to a independent label back home the band are searching for major labels in the UK and the States and the album suggests they're destined for international success. Reassuring familiar yet at the same time not so anal as Jet. Tracks such as "Ocean" and "Changes" recall the kinetic energy of Oasis' "Definitely Maybe", while influences of Britpop era Blur and Supergrass add a playfulness to the proceedings. The antidote to the garage rock revolution is finally here!!! - READ THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE
Singer songwriters are two a penny around Manchester and it's easy to become cynical about another acoustic troubadour. Sara Lowes however proves the exception to the rule with a collection of polished commercial and heartfelt songs which she's recorded with the help of Elvis Costello and Sting producers Gareth Cousins. With the music industry's inherent bias towards the male of the species a lot of female singer songwriters often go unnoticed, but you can add Sara Lowes' name to the likes of Beth Orton and Kathryn Williams. Lowes is going to go far and i'd put money on it that a Mercury Music Prize nomination is hers within 12 months. READ THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE
It's hard to get a feel for a band like YMSS over a 20 minute CD as post rock is the sort of genre that demands at least 45 minutes of your time. Originally we took note of these guys because Ant Theatker (Hope Of The States) has just produced a mini-album for them and that's a recommendation in itself. Taking their individual names from the film Trading Places (Billy Ray Valentine - bass), a toy shop (Chad Valley - Guitar / Sampler / Analogue Synth), chartered accountants (Saffery Champness - guitar / vocals) and a famous gardener (Lancelot 'Capability' Brown - drums / programming) the band set about largely stop start instrumental post rock. They're never going to be a major concern, but YMSS were certainly one of the more interesting demos we got through by the sackful.
YOUTH MOVIE SOUNDTRACK STRATEGIES
We know very little about this band apart from the fact they hail from South London. Vocalist Iain Beggs is the one who really raises the bands game with unique yet familiar rasping vocals not dissimilar to Kelly Jones (Stereophonics) or Rod Stewart. Musically again the Stereophonics are an obvious reference point with the simplicity of "Word Gets Around" rather than the plodding acoustic drivel of late.
Suited and booted somewhere between 6th Former and Office Juniors it's unlikely we'll see any boy on boy action ala Tatu from 28 Costumes. Hailing from Liverpool, the 28 Costumes plough the same vein as The Coral mixed with the more conventional sounds of Gomez. With the spotlight hovering on Liverpool it certainly looks like the band could go all the way, but there's the question of whether we need another Coral or not.
One of the big debates about ITC Unsigned is that you only got on the short list if you have a manager or contact in the industry already. If Tony Wilson hadn't adequately answered any concerns in the Designer Magazine interview then it's a claim that could lie at Accelerator's door due to the fact they're looked after by a major labels publicists. Still Brighton's Accelerator are a band who reject everything contemporary around them and their closest comparisons are a more scuzzed up Gold Blade. It may not completely work on record, but these guys are going to be storming live proposition.
Watching bands follow ITC Unsigned is always interesting and whilst last year The Darkness have gone from nothing to Number 1 in the album charts, certain bands often take a longer path and a band like Future Of Junior are going to be one of those slow burner success stories. It's hard to imagine that a year from now FOJ will be a household names, but with good management and a number of high profile national support slots these guys could build up a fanbase over time. Similar to "Leisure" era-Blur and a touch of the Inspiral Carpets amongst the chaotic angular guitar riffs there are nugget melodies that eventually wear you down until you submit.
FUTURE OF JUNIOR
THE FULL ITC UNSIGNED LIST:
Archie & the Instincts
Blue Sky Band
Countess Zapek & the Bourgoisie
Earth The Californian Love Dream
First Time Down
The Forgotten North
Future of Junior
Life After Modelling
Metz & trix
Three Children of Fortune
Wild Evil Entertainment Dept.
Youth Movie Soundtrack Strategies
This year we received so many demos from the beginning of July onwards that we felt surely amongst all the demos ITC get sent each there must be times when they pass on a real gem of the band. When the unsigned list was released there was certainly open mouths in our office at why *** hadn't been picked, so this year we've taken the radical step of highlighting a few of the bands that should have been playing ITC Unsigned 2003.
One of the greatest tragedies of this years Unsigned Showcases is that Capital State weren't selected. Forget The Lost Prophets - Capital State are the UK's true answer to the Nu-Metal scene mixing up a hybrid of hip hop amd rock with acid house flirtations. "The Hard Ones" mixes Chumbawamba with the Chili Peppers, while "Every 2 Days" draws on Rage, "I'm Not Sleeping" sounds like art terrorists the KLF - no two tracks sound the same and with a uniquely British take on an American phenomena it could be interesting to see how far they can take it.
Captain Wilberforce is the work of Theory Of Everything's Simon Bristoll. For once a band has taken what Radiohead do so well and rather than go down the ever so obvious route of Coldplay's maudlin ballads, they've taken it down the route marked Thom Yorke off his head on one. "Algebra, Take Me Dancing" is confusing from the outset as is "Making Apple Juice From Oranges". The rest of the album "Dreams Of Educated Fleas" is equally as impressive and regardless of ITC support they will go all the way. In fact they're so confident that they decided not to send a demo into the unsigned competition after lengthy talks with management.
Previously signed to Riverman Records and if i'm not mistaken the band have played ITC Unsigned in previous years. Gothic rock only touches on The Bardo's sound, but touches of Sisters, Placebo and the eyeliner brigade are evident throughout. There's no doubting this band will get back on track again and with supports slots behind them which include One Minute Silence, Coal Chamber and Static X it's only going to take a couple of phone calls to get them back on track as one of Britain's best rock bands.
Think Hole. Think Elastica. Think Openfire. Think of just one female / female fronted band right now (apart from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs) that are making waves in the music press and you'd struggle to come up with a handful. Cardiff's Openfire could change all that with tracks such as "Dead Flowers" and "Old Friends New Enemies" which show the likes of Avril Lavigne and Amy Studt how girls with guitars should rock.
They come from the North-East. They sound like Kenickie. If it wasn't for the fact we've seen their photo's we'd be sure it was Lauren Laverne chucking in the TV career and getting the girls back together. Sure it's a touch derivative, but they're stealing from one of the most underrated bands of the 90s so it's better than the current crop of one trick ponies in the garage scene. We'll be bringing a full interview with the band soon so were keeping it brief here. - READ THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE
WE START FIRES
Noise Candy look set to be Wales' answer to Busted. Recently the band opened up for Blue on their Powderham Castle gig, but don't just write them off as another guitar pop band as other gigs have seen them hold their own against Funeral For A Friend, Reef and 3 Colours Red. Maybe it's just because were a sucker for Welsh Bands at Designer Magazine, but with the 3 track demo featuring "Last Summer", "7Teen" and "Come Home For Me" there's 3 Top Ten hits waiting to break out.
Have you seen any of the bands playing ITC Unsigned 2003
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