This is a big time for London and for the nation of England this weekend. Everybody is talking about it. People have been lining up for days in anticipation. It's the 2011 installment of the Camden Crawl. Oh, I'm sorry, did you think I was going to say the royal wedding? Pish-posh. Although, I can't think of a better way to celebrate the nuptials than cramming into a small venue in Camden to watch one of the many up-and-coming acts on the scene.
If you don't know, the Camden Crawl is a quasi-version of SXSW, but smaller and better-curated. Quality trumps quantity. The Crawl is concentrated on two days with about 150 bands. In the past, White Lies, Florence and the Machine, Arctic Monkeys, Wolfmother, Guillemots, Hard-Fi, Hot Chip, Maximo Park, Magic Numbers, Art Brut, Kate Nash, Calvin Harris, New Young Pony Club, Foals and Adele started their buzz machine with their intimate sets.
Many of the bands on this year's lineup have been touted before on this space including Alice Gold, Lulu and the Lampshades, S.C.U.M., Cate Le Bon, Flats, Frankie & The Heartstrings, Villagers, Those Dancing Days, Two Wounded Birds, Veronica Falls and Dutch Uncles.
I've done you a service in that's I've listen to all the bands playing the event, so that you are well prepared if you're going or you're just interested in some new music.
The Agitator -- I declare them THE band to watch for this year's Crawl. Brighton outfit The Agitator is a fitting moniker, for they make politically charged art-rock. They flip the middle finger at the establishment, while delivering stadium anthem shout outs. While they'll get your blood boiling with some heavy-duty tunes, they also are trying to make a point across to you. Fronted by the Billy Bragg-loving Derek Meins, I suspect that he'll have some things to say about the royal wedding and Britain's austerity program.
Last week, the band made their TV debut on Live With Jools Holland. Take a look and listen to "Get Ready"
Bear Driver -- Not even the Brits are immune to bands named after Bears, Wolves or Deers and other woodland creatures. This six-piece of guys and a gal from Leeds is the perfect combination of the best aspects of Fanfarlo and Broken Social Scene. Their songs are active with driving anthems, strong choruses and eclectic guitar play.
They probably got lost in the shuffle in SXSW, but give them some time to make a name for themselves. Here's a fine example of their playfulness, this is Mind Attack
John & Jehn -- The French are invading the Crawl in the form of the super-cool couple John & Jehn. I've given the songs they have to offer a few listens and I love from what I hear. A little bit new romantic here, a little bit dream pop there, and you'll have some idea of where John & Jehn come from. The people over at Domino Records think so as well. Even Franz Ferdinand seem fit to have them as an opening on their last tour through France. As With Guitars said of the band: "French act John & Jehn are a totally different proposition, fronted by the couple John & Jehn (their stage names), their chemistry is intoxicating; he the heavy lidded violator, her’ the innocent but fascinated victim, the music shoegazey indie with a great pop ear."
They have an EP to add to your favorite new music playlist. Here's a track from it, it's called Down Our Streets:
Civil Civic -- Noise rock and pop seem to be a major trend in this year's line-up; Flats is still the best of the lot -- can't stress that enough. While I was sampling Civic Civic, I got hooked on the fuzzed-out guitars, heavy percussion and stretches of mass chaos. The big difference with these fellows -- no vocals. That's a statement upon itself.
The songs that they have for us will bleed your ears if you turn it up loud enough. They might be the real Explosions in the Sky. Maybe, Explotions in Your Ears. The Fly said of them, "A ball-busting distorted musical leviathan".
They went the D.I.Y. approach for the "Run Overdrive" video. Just get bunch of weird footage from YouTube, edit it together and it equals instant art.
Fever Fever -- Another double named band for you. If Civic Civic sticks a knife in your ear, then this Norwich trio with take a sledge hammer to your privates. With RiotGrrl attitude and post-punk hardcore flowing through their veins, Fever Fever are bound to get people wanting to shove the person next to them.
The Fly said of them "Three piece girl/boy sex sandwich. Stuttering guitar, firecracker drums, and agitated call-and-response vocals, go see them" and ArtRocker said "Street fightin' art-punks par excellence. The brattish vocals and sleazy riffs make us want to dance, mamma!"
They've attracted the attention of UK Radio taste makers and superstar producer Rob Ellis (P.J. Harvey, Anna Calvi), who will produce their debut album.
Grab on to something because here's "Monster"
Big Deal: A new addition to the Mute Records family, Big Deal are a boy-girl duo who will put champagne in your dreams and a warm hug in your daily life. They shall serve my music listening nicely between Slow Club releases.
American Kacey Underwood and the British Alice Costelloe make up the pair, and I don't know much about them, but after hearing their songs, Homework, Talk and Locked Up, I want to be friends with them. If they make the world seem like a better place through their songs, then I want them in my stable of favorite people.
Here's their first video for the aforementioned "Homework". I love the YouTube comment -- I want to marry this song and have little babies with it.
The History of Apple Pie -- That might be best band name I've heard all year. It's funny, endearing and memorable. With the name like that, the music does bring up happiness over the simple things in life, like apple pie. The band has a sort of Pains of Being Pure at Heart meets Camera Obscura feel with the child-like wonder vocals against the jangly guitars and dream-like outlook.
Things are happening fast for the unsigned band, which I don't think the unsigned portion will last long. they'll hook up with Anna Calvi and Grouplove for a few dates on the NME Emerge tour.
In the meantime, take a listen to "Tug"
Mara Carlyle -- Let's end this epic post with an epic voice. Mara Carlyle has a classic voice -- a little jazzy, a little soulful and all angelic. She's already got plenty of credentials under her belt. She did backing vocals and played the saw for the Guillemots on their Mercury Prize-nominated Through The Windowpane.
Before that, she was to release a major label album for EMI, only to suffer at the cruel hands of the music industry. She gave up music to go back to her day job as a youth counselor for homeless children. "That was the hardest thing," she told The Guardian. "I had left to go off and be a pop star, and I'm going back there to see the look of disappointment on the young homeless people's faces."
Her career was resurrected unexpectedly when one of her songs landed in an IKEA ad featuring 100 cats. Basically, this clip will satisfy the crazy cat ladies and crazy music fans like myself. The song is called "Pianni". No joke, this might be one of the best commercials I've ever seen, and it's Mara's song that makes it special.