Given to all delegates every year, the ITC Unsigned album brings together one tune from each of the bands playing the official showcases over the weekend. Always very much a mixed bag but a good way to catch up with buzz bands you may have missed out on over the manic four day weekend. My personal highlights from the thirty four tracks on offer, not including bands whose demos are subsequently reviewed.
Blind Archery Club - From The Deep End
Sounding rather Scottish or Irish in style, it came as something of a surprise to find out that this lot hail from Oslo, Norway. Very smart and sassy acoustic pop music, shades of Deacon Blue, The Waterboys and The Cranberries punctuated by searing Bono-esque vocals and a rolling beat, the duelling guitars and expansive balladeering soul exhibited bode well for this band’s future. Could see this easily making Radio 2 and drive-time playlists.
Code Pie – Conway Killjoy
Driving elemental indie supplemented by a joyous brass section to bring about a spirited concoction which comes across like a guitar driven Misty’s Big Adventure. Fun, banging and dramatic modern jazz with epic guitar lines and swirling vocals, the tune skulks and skanks through a sprited four minute run. They sound like they’d be lots of fun live although since they come from Montreal, Canada, chances might presently be a bit limited.
The Dodoz – Do You Like Boys?
An angry, different, surprisingly French take on Riot Girl pop with menacing, in your face, somewhat Bjork-y vocals. A smash and grab raid on your musical senses, it’s the sort of gear that the Queenz Of Noize or clubs at Madame Jojo’s in Soho would take to as its shimmering disco ball action collides with a New York styled post punk attitude.
Elle s’Appelle – Little Flame
With a bass heavy and horn fused intro grabbing your attention then immediately giving way to a Debbie Harry fused swoonsome tune, full of shoulder swinging hooks and sounding a little like Eighties band The Primitives. The surging post punk wall of noise breaks down half way through becoming more artsy and carnival but a little less direct but this’d work well on the dancefloor of more cutting edge Indie Diskos.
Eugene Francis Jr – Little Flame
From an intro that comes on like a Moodymann record, this bunch combine the melodic twists of Sixties Merseybeat and the Eighties Mancunian sound. Deliberately anthemic and lyrically touching, their sound references the likes of Lloyd Cole, NFADS, Man From Delmonte, World Of Twist and especially James. An arms-swirling, gorgeous jamboree of a tune with fantastic hooks.
James Yulli – She Said In Jest
Just when you think you’ve got this pegged as a samey folky, acoustic number, it lets loose with electronica inspired syncopated beats and Belgian techno riffs. Kind of Chicane or Orbital meet David Gray or Damien Rice, it’s rising, rousing hook and use of oldschool bleeps and samples marks it apart as it ultimately winds up practically a trance record. Original and novel, well worthy of your attention and some air punching, boogie-ing action in some moody warehouse or other.
Kidkanevil – The Profound Truth
One of my favourites on the compilation this, mostly because it’s highly different to a lot of the acts featured here. A bass heavy throwdown and dancefloor head nodder which reminds one of Balearic hip hop from the mid 90’s. One part Ninjatune, one part Public Enemy, one part Fools Gold, and with a bit of U-Ziq and Dj Shadow thrown into boot, innovative samples and atmospherics raise the game here. Could see them selling a few of these at Fat City and Piccadilly Records. A very discerning groove.
Look See Proof – Casualty
Mixing a harsh, furious, well produced rock sound with dancey, accessible, limb throwing action, it’s warmth, great hooks, guitar work and verve-y sense of danger could see this bunch easily settle into gigs like Proud Galleries. Already somewhat touted by Radio One, Six Music and XFM and supporting The Twang recently, Look See Proof are one to keep an eye out for.
Model Radio – Great Minds
With a Simple Minds, Themes For Great Cities vibe, the poppy hooks and New Romantic Eighties sensibilities make this a fun record, even if I can’t really get the D:Ream “Things Can Only Get Better” analogy out of mind. Quite Europop really in the chorus with a Hard Fi meets Gary Numan verse structure, it winds up with a ravey trance hands in the air break. Interesting and manages to stay just about the right side of cheesy, sort of more Pet Shop Boys than Erasure if you catch my drift.
The Moths – Tell Me
Brandishing a catchy, singalong chorus that refuses to leave your subconscious alone, a wailing Marr-esque guitar led intro finely develops into a Killers-a-like dreamy, ethereal track with excellent keys that proves a moshing, romantic monster. Unleashing one hell of a guitar solo in the mid point, this could be an indie disco classic in waiting.
The Officers – Rainbow
Another welcome diversion from the more typical Indie sound associated with In The City, The Officers deliver a crunching slice of subliminal techno acid not totally dissimilar to some of Apollo 440’s output, or even dare I allege, Sigue Sigue Sputnik. Moroder styled dark techno with a succession of breaks orchestrated with an automatic machine gun rapidity. As a fully fledged ex raver, it’s precisely the sort of tune that would have slayed Konspiracy, The Orbit or The Hippodrome (Middleton) back in the day. Very much Jay Weardon gear, if you happen to know what that means.
The Riff Raff – Word Or 2
Sumptuous strings glide over this languid, laid back slice of UK hip hop from The Riff Raff. Inclusive and friendly, having seen them live, it’s not in my view their strongest track but its poppy and accessible groove should win them more cross over fans and attention. A band that hopefully should be rising to the top over the next year.
Sergeant - K Ok (Live)
With a youthful exuberance that puts memories of a very early Supergrass in mind, Seargant were one of the highly rated bands at ITC and have apparently already been picked up, something that this nice acoustic, jingly, jangles La’s, slow Stone Roses tune no doubt assisted with. Having seen them live, they have a lot of stronger gear in their arsenal as well.
The Slips – This Time Is Not Your Own
Dirty Daft Punk funk which out LCD’s LCD Soundsystem. Vocoded vocals and a boutique, bespoke sound which could have come from the likes of Soulwax and DFA, class hooks and an underground warehouse feel which sounds like a cross between Sasha and The Cocteau Twins, The Slips were one I missed at ITC but I can assure you they won’t be giving me a swerve again.
This City – Romantic
With huge epic chords opening up this track, it’s a highly cool, spirited, fun slab of US Rock nonchalance. Thrashy but not uncommercial, it’s a grab them by the balls and their hearts and minds will follow moment. Dark and light at the same time, it’s modish drops and angular hooks provide a surly uncompromising soundtrack to any modern metropolis.
Tim And Sam’s Tim And The Sam Band With Tim And Sam – Join The Dots
Likely to coming soon to a Sony Bravia ad near you, this wonderfully Gonzales styled piece of Balearic instrumental pop has already been picking up a lot of heat since ITC. Curious, longing, elegant, romantic, a Working For A Nuclear Free City sans the techno elements, Join The Dots is an emotive, resonant track that wouldn’t feel out of place on the first Café Del Mar album. Very “Music For A Found Harmonium”, somebody should snap these lads up pronto and hopefully only change one thing about them, get them to shorten their bloody name.