North London's new music showcase returns...

Camden tends to provoke a Marmite reaction.

With its surfeit of markets and tourist traps, the North London hub is often greeted negatively by those-in-the-know. Yet in part thanks to its plethora of live music hotspots – everywhere from the Roundhouse to the Lock Tavern, the Monarch to KOKO within walking distance – there remain plenty who hold Camden with genuine affection.

Returning to its spiritual home after a year in Ireland, the Camden Crawl took place on the weekend of June 20th-21st, and invited along a number of special guests.

With everyone from 1980s legends ABC to avant hip-hop group Shabazz Palaces performing, it was a line-up which truly held something for everyone. Earning a reputation as a launching site for new bands, Clash went along in the hope of uncovering The Next Big Thing.

How did we get on? Well, here's 7 Of The Best: Camden Crawl '14 Tips.

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Part of a slew of wonderfully reclusive new talent from Southeast London, Halls’ Sam Howard initially struggled to find his feet in the performance environment. With album number two ‘Love To Give’ soothing ears with its remarkable levels of intimacy, it’s perhaps appropriate that he appears emboldened in his new live set-up. At times deeply sensitive, at others unruly and raucous, Halls have rarely boasted such confidence.

The Physics House Band
Prog – it’s a dirty word, but no one stopped to tell The Physics House Band. Stunning punk-meets-metal-meets-electronic fare, their songwriting seems to open like a Japanese hand fan. Delicate, ornate and furiously physical, the band’s ability to see around corners towards the next frenetic key change remains astonishing.

There’s something uniquely enticing about watching two deeply repressed lads from Royal Tunbridge Wells batter the living shit out of their instruments. Slaves are funny, strange, obnoxious and delightful, matching so-dumb-they’re-genius hardcore riffs with sheer caveman drumming. From uncovering their favourite biscuit to locating their mate Debbie’s car, this is unbridled fun.

Extending far beyond its indie heartland, this year’s Camden Crawl contained a healthy amount of electronic music. e.m.m.a. has gradually been drawing acclaim, with the producer fusing the raw assault of grime with a challenging, experimental view on composition. Her set draws on material from debut album ‘Blue Gardens’ but throws in more than a few exclusive gems from fellow travellers such as Wen and Murlo. One to watch.

Not quite a new band, but definitely not established, Novella’s recent resurgence allows Clash to check them out with fresh eyes. Retaining their love of shambling indie-pop yet marrying it to psychedelic noise and a motorik groove, their performance is one of the weekend’s standouts. Sure, The Black Cap isn’t normally a gig venue, but this intimate setting allows the rejuvenated London group to truly impress. A genuine delight.

Much tipped by our friends in the North, Leeds’ own Autobahn arrived at Camden Crawl surrounded by no little amount of hype. At a packed to the gunnels Lock Tavern the band proved exactly why fans in their own city demonstrate such belief. Matching the dark, intense psychedelia of Hookworms to a raw, jagged post-hardcore template, their set is a concise, vivid, unforgettable demonstration of what might lie ahead.

Jeffrey Lewis & The Jrams
No, he’s not a newcomer. But Jeffrey Lewis (alongside whichever band he wants to work with, currently The Jrams) is simply one of those artists Clash could watch again, and again, and again. It’s a line from ‘What Would Pussy Riot Do?’ that sticks out the most, with the New Yorker using the Russian punk collective to shine a light on the often-empty nature of modern alt culture: “What good is a counter culture if it doesn’t offer something better than what you’ve already got?”

Photo Credit: Lewis Wilson

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