M + A
M+A For a lot of young bands, the dream of playing at Glastonbury remains just that: a fantasy.
But not for M+A, Italian pop duo Michele and Alessandro, for whom opportunity has most definitely come a-knocking this year, in the form of Glastonbury’s annual Emerging Talent Competition.
They won it outright for their breezy brand of charming, sun-soaked dance-pop. And with it a £5,000 cheque from the PRS Foundation they can squirrel away to make more music.
And as winners they get to play Glastonbury 2014. They’ll be bringing a grin to the faces of the crowd at the West Holts stage with their infectious electronic dance sounds – aided by live drummer Marco.
Tunes like the effortlessly catchy Down The West Side - a perfect pop song for summer that recalls the Pet Shop Boys in their prime - and the track they’ve put together just for Glastonbury, the aptly-named Festival, will be sure to please the blissed-out Sunday audience.
Especially if the sun shines.
MELT YOURSELF DOWN
Batten down the hatches – the cosmic hurricane that is Melt Yourself Down is about to land, bringing with them one of the most pulsating and globally infused live performances on the music circuit. Or, as the Guardian put it, ‘Someone contact the Mercury prize people: jazz just went bananas. The year’s best party band just jumped off a stage near you.’
Melt Yourself Down perform as if possessed by the spirits of Fela Kuti, Jimi Hendrix, krautrock masters Can and Sly Stone. Blasted horns, guitars, North African drumbeats and driving bass lines create the illusion of a Cairo souk absorbing the night rhythms, merchant voices and taste of exotic spices. The London six-piece boasts a fine musical pedigree, its members having played in bands including Transglobal Underground. Sons of Kermit, Acoustic Ladyland and Zun Zun Egui.
So far this year, the band has been working on new material and playing shows. Though almost all of them have played Glastonbury in previous bands, they’re looking forward to Melt Yourself Down’s debut appearance at West Holts. So what can we expect?
Says saxophonist Pete Wareham :‘Think Ali Hassan Kuban meets James Chance meets Charles Bukowski.’
The eponymous debut album is out now on Leaf.
This multi-talented, super-charged band of great musicians (and nice guys) is with us from Mexico for the second year running. An unprecedented honour! Troker is the first band to play West Holts on two consecutive years. Another shot of their high-energy inventiveness and spark was impossible for us to resist.
Troker got together in November 2003 in the bars of Guadalajara, Mexico. Three years later, the band had morphed into what they term 'a life project'. In 2007, their first album Jazz Vinil was released and they started touring. Second album El Rey Del Camino (king of the road-Troker means trucker in Mex Spanish) was 2010, with EP Pueblo de Brujos (town of wizards) in 2011. Just released is 1919, their music for Enrique Rosa’s silent film classic El Automóvil Gris. Troker isn’t an easily labelled band. Their broad-spectrum talents carry them seamlessly through jazz/rock with psychedelic moments, to funk, cumbia and much more. Their commitment (in Mano Negra/Manu Chao tradition) to community music projects produces lovely stuff. A recent collaboration at Oaxaca with the Mixed Culture Musical School, produed a great version of the band’s Chapala Blues. See it on Troker's line up is: Arturo “Tiburón” Santillanes on sax; Gilberto Cervantes on trumpet; Christian Jiménez, piano; Samo González bass and double bass; Frankie Mares, drums and Humberto “DJ Zero” López. They say: "It’s an honour to be part of the line-up of Glastonbury for the second time, and great to be able to see our West Holts family again. We’re hoping to reach a lot more people and convince them through our music to become fans and give Mexico a chance to show what is going on in the contemporary music scene.
‘This year our show will be broadcast by the BBC, which we’re trying not to get nervous about. We also have to outdo last year’s set. Having that experience gives us an idea of what we’re facing and what we should be doing, because we want to make our friends there feel proud of us. 'Glastonbury is an experience of a lifetime and we’re so looking forward to meeting other musicians from around the world. We’re incredibly excited!’ And so are we. We’ll all be there on Sunday, feeling proud. Get there by half two to see what we mean!
PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING
The prospect of Public Service Broadcasting performing their eccentric blend of live drums, guitars, banjo, electronics, historical samples from old propaganda material, archive public information films, and a growing number of TV sets, (current count 15 including a couple measuring 2 x 2 meters) is enough to tantalise the tastebuds of most music lovers.
But what distinguishes Public Service Broadcasting from the crowd is that, sitting alongside the intelligent voice samples, is genuinely exciting music. The voice of Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander Thomas Woodrooffe, who provided the commentary for Neville Chamberlin’s return from Munich in 1938, narrating over a blend of electronica, guitar riffs and driving percussion is indeed a bizarre prospect, but the results are truly evocative.
On the back of a successful American tour promoting their Inform-Educate-Entertain album, Public Service Broadcasting venture Glastonbury way to share their history project and outright wonkiness to perhaps the largest classroom in existence. It’s been quite a rise since last year’s Glastonbury where the band played in one of the festival’s many food courts.
The odd couple sitting behind Public Service Broadcasting, who sound like two shifty suspects from a Cluedo game, are J Willgoose Esq and Wrigglesworth.
Following last year’s introduction to Glastonbury, the band is excited by the prospect of West Holts. Says Wrigglesworth, ‘It’s difficult to imagine any festival like Glastonbury, from Jay Z, The Rolling Stones to Metallica and the West Holts Stage is an embodiment of that fusion.’
The musical influences sitting behind the band may also raise a few eyebrows. J Willgoose Esq mines an eclectic mix from calypso, hip-hop and Radiohead, whilst Wrigglesworth ventures more towards the beats of 1990s trip-hop and hip hop. If provided with the opportunity for a guest appearance during their set the choice is pretty clear: Metallica. ‘We are both big fans of the black album,’ explains Wrigglesworth. Now there rests an interesting collaboration if ever there was one.
LEE THOMPSON SKA ORCHESTRA
Get ready to wear out your dancing shoes! Making a flying visit from Europe, where Madness is currently on tour, Lee Thompson brings his ska orchestra to West Holts in celebration of the music that originally inspired the Nutty Boys to form their band.
‘Why is ska so enduring?’ he asks. ‘It’s infectious, it’s got a pulsating beat. I defy anyone to not get up and dance to it. It’s impossible!’
What began as a bit of extra-curricular fun in a North London rehearsal studio with a few mates swiftly turned into a more enduring enterprise, and the Ska Orchestra released its debut album last year, entitled The Benevolence of Sister Mary Ignatius. ‘I just did this to let off a bit of steam from Madness,’ says Thompson. ‘I wanted to bring ska back to its roots, and to doff my cap to Sister Mary, the Jamaican nun who’d inspired many of her pupils to become musicians. We pay tribute to some of them on the record: Rico, Tommy McCook, Rico Rodriguez and Skatalites founder Johnny Dizzy Moor.’
With Prince Fatty – aka producer Mike Pelanconi – at the helm, the album was recorded in a matter of days. ‘We immediately took to each other,’ Thompson says. ‘ It was like going back to the early Sixties. We were on the same line, same paragraph, same page. You can hear it in the mood.
‘The band is either brick layers or brass players, just a good mix. They all know their stuff and we thoroughly, thoroughly enjoy it. So get ready to watch a bunch of Phil Mitchell lookalikes having the time of their lives.
‘With Madness and 2Tone we taught grown men how to dance. That’s all I can say. It’s infectious.’
The Wailers are reggae royalty. Pay hommage, scream along, skank along, groove to the solid bass, whatever, but don't dream of missing them, their music or their message when it reverbs across the West Holts field.
Together with Bob Marley, the Wailers have sold in excess of 250 million albums worldwide. In the UK, they’ve had over twenty chart hits, with seven Top 10 entries. They've played with the Fugees, Sting, Stevie Wonder, Carlos Santana, Burning Spear and Alpha Blondy.
The story starts in 1969, when Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, and Peter Tosh recruited bassist Aston ‘Family Man’ Barret and his brother, drummer Carly, from Lee Scratch Perry’s Upsetters to play on Lively Up Yourself, Trenchtown Rock, Duppy Conqueror and more.
Inspired by Rastafari, they pioneered roots rock reggae, and signed to Island Records in 1971, with the I Threes on backing vocals. Bunny and Peter left two years later and the Barrett brothers – who featured on everyone's seventies reggae hits – became the Wailers, and backed Marley on the group’s international breakthrough album, Natty Dread. Under Family Man’s musical leadership, they partnered Marley on the succession of hit singles and albums that made him internationally famous, the winner of several Lifetime Achievement awards, and Jamaica’s best-loved musical superstar.
After Marley's death in 1981, the Wailers were fronted by the Barrets and Junior Marvin. Drummer Carlie Barrett died in 1987, leaving his brother to take the Wailers onward and Family Man, who co-produced Marley's records and laid down all the bass lines on Marley's hits, continues as anchor man today.
Their current lineup includes founder member Aston Barret on bass, Keith ‘Coach’ Sterling on keyboards, Basil ‘Bennow’ Creary on drums, Audley ‘Chizzy’ Chisholm on guitar and Cegee Victory on backing vocals. Melvyn Glover, Dwayne Anlin, Aston Barrett Jr and Kevin Davy complete the band.
Island released 'Legend: the Best of Bob Marley and the Wailers' on May 8, 1984. This best-selling reggae album ever, with over 30 million copies sold worldwide, is Time Magazine's 'Best Album of the 20th Century' and 46 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list. Pedigree! And the Wailers will be performing it in its entirety on Sunday. No matter if you're 60 in Outer Mongolia or 25 in Melton Mobray, chances are you'll know classics like No Woman, No Cry, Jamming and Exodus.
“It's a huge privilege to be playing at the Glastonbury Festival again this year,’ says Barrett Sr. ‘We especially admire the appreciation for Roots Rock Reggae, which is second to none. As one of the largest music festivals in the world, there is nothing like Glastonbury and we’re glad to be a part of it and spread the word.
‘The Wailers’ experience is all about positive vibrations. All great accomplishments manifest from positive thinking. These songs carry the message of Rastafari and the uplifting message of equality and unity. It's just like a musical feast of positive vibrations.’
A must-see at West Holts, where they'll stir it up big time for us.
Brighton-born, New York-based Bonobo has been plying his trade in the jungles of electronic music for almost 15 years; his lovingly-crafted, eclectic compositions being tagged as everything from trip hop to chillwave depending on the prevailing mood.
“It exists in a space between lots of genres. It kind of references the UK bass sound and then there’s also elements from all over the place: very leftfield beats and, obviously, there’s vocals,” he has said, by way of explanation.
Whichever way you badge it, Bonobo (real name Simon Green) imbues all his work with melody and feeling, no laptop noodling in sight.
Initially influenced by early Nineties hip-hop, DJ Shadow, Portishead and his fellow Ninja Tune records signings, Bonobo’s sound has grown and morphed to incorporate jazz, folk and leftfield electronica.
Last year’s North Borders, the fifth Bonobo studio album, was a particularly rich, detailed and emotive affair which featured guest vocals from the legendary Erykah Badu, cult New York troubadour Grey Reverend and new collaborator Szjerdene Fox, whose breathy voice colours two tracks.
Live, Bonobo has built a cult following; his shows offering a hypnotic blend of danceable beats and intricate songcraft. For his West Holts appearance, it will be made all the more enchanting with the addition of a string and horn section.
In 2013, Chic and Nile Rodgers gave a performance on the West Holts Stage that has passed into Glastonbury legend. Rodgers had enjoyed a resurgent year largely due to his collaboration with fellow legends Daft Punk on their platinum-selling album Random Access Memories – an album full of Rodgers-esq disco influence. At the end of that remarkable Friday night on West Holts, Rodgers stood at the end of the stage and proceeded to conduct 30,000 fans – who refused to leave, in a spontaneous acapella version of Daft Punk’s Grammy award winning song, Get Lucky. The big question then for West Holts Stage was how could we follow that in 2014? The answer was to book the challengers to the Daft Punk throne, Disclosure.
Guy and Howard Lawrence, the brothers that form the British dance duo Disclosure compared their debut album Settle to that of Daft Punk because of its use of vocals – no less than eight guest spots are heard on the record. Stating their musical influences as everything from funk, hip-hop and singer-songwriters like Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush, Settle has proven to be a remarkable success, selling on both sides of the Atlantic. Collaborating with artists like Emeli Sande, Aluna George, Sam Smith and Eliza Doolittle, they have secured a series of top 20 hits with singles like Latch and their album reached number one in the UK. Settle was also nominated for best Dance Album at the 2013 Grammys, alongside fellow nominees and eventual winners on the night, Daft Punk.
Last year at Glastonbury, Disclosure headlined at Silver Hayes and their set such was a success, Glastonbury was determined to bring them back to a bigger stage and bigger slot in 2014. The Guardian, reviewing their live performance, described their music as a ‘sleek interpretation of deep house – immediate as pop-art, but fluid and spacious enough to immerse yourself in’. And of the Lawrence brothers as performers, it added that they ‘are not just DAT tapes and occasional triggered sample: Guy, the elder Lawrence, drums precisely throughout while Howard supplies dusky vocals’. It is also a regular occurrence on their sell out tour to see the crowd join in to sing along to the hit White Noise.
All of this success, from high profile collaborations, consecutive top 20 hits and a platinum-selling, Grammy-nominated debut album, is even more remarkable when you consider that both brothers are still in their early twenties. Can you afford miss to seeing performers who are certain to be legends in the making? And who knows, you might even see a surprise collaboration to boot to close out your Glastonbury 2014.