BBC, Pitchfork, The Guardian – they’re all at it, tipping the biggest breakthrough stars, biggest albums and biggest trends of the next year in music. BBC’s Sound of 2019 longlist includes the likes of Ella Mai and slowthai, while Pitchfork are looking towards new releases from Rihanna, Tame Impala and Vampire Weekend, amongst others.
Looking under the radar for a moment, there’s a host of vibrant scenes up and down the country featuring bands full of young talent plugging away, gigging and writing music. Here are just two that stand out, Finding Aurora and Echo Beach!.
On their debut EP, released late last year, the Newport-based trio make an emphatic statement. Although the band describe their influences as including Biffy Clyro and Royal Blood, opener and debut single ‘Free’ has shades of Britpop-era Blur, and a grunge-tinged chorus, building up to an exhilarating finale. ‘Time After Time’ has more of a retro jangle-pop sound, and is followed by the stand-out track ‘Haley’ – a pulsating noise rock anthem. It shows their versatility, combining a range of subgenres and influences into their own brand of rock. Culminating the EP are ‘Nick’s Gone Fishing’, where the Royal Blood influence is most prominent, and the powerful ‘Hell’. For their first EP, it is strikingly accomplished – a forceful statement of intent.
Receiving airplay on BBC Cymru Wales, and sharing stages with the likes of CHROMA, Alffa and Hunter From Fremonte, they’re making a name for themselves as part of the South Wales scene. The positive, energetic vibe of their EP launch party show at Cardiff’s Transport Club in November spoke for itself. Definitely a band to watch if they can continue in a similar vein.
Listen to their self-titled debut EP on Spotify here:
Across the border back into England, Echo Beach! are making exciting indie pop reminiscent of Black Honey and Pale Waves. Based in Shrewsbury, they gravitated to the nearby Birmingham scene, alongside contemporaries such as Sugarthief, Ivory Wave, and P.E.T. We catch up with the band – comprising Paige Janey, Ross Carley, Travis Lawrence and Jack Putsorn – before their headline show at the O2 Institute3 late last year.
Although I’m asking the obligatory questions of an up-and-coming band – how they know each other and so on – they take it all in their stride. Janey explains: “Me and Trav used to play acoustic stuff together since we were in like, year nine. And then we met Jack.” Carley joined the group shortly after, creating the four-piece as we know them today.
They started about a year and a half ago – at first, “we just wanted to busk”, they admit, Janey explaining that she “reluctantly picked up the bass”, while Carley came in on rhythm guitar after being invited to rehearse, duly being told that “oh, you’re in the band.” They all have varying degrees of musical education, from Janey who has been having singing and guitar lessons from about the age of six, to Carley who played guitar for a time as a child but only picked it back up a couple of years ago.
“We couldn’t go to a gig together” quips Carley, as their music tastes all differ. Carley is the Black Honey aficionado, while Janey bears some similarity Pale Waves frontwoman Heather Baron-Gracie, if a little less goth. Lawrence takes inspiration from rock icons Foo Fighters, and these assorted influences combine to create their sound. As Lawrence points out, “anything goes … we all like different stuff”. In terms of dress, Janey describes herself as “probably more kooky than [the rest of the band]” whereas Carley prefers the reliable indie outfit of “just band t-shirts and jeans”.
When it comes to writing music, Janey describes their process as “very collaborative” as Lawrence agrees that they “all just jam”. Despite this, Janey has a near monopoly on the lyrics. “I would struggle to connect with other people’s lyrics … it just doesn’t mean anything to me if I’m not saying what I mean, I prefer writing it myself” she discloses. She admits she has “no storage left on my phone whatsoever” as it’s full of lyrics, which she attempts to put with music during the aforementioned jamming sessions.
I suggested that the influence of Black Honey and Pale Waves can be heard on debut track ‘She’ and Carley agrees with the former. The song was chosen to be out first as, in Janey’s words, it’s “the most commercial of what we do … but there is stuff we do that maybe wouldn’t necessarily be straight to Black Honey or what’s going out there now – we try to be a bit more experimental.” As Carley says, “Our two styles [are] almost on a spectrum. We go heavier and lighter; you’ve got the mix of the two.”
If debut single ‘She’ is anything to go by, there’s no reason why Echo Beach! can’t trade the O2 Institute3 and the Sunflower Lounge for the festival stage and venues around the country.
Listen to ‘She’ on Spotify here:
Words by Adam England
Featured Photo: Dali Mia Poulsom