cambridge// acts of the year

reviews

Having already given our deliberation of the best gigs in Cambridge in 2012 – read that here in case you’ve missed it – we at Slate have decided that we’ll celebrate the local acts who have impressed us the most over the year. Of course when celebrating Cambridge acts we must start with the majestic Alt-J who came from nowhere to win this year’s Mercury Prize with their debut album and were living in Cambridge through the recording and release of ‘An Awesome Wave’. Although credited as a Cambridge band in the press, the fact they formed in Leeds makes it a little conscientious to call them a Cambridge band, we love them regardless though. Elsewhere The Treatment topped their impressive 2011 by going even further in 2012, playing support slots for Kiss and Motley Crue in America. Bury St Edmunds trio The Soft were picked up by Ceremony and will release a new EP through the New York label, whilst Mallory Knox saw their popularity surge this year. 2012 also saw local acts Ill Murray and Model Staggs popularity spread beyond the city with numerous gigs and festival appearances across the country. Below, Slate writers and friends pick their Cambridge acts of the year…

Carousels – picked by Zak Thomas
“For me, Carousels have got to be the most exciting band in Cambridge right now. Laden with hooks, Carousels have produced a concoction of retro shoe gaze, buzz guitar and intricate boy/girl harmonies. The production values on their latest EP ‘POP’ are fantastic and it’s very hard not to speculate endlessly in an overly excited journalistic fashion about what they’ll do next. Expect big things in 2013.”

Forest – picked by Connor Browne
“Best local band I’ve seen goes to Pavement-alike Forest, who have really grown as a live act this year, closely followed by the enigma that is Pete Um”

Bloody Knees – picked by Huw Oliver
“Best Cambridge band: Bloody Knees. Why? This is why….”

Dave Gerard & The Watchmen – picked by Meredith Humphrey
“Folk act Dave Gerard at CB2 was the best local act I’ve seen. Check out ‘Oh So Quiet’ for a taste of this year’s release I Climbed A Tree.”

Tom Copson – picked by Matt Cooke
“Tom Copson. This was a hard category, with the emerging Carousels, the solid tunes of Hard Actors and the obvious Alt-J (but I’m not sure if I can really count them). Tom’s voice is astounding and he certainly has a way with a melody”

Fred’s House – picked by Ally Gale
“Fred’s House…You can’t help but be charmed by the eclectic mix of styles tucked away within their feel good pop songs. Masses of charisma and a shed load of catchy melodies make this music that leaves you with a stupid grin on your face.”

Mining For Gold – picked by Thom Talibudeen
“Spanking new to the scene, they pack an unexpected punch as a three piece. They defiantly tried and tested the sound desk at the Corner House this year. There may be plenty of space left on stage between members but don’t be disillusioned they’re fixed enough to get noticed, plus there’s plenty of space left for Adam to swing his guitar!”
Mining For Gold QA here.

Fuzzy Lights – picked by Wesley Freeman-Smith
“While not as prolific as some other entities on the Cambridge scene in 2012, few come close to being as sublime and indefinable as Fuzzy Lights. With a third album set to drop early next year, it looks to be a good bet they’re going to continue this trend. On all occasions I’ve caught them, whether it be acoustic and intimate in CB1, fully amped and epic in both old & new Portland Arms, or soundtracking art exhibits at Aid & Abet, they’ve always been the kind of band who should be far better known than they are.

Their sets are abundant with intricate and moving music, notable also for the band’s versatility. Seamless instrument changes feel unlaboured, with each new configuration a new sonic surprise – from the overflowing harmonies to the always haunting sound of a musical saw. In places there are touches of swirling psychedelia, stately ambient, or trembling post-rock. Lyrically, male-female vocals take turns in guiding the songs, all the while painting ethereal landscapes of a quiet emotional turmoil.”

Dan Wilde – picked by Lisa Buckby
“Blackpool born Dan Wilde has built a reputation as the singer-songwriter for Cambridge, playing gigs in venues such as La Raza, CB2 and Hot Numbers as well as recording his new album, With Fire in Mind, due for release in February. His wistful songs are carefully crafted and insightful, with finger-picked guitar ringing gently under soft country tenor vocals.”


Ill Murray – picked by Jordan Worland
“Ill Murray could easily be described as the most momentous Cambridge band of the year. The foursome have been making huge steps in their relatively short existence as a band, with several London and impressive support slots under their belt already this year. They’ve even notched up several notable festive shows at Kendel Calling, LeeFest and Playfest earlier this year. Starting off as a post-punk outfit, Ill Murray have developed a more individual style through their progression and have gone down a more noisy, hazy rock sound.”

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