This year's prospective highlights include four bands from Dundee, plus surf rock mavericks Deathcats, Lost Map rising stars Tuff Love, electronic trio Atom Tree, indie-pop darlings TeenCanteen and more
The lineup for this year's T Break stage at T in the Park (11-13 Jul), showcasing unsigned and emerging bands at Scotland's largest outdoor festival, has been revealed today. The selection features more than a few Skinny favourites, such as snarling Dundonian punk party-starters Fat Goth, and indie/electro duo Atom Tree. Below, we take you alphabetically through the full list of bands selected for this year's showcase, and give you a short history of their releases and key moments so far.
Signed to Hot Gem, a small indie label also home to stars of last year's T Break selection, Machines In Heaven, Atom Tree released their Tide of Thorns EP earlier this year. Comprised of producer Shaun Canning, percussionist Michael Robertson, and latterly vocalist Julie Knox, Atom Tree display the influence of neo-soul and post-dubstep, and classic indie songwriting in their melody-driven take on modern synth-pop. Thus far they've supported the likes of White Hinterland, and are booked for a few other Scottish festivals this year – but their slot at T could well prove to be the gig that sees them break big.
Edinburgh's Birdhead played alongside Tuff Love at the Wide Days showcase earlier this year – the two-piece band, featuring David Nicklen on drums and vocals and Stephen Donkin on guitar, vocals, synth, pedals and FX, have drawn praise from the likes of Vic Galloway, and have seen the band compared to Mancunian miserablists The Fall and other post-punk luminaries, as well as techno troublemakers Fuck Buttons. Like Atom Tree, their ploy of staying two steps to the left of the traditional drums-bass-guitar sounds of standard indie is already paying dividends – check out their single Tourist on Gamma Proforma.
The Skinny premiered the video for Blood Relatives' last single A Murder of Crows a few weeks back – the Glasgow band trade in the kind of cheerful, upbeat indie pop which is sure to win hearts and minds at T in the Park, and with an album – Deerheart – already under their belts, they're primed to take on the competition at T Break. Singer Anna Meldrum has some interesting subject matter in her lyrics, too, writing about "body image, family resemblance, aging and disease... anxiety and insecurity... gluttonous ducks, an evil crow, some deer, and various crustaceans." As you do.
Following a split tape with The Shithawks on Fuzzkill Records, Glasgow's Deathcats – lovers of buzzing, lo-fi surf pop and cute kitties – are set to take T Break by storm this year. When not writing batshit-insane tributes to Mockney plastic gangster Danny Dyer, the band regularly turn in incendiary live performances, blending Dick Dale-style surf licks with high-tempo punk drums and totally bonkers, scream-laden vocals. They're yet another band to emerge from Glasgow's thriving Green Door Studios, increasingly a guarantee of quality for any band hailing from the West Coast.
Perhaps the most established band in this year's T Break selection, Dundee's Fat Goth have already impressed us with debut album Mindless Crap (2010), its follow-up, Stud (2013) and more recently, their One Hundred Percent Suave, which featured cover art commissioned to none other than David Yow of The Jesus Lizard. Attracting rave reviews from the likes of Kerrang, the album seems set to catapult them to wider attention – we spoke to the band back in 2013, and they told us all about their punk sound: "Depression, alienation, sexual frustration, anger, violence, black comedy..." said band leader Fraser Stewart. "Fat Goth has it all!" Nuff said.
A wildcard on the bill and perhaps the least prolific to make the cut, Medicine Men have nonetheless been paying dues on the Glasgow and east coast circuit since forming in early 2014, with well-attended shows at King Tut's, Broadcast and handling the duty of re-opening the old Barfly. Their sound, a curious stew at times indebted to such diverse influences as Merseybeat and Kraftwerk, shows they're neither scared of a psychedelic guitar line or a synth. Can they make it work? Judge for yourself in the tent.
If T Break is all about giving young, emerging musicians a big break, then they don't come much younger than carefully-coiffured indie rockers Model Aeroplanes. Recognised at this year's Scottish Alternative Music Award as Best Newcomers, and playing an early set at this year's Stag and Dagger, these Dundee lads already get around a fair bit, trading in the kind of melodic, infectious indie-pop which could well see them begin to make waves on daytime radio in years to come – apparently breakfast radio goon Nick Grimshaw's already a big fan.
Agnes Gryczkowska, Alexander Johnston, and Grant Campbell are NAKED – not literally, but that's their band name. Trading in the kind of mellifluous dream-pop perfected by the likes of Beach House, and the ethereal electronic shoegaze of Cocteau Twins, they have already gained a following after support slots with Trust, and some artfully mysterious videos on YouTube. Perhaps the most chilled and minimal act on this year's bill, they'll provide some welcome respite from the more uptempo acts.
Yet another Dundee band (what are they putting in the water up there lately?), we featured Scary People in a live session back in March, playing a track from their stonking Chicago EP. Dan Forouhar (guitar/vocals), Scott Anderson (drums), Steven Anderson (guitar/vocals), Jamie Brown (bass) and Troy Lynch (guitar) are a powerful indie rock proposition – technically dazzling, and with a style that blends towering riffs and urgent vocals with insistent, polyrhythmic drums, they're sure to amaze in their T Break debut.
Proudly declaring themselves "Glasgow's most effeminate punk band," Secret Motorbikes released their debut album Rum Punch in March this year, incorporating heavy rock, metal and punk influences with an ear for catchy melodies, and have supported the likes of The Fresh and Onlys on national tours. Accomplished as a live band (which boasts Phantom Band/Bronto Skylift/aw the bands' Iain Stewart on tubs), they'll bring a polished performance, full of artfully-distressed guitars and caterwauling vocals, to this year's showcase.
TeenCanteen are a vital new all-girl band, showcasing the songwriting of Carla Easton, who recently accompanied poets and performers Michael Pedersen and Kevin Williamson of Neu! Reekie! on their trip to NYC. The band are Neu! Reekie! regulars, launching their debut single Honey at the multi-arts cabaret in 2013, and have since put in winning support slots for the likes of The Pastels, and Evan Dando and Juliana Hatfield. Sugar-sweet melodies, jangling guitars, and a new affiliation with FOUND member Ziggy Campbell, who produced their second, forthcoming single, make them ones to watch on the vibrant Edinburgh and Glasgow scenes.
The Moon Kids
Representing the Kingdom of Fife are four-piece pop band The Moon Kids, who describe themselves as "how The Small Faces might have sounded if they'd starred in A Clockwork Orange." They cite The La's as an influence, and since their debut show, headlining an after-party for The Enemy (don't hold that against them), they've been aiming straight for the hearts of fans of melodic indie rock.
One of the only straight-up electronic artists playing this year's T Break, Edinburgh-based Tisoki makes the kind of swaggering main room dubstep and trap that causes outbreaks of fevered slam dancing wherever he plays out. Cop his free, early EP Hands Up for a taste of his propulsive bass-driven tunes, and be sure and bring some glowsticks for his set at T Break.
Lost Map's signings Tuff Love will need no introduction to readers of these pages – a melodic indie rock three piece, comprising Suse Bear and Julie Eisenstein, with drummer Michael O'Hara, were formed from the ashes of Suse and Julie's folk duo The Motherless Daughters. With O'Hara on the skins however, their sound took on a more rhythmic, infectious indie rock edge, leading to them signing with Johnny Lynch's post-Fence collective. Their debut Junk EP was a cracking start to their career, and subsequently, we interviewed the band while they shot their latest video, with a little help from comedian Josie Long.
Another band representing Dundee, Vladimir announced their presence with a shoegaze-addled cover of Underworld's Born Slippy, but it was the A-side, Smoke Eyes, combining sublime 'sha-la-la' refrains and fuzzed-out vocals with Beatles-esque melodies and towering, FX-drenched guitars which gives a truer account of their talents. .
We Came From Wolves
Another band who have premiered a video on our site – for the single Paradise Place – the epic, melodic rock of We Came From Wolves is tinged with a sombre, melancholy edge. Their EP, of the same name, was an attempt to "paint a brutally honest picture of a small city with a lack of opportunities, a dying community and the scent of disdain flowing throughout it's streets that could rival those from the local harbour's morning haul," the band told us back in February. "This could be any place... but this one is ours."