T Break: The Contenders

Concluding the annual hunt for the best unsigned talent that Scotland has to offer, just a handful of bands made the cut from over a thousand entrants to play the <b>T Break</b> stage at Balado this July. Here we present the final sixteen

Feature by Darren Carle | 30 Jun 2011

Aerials Up
It wouldn’t be T Break without a bit of Celtic-tinged, rustic anthemia. Glasgow septet Aerials Up ticked these boxes and more with their marvellous Superglue E.P. in May and it seems fair to assume that their stock in trade will transfer effortlessly to the larger arena. They’re also masters at getting a rousing jig on as highlight Stay Awake proves, so be ready to get your bounce on too. "Come party with us at 10pm on the Friday night,"says drummer Chris Grant. "We'll get you into the festival spirit."  

Hailing from Edinburgh and Glasgow, exuberant quartet Boycotts will be converging on Balado to drop their precision indie-pop with a wee twist. “We’ll be playing a bunch of songs that we haven't recorded yet, so people coming along will be really surprised if they've only ever heard our E.P.,” says guitarist Joe Gillies. Things could also get a bit cathartic for Boycotts on their big night. “We're on last on Saturday, so we will definitely be up for a bit of madness after having to restrain ourselves all day Friday and Saturday.” 

Cancel the Astronauts
Poised to be clashing with a mighty pop sensation, Cancel the Astronauts are at least modest in their appraisal of such a daunting situation. “We promise to be good, if not as good as Beyonce,” claims Matthew Riley. Yet the progression of second E.P. Funny for a Girl will ensure that one of the local scene’s best kept secrets will make a serious alternative to those less swayed by the bright lights of the main stage. “As a band we've come on in leaps and bounds over the past few years,” Matthew continues. “Better songs and better performances. The audience can expect to hear some cracking pop tunes played loud and fast, with only a very small number of mistakes.”

If the name doesn’t give it away, then let us inform you that Paisley trio Carnivores are a beast; a beast with pummelling drum tempos and angular Fugazi guitar lines. They are also unsurprisingly straight talking. “We're a proper rock band with proper riffs and no deliberately silly haircuts,” rails singer and guitarist Kenny Leckie on why you should go see them. They are, however, unafraid of a bit of ostentation it seems. “The phrase we've been using to get ourselves ready is 'Queen at Live Aid',” he adds. We suspect that Carnivores do have ‘a kind of magic’ and will indeed be rocking you. Get it? We Will Rock You. Eh? Oh, fuck off then! 

Church of When the Shit Hits the Fan
It only takes a scant few seconds of hearing COWTSHTF to realise they stand on a podium of their own at T Break. “We do not sound like anyone else on the bill,” confirms Alasdair Maloney, one-half of the enigmatic duo. “Underground hip-hop clashes with banging electro, all wrapped up in a surrealist sensibility tainted by too many horror cartoons.” And if that sounds pretty fucked up, wait until you hear the man’s plans during his downtime. “I am doing a sponsored impregnation of Jessie J,” he warns. “Get in touch if you want to chip in.” Er, we’ll pass all the same. 

Conquering Animal Sound
Due to Celtic Football Club connections and nervous promoters fearing a riot, girl group The Saturdays will drop hit single Just Can’t Get Enough from their set-list this year. Fear not, as James Scott of Conquering Animal Sound has alternative plans. “We will be performing a thirty-minute version, complete with battling football hooligans down the front,” he jokes. Much more likely is that the Glaswegian duo will lull and enliven listeners with their looped ethereal vocals and bucolic electro underpinnings. Here we fucking go! 

There’s already a maturity to Crayons that can elude many bands. Not a maturity in the pejorative sense, but rather in that they can pen cracking tunes without sounding like they’re trying to pen cracking tunes. Think of Foals or the ghostly surf-pop of Crystal Stilts and you’ll be somewhere along the right lines but still a ways to go. Yet whilst there’s an intelligence to Crayons, cuts like The Future Is Deaf prove they can still be lots of fun. Much like their namesakes then. 

Discopolis’ euphoric electro, with traces of epic shoegaze will certainly stand them out from the final sixteen at T Break this year. “I long ago came to accept that not all music is for everyone,” says synth player Dave Lloyd. “But I think our sound may appeal to quite a high number of people.” The Edinburgh trio should certainly turn a few heads with their decidedly old-school yet contemporary take on all things disco. And if their set should contribute to the dreadful T hangover the next day, heed guitarist Laurie Donald’s advice. “Take a walk to Somerfield in the mornings,” he champions. “It has pretty much saved my life at past T in the Parks.”

“This is the biggest event Fatherson have played so far and we are going to put on the best show physically possible.” It’s no doubt a common sentiment felt by many on the T break list but bassist Marc Strain certainly has the clout behind him with Fatherson. There’s a distinct home-grown sound to the Kilmarnock trio, having toured with the mighty Idlewild amongst many others. “I would advise anyone going to T in the Park to head over to the T Break stage as much as they can,” advises Marc of the bill. “Every year I've been I have discovered bands that I still listen to daily.” Fatherson could become one such band.


Lady North
Auld Reekie lads Lady North seem to be a band’s band. “Three instrumental mentalists from Edinburgh with the most catchy, danceable math-rock fun you'll hear all weekend,” gushes James Scott of Conquering Animal Sound. “I’d recommend even the nutters from the Slam Tent to be checking these guys out.” The band themselves aren’t averse to a bit of flattery either. “As average musically as we may be, we are definitely the sexiest band playing,” states Jamie Steel of his T Break competition. The modesty of course is that Lady North are anything but ‘average musically’. Judge their musical abilities and on-stage sexiness for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.

The LaFontaines
Motherwell and hip hop; not the cosiest of bedfellows perhaps but it’s a situation that The LaFontaines are trying hard to rectify. These boys are also too cool for school it seems. “Hi, we're on at half one on Saturday, nuff said,” replies bassist John McGinely when asked to entice you dear reader to their T Break cause. He is, however, more vocal on landing the hallowed slot. “We were all well chuffed to be selected. It's a nice ego boost when you're vetted from so many other talented acts.” Nuff said indeed.

Marrik Layden Deft with Scatabrainz
“It's not just hip hop I'll be doing,” states Marrik Layden Deft categorically. “I'm playing with a live band, doing a crossover of punk and hip hop, so if you want to see and hear something different, come and see me.” Marrik will certainly provide a different flavour to T Break if his Lawful Rebellion E.P. is anything to go by. Reggae jams, electro squiggles, colloquial rapping – it’s all there. “The last time I went to T in the Park I said the next time I come here I will be playing,” claims Marrik. “And I am so it's great.” We certainly agree.

It’s not difficult to hear why Otherpeople made the T Break list. With propulsive guitar riffs, clear cut melodies and lyrics that jam into your head after one listen (try Ghosts on for size and we’ll get back to you next week when you’ve recovered) they are a band destined to catch the attention of even beer-addled, sleep-deprived punters as they trundle through that big red tent. ‘Otherpeople are bored of acoustic guitars’ reads their bio. Sounds like a battle-cry so be sure to be stage front when things kick off with this Glasgow quartet. 

Glaswegian garage trio PAWS don’t sound short of energy on record, so it’s hardly surprising that singer/guitarist Phillip Taylor is promising a Herculean effort for their T Break performance. “We are delighted to have made the cut and we intend to embrace it and give it 1000%,” he claims. With excellent tracks like Salem likely to elicit some rousing approval, we can believe it. Phillip meanwhile is preparing for the arduous weekend in unconventional style. “I could take some survival tips from (90s American sitcom) Kenan and Kel when they climb to the top of the Sears Tower” he jokes. “Kel brings a fruit juicer with him...you never know.” 

Reverieme is the nom de plume of Airdrie dweller Louise Connell who, with accompaniment, will be looking to get T Break tapping along to her gorgeous, bucolic acoustic fare. “We’re the perfect mixture of uppers and downers so we’ll sort you out regardless of what you got up to the night before,” claims Louise. From what we’ve heard, Reverieme are more in the ‘uppers’ category, particularly the toe-tapping Lost At Sea. “Seriously though, the music is very jolly and enjoyable,” she agrees. “But if nothing else sells you, we will bring baked goods.” Sounds delicious. 

And last, but certainly the hell not least, we talk to rising Glasgow quartet United Fruit here.

See them all play T in the Park's T Break Tent, Balado on 8-10 Jul