July 28th to 31st sees the return of Kendal Calling in Cumbria, and as with previous years there are plenty of big names to fill the lineup in 2016. Headlined by the likes of Rudimental, Madness and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, the festival has plenty to offer on the main stage, but it might just be lower down the lineup that the real gems lie. A few weeks ahead of kickoff, we’ve has picked out six lesser known artists that you won’t want to miss this year.
The creative outlet of multi-instrumentalist Alan Keary, Shunya takes many forms, with the Irishman sometimes negotiating solo shows and other times performing alongside any number of musicians for a more encompassing live sound. Working an MPC as his ethereal vocals float and glide over stringed arrangements, Keary brings ethereal soundscapes that flitter delicately between dance and classical music, doused in deliberate and enthralling melodrama as they give chase to upbeat rhythms and glitchy electronics.
Ibibio Sound Machine
Possibly our favourite of all the artists playing, Ibibio Sound Machine’s British Nigerian vocalist Eno Williams leads a wall of guitars, brass and drums through a mad fusion of West African highlife, disco, post-punk and electro soul, in some of the most dancefloor-ready funk to come out of London in recent years. Drawing from Williams’ Ibibio roots, the band echoes elements of the vintage psychedelia of 70s and 80s highlife, with producers Max Grunhard, Leon Brichard & Benji Bouton adding the electronic touches that make a vintage sound seem so modern.
Lack of Afro
Feel good jazz with a deepness that resonates among fans of Detroit’s musical offerings, Lack of Afro can claim to include elements of hip-hop, funk and breakbeat in his productions, and has earned himself a lot of respect through collaborations with vocalists and rappers across a string of excellent releases. The horns in this one are real uppers.
American globetrotter Akua Naru has enjoyed taking her profound hip hop to all four corners, no doubt aided by its impressively easy going vibe. A socially-aware poet, Naru’s sound is heavily influenced by the jazz origins of hip hop from her homeland, America, and expert musicianship helps her soulful tones capture almost any audience.
Hooten Tennis Club
Vintage coats, good hair and short-strapped telecasters; jangly guitars, punchy drums and indie vocals. The recipe is tried and tested, but Wirral four-piece Hooten Tennis Club certainly do it well.
There’s a sleepy but significant quality to Ghostpoet’s everyday drawl, his almost-rap vocals hanging like imparted wisdom from a semi-lucid scholar. Not dance music in its purest form, but certainly dancey enough to make for an uplifting live performance, Ghostpoet’s productions are beautifully poised with luscious melodies and soft vocals, the live drums of his recent albums replacing the lo-fi electronic beats of his Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam. This is honest, relatable and extraordinary music which should not be missed.
Kendal Calling takes place at Lowther Deer Park in the Lake District at the end of this month. Final tickets on sale now.
Words by Andrew Kemp
Photo courtesy of Ibibio Soundmachine / Krzysztof A.Edelman