A Festival Mixtape: The Great Escape 2012
"Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside," an A&R executive (probably) said a few years ago, and as a result of this strong desire, the music industry fairies waved their magic wands and The Great Escape was born. The Motel's most recent trip two years ago was delightful - Brighton is one of the most welcoming cities in the UK - the centre feels compact and safe, the people are lovely - and definitely up for a party without behaving like imbeciles - the place itself is gorgeous and wherever you go, there's good chips (and vegetarian food). You can even take a walk on the promenade if you really want to. I say. Anyway, if you're nearby and dithering over whether to go - even for just a night - then do it. The queues and dashing between venues are all worth it, I swear - especially for this lot...
1. Maxïmo Park - 'The National Health'
Four albums in, and it's about time that Maxïmo Park were awarded National Treasure status. A first-rate live act, they're full of fine past songwriting pedigree, and are blessed with one of the best lyricists in the last decade in the form of Paul Smith. Their energy remains boundless, and with a declaration that fourth longplayer The National Health is inspired by the woeful state of home affairs - and a desire to wrestle control from the jaw of chaos - it promises to be one of the records of the year, at least on paper. The title track sets the tone, led by ever-so-addictive trademark Maxïmo guitar chops and scatterfire vocals from Smith.
2. We Are Scientists - 'This Scene Is Dead'/'Inaction'
Ah, We Are Scientists. Their first album With Love And Squalor is still their best in my book. (Fact fans may be curious to know that before co-founder Hannah and I settled on the name The Fugitive Motel, Love and Squalor was my 'working title' of sorts for this place). While the power pop/rock chords of The Great Escape would have been an obvious choice for this mixtape, I instead refer you to one-time set opener This Scene Is Dead for a song that encapsulates that feeling you get when you don't want that hazy, brilliant night on the tiles to end. Another vastly underrated live band, it's great to see them back on these shores again.
3. Bos Angeles - 'Beach Slalom'
Bos Angeles also hail from a coastal conurbation - that being Boscombe, and presumably giving rise to the band's name - and they straddle the musical gap between the early post-punk era and lo-fi early '90s grunge. In spite of these twin influences, there's a clear sense of melody and optimism to 'Beach Slalom' that aims to reel in fans of The Drums and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Alas, that powerful one-note bass hook and the jangly, descending guitar scales are over way too soon.
4. The Temper Trap - 'Drum Song' (bretonLABS remix, featuring Kate Tempest)
The Temper Trap - who truly exceeded expectations at Somerset House two years ago - prepare for the advent of their second album by returning to the UK. 'Drum Song' - one of the highlights of their previous album - is lent a surprisingly good twist with a joint overhaul from South London MC and playwright Kate Tempest and the recently reviewed Breton, currently seeking their fortune in the States. Even standing alone, The Temper Trap will still rattle your foundations with their overwhelming live show.
5. Aiden Grimshaw - 'Is This Love'
WHAT? WHAT IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY IS SOMEONE FROM THE X FACTOR DOING HERE AMONGST ACTS LIKE BOS ANGELES AND THE TWILIGHT SAD?!? Alright, alright. I hear your anguished cries. Now please allow me to respond. Aiden Grimshaw is here because this track is actually quite good, and not winning The X Factor (despite clearly being the most musically talented and interesting contestant in the 2010 series) may have been to his ultimate benefit. 'Is This Love' landed in the Motel's virtual pigeonhole as a MYSTERY SAMPLER, unnamed and completely unlabelled, along with four other tracks, and it was certainly the best of the bunch. Far more dance-oriented than anyone probably expected, and aided by some excellent production, this approach actually suits him down to the ground.
6. Mystery Jets - 'You Can't Fool Me Dennis'
Those of you who skipped the last tracks, shame on you! Not really. You can breathe easy now. Mystery Jets are back, and here they are at their ramshackle, charming, early best. They don't play this song, with its joyous singalong party refrain of "# You can do anything you want as long as it makes sense... #" nearly enough live - or at least on the occasions when I've seen them. Come on lads, do us a favour. Your new album is quite good, granted - but drop this one into the mix when you visit Brighton. It'll have them dancing on the tables, I swear.
7. The Twilight Sad - 'Here It Never Snowed. Afterwards, It Did'
The Twilight Sad have long been favourites not just of mine, but of a number of other Motel writers. 'Here It Never Snowed...' was considered for the band's first album, but didn't make the cut. Appearing on its own EP alongside stripped-down numbers from the band's first record, it may be a calmer affair than, say, the out-and-out tumult of 'That Summer, At Home I Had Become the Invisible Boy', but that doesn't make it any less brilliant.
8. Perfume Genius - 'Write To Your Brother'
Perfume Genius were recommended to the Motel by Frankie and the Heartstrings during our interview with them for their Review of the Year profile feature around 15 months ago. The band have clearly got a good ear, as have Beirut, who've had Perfume Genius open for them on tour. This simple, lament from Mike Hadreas is absolutely precious. Short and sweet, its sinister musical and lyrical edge feels intrusive to listen to, but the sparse production, lone piano and Hadreas' knack of no-holds-barred storytelling prove positively addictive.
9. Oliver Tank - 'Up All Night'
Oliver Tank hails from Sydney, but he clearly makes the kind of music that has universal appeal. Minimalist backing and layered close harmony vocals glide along with panache on 'Up All Night', and that xylophone hook will worm its way into your heart whether you like it or not. If you get chance then spend an afternoon loitering on his Soundcloud page - there's an effortless, ethereal cover of Snoop Dogg and The Neptunes' collaboration 'Beautiful' on there.
The Great Escape starts tomorrow (Thursday, May 10) and runs until Saturday, May 12 at venues across Brighton. Ticket prices start at £38 for Friday/Saturday tickets. For more festival information please visit the official TGE website and Twitter page.