If someone were to ask you to name a musical hub of the UK, what would you say?
Liverpool might seem like a natural place to start, for obvious reasons. Manchester would be up there for its efforts in the nineties alone. Glasgow's contributions of Belle And Sebastian, Primal Scream and Franz Ferdinand would certainly stand them in good stead. How many, do you think, might proffer Bury St Edmunds as a suggestion? Our latest Uncharted Territory album is looking to thrust the Suffolk market town firmly onto the musical map. This Is The Sound Of Sugar Town, Vol. 2, all the profits of which are donated to mental health charity Julian Support, showcases thirteen of the town's best current acts.
For an area that has a strong connection with Radio 1 legend John Peel (he lived in nearby Great Finborough and his funeral was held in Bury St Edmunds cathedral), it is unsurprising that the locality carries a strong musical aura. Opening track She by Sun Scream beckons you in with laid back vocals set atop dirty guitar riffs that simultaneously explode into a thrillingly frenetic finale. Cathedral And Cars' The Concierge channels Morrissey-esque vocals over an understated, almost cosmic, bassline bristling with youthful exuberance. The Wilsons bring a rich Americana to East Anglia on rattling 'love 'em and leave 'em' track If It Wasn't So Soon.
The highlight of the album for me is the maudlinly-titled L'appel Du Vide by recent Glastonbury participants Gaffa Tape Sandy. With dark lyrics juxtaposed against an infectious drive, iced to perfection with an immaculate stuttering hook, the track is undoubtedly a sign of great things to come. Hometown by The Cuts is a short but sweet rage that carries more than a little knowing irony in its apathetic lyrical barbs. The now disbanded Horse Party stand out by adopting a more mellow outlook with Looking For Life, a beautiful wash of a track whose delicate vocals certainly single out lead singer Ellie Langley as one to watch in the future.
What I was reminded of while listening to this record was a talent show. Not the bastardised talent show format that Simon Cowell insists on spoon feeding us where he gathers groups of young people for sob story show and tell. Moreover, this feels like a talent show where each of the acts has certain things in common – dedication, hard work and, most of all, talent. Whilst I am always on the lookout for an album's unifying theme, it is always nice to be surprised and a shared locale is certainly a lesser-spotted, novel concept that feels simultaneously fresh yet also plucked from a bygone era.
Going back to John Peel, it is reassuring to see that his spirit is still alive and well in the area. He was a backer of bands, a champion for the grafters, a conduit through which grass roots music flowed. On this evidence, This Is The Sound Of Sugar Town is a worthy torch bearer for his legacy. Perhaps if more record companies were to adopt this approach, we might have a UK music scene where we are spoiled by diversity and where the list of musical hubs truly represents the rich vein of musical talent possessed by our great nation.
Then again, I might be wrong. I am a Musical Moron, after all...
Lyric Of The Month
“The nice bits are good//But the rest of it's shit//Dealers and dealerships//Really, that's it”
Hometown – The Cuts
Bury St Edmunds'
Charitable artists spark
Hope for the future
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