Playlists Reviews

The GIT Award 2016 – The Contenders

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Merseyside music prize The GIT Award returns for it’s fifth installment this May with a ceremony at Liverpool’s thriving Baltic Triangle venue, Constellations. The GIT Award, dubbed ‘the Scouse Mercury Prize’ was won last year by now Domino Records signees All We Are and prides itself on championing the best Merseyside music whilst recognising significant achievement right across the musical board. Not only offering a snapshot of the artists making waves across the subsequent year in music, but a glimpse of who you can expect to be seeing a lot of in the year ahead too.

The GIT Award 2016 selection is no different, showcasing a diverse selection of artists, each at different stages in their individual musical ladders and each bringing something special to the table. Founder of The GIT Award, Getintothis editor (and genius wordsmith), Peter Guy stated that this year’s nominees had been the “hardest yet” to whittle down to a final 12, with around 300 artists applying for a shot at the prize. The judges including Bella Union Records founder Simon Raymonde, Heavenly Recordings founder Jeff Barrett and a range of other music industry champions, have now spoken.

So without further ado here’s the thoughts of WCT‘s long-suffering editor Ciaran Steward and talented young upstart Jake Marley on The GIT Award 2016‘s final 12 in alphabetical order – hear a taste of them all (except the Soundcloud-less Bill Ryder-Jones) on our accompanying playlist.

Clean Cut Kid

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With one of the most beautifully distinctive voices in modern music Clean Cut Kid are unsurprisingly making waves across the country and their ability to turn a simple set-up into an aural treat more emotionally-fuelled than a rom-com marathon shows the deftest of touches. They know how to strike you at the core with their lyrics and how to keep your ears gently tickled with a splendid array of sounds. A tad like Haim but far more relatable and far less irritating, there’s not a bad word to be said about these sonic scientists. CS

Essentially a band who seem to have sprung up out of nowhere, yet quite simply haven’t. They’ve been around the Mersey scene under several guises for what seems like longer than I’ve been on solids, gaining that fabled Radio 1 play and subsequently being signed by Polydor, resulting in the juicy Vitamin C being released. This is a quartet with feet in big places and it’s fantastic to see that realised by all corners of the industry. They’re in for a busy Spring/Summer schedule with festivals all around the country clamouring for their services and now they can add a May jaunt to Constellations to that list. JM

Dragged Into Sunlight

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Metal music is not for everyone and that’s very clear with the blatant shunning into the background the genre often receives. The GIT Award is all about diversity though and for that reason the judges simply couldn’t ignore a band at the forefront of the cities metal scene who’ve spent a large chunk of the year touring foreign climes. Whether a metal band can win an award so competitive can be speculated till pigs fly but even as a relative non-metal fan it’s massively refreshing to see Dragged Into Sunlight in the reckoning. JM

Metal isn’t something I know the first thing about BUT the passion Dragged Into Sunlight have for their art is evident within the first few pounding echoes of any of their tracks. This is quite simply the stuff of nightmares and the vivid imagery their array of beastly sounds creates is the perfect soundtrack for any horror fans twisted evening and you can be assured that any live performance from this lot would be sure to get your head spinning and screaming bloody murder. In a good way, mind. CS

Hooton Tennis Club

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Jasper‘ is still one of those songs that gets a big ol’ eyebrow raise from me every time it pops up like a Wiggly Worm and it was the perfect way to introduce Hooton Tennis Club into the wider consciousness. Since then they’ve gone from strength to strength and it feels as though they should be packing out venues as big as the moon as their oddly-intimate brand of indie-pop should surely resonate with the youths of today across the board. They thoroughly deserve the plaudits they’ve received for their work so far and hopefully there’s plenty more to come. CS

Wow! Where do you even start with these guys? Hooton Tennis Club have had some year and they’ve now come full circle with festivals clamouring to book them and fans eagerly anticipating the follow up to critically acclaimed debut Highest Point In Cliff Town, surely they’ve got to be considered well and truly amongst the frontrunners for this year’s prize, either that or I’m seeing things, and hearing them too. JM

L U M E N

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The ’80s is a mighty fine place to draw inspiration from and LUMEN brings to mind a significantly more positive version of The Cure with a massive dollop of Frankie Goes To Hollywood thrown in for good measure. With a smattering of pop goodness and light-hearted nature you could drift away on LUMEN‘s sounds for hours on end and find yourself hundreds of miles from home and yet you’d still not have any reason to grumble. CS

An artist championed by Huw Stephens is not something we take lightly in the new music writing krypt and 17 year-old Liam Brown (LUMEN) also comes with the exciting tag of being a hot prospect of Liverpool’s LIMF Academy, so you kind of take notice, you just do. I first came across LUMEN doing a Jukebox feature when I was sent one of his tracks over. Distinct and joyous throwbacks to the mid-’80s, delightful and certainly amongst my personal favourites on this shortlist. JM

MiC Lowry

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Basically the hottest new pop group around Liverpool at the minute. Of course you don’t rate artists on their social media followings but 160,000 Facebook fans can’t be ignored. They’re supporting Little Mix too, again not to be sniffed at. Admittedly not entirely my thing but certainly worthy of taking up the pop mantel on this year’s shortlist, that in my opinion can’t be argued. JM

If Esco Williams has anything to do with your work you must be doing something right and this lot, who have been taken under his wing, are learning from a true GIT pro. With plenty more to their sound than your average pop outfit they could well go on to reach the heights of JT and the like – the songwriting is already so on point for the style that it’s a wonder they’re not already a regular feature on whatever radio station the kids are listening to these days. CS

Mugstar

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Undoubtedly one of Liverpool’s finest psychedelic exports, spanning over 13 years. Their latest record Magnetic Seasons has gained plaudits from a wide range of musical media and I can see why, their nomination although admittedly a huge surprise, is certainly a worthy one when you delve deeper and consider the ‘wider musical achievement’ side of things that The GIT Award also covers. JM

I do love a peachy bit of psych goodness and Mugstar seem to have just the tonic for one of those days where your mind just needs a wee top up of something weirdly wonderful. They line themselves up as if constructing an artwork that, while abstract, isn’t too far from familiarity for you to be able to get the gist of what’s going on even if you can’t get your head in the right place. If you’re someone who loves getting lost in music like it’s an overgrown maze then this should be right up your alley. CS

RongoRongo

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FASTER/ROTS‘ sounds as though it could be a distant cousin of Morrissey and co, minus the ego. With surefire cult classic qualities running through each and every aural drop RongoRongo put good reason to that whole ‘so good they named it twice’ cliché. With a mellow, hypnotic vibe this track in particular has the ability to keep your attention glued to their gorgeous command of the aural spectrum. CS

Featured by NME in what seemed like seconds after their first live performance, RongoRongo have been hotly tipped for the last year or so. Debut EP Automatic Hypnotist is a beauty and they represent all that’s good about underground Mersey label War Room Records. Not out of place on this shortlist and one of the more ‘Mercury Prize’ esque carryovers. JM

Bill Ryder-Jones

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Widely considered one of the strongest artists to come out of Merseyside in quite some time, a fact that’s backed up by his albums receiving critical acclaim and a sell-out headline UK tour. Bill’s the founding guitarist of The Coral and a hugely talented collaborative musician with past ties to Arctic Monkeys and Graham Coxton among others. His latest record West Kirby Country Primary also featured prominently on most end of year lists, including MOJO and Q. He belongs on this shortlist and can certainly be considered a frontrunner in my opinion. JM

How on earth is that man not a multi-millionaire? I’d love to be proved wrong and told that he is because Bill Ryder-Jones is undoubtedly one of Liverpool’s finest exports of the last few decades. With an inimitable signature style and a swagger that can only be found in the finest corner of the North West this gentleman is a right ruddy charmer who deserves a permanent place on the mantlepiece of good music. CS

Stealing Sheep

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Oh sweet mercy here’s yet another exquisite outfit. These three synthy maestros are yet another group of clever dickies who know how to take an off-kilter approach to their music and make something that sounds out there enough for you to know you’ve heard something special but not so far out that you can’t comprehend it. This is verging on new technology and, if the future does indeed take this form, it’s one I’d be thrilled to live in. CS

I’m not going to waste anytime here, Stealing Sheep are easily one of my favourite acts to come out of Liverpool in recent time. Their latest record Not Real is fantastic and their beautiful blend of off-kilter synth-pop amongst psychedelic arrangements does a lot for me. Great on the live-stage and a whole lot of fun. Another safe bet to reach the closing stages of this process for me. JM

TRUDY

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Trudy are a fun bunch, great to watch live. Recently played in support of Hooton Tennis Club before being taken under the production wing of Bill Ryder-Jones (who they also supported recently.) Baby I’m Blue is a great track and they excelled at The GIT Award Launch in January so why not give them a shot at the real thing? Makes sense, hot prospects, big things. JM

One of the very best bands I’ve had the good fortune to see live this year, Trudy are so rough, ready and full of the blues that you could be mistaken for walking back into a blues joint somewhere before the birth of this ‘rock’n’roll’ the kids seem to enjoy so much. Entertaining and unique to the very last, there are plenty of big things surely on the way for this trio of abstract-thinking lads. CS

TVAM

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With one of the finest song names you’ll come across this year TVAM shows you how one man can do the job of many without losing any of the quality. This fella seems to have a mind so tightly intertwined with the notes that he’s playing you might find it hard to pull him out of a music-fuelled tantric state. Then again, if what he’s making sounds as fresh as this why on earth would you want to stop him? CS

TVAM is one man, but a very creative and spectrum jumping one, Joe Oxley. A man picked up by Lauren Laverne among others and rightfully so. His track PORSCHE MAJURE has been on repeat for me this year so despite a relative surprise to some, not one to me. A welcome and worthy addition. JM

The Vryll Society

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The Vryll Society are a band that seem to have finally got it right after years of floating around the scene in various guises. This one seemed to fit and boy has it! Deltasonic Records have since picked them up and they’ve been out on tour with Blossoms recently. Their PANGEA EP has been on repeat for me this year and such chiller psych-rock voyages are worthy of The GIT Awards ears. JM

And at the tail-end of the alphabetical list come WCT darlings The Vryll Society. One of the many psych-infused outfits on this year’s shortlist this bunch sound as though their lying flat on their backs on the softest carpet known to man as they spiral away into world unknown with sounds that will leave you cross-eyed and more inspired than Keven Smith after a solid week of non-stop waking and baking. Buckle up and breathe in deeply, you’ll be gone for some time. CS

Ciaran Steward and Jake Marley

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