Tunbridge Wells lies about 40 miles South East of London and is often known for it’s sleepy hollow vibes. The setting is historically known as ‘The Royal Tunbridge Wells’, however the bus services have struggled to fit such a grand title upon their glowing orange signs; the place also plays former home to Jeff Beck, Sid Vicious and Mr Shane MacGowan. Fantastic musical history then. So, with the de-robing of Kent’s newest festival in just under two weeks, Forgotten Fields is on the near horizon and I thought I would flick on the occasionally bright lightbulb in my hairy head to dig you out my top 10 to catch. Who’s worth your time and who isn’t? Who are the best acts to slink away from in order to catch some of the young guns showing their worth? Who can you pull the hipster card out on your friends with and make sure they know that you ‘saw them first’? Well, you can put faith in our trusting words and know full well you have the best deal.
1. De La Soul
Of course, of course you saw it coming. It would be plain and obnoxious ignorance if I were to leave them though. The crème de la crème, the grandfathers of late 80s/early 90s New York hip-hop, let these cats take you three feet high and rising. Just over 25 years have passed since the release of the goofy, optimistic and charming kick at political hip-hop back in 1989, when the scene was swamped with the likes of Public Enemy and NWA so, this one’s on us and remember it’s always the D.A.I.S.Y. AGE with De La.
2. Super Furry Animals
Welsh, wonderful and wild, the Furries are notorious for their live shows. They don’t do normal well, well in fact, they just don’t do it at all. In the past they have had headbanging Yetis onstage with them, giant inflatable eyeballs and whizzing golf buggies. If this has not sold it to you yet, they are currently throwing their psych-pop all around the world marking the 20th anniversary of ‘Mwng’, the debut EP, the tour is racking up quite the attention due to the mad-scientist theme. Catch them playing ‘The Man Don’t Give A Fuck’ and catch yourself not giving one either.
Perhaps not your gran’s cup of tea. In fact, I would expect the sheer volume and monstrous sound would perhaps shatter her poor, delicate hips leaving her with a hefty doctor’s bill (political controversy?). Hailing initially from Canterbury before making the beeline down to Brighton, expect the grunge, doom, psych rock of Gang to draw you in, wiggle you round and spit you back out, the sound of this bunch is abrasive enough to put the kick back into a twenty-year-marriage orgasm. Lovely chaps with plenty of hair so don’t miss these. They have been tipped highly by the likes of Line of Best Fit, NME and DIY Mag so they are ticking all the right boxes.
Remember the 90s band The Charlatans? Yup, the singer Tim Burgess really rates these young post-punk/psych rockers. Expansive sounds that knock you to far out places you never thought you would experience, and they are barely legal by age. This bunch do a fantastic job of bringing your ego down, depressing the wannabe rockstar inside of all of us as they are just so much better than you and, so much younger.
Because they were once pretty good, they might still be. To be honest, nobody really knows but hey, nothing beats a rendition of your favourite mid 00’s indie landfill classics.
A witty pun on ‘slogan’ perhaps? Who knows. Slowgun make catchy indie-pop-rock which is a tried and tested perfect accompaniment with a sun kissed cider, right? Tried, tested but not remembered the next morning. Imagine 90s American alt-rock with the tender hooks of 60s pop, imagine if Kim Deal from the Pixies always smiled and things were not always so bloody tortured.
7. Kassassin Street
If the 80s were cool and acceptable, it would have been Kassassin Street that were the pioneers. Remarkably optimistic and catchy electronic psychedelia, mesmerising grooves and melodies and sure fire songs to get you moving and shaking. These dudes really know how to operate synthesisers, tredding the Roland tightrope perfectly, never leaning too far into the realms of denim clad George Michael nor towards David Bowie and Mick Jagger dancing awkwardly in leotards.
8. Hatcham Social
The 16 year old me was pummelling my fingertips into the keyboard when I saw Hatcham Social were playing. Infectious indie pop played at it’s best and after previously attracting the attention of Creation Records’ Alan McGee, it’s complete testament as to why they cannot be missed. Songs are about lost loves, girls and hazy days as a teenager, the ultimate nostalgic injection into any twenty-something year old; convincing them that life’s only struggle is still about stealing booze from your old man and that the nights rolling about on sticky indie disco floors are still a grand idea, even in your M&S Blue Harbour work trousers.
New Wave/Rap from Brighton, I can’t pigeon hole this into a genre for you. It’s invasive, interesting and something not far from The Prodigy before they reached the ripe old age of 200. MOK bring a bass sound that could shatter the Colosseums in Rome leaving Caesar quivering in his Toga. Lyrics cuss and skim over a swamping musical backdrop suggesting this is probably one of those where you should say goodbye to any parents or guardians before seeing them.
10. Johnny Borrell and Zazou
If one dose of Johnny wasn’t enough with Razorlight, you can catch him with his new band as well. His new beard took over two spots on the list alone but I highly recommend him and Zazou, it’s a bit jazzy and a bit funky. Facial hair clearly brings maturity with this man.