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You may have spotted a bonus issue of this column on Tuesday when I announced my 3 choices from all the entries to the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition 2024 I was invited to judge. They join 87 other acts who make up the longlist from the many thousands who entered back in January. We now wait while a second judging panel attempts mission impossible to select just 8 from 90 to compete at April’s live final for a spot on one of the main stages at this summer’s Festival.


So, congratulations once more to the three acts I chose from a strong entry list: Maya Lane, Eighty Eight Miles and Juju who each are now sweating on Pilton calling. You can listen to their entry songs and read why they resonated with me in Tuesday’s column and check out the full Longlist Playlist. Further below I have highlighted a sample of the other songs that caught my ear from the longlist and what the judges said about them. Before we get to them though here are two diverse songs that I especially enjoyed hearing this week with no connection to the competition.

Cornish native Grace Bevill has produced a little gem in the elegant shape of Calico keening in the sunshine, her 7-track mini album self-released earlier this month. Grace began writing poetry when she was fifteen, leading to the digital creation of music using midi sequencers and virtual instruments to build subtle arrangements and overlay filigree harmonies. She employs a soft summer breeze of a vocal and finds her inspirations from language, literature and mythology, transporting the listener to an escapist realm akin to where fairy tales might take root.

“Ishling Wives” closes the album. The song was inspired by a passage from Polly Samson's bestseller, A Theatre for Dreamers, and transports listeners to the fictional Cornish fishing village of Ishling, where in the songwriter’s words “gay men and women live free of the scrutiny of society under one village-wide lavender marriage.” I was drawn by the Kate Bush-like quirky phrasing of the opening lines which spill out as a tale of knowing infidelity unfolds. Deliciously airy with an understated yet off-kilter waltz tempo, graceful topline and soft layered harmonies, “Ishling Wives” fully envelopes you in Grace’s little dream world. The song ends rather abruptly and you may wonder about the 90 odd seconds of blank screen after she coyly exits the video stage left. I’d just wind it back though and enjoy this glorious song one more time.

A change of mood next as we switch to the Surrey alt-rock duo of Laura Callaghan and Paul Smart aka Broken Bear, who have graced this column several times over the past couple of years. Indeed, I am reminded of the late Victor Kiam who famously liked the Remington shaver so much that he bought the company. Well, I similarly favoured the band’s summer 2023 single “Exit Through The Gift Shop” so much so that I named my fantasy football team after it. A good omen too as I am currently top of my Super League and a respectable 2,830th nationally, given the 100k teams in it. All of which has little bearing (ouch) on this week’s spotlight on Broken Bear.

The latest single, “Awfully Civilised”, is something of a milestone for Broken Bear, channelling the pair’s righteous indignation but raising its signature darkly melancholic style up a notch or two. The band has teamed up with producer/engineer Animesh Raval who has brought the whole mix to the fore; especially potent are the drums which amplify the song’s message with a driving urgency. Lyrically a series of juxtapositions and paradoxes powers a rebellion against the societal status quo and its inherent ills candidly voiced by Laura with passion and conviction. The word play in the song title sets the seal on another impressive cut from the Bears.

Back to ETC 2024 now and a quick dive into the Longlist of 90 Glasto wannabees. This is hardly a scientific exercise as I am still making my way through the full list but here are few songs that have caught my ear so far and what their judges said about them. The first one is “Wallflower” by Slip Martin, a deceptively laid back and agreeable tune. Here’s how Amazing Radio summed it up: “Slip Martin has a great vocal range. The juxtaposition between subtle guitar and uplifting chorus shows his skill as a songwriter.”

Next across the sea to Cork City where we find the elegiac “Echoes” by Mirrors and a mini-movie to boot. Camilla Whitfield who writes for Atomic Vox put it eloquently: “From the get-go, Mirrors is a band that knows how to capture a listener’s attention. They’re a powerful band, and their strengths lie in their introspective songwriting, ethereal vocalist, and ability to change tempos seamlessly. Flawlessly in sync, this hidden gem should definitely be on your radar.”

Talking of movies this sees a thin, disinterested audience erupt into silent applause via the smooth dulcet tones of Danniella Dee. Her song, “Stutter” was one of the three chosen by Crack Magazine who said of it: “Danniella Dee’s smooth vocals and tight backing band are a warm audio treat. With the rise in popularity of Soul / R&B singers, she is ready to reach a bigger audience.” Agreed!

Finally, well for today, two from my good mate Paul aka Devil has the Best Tuna. Readers will already be familiar with the work of the amazing Retropxssy and I was delighted that Paul chose her song “Fading” and gave this ringing endorsement: “Enchanting and hypnotic genre bending concoction that’ll twist your mind and tantalise your ear buds. Fading has it all, cool as ice rap, trippy beats that’ll melt your reality, and a dash of alternative pop that sounds like the future.”

Paul also selected the intriguing and admirably named Buoy Meets Krill and the song, “Sweetbreads.” He summed it up perfectly: “Buoy Meets Krill serve up a minimalist, mesmerising sonic tapestry, with fragile harmonies and poetic lyrics that linger like whispers on the wind. Crystalline vocals, like shards of ice, weave a narrative that evokes a sense of nostalgia tinged with melancholy.”

Remember to check out Tuesday’s column where you'll find the three acts I chose from my list: Maya Lane, Eighty Eight Miles and Juju while you can listen to the complete Longlist Playlist here.


FIFTY3 champions

outstanding new music

through Fifty3 Fridays and

occasional features 


Music is a great passion of mine. In my teenage years I was an avid record collector and concert goer. Stints as a booking agent, running folk clubs, promoting gigs and even a crack at artiste management followed. While it never became my main occupation, music was always on my personal radar.


In the past 15 years I have written for leading US music website  Consequence and breakthrough  site, BestNewBands. I am a judge for Glastonbury Festival's Emerging Talent Competition and have reviewed the festival for both sites. I am now pleased to curate my very own music site.


Nothing gives me greater pleasure than unearthing great, original new music and championing independent musicians. You’ll find many of them on this site alongside the occasional legend of times past and I hope they will bring  you as much joy as they give me.

Tony Hardy



Selected dates in the London area:

Tue 16 July: Griff, St John's Church, Kingston upon Thames

Wed 17 Jul: Squirrel Flower, The Lexington, London N1

Tue 23 July: Sabina Chantouria, The Bedford, Balham, London SW!`2

Wed 24 Jul: Coming Up Roses, The Social, London W1

Thu 1 Aug: 86TVs, St John's Church, Kingston upon Thames See the Events page for all live shows in Kingston


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