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FIFTY3 FRIDAYS: ETC TICKED



Phew. Earlier today, I sent in my top three choices for this year’s Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition before the noon deadline. With over 200 acts in my quota to listen to and watch live, as you might imagine the process has taken up a fair few hours and a reasonable degree of agonising. There were 30 of us working through over 6,000 entries, each tasked with nominating three acts to create a Round 2 longlist of 90.


Each year I am tempted to write about new discoveries from among the entries as I go and then determine not to do so simply to avoid getting anyone’s hopes up. So, I will keep schtum on that score until the longlist is announced when you will find out who I picked. I hope to then follow up by also highlighting some of the other entries I really liked. Now on with today’s music selection which has nothing to do with ETC, as far as I know.

Having said that, this first song would have undoubtedly stopped me in my tracks had it appeared in my batch of Glastonbury ETC entries. London-born singer-songwriter Charli Black, who eschews his a’s under the moniker CHVRLI BLVCK, now resides in the New Forest. He is open about his music acting as a mirror to his personal struggles with mental health while his raw, emotive style will certainly resonate with anyone similarly burdened. His music is influenced by artistes such as Jeff Buckley, The Maccabees (I can certainly hear a hint of Orlando Weeks in his voice) and Fiona Apple.

Despite only starting to put out music last year, Charli has garnered quite an online following and the release today of his new single "Why Did You Go?" will surely add to this. It is a powerfully emotive and poignant song and showcases Charli’s remarkable voice in an acutely personal account of the aftermath of a breakup. He is on a cathartic journey terminating with the pain of acceptance in the line “Feel like I missed my train” and carrying heated lyrics en route: “I feel like scrambled eggs gone hard and you still serve me up.” The stripped-back arrangement of acoustic guitar and retro styled synths provides a truly sympathetic background for Charli’s bittersweet musings.

Along with a London heritage, our next act shares a lettering matter with CHVRLI BLVCK, although in this case an o becomes an x to represent leaving part of his past self behind. The music of Lonely Ghxst came to my attention when he shared his late 2022 single “Cold Night” with me recently. His aegis reflects a sense that he can still feel alone even when surrounded by people. He is still based in London playing live at venues like PizzaExpress Live, Ronnie Scott’s and Sofar Sounds while also performing as a street entertainer at tourist hotspots in the capital.

Musically, “Cold Night” has a beautifully sparse feel giving its mantric lyrics space to breathe and Lonely Ghxst’s exceptional voice a platform to soar in lamentation. The combination of instrumentation and voice put me in mind of Ajimal and to some extent the work of Daughter. As a bonus track today here is Lonely Ghxst’s second single previewing the coming EP, “All in Your Head”, which dials up the emotional charge even further on the back of a cacophonous chorus. It’s as impressive as it is liberating. You can catch Lonely Ghxst at Pizza Express Live for his second headline show on 26 April for the launch of his EP, Cold Night.

Photo of Daughter by Marika-Kochiashvili


I thought of Elena Tonra aka Daughter, the trio she leads which also numbers guitarist Igor Haefeli, and drummer Remi Augeilella when reference to her came to mind while listening to Lonely Ghxst’s “Cold Night.” I can claim to be an early adopter of Daughter’s music, introducing her to a US audience via an interview with ConsequenceofSound in 2011 and later that year reviewing the trio’s concert at the London church of St Giles in the Fields. Those links still work if you want to take a look.


It has been seven years since the band’s last full studio album the less than aptly titled Not to Disappear came out and this was followed a year later by an instrumental album sound tracking the video game, Life Is Strange: Before the Storm. Elena then released a solo album under the name Ex:Re before announcing a friendly hiatus rather than a band split. This research paid dividends when it led me to news of a new Daughter album due on 7 April. This is the first of three single releases ahead of the full album.

“Be on Your Own Way” is classic Daughter with a new note of optimism hallmarked by an acceptance that time passes and a confidence in what has been experienced and learned. Musically it still balances pin drop moments with waves of soaring synths and percussive crashes while Elena’s trademark confessional vocals remain the unifying element. A second single, “Party”, followed soon after and this week saw the third episode see light. The soundscape to “Swim Back” is a busier affair with synths vying with orchestral strings but in its way just as emotionally immersive as the band’s sparser work.

FEBRUARY SPOTIFY PLAYLIST

A regular feature of this site is the monthly Fifty3 Fridays Spotify Playlist. Te latest one includes all the songs in order from February’s Fifty3 Fridays if they are to be found on Spotify, of course. Unfortunately, Bella Taylor Smith’s version of “How Great Thou Art” isn’t there so I have substituted the gospel version by Pentatonix ft. Jennifer Hudson. The Playlist opens reflectively with “Who Knows Where the Time Goes” by Fairport Convention and reaches its zenith with the marvellous 40-year-old “Love Plus One” from Haircut 100. Find me on Spotify at TonyHardy53.





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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

UPCOMING GIGS 

 

Selected dates in the London area:

Sun 21 Apr: Jewelia, The Lexington, London N1

Tue 23 Apr: Silk Cinema + Maya Lane, The Half Moon, Putney, London SW15

Thu 2 May: Andrew Maxwell Morris + Hallworth + Paper Anthem, The Bedford, Balham

Sat 11 May: Emily Barker, Banquet Records, Kingston upon Thames

Fri 17 May: Katharine Priddy, Union Chapel, London N1

banquetrecords.com: See the Events page for all live shows in Kingston

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