The advent of the inner-city festival season always comes with a sense of mayhem, and Camden Crawl is no exception. This year's jam-packed lineup has a mix of the best new bands on the block and established yet credible names to draw in punters - perhaps as a result of increased competition from its seafaring cousin The Great Escape, which has employed a similar mix to great success in recent years.
Anyway, expect events similar to the following to occur: You will discover an amazing new band (case in point: in 2008, the Motel stumbled across a certain fourpiece answering to the name of Mumford & Sons). You will see haircuts that you have never, ever seen before in your life, and mostly likely never will again (until next year). The art of sprinting up and down Chalk Farm Road between venues very quickly will become second nature by about 10pm on Sunday. Hopefully, the pain of queueing outside venues will be tempered by the new friends you make while waiting (from personal experience, Wild Beasts fans are generally very chatty). You could, if you're lucky, witness an entry in Swedish pop history as two of its unsung greats spontaneously collaborate, and, if you're Meg, you might end up calling Mathew Horne 'Gavin' upon spotting him tucking into a sandwich. But even if none of those things happen, you will find our full-length Festival Mixtape a) useful and b) entertaining... I hope!
1. Dutch Uncles - Fragrant
Dutch Uncles have already started to receive great praise for their forthcoming second album Cadenza - their first release with Memphis Industries. In last year's print Review of the Year, Sped and Peter from the band told us that they were trying to marry their 'intelligent' brand of songwriting - all the shifting time signatures, dischords and angular rhythms - with pure pop sensibilities, and Fragrant is a perfect example of how they've succeeded in doing so. It has an instantly hummable chorus and a monumental middle eight. What's not to love?
2. Foreign Office - On Repeat
Your correspondent loves a band or musician with a good, constitutional name. Think Young Knives' bassist The House of Lords, or the (sadly missed) Official Secrets Act. Foreign Office follow in the same art-rock(ish) tradition. They showed great live promise at a rejuvenated In The City in Manchester last October, and On Repeat, with its addictive beat, will get even the most self-conscious of hipsters tapping their feet casually at the bar, if not cutting a rug in the middle of the room.
3. Eagulls - Acrostical
Eagulls are a sensational turn from the North (Leeds, to be precise). This introspective number is the B-side to their recent single Council Flat Blues. The A-side received a rave review from one S Welch earlier this year, and he sure does know his noise groups. There's a whiff of 65daysofstatic about the instrumental opening to Acrostical, which can only be A Good Thing. As it takes off into a furious, feedback-drenched rant, you can't help but imagine that this would sound monumental live - so why not go and find out then?
4. Mazes - Illegitimate Love (live on BBC 6Music)
Andy P was right to say that the only problem with Mazes' debut A Thousand Heys is that it's too short. This two-and-a-half minute taster of the band from a recent radio session is proof enough - you just want to play it again and again as it hurtles along its petulant path into your heart. The really great thing about this version of Illegitimate Love is that it doesn't fall into the trap of being too cool, as a lot of lo-fi indie often does. In addition, as this is a live recording and you will be watching them live, they have a distinct advantage over the other bands in this mixtape in selling themselves to you, dear readers.
Illegitimate Love (live on BBC 6 Music) by Mazes
KOKO, 1a Camden High Street, Sunday May 1 (time TBC)
5. The History of Apple Pie - Science For The Young
The History of Apple Pie haven't been going for very long, but they've certainly made an impact, having confirmed appearances at Field Day and next month's NME Radar tour in the past week or two. Love Like Fire and The Pains of Being Pure At Heart are obvious reference point here, perhaps due to their employment of a winning combination (bittersweet vocals and scuzzy guitars, of course).
The History Of Apple Pie : Science For The Young by Beatcast
The Forge, 3-7 Delancey Street, Saturday April 30 at 15.00
The Lock Tavern, 25 Chalk Farm Road, Sunday May 1 at 14.30
The Dublin Castle, 94-96 Parkway, Sunday May 1 at 20.20
6. Wild Palms - To The Lighthouse (Team Ghost remix)
Two birds with one stone here, as both Wild Palms and Team Ghost are performing at the Crawl in their own right. The French shoegaze duo shave all the rough edges off the original, lending it an air of mystery and melody with a heavily distorted vocal that references the inimitable Hayden Thorpe of Wild Beasts. The intro also serves as concrete proof that all remixes need more muted flutes in 2011. You know it makes sense.
Wild Palms - To The Lighthouse (Team Ghost Remix) by Eurostar Records
Wild Palms: Venue and time TBC
Team Ghost: The Forge, 3-7 Delancey Street, Saturday April 30 at 17.00
The Dublin Castle, 94-96 Parkway, Saturday April 30 at 20.20
The Lock Tavern, 25 Chalk Farm Road, Sunday May 1 at 14.30
The Black Cap, 171 Camden High Street, Sunday May 1 at 22.30
7. Banjo or Freakout - Dear Me
Like Dutch Uncles, Banjo or Freakout has also been snapped up by the increasingly shrewd Memphis Industries for a debut album, released last month. According to Alessio Natalizia himself, Dear Me "could have gone on forever", and in the greatest of shoegaze traditions, it does - well, for almost six minutes anyhow. Ambient guitars and persistent drums combine to entertain your ears. Haunting stuff.
Dear Me by Banjo or Freakout
Time and venue TBC
8. Cate Le Bon - Hollow Trees House Hounds
FM Festival Mixtape regular Cate Le Bon's deliciously dark voice will be familiar to the vast majority of you from her sultry vocal on Neon Neon's I Lust U back in 2008. She has since issued a superb debut album of her own, and this is one of the standout tracks (although be warned, the video's a bit weird). According to her official website Cate will be playing three shows during the weekend, including one atop a double decker bus. "I have been assured [it] will not be in motion," she quipped.
The Barfly, 49 Chalk Farm Road, Saturday April 30 at 21.10
A double decker bus somewhere, Sunday May 1 at 14.00
The Dublin Castle, 94-96 Parkway, Sunday May 1 at 21.10
9. Sarabeth Tucek - Wooden
Ah, that inevitable moment in proceedings where your concentration goes, your shoulders sag and your feet give up. Sarabeth Tucek is the perfect tonic for that awful moment when festival fatigue (and with it, a profound sense of anxiety) strikes. This mournful cut from her critically acclaimed second album Get Well Soon demands that you show it the greatest of respect. The opening two minutes are so sparse and poignant that you can't help but be soothed by every line, and when the guitar kicks in, it's just the tonic you need to get going again.
10. British Sea Power - Cleaning Out The Rooms
BSP are always a popular proposition here at the Motel, and a rather large number of our contributors stocked up on 'Zeus' lager at the band's recent tour. This ambient number from their latest album Valhalla Dancehall is bold without becoming overblown - the air of mystery created by timid vocals and powerful strings is no less than sensational. The piano outro's a nice touch, too. For those of you who are more familiar with 2008's Mercury-nominated longplayer Do You Like Rock Music?, prepare to be pleasantly surprised.
11. Guillemots - Sao Paulo
This is Guillemots at their very, very best. The monumental closing track to their Mercury-nominated debut Through The Windowpane, it's a glorious mess, and just as soaring and interesting live as on record. If you had any doubts as to the London-based fourpiece's talent and vision, then Sao Paulo will give you a bloody good slap about the bracket, particularly at 6'04" when the tempo, mood and volume all snap in the blink of an eye. I know that every popular band has to have its more commercial moments (cf. most of their divisive 2008 album Red), but if everything that Guillemots ever committed to record was as untamed as this, they'd probably be my favourite band of all time.
Sao Paulo by Guillemots
The Forge, 3-7 Delancey Street, Sunday May 1 at 17.00 (acoustic)
Kentish Town Forum, 9-17 Highgate Road, Sunday, May 1 at 20.45
mixtape by Kate Goodacre
Camden Crawl takes place at various venues in the London Borough of Camden between April 30 and May 1. Weekend tickets cost Â£63.50 excluding handling and transaction fees, with day tickets priced at Â£39.50 excluding fees. All tickets allow access to all venues subject to capacity. Visit the official website for further practical information, including a map of venues. All stage times are approximate.