Always one of the highlights of the festival scene, this weekend will see the 11th edition of End Of The Road. The festival, set in the beautiful Larmer Tree Gardens, continues to showcase the best in Americana, folk and basically anything they like the sound of, and this year’s line up might just be one of the best yet.
With heavy hitting headliners, Animal Collective, Joanna Newsom and Bat For Lashes, as well as some of our regularly mentioned favourites including Mothers, Martha and Ezra Furman, it promises to be a spectacular weekend. Plus as it’s now expanded to include bands on the Thursday night, topped by The Shins, it’s bigger than ever.
Below we’ve focused on some of the lesser well known, but equally brilliant acts performing this weekend – proving that as always End Of The Road is the kind of place you might just find your new favourite band…
Lionlimb (Tipi Tent – Friday – 18:30)
We must admit when we first heard Shoo, the debut album by Lionlimb, we thought they were destined for far bigger things than seem to have come their way so far. A spectacular fusion of jazz, introspective indie-folk and prog, it’s probably one of the most interesting albums we’ve heard all year, but for many Lionlimb still seem to be pigeonholed as Angel Olsen’s backing band.
On a short tour of the UK, hopefully the band will start getting noticed for their own music, because it’s truly spectacular. The smooth soul of God Knows, the heartbreak with bass-saxophones of Domino, and the spectacular Turnstile which has a drum beat more interesting than some bands entire albums; Lionlimb are a fascinating prospect, even if a clash with the equally complex and brilliant Field Music does seem particularly cruel of the musical gods.
Julia Jacklin (Tipi Tent – Saturday – 12:30)
Not many people’s route to international critical acclaim takes in several years working on a factory production line making essential oils, but Australian songwriter, Julia Jacklin, isn’t most people. One of the joys of those years spent in tedious employment, was that it allowed Julia to hone her musical craft, to think of little but music, and how it was her ticket out of there.
Born in the Blue Mountains, Julia’s music is surprisingly un-Australian, it nods in the direction of alt-country, a world of twanging electric guitars, smooth ticking drum beats, and her trump card, her spectacular vocal. More than just a wonderful voice though, Julia is also a superbly cutting lyricist, as she sings on recent single Leadlight, “I love you my darling, but I can’t promise I’ll be here to see this whole love through.” With a debut album out next month and seemingly every radio station and music rag queuing up to rave about it, don’t expect Julia Jacklin to be playing the smallest tent again anytime soon.
Lucy Dacus (Tipi Tent – Saturday – 15:00)
It’s fair to say it’s been a pretty spectacular year for Richmond, Virginia based singer Lucy Dacus. What started with a self-release of her debut album, No Burden, has now seen her sign a deal with Matador Records, headline a show at SXSW and tour the world with some of the biggest names in the current alternative scene.
All of which would seem very lucky, if it wasn’t for the fact that No Burden is a stunning record. Few songwriters are capable of going from the brash, over-driven stomp of I Don’t Wanna Be Funny Anymore, to the heartbreakingly, beautiful, Map On A Wall. No Burden tackles a wide range of topics, her adoption at a very young age, not allowing yourself to be Pigeonholed as a “female” songwriter, and not feeling deserving of the praise coming her way, on Map On A Wall she sings, “so far my life’s one long lucky streak, they say you should take the credit when it comes” they’re right and as a lot of it seems to be coming her way lately, Lucy might just have to get used to it.
Jeffrey Lewis & Los Bolts (Saturday – Garden Stage – 16:30)
Okay so we slightly went off our own brief here, because Jeffrey Lewis is not very new, very well known, and we rave about him all the time, to pretty much anyone who’ll listen. Despite all that it’s hard not to recommend people go and watch one of the world’s greatest musical outsiders. In a world where everything seems to be about presentation and hype, Jeff seems to shun all that and just do music exactly how he wants to. Whether he’s recording an entire album of covers of late 1970’s punks Crass, taking his audience on a song/lecture about the history of communism, or releasing a song about a Pigeon and an old Jewish man, Jeff is never anything but himself.
If you don’t believe us when we tell you how good he is, just head over to Jeffrey’s website, and you’ll see glowing testimonies from the likes of Jarvis Cocker (“The best lyricist working in the US today”), Jens Lekman (“Jeffrey is the only artist I’ve sent fan mail to”) and Interpol’s Paul Banks (“Jeffrey Lewis sings as though absurdity were truth, and truth absurdity. And I think I agree with him”) Unique, brilliant, legendary, basically unmissable.
BC Camplight (Saturday – Tipi Tent – 23:00)
Were it not for a run in with the Home Office, then BC Camplight, aka Brian Christinzio, would have been performing this set last year. Following the release of last year’s How To Die In The North, Brian’s career and new life in Manchester hung in the balance as he was refused a work visa. Thankfully that’s all now sorted, and he can get back on with doing what he does, writing bloody marvellous music.
How To Die In The North was BC’s first record since 2007, and dealt openly with his struggle in overcoming issues with health, alcohol and drugs. Much of his recovery and return can be tied into his move to Manchester, where he put his life back on track, and scored a deal with Bella Union. The record was magnificent, dramatic, dark and beautiful; taking in influences from far and wide, be it Randy Newman piano ballads, Brian Wilson’s beautiful melodies, or Noel Coward’s tongue in cheek lyricism. He might be a year late, but BC Camplight should be well worth the wait.
Kevin Morby (Garden Stage – Sunday – 16:45)
If there’s one artist performing at this year’s festival who perfectly matches End Of The Road’s music pallet, it’s probably Kevin Morby. The Mount Washington based songwriter takes a classic Americana sound, and warps and twists it into something entirely his own.
His latest record, Singing Saw, is one of our favourite records of 2016, showcasing a magpie like ability to pick up ideas from all genres, he borrows gospel-meets-girlgroup backing vocals, Balkan-tinged horns and some lovely synthetic organs, all paired perfectly with his Jim James meets Hamilton Leithauser vocal. Perfect Sunday afternoon fair, which is lucky as that’s exactly when he’s on.
Updated: End Of The Road sold out this morning – Sorry if we got your hopes up!