Industry news & advice blog

Rising to the top! We check in with Spotlight bands & artists to hear their progress...

The super talented stars of our Spotlight blog over the past year have achieved some wonders since we first featured them, so let’s check in with a few and find out what’s been happening. Find out more about our monthly Spotlight blog and show on Amazing Radio, and how you could have your track featured here.

When we first heard CaStLeS and included them in our March 2016 Spotlight blog, word was already starting to spread about them in their homeland of Wales and they also managed to secure some funding through ‘Horizons 12’ (a BBC and Arts Council scheme). Things have developed at a rapid rate since then so we checked in with Dion to find out what happened next: 

“Since then we became busy playing festivals on the ‘Horizons’ stage, first of which was Liverpool Sound City. By the summer, through gigging and exposure from platforms such as Spotlight, interest in us was gradually rising. Then came the highlight of the year; we were asked to play Reading & Leeds Festival on the BBC Introducing Stage! This came as a massive surprise and meant a lot to us being an unsigned band.” 

Their debut album was unleashed in November and in the days leading up to this, the band played a launch party in Cardiff, plus a further two events, one being a recording session at Maida Vale with ‘Horizons’, and the other being a headline act for a PRS & MPA Showcase in London. The Guardian’s Paul Lester liked what he heard and crowned them his ‘New Band of the Week’ at the start of December. Not bad for an unsigned band! 

Work has started on a second album for release in 2017, but first the band will be re-releasing ‘Foresteering’ with an accompanying music video. Dion explains why: “We were an unknown band at the time of its first release, and after the successes of 2016, and with it being the foundation track of the album, we think it will be a fitting single and video to close this chapter before we turn our energy onto album No 2.”

False Advertising
Manchester trio False Advertising have enjoyed a triumphant 2016. Since featuring them on Spotlight back in March, they have independently secured key festival slots at Kendal Calling and Liverpool Sound City, headlined at Off The Record Festival in Manchester and supported Bob Mould at Manchester’s Academy 2 venue. 

Other highlights include the band releasing ‘Give It Your Worst / Scars’ on 7″ through Too Pure Singles Club (Beggars Group) and promptly selling out of copies. Tracks from their ‘Brainless’ EP were premiered across DIY, Clash Music, MOSH and Louder than War, as well as played repeatedly on XFM and BBC 6 Music. To top it all off, False Advertising were named winners of PRS Foundation’s Flash Funding for live performance ahead of their first ever UK tour and even cited as ‘Guitarists to Watch’ in Total Guitar Magazine.

Is it possible for 2017 to have anything more exciting up its sleeve? It would appear so; False Advertising have been invited to officially showcase at SXSW in March 2017. They also have new material due to be released in February/March as part of Low Four Studio‘s Development Scheme and will be spreading their DIY grunge inspired sound across the UK with a series of gig and festival dates in Spring.

Ivory Wave 
So what have Brummie band Ivory Wave been doing since our Spotlight feature in August 2016? It’s been a busy few months for them and their fusion of indie beats and synth sounds have continued to go down a treat with their regional BBC Introducing folks who have been giving new tracks plenty of airplay. 

Ivory Wave have also been in the studio with Warner Records, played a bevy of support slots including Clay and Public Access TV, amongst others, and they’ve also played their own sell out headline gig at O2 Academy Birmingham. 

With 2 new tracks that are due to be mixed in February with producer Matt Terry (The Prodigy/The Enemy), things are all go in 2017. Release of these songs is planned for March/April and will coincide with a big headline gig announcement. A UK tour is also in the pipeline so check back to see if Ivory Wave are coming to a gig venue near you soon. 

Since tipping the alternative post punk trio’s debut single ‘Never There’ in our Spotlight blog, LIINES have revelled in a fantastic 2016. They started the year being namechecked as Ones To Watch on John Kennedy’s X-Posure on Radio X, who also made ‘Never There’ his ‘Big One’ the week it was released. They’ve since enjoyed airplay for their further releases, ‘Blackout’ and ‘Disappear/Be Here’ on his show as well. 

Also showing LIINES lots of love with radio play were BBC 6 Music’s Tom Robinson, BBC Introducing Manchester, Amazing Radio and a number of local and internet stations across the UK. They've also had lots of praise on various websites, blogs and publications including Louder Than War, The Quietus, Gigslutz, God is in the TV Zine, The Skinny and more.

The highlight of their year has to be signing to label Reckless Yes, who released a double-A side single Disappear/Be Here on limited edition white vinyl and digitally.  LIINES made it onto the longlist for Glastonbury’s Emerging Talent Competition (selected by The Quietus) and over the summer played Dot to Dot Festival and Ramsbottom Festival, but the pinnacle for them playing live was performing to a packed Gullivers for the Ladyfest Manchester festival, alongside many other awesome female artists.

For now the band are working towards releasing their debut album with Reckless Yes later in 2017. They’ll also be gigging as much as possible and hope to get on more festival bills. Watch this space!

Where Fires Are
A spectacular year for the mighty Where Fires Are! Since highlighting their superb song ‘Your Brother’ in our January 2016 Spotlight blog they’ve gone on to play Live at Leeds , Kendal Calling and Mondo NYC  (including an acoustic performance in NYU and a 'proper' gig at Bowery Electric in Manhattan). Add two sold-out shows in their hometown of Leeds to that equation and you’ve got a winning year. But the recognition didn’t stop there, with airplay on Tom Robinson’s BBC 6 Music show, Amazing Radio and BBC Introducing. 

They spent the latter half of 2016 writing new material for a new EP release ‘one four six one’ which is due out on 2nd February. The lead single from the EP 'I've Got The Time' has already been played on Amazing Radio and Kerrang! Radio and a nationwide tour to support the release also kicks off on February 2nd. Plans are in place to visit Germany for some shows in March, and April will see the four piece head to Toronto to play at Canadian Music Week. It looks like 2017 could be about to knock 2016 out the ballpark for Where Fires are and we can’t wait!

Kicking off our Spotlight blogs for 2016, we championed Oktoba in our January blog and we’re over the moon to hear that his year only improved from there. 

Chris tells us: “After my Spotlight feature in January 2016 I was really pleased with the year that followed. Gigs reached new heights for me with festival slots at The Great Escape, Secret Garden Party and Latitude Festival for BBC introducing.  As well as the summer festivals, I had some real highlights playing shows with Sofar Sounds throughout the year and performed at some incredible venues around the UK for some amazing audiences.”

He also achieved his first play on BBC Radio 2 with song ‘Smoke Signals’, and also had another track ‘Run’ featured on MTV’s ‘Teen Mom OG’ show. 

The Brighton talent already has a second album underway which he hopes to release later in 2017, and with the summer festivals beckoning let’s hope to see Oktoba on some forthcoming line-ups. 

There are so many amazing Scottish bands around at the moment and Bloodlines are amongst our absolute faves. Since we championed their track ‘Skeletons’ in our June 2016 Spotlight blog, it hit Number 6 in The Herald’s Top 100 songs of the year and was played by Vic Galloway on BBC Radio Scotland, who also tipped them as ones to watch for 2017.

The band also returned to one of their favourite festivals in 2016, Belladrum, where they headlined the Seedlings tent and played to an insane crowd, complete with circle pits. 

Oh yeah… and did we mention Bloodlines also won ‘Best Rock/Alt band’ at the Scottish Alternative Music awards?! 2016 has certainly been a stand-out year for the four piece. 

As for 2017, there are 2 new recorded singles in preparation for release during the first half of the year. ‘Mothers Misery’ got its exclusive play to the nation by Vic Galloway on 23rd January and is due for release in February. They’ll be headlining at Stereo in Glasgow on Saturday 18th February and have more gig dates and festivals to unveil as well, so keep your eyes peeled for exciting news.

Hey Bulldog
We were musically slapped round the face when we first heard Mancunians Hey Bulldog’s arresting psychedelic blues and rock track ‘Under My Spell’. Since their Spotlight feature the band have played Solfest and supported Moon Duo at The Trades Club in Hebden Bridge, plus Sulk at Manchester’s Night & Day Café.

Flattering reviews have been lavished upon them from all sides including Louder Than War, The Revue, Mad Mackerel, The Devil Has The Best Tuna, Colourhorizon and Even The Stars, and they’ve not been short on radio play either as BBC 6 Music’s Chris Hawkins and Steve Lamacq have been quick to champion them. John Kennedy from Radio X has also played both of their last 'Under My Spell' and 'Divide and Conquer'.

So what does 2017 have in store for Hey Bulldog? New single 'Stranger' which will be mixed by producers Boe Weaver (Wolf People, Archie Bronson Outfit) will be released in early April. An EP will follow in the summer, and now the band have secured an EU and UK booking agent, it looks as though their first gigs abroad and more UK shows will be on the agenda. 


Want to be featured on the Spotlight blog & radio show?
Our Spotlight blog is compiled every month from fresh new music submitted to us by our members. We want to hear from you! We select 5 of the best tracks from our members, so if you want to be in the running you’ll need to sign up to The Unsigned Guide then follow the instructions in your Welcome email to submit a track for Spotlight consideration to us. 
As well as being featured in our new music blog, your track will also be played on our monthly Amazing Radio show and also forwarded onto music industry professionals including folks from Big Life Management, Club Fandango, Decca Records, Memphis Industries, Rocksound, Spotify, DIY Magazine, Transgressive Records and The Great Escape. Find out more about Spotlight here.
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