The Natterjacks

The Natterjacks are an indie folk duo hailing from Chesterfield in Derbyshire. Playing together since 2010, Freddie Bingham and Mark Evans create a rip-roaring, foot-stomping brand of folk that’s accessible, enjoyable and downright excellent.

On first listening, you’d be forgiven for thinking there were more than two people making up this band. Both multi-instrumentalists, Bingham and Evans use mandolin, kick-drum and banjo alongside their two acoustic guitars to create a multi-layered musical track that beautifully compliments the rich vocals. Their sound has distinctly nu-folk feel, with the pair taking their influences from the likes of Fleet Foxes, Laura Marling and Mumford & Sons, and the overall sense of dynamic vivacity that underscores every song makes them a worthy listen, both recorded and live.

The Natterjacks have already built up a dedicated local following, pulling in new fans daily through their storming live shows and the regular release of new tracks via their Soundcloud page. Some of these tracks are free to download, and all of them are – astonishingly, considering the level of quality – recorded in either Mark’s room or Freddie’s shed.

With a session for BBC Introducing’s ‘The Beat’ already under their belt, and both an EP and a new video in the pipeline, the Natterjacks are surely ones to watch – I personally hope we’ll be hearing a lot more from them in the future.

For more information about the Natterjacks, check out their website. You can also like them on Facebook, or follow them on twitter: @thenatterjacks

Ellen And The Escapdes

I’ve been a fan of Ellen and the Escapades for a couple of years now, having first seen them perform on the main stage at 2000 Trees festival in 2010. Formed in 2008, this Leeds-based nu-folk quintet have been seeing some much deserved recognition since the release of their debut album ‘All The Crooked Scenes’ in April of this year, with radio play from the likes of Steve Lamacq, Chris Hawkins and Radio 2’s ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris.*

Fronted by the dusky-voiced and dainty Ellen Smith, Ellen and the Escapades make a particularly soothing brand of contemporary folk music, with soft chords and bittersweet harmonies off-setting lyrics emotive enough to melt even the hardest of hearts. Besides the eponymous Ellen, the band comprises of Chris Quick, Jeff Schneider, James Warrender and Gary Stewart, who all work seamlessly together to create the exquisite melodies that soar grandly alongside Ellen’s delicate northern vocal.

The band’s big break came in 2010, when despite having no semblance of a record deal, they won Glastonbury’s emerging talent competition and landed themselves a spot on one of the festival’s main stages. Unsurprisingly, the labels fought like tigers to sign them after the Glasto win, and the band have gone on to release their debut with Branch Our Records as well as to support such names as Josh T Pearson and First Aid Kit on tour.

You can find out more Ellen and the Escapades via their website.  If you would like to listen to more of their beautiful music, visit their Soundcloud page. Their latest single, the stunning ‘Without You’, is available for physical and electronic purchase now, and if you would like to see them live, they will be supporting the Travelling Band on tour early next year.

– Georgie

*Incidentally, the album art work for this record was created by Twoducksdisco, who I wrote about in one of my earlier posts. read about him here.

Marika Hackman

I discovered the lovely Marika Hackman quite by accident whilst researching for my student radio show, and was instantly captivated by her sweet, ethereal vocals and the raw, natural quality of her music. Having just released her debut EP, a double A side limited edition run entitled You Come Down/ Mountain Spines (which was produced by Johnny Flynn and Adam Beach of the Sussex Wit and has already been given its first spin by Radio 1’s Huw Stevens), this is lady we’re all going to be hearing much more of in the coming months.

A self-taught guitarist and hailing from Brighton, Marika has been writing and performing her songs since the tender age of sixteen. Now 20, she’s seen considerable success already, as can be seen from her most recent accolades:  she’s just finished run of dates supporting Benjamin Francis Leftwich on his UK tour, has just announced her own very first headline tour this November, and has another EP in the pipeline for early December to be produced by Charlie Andrew (who has also produced for the now almighty Alt J).

Her influences fair on the mellow, down-tempo side of nu-folk; it is possible to discern traits of bands like Sigur Ros, Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes within her work, however she possesses her own unique quality that stands her apart in an increasingly solo-female heavy industry. With delicate folk undertones and a maturity of voice that is well beyond her years, Marika Hackman is definitely one to watch.

To get your hands on Marika’s free EP of covers (including stunning reworkings of Dusty Springfield and Nirvana) visit her website.

– Georgie