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Playlist: Stockton Calling

Top tunes from a top upcoming festival

By Andy PottsPublished 2 months ago 3 min read

Cortney Dixon – Summer Love

Well, this is everything you could want from a pop song. Catchy, distinctive, and blessed with a distinctive purring vocal that sends shivers down the spine with each verse. Cortney grew up listening to the likes of Fleetwood Mac, the Pretenders and Bowie and she clearly picked up a song-writing trick or two along the way. Summer Love, as the title suggests, is a bright, fun slice of disposable flippancy, laced with a slightly pensive twang.

Plus, the video is a belter: South Shields transformed into a surreal South California, complete with a solitary bride touring Ocean Park and riding a white swan along the way. Throw in a hook that the Beach Boys wouldn’t have turned down, and you’ve got quite the package.

Cortney’s work has matured impressively since her start as a singer-songwriter. Now working with her own band, she’s revelling in the greater musical scope on offer and the tracks that emerged last year (Summer Love being the stand-out, alongside Bang Bang Honey Honey) represent the best evidence yet that she’s delivering on the buzz that built up before lockdown.

Hannah Robinson – When I was High

The beauty of festivals like this is spotting a new name, checking out their music and discovering something wonderful. Tyneside’s Hannah Robinson (not to be confused with her Americana-inflected namesake, best known for the Murakami-inspired single The Well) delivers dreamy, atmospheric, shoegazey stuff that repays repeated listens. The lyrical preoccupations are all about navigating the emotional minefield of self-doubt and frustration. It’s a well-ploughed furrow, not least in Hannah’s own repertoire, but musically there’s enough going on to keep it fresh.

Best of all, there’s a real sense of even more to come here: after kicking off with covers of the like of Tame Impala (an audible influence on Hannah’s solo stuff), Tears for Fears and, err, Coldplay (well, nobody’s perfect, I guess!) she’s starting to develop a distinctive voice of her own. And it’s a voice that demands to be heard, blending ethereal vocal harmonies with a meatier guitar sound to create a soothing, hypnotic soundtrack perfect for late night listening.

Hannah is promising new material this year, and hopefully we’ll hear some of that in Stockton next weekend.

Hector Gannett – Emmanuel Head

Aaron Duff’s four-piece band specialises in gentle folk rock with a strong sense of place. It would be hard to find an act more grounded in its native soil: the whole project was inspired by Duff’s attempts to soundtrack 1950s archive footage of his native North Shields.

However, this is rarely the sound of urban Tyneside. While early tracks like The Launch are explicitly tied to the long-closed shipyards that once powered communities, the music eschews the hammer-and-rivets school of northern folk in favour of something more timeless. Hector Gannet are just as likely to be found writing about the landscapes of Northumberland or the remote fastness of Lindisfarne.

Which is where you’ll find Emmanuel Head, the lead track of last year’s “The Land Belongs To Us” album. There’s an echo of Kinder Scout and mass trespass about the title, and you could imagine the idea fitting into a Sea Power lyric (indeed, Hector Gannet have toured with Sea Power). But this is a gentler vibe, meditating on our links with the landscape rather than making militant demands to trample all over it. In a world where everyone seems forever more determined to make brash statements, Hector Gannet prefers to provoke thought rather than reaction. And couldn’t we all do with more of that?

Stockton Calling is an all-day, multi-venue festival in Stockton-on-Tees on Sat., March 30. Advance tickets are available for £40 from the festival website. Hector Gannet and Cortney Dixon both play at the Arc, Hannah Robinson is on-stage at The Social Room. And Jen Dixon, who featured in last week’s playlist is also involved with a set a the NE Volume Bar.

For previous playlists, check out folksy flavours and politics.

Thanks for reading. If you liked it, please subscribe (it’s free!). If you really liked it, leave a tip on Vocal or Buy me a Coffee. But, most of all, please support these artists by buying their music and going to their gigs.

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About the Creator

Andy Potts

Community focused sports fan from Northeast England. Tends to root for the little guy. Look out for Talking Northeast, my new project coming soon.

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Comments (3)

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  • Angie the Archivist 📚🪶2 months ago

    Enjoyable review. Another song called Summer Love by Sherbet (just a few years ago, in 1975), was a real favourite of mine. Entertaining music video… I did feel sorry for her callous treatment of the drum kit 😵‍💫🤣. Hannah Robinson – When I was High is an interesting song with a terrifying video clip🫨 Hector Gannett – Emmanuel Head was indeed gentle folk rock. The beach art was amazing… 3D almost. Trust the Stockton-on-Tees music festival was all you hoped it would be!

  • Thanks for this and continuing to introduce me to new music

  • When I was high is just a killer

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