BY GUEST CONTRIBUTOR CHAS DE WHALLEY
Another favourite to scoop this year’s SSC honours is multi-instrumentalist Jake Shaw, who arrived here from the Forest of Dean shortly before Christmas but already professes to being blown away by just how much music there is in our valleys. Keen to enter into the spirit of things Jake has written, played, performed and produced When The Sun Goes Down. It’s a pretty powerful piece of pop which – I hope he won‘t be offended if I say – proudly straddles any line you might care to draw between great late 80s hitmakers like Deacon Blue and World Party (remember them?) and the more recent chart topper George Ezra. And all done in his bedroom too…Check it out!!! Way back in his day Jake was also a finalist in a BBC local radio’s New Talent competition, before it was renamed BBC Introducing .
Alt-folk duo HUMM, on the other hand, should need no introduction since guitarist Arty Jackson won the first ever SSC and then teamed with harmonium player Carys Lewin to reach the Grand Final the following year. More recently, in June 2022 to be precise, HUMM were chosen by the National Trust to help commemorate Paul McCartney’s 80th birthday by playing in the front room of Macca’s old family home in Forthlin Road Liverpool! Now they’re back in front of a home(ish) Cotswold crowd with the drily chucklesome ‘Dance Alone’, an initially whimsical song which gives up more the more you listen to it.
How much you’d have to listen to it before you’d want to get up and dance is another question. But not one you’d have to ask about ‘Forgetting To Breathe’ by Nostalgia Bias. As soon as the drums come in this proves to be a memorable post-punk moshpit monster from four guys – Jackson, Elliott, Pink and Seamus – who freely admit they’re actually not from Stroud but all variously (and/or regularly) study, work, play pool and drink (of course) around the town. Jackson says he wrote ‘Forgetting To Breath’ about an unrequited love affair. Make sure you bear that in mind when it’s time to cast your vote. A man can only take so much rejection after all.
Next up is Titus. Who they? Well, let me tell you a story…Once upon a time a bunch of school friends got a little band together for fun while studying for their A levels. How ever many years later, they have re-convened to produce the infectious ‘This Is Love’ especially for the SSC. And before you write Titus off as probably overweight Dad Rockers you should note that this extremely Beatley tune has hardly a spare ounce of unwanted flesh on it and packs a real rhythmic punch. But then it was recorded at Get It Together Studios – Stroud’s very own answer to Abbey Road – which might just have something to do with how polished it sounds.