Kent Music: Ones to watch

Rob Hakimian, music writer with ‘Cene Magazine and the casts his eye over the ones to watch this quarter


With the revelation that there will be a giant Tina Turner head stationed at Dreamland in Margate for the summer, it’s never been clearer that Kent is buzzing with a love of music in all forms. I think the legendary singer would approve of the six Kent acts that I have for you this week, none of whom really stray into the realms of her signature R&B style, but each possesses no shortage of soul in their musical expression – and who knows, maybe in 50 years they’ll have their own giant statues cropping up in unexpected locations.

The Modern Strangers

With the release of their new 4-track EP Visions, The Modern Strangers are making a play for the big time – and they have the tunes to back it up. The new set was recorded in London and LA, and manages to straddle the down-to-earth reality of the British capital and the dreamy sunshine of Hollywood, examining their shifting emotions while at it. Visions’ title track is a lilting piano-led ballad of tormented attraction, while Magic Hour is a simply laid back tune that captures blissful summer evenings. There are hints of 80s favourites in the open-hearted and beseeching Parallel, and they sign off the collection by professing their desire to Be Your Lover. If you need any more convincing of the band’s credentials, then make sure you check out the futuristic choreographed dance video for Magic Hour, and you’ll soon find yourself sucked into The Modern Strangers’ orbit.

Art School Girlfriend

Margate-based Polly Mackey has been releasing music as Art School Girlfriend for a little while, and off the back of a string of brilliantly immersive releases she has toured the UK and supported The Japanese House through the US – all without an actual album yet to be released. Her latest double A-side single Come Back To Me/Diving shows a definite growth in both production and personality, as Art School Girlfriend lets us right into her neuroses and doubts. Both of the new tracks stem from a rocky period in her life where she was suffering from a painful break up. She doesn’t hide this fact from the listener, being up front about her unhealthy yearning for her former lover, and she makes the words cut even deeper by setting them afloat on dreamy synth beds, using vaporous vocal effects that make us feel like we’re right inside her psyche. 

The Peaks

On their Facebook page The Peaks describe themselves as “Canterbury based indie rock band playing the early 2000s ravey rock with swing and blues influence,” which pretty much hits the nail on the head. Listening to their scrappy tunes immediately brings to mind the kind of things you might have been listening to if you, like me, were a teen in the 2000s; Arctic Monkeys, The Kooks, Kaiser Chiefs – but it’s done with such heart and earnestness that it’s like a time capsule back to your youth. It’s good to know that young people are still pining unhealthily for that girl in town, having trouble getting into clubs when they can’t grow a decent patch of stubble, and starting to appreciate what a big and complex world is out there for them to explore. The Peaks’ commitment to their songs is what makes them soar beautifully and put a spring in your step, as if you’ve just turned 18 again. 

Mosa Wild

With barely a dozen songs currently online, Ashford-based Mosa Wild are already signed to Glassnote Music – home to other artists like Two Door Cinema Club, Mumford & Sons and many more household names – a vote of confidence if ever there was one. Immediately on pressing play on any of their tracks you can tell why; vocalist Jim Rubaduka has a raspy gargantuan voice, reminiscent of Bon Iver, which is backed up by driving and layered pop rock. A group with diverse musical knowledge and training behind them, you can trace the sounds of recent tracks to a variety of currently working artists, but there’s an alchemy in the four young men’s combination that sets them apart. Just listen to the heart-squeezing tumble of Smoke or the ascendant hopefulness of Tides, and you’ll hear a band already operating at a high level, ready to play festival main stages, with so much potential for the future.

Salvation Jayne
Formed in 2017, Salvation Jayne is a quartet that wants to grab their listeners by the throat and run them through an assault course of rock prowess. In singer Chess Smith they have a full-blooded and committed leader, and in partnering with Holly Kinnear’s unpredictable and python-like guitar work, the band has no trouble in leaving an impression. They combine the scuzz with glamour, the guitars sounding as though they’re raking through the muck that’s found on any sticky music venue floor, while Smith’s voice sails above it, imperious and powerful. In recent track Jayne Doe they’ve released their new mission statement: a song about a woman’s questionable choice in partners, who proudly flaunts these missteps as banners of unbridled confidence. It works as a perfect summation of Salvation Jayne’s unruly but unforgettable sonic punch, and suggests that there’s plenty more muscle to be unleashed.

Tin Foil Astronaut

The project of Max Taylor, Tin Foil Astronaut does exactly what that moniker suggests: gives us a glimpse of what it might be like to enter the cosmos, but only in the ho-hum imagination of the everyday man. Tin Foil Astronaut hails from the Kent countryside, and you can imagine him sitting outside staring up at the stars and dreaming hopeful thoughts, which end up in his woozy and charming tracks. Whether in dancing or floating mode, Tin Foil Astronaut’s songs capture a kindred spirit in the confusing world. The guitars are resplendent, with plenty of bends reflecting off into the distance, while Taylor’s voice remains grounded and concerned with everyday stresses that he hopes to escape. Recent single Without A Sound is his biggest sounding yet, but still maintains the humble character of his few earlier releases – made doubly adorable when watching the robot-starring video.