Review of the year – Iain Lauder

My favourite gig of the year goes to a show which saw one of the lowest attendances I had been to all year, the super smooth whispered Americana of the still unknown Sam Evian. Announcing himself to Brighton at this year’s The Great Escape festival, the New York-based band came back to play The Hope & Ruin with their second album in tow and gave one of the most audibly pleasing, captivating and damn right impressive shows I’ve seen in years. It reminded me of a similar situation when seeing Andy Shauf in an empty Prince Albert pub. The band’s musicianship was immense, the songs incredibly strong, and they somehow managed to sound like so many of the great rock acts from yesteryear but stay sounding totally unique. I cannot wait for the next time Sam Evian comes through our city to perform in front of a bigger audience.

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Best of 2018

It has been one hell of a year. From the influx of thousands of artists during festival season to watching many of our most-loved Brighton bands bloom into genuine world beaters, 2018 has been an incredibly successful year for music locally. Our Brightonsfinest writers now look back over the past 12 months to remember their highlights on record and in the live sphere as well as the ones we missed.

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Sam Evian – The Hope & Ruin, Brighton – 24th October 2018

With two stunning albums to boot on Saddle Creek, both of which have somehow seemingly gone under the radar, surely it won’t be long before the talents of Sam Evian are recognised among musos alike. Brainchild of former Celestial Shore guitarist Sam Owen, a singer-songwriter/producer from New York, the band’s super smooth whispered Americana sound takes strong influences from some of the American guitar greats from the 60s/70s, holding a strong emotional retrospective edge to each track. We first came across Sam Evian at their astounding performance at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar over The Great Escape Festival 2018, so we were thrilled when we heard they were coming back to Brighton.

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The Great Escape Festival – 2018

To paraphrase that Marmite film classic, the streets were alive with the sound of music! Over three long days and nights, Brighton did truly come alive as The Great Escape juggernaut rolled into town for its 13th edition. The festival for new music saw over 500 acts playing in 40-odd venues, representing countries from all around the globe. If you add in the The Alternative Great Escape, and the plethora of events and pop-up performances arranged off the back of TGE and AGE, you’re looking at closer to 1,000 acts in 80-odd venues. Yes, it was mad, but glorious. Helped along by some beautiful mid-May sunshine, somehow within all the chaos, Brightonsfinest were out in force, documenting, commenting, and enjoying what we like to do best. Watch live music.

So, brace yourself. If you were there, hopefully memories will be stirred. If you weren’t, dive into our thoughts about the state of new music, and check out our many recommendations.

Read reviews from Ben Walker, Dan Whitehouse, Liam McMillen, Iain Lauder, Jeff Hemmings, Jamie MacMillan, Ben Noble

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­Who to see at The Great Escape 2018

Back for its 13th year, The Great Escape is the premier showcase in Europe for new music. Over three days and nights, Brighton is host to 450-plus acts playing over 30 venues, from around 20 countries. You won’t have heard of many of these acts, but quality and potential is the name of the game here. Along with a few fairly established names, the bulk of the bill is made up of acts who have shown their talent, and are on the cusp of bigger and better things. It is a fabulous opportunity to check out new music, covering almost all genres known to man. Alongside The Great Escape, there’s The Alternative Escape, which also features a wealth of stunning new talent, and The Great Escape Convention, where many of the music industry’s movers and shakers congregate to check out the talent, and do a spot of networking and deal making. For three days in May, Brighton truly is the place to be! To help you get a grasp of what is out there, we asked various Brightonsfinest contributors, along with some industry players, to give us the lowdown on who they are looking out for.

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