Music: Brave new sounds

Good music can make or break a commercial. Steve Hemsley charts a crop of up-and-coming artists.


BMG Synctank distributed 300 CD editions of This Is Hazelville, the debut album from the band Captain, to key taste-formers in adland. The act's influences range from Burt Bacharach to Smashing Pumpkins. Dave Bartram, the head of media at BMG Music Publishing, believes the band's strongest track with potential for use in an ad is This Heart Keeps Beating for Me. It's a pop anthem with a catchy chorus. "Captain's sound is suited to epic, visually led commercials with a limited voiceover or dialogue," Bartram says.

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Signed to the independent label Sunday Best, Kish Mauve's publisher Sony/ATV Music Publishing and music consultancy Ricall are singing their praises. The producer and writer Jim Eliot and the female vocalist Mima mix their folk and dance backgrounds to create an emotive and sexy sound reminiscent of Goldfrapp. The band has yet to produce an album but is being courted by the major labels. There are plans to showcase Kish Mauve to adland before the end of the year. One of the band's songs was shortlisted by JWT for use in a Shell campaign earlier this year. Ed Howard, the sync manager at Sony/ATV Music Publishing, says the music would suit ads for cars, planes and perfumes where a "sexy" mood is required.

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Although relatively unknown, Imogen Heap already has a huge commercial under her belt. The track Headlock is being used by Clemmow Hornby Inge in the mainland-Europe campaign for the restyled Toyota Yaris. Heap's songs are quirky and heavy on strings and keyboard, and her vocal style is unique. Cath Hoey, the account manager for Toyota at CHI, says the agency wanted a track that was distinctive, aspirational and dynamic. Heap ticked all the boxes, she says.

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Plucked from South Wales, Funeral for a Friend are one of the most exciting bands emerging from the British rock scene. Signed to Atlantic Records, they have already tasted top-40 success. Their songs draw influences from the rock and punk scenes and their cutting-edge sound has already featured on computer-game soundtracks. The single Streetcar from the second album Hours is an uplifting anthem with driving guitars. "Their fan base is aged 14 to 25," according to Andy McQueen, the chairman of The Notting Hill Music Group, which publishes the band's songs.

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Brands such as BMW (through WCRS), Kellogg's Special K (JWT and AMV/Stream) and Lucozade (M&C Saatchi) have been introduced to the classical composer Fung Lam in recent months. He is willing to create music specifically for ads using either the power of a full orchestra or a more minimalist sound for brands looking for something bespoke. Lam's orchestral work has been performed in Australia, Hong Kong and Japan as well as the UK. Having written a few TV theme tunes, he says he is equally adept at tuning into the advertising world. "I am comfortable working with pictures and open-minded about the brands I could work with," Lam says.

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Any ad executive pottering around the Broadstairs Folk Week festival in Kent last month might have spotted Seth Lakeman, who has jusy released his second album Freedom Fields. His first album, Kitty Jay, was shortlisted for the 2005 Mercury Music Prize. Lakeman signed to Relentless Records in April and the label - which is also home to KT Tunstall - and EMI Music Publishing are targeting this singer-songwriter from Devon at a female-skewed ABC1, 25- to 44-year-old demographic. The first single from the new album, Lady of the Sea, is being played on Radio 1 and Radio 2.

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Bartle Bogle Hegarty's in-house music consultancy, Leap Music, licensed the dance act Patrick & Eugene's track The Birds and the Bees to Crispin Porter & Bogusky for its Volkswagen Rabbit "multiply" campaign in the summer. The song was previously used by BBH in the Gordon's "splash" ad. VW has not used the Rabbit name for more than 20 years and CP&B needed a track that would help the brand appeal to a younger demographic. Signed to Tummy Touch Records, Patrick & Eugene's music is quintessentially British madcap and their look is inspired by The Goons and Monty Python.



Technology and fashion brands are eyeing up the hip-hop/reggae/punk style music of Jamie T. Described as a cross between the Beastie Boys, The Clash and Billy Bragg, Jamie T has released songs on his own Pacemaker Records label but enjoyed his first real success when he signed for Virgin Records. Sheila went into the charts at number 22. The upbeat and witty lyrics will appeal to certain youth brands. "His music is loved by those kids in skinny jeans outside the pub because they are too young to drink," the Virgin Records A&R manager, Ben Mortimer, says. Jamie T's album is set for release next year. His UK tour starts in Aberdeen on 8 October.

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