3 Oxford Bands You’ve Probs Never Heard: Ute, Jonquil & Message To Bears

Ute - An Oxford Trio

I briefly touched upon the Ute sound here, when they were but a fledgling Oxford trio only recently signed to local independent label Alcopop! and fresh from playing Radio 1’s Big Weekend.

Singer Ollie Thomas’ trademark Kermit the Frog style vocal is overloaded with warmth and charm whilst his lyrical wordplay is something to keep an eye on too. Is folk-twist a genre?


Fighting Smiles

Jonquil are possibly the most established of this lot, sharing Dovecote Records with The Futureheads. Having supported Foals on their most recent tour (they do, after all, share a house with the band) and most MOST recently playing the SXSW festival-circuit in the States Jonquil are slowly making a name for themselves.

It’s interesting to note that these two tracks are very VERY early incarnations of the band, but easily the best.


Message To Bears - Alias of Jerome Alexander

Last but not least, is Message To Bears, aka Jerome Alexander. Awash with emotive vocal samples, expertly recorded acoustic guitar and creatively subtle beats, Message To Bears is often that misplaced yet ideal soundtrack to your stroll in the spring sunlight, or your reflective meander in the woods.

He is a big fan of descending bass lines and plush string arrangements that wouldn’t be out of place on an Attenborough documentary. He’s already got an EP and a début album titled Departures out on Dead Pilot Records, and we’re expecting a new offering sometime this month all being well. He’s started to stray away from the ambient instrumentals recently, showcasing a nicely hushed vocal.



-James Godwin, April 12th, 2011

Copyright © 2011. James Godwin. All rights reserved.