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Last Updated: Friday, 6 January 2006, 08:32 GMT
Sound of 2006: Guillemots
By Ian Youngs
BBC News entertainment reporter

The BBC News website is kicking off its annual new music survey results by revealing the fifth-placed act on the Sound of 2006 list.

The list was compiled by polling more than 100 music critics and broadcasters. We are counting down the top five every day until Friday, when the winner and top 10 will be announced.

Multi-national, multi-instrumental quartet Guillemots have come fifth thanks to their quirky attempts to break the pop mould.

To those already in love with Guillemots, the record label bidding war and breathless music business buzz have come as no surprise.

It all makes sense considering their eccentric invention and top-drawer songwriting that covers everything from joyous anthems to haunting heartbreakers.

It's one of the hardest things to write a really nice tune that everyone can like without it being crass or corny
Fyfe Dangerfield
Yet on paper, they seem like a risk for the music industry. Their defiantly creative use of styles and sounds makes it near-impossible to contain them in any pigeonhole.

Are they pop? Great tunes, but too weird. Are they jazz? There is lots of experimentation - but too poppy. Are they rock? There are guitars, but they have a minority stake in the songs.

So are they arty auteurs that only musos will love? Sort of, but their songwriting is strong enough to reach a wide audience.

In short, they are catchy but quirky, just original enough yet also just familiar enough. A safe bet for this year's Mercury Music Prize.

'Definitely pop'

Singer and songwriter Fyfe Dangerfield (his real surname is Hutchins) says he is trying to make music for the masses - with a twist.

"It's definitely pop music and I've got no qualms about that," he says.

"I don't think there's a greater art than writing a three-minute pop song that people can sing when they're drunk.

"I love listening to bizarre free jazz records and things like that, and they're wonderful, but I actually think it's one of the hardest things to write a really nice tune that everyone can like without it being crass or corny."

The band say they share an attitude rather than a taste in music
The Beatles and Burt Bacharach are examples of great pop artists who also had an experimental edge, he says.

"They never had any doubt about the fact they were pop musicians but they didn't let that stand in the way of them being creative as well. You can do the two. I just think things have got a bit lazy in pop music."

Brazilian guitarist MC Lord Magrao, Scottish drummer Rican Caol and Canadian double bassist Aristazabal Hawkes join Dangerfield, from Birmingham, in the Guillemots line-up.

The group came together from such different backgrounds through a series of random meetings, Dangerfield says.

"Magrao spent years playing in the Brazilian noise scene and had never done anything that was remotely poppy," the singer says. "But that was exactly what I wanted.

Shared attitude

"All of us had been in bands before but we'd always been a bit restricted by the other people we were playing with."

Most band members do not have the same musical tastes and the group ethos is "more a case of sharing an attitude and an outlook than sharing a taste".

"It was more a common desire to do something that was a little bit different," Dangerfield says.

The songs are lovingly put together with lush, multi-layered production using odd noises and unusual instruments like egg timers and maracas.

Dangerfield wants people to be able to enjoy their songs "on a surface level" - but hopes some will delve deeper into their sonic landscape.

Some may find their style a little too arty and clever - but they are likely to be outnumbered.

  • The Sound of 2006 survey was compiled from the tips of more than 100 impartial music critics and broadcasters, who were asked to give the names of their favourite three new artists. The acts with the most tips were then ranked to compile the Sound of 2006 list.

    Listen to Trains to Brazil by Guillemots

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