The final Sounds from a Room was performed on 5 December 2012
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Stornoway out on deck at A Room for London. Photograph by Tom Oldham
Watch Stornoway live in A Room for London
Stornoway are a British group formed in 2006 in the Cowley area of Oxford, UK. Having self-released three EPs, the band signed to 4AD in March 2010, releasing their debut single for the label just weeks later. Their home-recorded debut long player, Beachcomber's Windowsill followed shortly after in May, building on the already substantial fanbase the band had acquired through breathless word of mouth reverie.
Their organic ascent reflects the feverish devotion that Stornoway seem to inspire. Prior to their signing with 4AD, the band had acquired a devout following in their hometown by playing self-promoted shows in small Oxford venues. Unsurprisingly, given the grassroots relationship with their fans, the band's popularity wasn't to remain parochial for long. They soon found themselves shortlisted for the BBC's Sound of 2010 poll and then became the first band ever of Glastonbury's emerging talent competition to be booked for the Pyramid stage a year later, and were the first ever unsigned band on BBC TV’s music show Later... With Jools Holland.
The next stage was for the band to release their debut album. Already recorded prior to the band becoming involved with 4AD, Stornoway were keen to retain the homegrown quality that eased through the 8-track recordings they'd amassed over the previous year. Thankfully, 4AD shared the opinion that the majority of the songs should be left unaltered, tied as they were to the recording locales of college bedrooms, garages and community centres. Beachcomber's Windowsill very much spoke of a band isolated from the demands of the music industry, relying on instinct and ambition alone. Beachcomber's Windowsill is charged with an intimacy and emotional directness that speaks of both the origins of its genesis and Stornoway's pure and heartfelt approach to music as a whole.
The album gate crashed into the UK charts, ending up at number 12 and attained silver sales status after it was bought by over fifty thousand fans soon after its release. 2010 closed with the album receiving the Xfm Award for Best Debut Album of 2010 as voted for by their peers including Elbow and renowned producer John Leckie amongst others. The band went on to take their unique and very English sound around the world: highlights included Sasquatch Festival in the US and Laneways in Australia. Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, Holland and Poland all fell for Stornoway's nautically inspired and wistful nature-boy charm. Returning to the UK in 2011, further live highlights led to the band headlining Hop Farm Festival and playing the main stage at Isle of Wight as well opening proceedings on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival.
2012 has seen the band playing various festivals including Wilderness and Apple Cart, as well as a particularly unique accolade being bestowed on frontman Brian Briggs: he was, as Jeremy Paxman barked to a team of terrified students, the answer to a question on University Challenge.
At the time of writing Stornoway are ensconced safely back in Oxford, finishing up their sophomore long player in their home studio, pencilled for release early next year. True to a band comprised of such worthy young gentlemen, it will no doubt be a perfect pop missive, straight from the heart, wrapped in a delicate filigree of guileless charm and intelligence.