Acoustic indie-folk band Broadcast 2000 will be instantly recognisable to anyone who has seen the adverts from Apple and E.On energy.
The musical brainchild of multitalented singer-songwriter Joe Steer, Broadcast 2000 follow the debut EP Building Blocks with an eponymous full-length LP packed full of treats.
This time around Steer spiced up his bedroom recordings with a violin recorded by acclaimed violinist Tom Hobden of Noah and the Whale and teamed up with star producer Eliot James (Kaiser Chiefs/Bloc Party) to put the finishing touches to a record full of mesmerizing orchestral folk-pop compositions.
Classical music student Steer began writing songs while in his early teens in rural Devon. It could be Steer’s childhood that gives such a lush rural feel to his folk acoustic songs, which are reminiscent of the rich arrangements of Sufjan Stevens, Beirut and even early Paul Simon.
“Growing up in the middle of Devon means you have little else that could possibly occupy your time apart from music," says Steer.
"No football teams to support, no high street or shopping centre to hang around in. In fact, the majority of my school buddies were in bands.”
After playing in a number of bands as a teen, he studied music and played in an orchestra before starting the band Artisan. When his long time co-writer and Artisan band mate Lee Schofield decided to move to Africa, Joe resolved to pursue his own project.
He ensconced himself in his north London flat and proceeded to experiment, writing the songs he would later record, and, unexpectedly for him, sing, on the EP Building Blocks.
“Although I’ve never really thought of myself as a vocalist, I started writing the Broadcast 2000 songs always thinking I’d just put some vocals on as a guide, then get a proper singer to sing them once I was happy with the tune.”
Needless to say, his captivating tenor is once again featured on the new release.
The new album fully justifies Steer’s move to branch out of the confines of his home studio in the hope of enhancing the density of his compositions.
“The idea of getting a 'proper' producer on board to help finish the recordings wasn’t really to change my sound, but to allow me to thicken out the arrangements and add many more layers of instrumentation than I could with my basic recording setup at home," he says.
"I hope the music hasn't lost that 'home-studio' sound – I kept telling Eliot, the producer, that I still wanted it to sound like I recorded it in my bedroom, but this time as if I've crammed a full orchestra in there!”
The Broadcast 2000 live band currently consists of the musicians Tom Andrews (glockenspiel), Chris Banner (percussion), Pedro Del Battenberg (percussion), Louise Golbey (harmony vocals), Kelly Underdown (violin), Jade Brightwell (violin) and Alex Eichenberger (cello).
The tracks are veritable symphonic gems featuring smoothly layered vocal stylings and complex yet harmonious musical arrangements that include double bass, cello, guitar, ukulele, glockenspiel and percussion all sung and played on the recordings by Steer himself.
Clever use of computer-generated looping and smooth production do not dim the raw summery sound that retains that made-in-the bedroom feel.
Broadcast 2000 is cracking debut album for Steer who is undoubtedly one of Britain's brightest and freshest indie-folk stars.
Broadcast 2000 is released by Grönland Records on February 15.