Stephen Pennell ©
Brits & Pieces has brought unsigned music – and CDs – back to the UK Album Charts with its annual compilation featuring some of the UK’s best and brightest. As Volume Three is set for release, King City spoke to the three Midlands acts featured about its legacy.
Ah, CDs. Remember them? Those heady days of creating a mixtape to psyche yourself up on a long car journey. Wrestling with a CD changer in the boot of your Mini Cooper. Alphabetising them in your student accommodation to ensure you can go from Abba to Zappa in one smooth notion.
Downloads and streams have ensured that the only circle with a hole you need these days is a Polo mint. Then there’s insult to injury – vinyl is now the in-thing when it comes to physical editions, while even cassettes have become part of many bands’ bundles. CDs seem to have become the ugly, inbred cousin of the musical output family…until now.
For the past three years, Brits & Pieces – led by fervent music fan Marc Rossiter – have released amazing compilations featuring some of Great Britain’s most excellent grassroots talents…only on CD.
This has not gone unnoticed. The past two editions have both troubled the UK Top 40, they’ve been appraised by radio royalty Steve Lamacq and Andy Bush, and both CDs are about as easy to find as Will Smith’s sanity.
Volume III, available to pre-order now from Rough Trade, showcases three Midlands talents – Sam Lambeth & The Four Chords, Jay Tennant and SENSES. One from Wolverhampton, two from Coventry, all three displaying various arrays of awesomeness.
For Lambeth, it’s another milestone in an 18 months full of them. “Brits & Pieces was one of the first causes I became aware of when I rebooted my career back in 2020, and I was blown away by it,” he beams.
“It brought together acts and had such a community feel about it. I could see the camaraderie among the artists, the sheer belief from the people getting behind it and just how special it was. When I got the call to be featured on it, I couldn’t believe it…it was something I really wanted but never envisioned would happen.”
Both Jay and SENSES were also fans of the record. Jay feels it has become an essential component of the unsigned music scene.
“There aren’t many opportunities like this around, where you are offered a chance to be a part of a genuinely independent release that’s done out of sheer love of the music and not for profit,” he says. “It’s a rare and exciting thing to be part of.”
The hero in the middle of this record is Rossiter, and Lambeth is quick to praise the Brits & Pieces polymath for his hard work.
“Seeing the passion and commitment Marc puts in is really inspiring. I had an idea of it before I was lucky enough to be asked to be on Volume III, but now I can see first-hand how driven and genuine Marc is,” Lambeth says. “He really is doing it for the love, as are so many people in the unsigned world. This CD deserves to chart not for us, but for him.”
SENSES were so blown away to be asked that they offered an exclusive track.
“The chance to be on a physical release that can chart is something that’s fantastic for unsigned bands,” they say. “We wanted to do something special so we put forward an unreleased track. It’s a heart-on-sleeve song about being an outsider looking in, about frustrations in the industry. For it to come full circle and be used on this great CD vindicates all of the effort and hard work we’ve put in.”
The new volume features a plethora of talented performers from across the country, including the creamy, just-so ‘60s sprawl of The Heavy North, the urgent pop-punk of Maya Lakhani and the juggernaut jangle of Jackson Lucitt.
“I had no idea who else was included so it was amazing to find out I’d be among such amazing acts,” Jay smiles. “What a line-up Marc has put together!”
SENSES have been chuffed with the reaction and hope that the new edition can repeat previous successes.
“People are excited by the diversity in terms of backgrounds and styles on the CD,” they say. “For £10.99, people really do have the opportunity to put some fantastic artists into the UK Charts!”
Brits & Pieces – Volume III is available to order from Rough Trade now.