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SIX of the region’s hottest up-and-coming bands battled it out for a chance to hit the big time.

Acts from Oxfordshire and neighbouring counties took to the stage at the O2 Academy Oxford for the local heat of the Pogues Irish Whiskey Shot at Discovery contest.

Peerless Pirates, A Way With Words, BIGG, The Autumn Saints, Garden and Who’s Alice battled it out in a night of feisty indie, rock and alternative pop – with Northamptonshire band Garden declared victors.

Judges included Oxford Mail and The Oxford Times Features Editor Tim Hughes, and rock promoter Simon Bailey, while hosting duties were in the hands of DJ Matt Stocks, who has presented the Lock Up Stage at Reading Festival.

Remarkably, four-piece Garden have only been together for just under a year, but have wasted no time in crafting a number of epic and well-rounded songs, and count Bombay Bicycle Club, Queens of The Stone Age and local lads Foals as their main influences.

They now go on to compete against nine other regional finalists at London’s O2 Academy Islington on April 27.

The overall winner of the London final will get the ultimate artist development package, including £3,000 towards new instruments, studio time to record an EP with members of The Pogues, live performance opportunities at O2 Academy venues across the country, as well as management services from Brontone Management, who have worked with Muse, The Pogues and Pulled Apart By Horses.

Speaking after the event, The Pogues said: “Garden were a real stand out act. There was stiff competition but they deserved to win and we look forward to seeing how they perform in the final.”

Good luck Garden!

Joe Woods 5/5