Last night, Us Baby Bear Bones launched their debut EP at the Green Door Store. We were there to enjoy the fun and catch Alphabets Heaven, Speak Galactic and Us Baby Bear Bones live sets. As with our other galleries, click on the images to view large.
Brighton is so alive with great music right now. Last night we went to Time for T’s EP launch in the unusual venue of their local church, St Luke’s near Seven Dials and all three acts could have been headliners.
First up was a name we have not come across before, Ellie Ford (above). She plays beautiful songs on harp and guitar with an angelic voice and tone, reminiscent in style of Laura Marling and seemingly for this short set just as good. She noted at one point a lot of her songs seemed to involve God, perhaps fittingly for the setting, although it didn’t seem to show. One to watch – she is currently recording.
The Common Tongues released their new EP Tether & Twine a couple of months ago at the Blind Tiger and Time for T offered support there, so this time around the Common Tongues returned the favour. They’re a popular band and rightly so, as they have a big powerful folk-rock sound, reminiscent of the Mumfords but (to my ears) better songs and tunes. Songs like ‘Something’s Got to Give’ and ‘Praying to God’ sound more powerful live than on the EP, and the latter song being particularly memorable.
However, tonuight was all about Time for T, half a dozen young guys from various parts of the Uk and the continent who all share a house just over the road from tonight’s venue and you get the impression it might be something like an episode from the Monkies. They’re a fun band but one with a lot of musical chops and serious intent. They should be out playing the festival circuit but as it was had the whole church dancing or tapping their feet. Sometimes pop with touches of reggae and funk subtly slipped in, sometimes coming across like a big multi-styled band like Santana, we’re big fans. The band’s charm is partly captured by Tiago announcing his mum had come over from Portugal for this gig and then launching straight into their song referencing Phone Sex (rather surprisingly, a great singalong number) from their first EP.
All three songs from their new (second) EP ‘Mongrel’ have been on heavy rotation in our house, and they sounded strong played live tonight. Tornado with its chorus of “You’re like a Tornado, …when you go you take the House and the car away”, and the beautiful spiritual song “Great Grandma” is a particular favourite. The final song ‘Vegetables’ is a great way to end the night, and gets the whole joint jumping. An ode to sloth, it is anything but. Listen below.
Photographs by Jon Southcoasting
Next Monday finally sees the release of “what starts with a U ends with an I”, the debut release from Us Baby Bear Bones, which we’ve been looking forward to for what seems like ages. The original announcement about the EP was made back in April last year, and we’re pleased to say that it’s been worth the wait.
The five tracks on the EP will be familiar to anyone who’s seen Us Baby Bear Bones live (and if you haven’t seen them live, then our advice is to remedy that as soon as possible – more information on that below), and two of them have videos up on YouTube which you might have seen. There’s also a re-recording of Rain which first appeared on last year’s Sea Monsters compilation.
The Dream-Pop tag gets used far too much these days, presumably by people stay away from cheese in the evenings and don’t remember what happened in the land of nod once they’ve woken up. Happily though Us Baby Bear Bones fit the genre like a glove, with dreamy textures, ethereal vocals, arpeggiated keyboards and crunching beats. The closest comparison is probably sometime Bjork collaborator Leila whose records are similarly brimming with influences but retain a pop sensibility.
The highlight for us the triumphant EP closer Swamp, which starts off with a drone note and builds and builds into glorious alternative electro pop. If this is what Puff Gandolfo, Daisy Warne and Luke Philips have achieved with their first release then the future is very bright indeed for Us Baby Bear Bones.
The full EP is available to stream over at This is Fake DIY now, and the launch party is Tuesday 11th June at Green Door Store. The EP is released on CD, limited to 216 copies whose combined covers make up a giant piece of artwork by Puff Gandolfo, which will be available to buy at the launch, or from bandcamp,
Last Thursday Amy Hill invited us along to the launch of her debut album Place of Mind. On the door as we arrived everyone was given a copy of the album, and I was hoping this write up would be a review of both the album and the night. Unfortunately, every time I put the cd into my computer iTunes freezes up, which is why this blog post is both a little delayed, and a little incomplete in terms of what I was hoping it would include.
We arrived at The Brunswick a bit too late to see Jacko Hooper, but did catch most of Choice’s folky set, which involved a multi-instrumentalist using looping pedals alongside a live drummer. By this point, it was good to see that the venue was already full.
Amy Hill has been hosting the monthly Brighton Folk night for years. Every month she plays a song or two inbetween acts, solo and acoustic, but it’s a rare treat to see her playing a full set. On Thursday some songs were stripped back to just Amy and her guitar, but others were played with a full band who included Phil and Beth from The Galleons – regulars at Brighton Folk. This extra dimension shows an added depth that you wouldn’t see at one of her regular nights and is a welcome addition, elevating her sound above folky singer songwriter fare to something somewhere between Beth Orton and Sheryl Crow. Amy sung about life’s simple pleasures – friends, music, nature – and it’s safe to say that everyone in the room was sharing in that pleasure. At the end of the gig, after she had performed all of the tracks on the album, Amy was called back on stage an encore where she played a b-side from an earlier EP. Apparently it was her first ever encore, and it was obviously a very special moment – a fitting end to a great night.
The next Brighton Folk takes place this Sunday night at the Brunswick and features Mike Newsham, Donna Fullman and Sam Green.
About a year ago, we went along to see Tiny Dragons launching a single at the Prince Albert. So we were a bit confused by their press people sending us an email about their upcoming “debut single”. It turns out that this is their first single being run through the industry machine rather than being a home baked DIY affair. No matter – Come Alive is great. A bit more rock and a bit less funk than last time we saw them, but still as tight as they come.
It’s been a great year since we first spotted them. In that time they’ve supported Bastille, The Blockheads and the Fun Loving Criminals, and there’s a Stranglers support slot coming up too. They’re launching the EP this friday at Latest Music Bar. Tiny Dragons are a fantastic live band – it should be a great gig!
Last Monday, Dark Horses released their debut album Black Music. We’d have written about it sooner, but we were waiting to tie it in with the launch party on halloween, and we’ve been shellshocked ever since.
Black Music, put simply, is the most powerful album to be released by any Brighton Band this year. It’s sleazy rock’n'roll. It’s filthy electro. It’s teutonic Krautrock. It’s the soundtrack to the film that Quentin Tarantino hasn’t made with David Lynch. It’s the smell of oil, leather, sweat and blood. It’s amazing. By about now, you should have stopped reading and opened up another browser window to order the album (try here).
Dark Horses got Death In Vegas main man Richard Fearless in to produce the album, and he’s the perfect choice. Black Music recalls some of the best bits from The Contino Sessions or Scorpio Rising. Around two thirds of the way through the album, the pace drops and things quieten with a few cover versions, the first being a song called Sanningen Om Dig by singer Lisa Elle’s Swedish compatriot Tomas Andersson, and the second a surprisingly delicate take on Talking Head’s Road To Nowhere, featuring harp and a doo-wop backing.
Live, Dark Horses were as fearsome a prospect as the album, playing up to the myth with each band member dressed in black,, minimal lighting and dry ice filling the stage, and Lisa Elle adding to the mystique by talking in Swedish between the tracks. It was also daunting for me to take photos of the band – Dark Horses are one of the first acts I’ve come across who’ve given their photographer equal credit alongside each band member. They also manage to transcend the feeling that we were watching a local act – driven by their stage presence primarily, but also the following the band have, not coming to see them because they’re local, or because they’re friends with one of the members, but for what a great band they are.
Yesterday Fear of Men played the Brighton launch of their new single Mosaic at the Green Door Store, at an event put on by Be Nothing called HappyFest. It was an all dayer, and loads of other bands played - The Hundredth Anniversary, Feature, Wild Cat Strike, Flamingods, Furrow, Lovepark, Female Band, and Shudder Pulps. We could only make it for the end of end of the night and caught Boston’s Female Band and the headliners. Fear of Men make a point of not playing too frequently, making their live gigs more of an event, but have broken cover for their new single – which you can buy on 7″ from Resident here. I could tell you how much I enjoyed them live, how great the performance was, how their collection of releases so far sound like a really sold set of songs, how I can’t wait to hear the new stuff that they’ve been holed away writing this year, but rather than all that, here’s a few shots from their set (click on the pics to view large):
Severed begins slowly and quietly. Opening track Capsule uses the same trick that Boards of Canada use – woozy out of phase ambience, familiar yet disorientating. Sounds echo from left to right almost lazily, lulling you into a false sense of security for what’s to come.
Things step up with recent single Precautionary Measures – wonky arpeggios, clattering drums, yelping vocals. Hyss starts off with more crazy stereo effects and builds into something that sounds like it could be a prog epic from the seventies with layered vocals and deliberately primitive keyboards. Pigments lays off the stereo but brings back the out of phase wooziness against krautrock beats with a crazy breakdown midway through.
Lux and Lost Ones bring some of the menace that comes with the wall of sound created at Speak Galactic’s live shows, thick slabs of electronic noise which fall away and blend seamlessly into the album’s masterpiece, Solar Sail.
Clocking in at a mere seventeen minutes, Solar Sail is a piece of ambient beauty. Twinkling analogue electronics start things off before swiftly moving into a seventies sci fi soundtrack that never was. Around seven minutes in you think it might be all over – there’s nothing except something which sounds a bit like tinnitus and some ambient noise. Xylophones threaten something more and background noises start to rumble. And then the sound of running water, and some simple chords which take you away to a beautiful place. Without you realising some distorted noise creeps in underneath, but it doesn’t matter because you’re still in the higher plane you’ve been taken to. The white noise increases, but there’s a beautiful majesty to it, and then out of the noise steps the final slow motion melody, towering like a giant over the rest of the record leaving you feeling exalted. It’s fantastic. It’s like Stereolab and Spiritualized at their most experimental jamming with each other. That good.
Severed is an ambitious, uncompromising, experimental record which isn’t for the faint hearted. It laughs in the face of genres and convention, but rewards you for taking up the challenge it offers.
Speak Galactic had a launch party for the album at Fitzherberts last saturday night. Support came ambient out of towners Plurals and Brighton Music Blog favourites Us Baby Bear Bones. Last time we saw them live was at The Great Escape, and since then they’ve been off in the studio recording material for an upcoming EP. They’ve obviously learned a trick or two while they’ve been away because their sound now is even bigger than before. The magic is still there and the songs sound better than ever. I can’t wait to hear them on record.
Speak Galactic live are a much noisier prospect than on record, and one that’s even more impressive, mainly because all of the sound (save for some live drums) is created by Owen Thomas. Everything is created onstage with a microphone, a guitar, a keyboard and a handful of effects pedals. There’s so much energy, and you can see the ideas and the talent fighting to get out, channelling itself through his fingers and voice. Visuals have been a recent addition to the live sets, and these complement the performance well – another assault on the sense with repeated patterns morphing with the music.
Music needs pioneers, people who are willing to push the boundaries to see what happens, and in Speak Galactic, Brighton’s got one they can be proud of.
Speak Galactic is released on on clear vinyl on September 24th by Cupboard Music.
When I first came across The New Union on Soundcloud, I thought that they were a band who’d been around for a few years who were showcasing their releases so far. A while later I saw a flyer for one of their gigs and I thought they had a major label design team behind them. When I got to the gig they were as tight as you could get and looked like a band rather than a collection of people who had grabbed instruments and got onstage. But The New Union haven’t even released a record yet.
All this changes on the 8th of October, when the band put out their debut single Without You. Produced by Ian Dowling (who’s worked with the likes of Temper Trap, Bombay Bicycle Club, Kasabian and recent Brighton resident Adele) the song is three minutes of soaring guitar pop which sounds like a band several years into their career rather than one putting out their first record.
The band launch the record with a gig upstairs at Fitzherberts on 12th October. Get there early – it’ll be rammed.
It’s difficult to know where to start writing about Restlesslist, because there’s no one quite like them. At the same time, there are both no points of reference but also dozens of points. There’s psychedelia, surf rock, post rock, prog rock, ska, calypso, easy listening, exotica, italo-house and spoken word, quite often all in the same song. I first came across the band at Sea Monsters earlier this year, and loved the fact that they had so many people onstage, including a narrator wearing an eye-patch. Last night they launched their new album Coral Island Girl at a gig at The Haunt.
The gig was fantastic. Once again, the stage was packed (how on earth did they fit everyone onto the stage at the Prince Albert?), and rather than being a studied affair it looked like everyone onstage was having a great time. The audience were having a great time too. Well, most of them were – there were some very puzzled faces at the back. The gig that Restlesslist chose to launch their album at was a support slot for American band Howlin’ Wolf, and it seems that some of their fans were… Well, let’s just say that maybe their musical horizons aren’t wide as Restlesslist’s. If any of their fans end up reading these words, my advice to them is to look beyond check shirts and long shorts – there’s a wonderful world out there waiting to be discovered. Visuals were provided by Innerstrings Lightshow, who splashed the stage with 70s style projections in bright colours, adding to the already trippy experience of the gig. The band played their album from start to finish, without breaks between the tracks – that’s where the narration is – or any encores. Well, support bands rarely do encores, do they?
Coral Island Girl is a concept album. It recounts a tall tale told from the perspective of the album’s narrator of events following a shipwreck. Between each short spoken word segment, the story continues in instrumental form, conjuring up imagery of wonder or excitement, with the musical and non-musical elements complementing each other perfectly. As the story develops, the drama is heightened, and the tension mounts until it reaches it’s explosive conclusion. As I mentioned earlier, the album is jam packed with different styles but familiar motifs crop up throughout which give the record a bit of consistency. It’s an exhilarating listen – as imaginative as it is expansive – and deserves to be digested in one sitting. In a world where mp3 culture has reduced musical attention span to three minutes, it’s a joy to hear an record like Coral Island Girl. Definitely one of the albums of the year for us.