Tim Hardin Memorial Folk Fest

Tim Hardin memorial night in Brighton

Tomorrow (Thursday) in that pleasantly quiet gap between Xmas excess and New Year exuberance there will be a little local celebration of the brilliant singer-songwriter Tim Hardin.

Tim Hardin was born 70 years ago on 23 December, and died on this day (29th Dec) at the age of 39, having written such classics as If I were a Carpenter, Reason to Believe, Black Sheep Boy etc. Local acts Hiawatha Telephone Company, Antony Hodgson and Simon Drinkwater plus friends will be playing their own songs, select covers and an assortment of Tim Hardin tunes at the small but perfectly formed Horse and Groom Pub in Islingword Road. Should make for a very pleasant evening, and if you haven’t heard any Hardin songs before then you’ll be in for a treat.

It all starts around 8:30pm and entry is free.

Facebook event is here

New videos from Cate Ferris

Cate Ferris has posted up some new videos onto her youtube channel today. They’re both tracks that she’s been playing live this year, so if you’ve caught her playing around town, you’ll know just how good they are. If not, enjoy these for the first time.

Trapeze:

Leave a Light On

Cate’s Youtube Channel and her Facebook page

 

Big Salad Christmas Party with Foxes! and Milk & Biscuits

So when I joked last week about the Juice Christmas Party being one last gig before Christmas, I honestly thought that would be my last gig before Christmas. But I ended up going to another. Friday Night was the Big Salad Christmas Party, headlined by Foxes!, who you’ll probably hear a lot more of next year – their debut album is out on the 16th January.

First up were a band whose name I didn’t catch, but whose tunes sounded like nobody had told them Britpop finished over ten years ago, and who spent more time tuning up between songs than they spent playing songs. Nice Christmas outfits though.

Milk & Biscuits were up next. They’re a bit of a Brighton supergroup – the core of the band is Matthew Davies and Max Earle of Restlesslist, but their mini-LP also features Tom White (Brakes, Electric Soft Parade, and dozens of other Brighton Bands), Jennifer Left, and Kayla Bell from Foxes! (at this stage I should note that I wasn’t making a point of exclamation about the members of Milk & Biscuits, but that Foxes! have an exclamation mark at the end of their name). Mlik & Biscuits started off with a two minute wall of white noise which then broke down to some lovely lilting kraut-pop, built around Matthew and Max’s keyboards and vocals, but augmented with backing vocals, guitars, bass and occasionally flute. Some songs tended more towards Velvet Underground, some were more Stereolab-esque. It was all rather good – good enough for me to buy the mini LP at the end of the gig. Balcony Times was a limited release which came out last October on Big Salad Records and includes a lot of what they played. Resident still have some in stock and it comes recommended.

After just enough time to get to the bar and back, Foxes! took to the stage. Foxes! and Milk & Biscuits are about as different as two indie bands could be – while Milk & Biscuits are all about layers and textures and soporific atmospherics, Foxes! are all about the three minute indie pop song, the lyrics and vitality. At the centre of the band is Kayla Bell, who takes care of vocal and drumming duty. If I had one complaint about the gig, it would be that the drums were placed where a normal band would place their drums – where the drummer is also the lead vocalist, that isn’t so appropriate. But you can’t really complain when the songs are so catchy and so well performed. They rattled through their repertoire with barely a breath inbetween each track. In Foxes! world, short is sweet. Their lyrics are a break from the norm too – I’m sure I won’t hear any other lyrics any time soon about peoples dogs getting anal cancer. Towards the end of the set, they played their track Christmas Songs – it’s quite a measure of Foxes vim that where most band’s Christmas songs are their at the upbeat end of their catalogue, Foxes Christmas track was one of the  least upbeat. When they left the stage, they didn’t come back for an encore – In true lo-fi indie style they were off to man the merchandise stall.

Foxes! debut album is should be out in a few weeks time, so we’ll be reviewing that closer to the date. In the meantime, here’s  Big Salad Records website and here are Foxes! on Facebook.

Juice New Music Christmas party with 900 Spaces, Jennifer Left, Kidda and Midfield General

One last gig before Christmas? Why not! Last night was the Juice New Music Night’s Christmas Party, their first event in their new home at The Haunt. I missed openers 900 Spaces because the annual Burning The Clocks procession was running a bit late, and arrived just a few minutes before Jennifer Left took to the stage. Jennifer has been working incredibly hard the past few months, playing a lot of gigs and spreading the word all around town, but the attention she’s been receiving isn’t just the result of a lot of hard work – there are some great songs behind everything she’s doing. Jennifer was very much in the festive spirit performing her set in a red Santa dress, although she didn’t perform any Christmas songs. A lot of reviews of Jennifer describe her sound as folky, but I’m guessing that they’re probably reviews of her solo performances rather than with the full band that she had last night, where she was accompanied by guitars, drums, double bass and a multi-instrumentalist who played everything from flugelhorn to xylophone. Things got a bit jazzier later on, with a bossa nova cover of New Order’s Temptation. Jennifer Left is definitely an act to look out for next year.

Once upon a time, Kidda was just Ste McGregor, his records, his sampler, and some passing musicians. These days he’s joined by guitarist and co-writer Lee Baker, and a couple of female vocalists, including Jennifer Left. Kidda’s music was a ray of sunshine on a grey drizzly December day like yesterday, and I know that there’s going to come a day in spring when the sun’s out, the skies are blue and the world is just coming back to life when one of their tunes comes on the radio and it’ll be just perfect. Their sound is gospel sampling summery hip hop played by a live band which is relentlessly positive. Even the songs about being sad sound happy! This was their first ever live band gig in their hometown, and if there were any nerves, they didn’t show. The got the whole of The Haunt on their feet – a cautious gap between the stage and the audience got transformed into a breakdance area, and by the end of the set everyone was dancing.

But that wasn’t the end of the night. Things were rounded off with a DJ set by Skint boss Damian Harris aka Midfield General. Once upon a time his sets would have been full of big beat classics, but keeping with the tone of Kidda’s tunes, things started off with some Snoop Dogg and carried on with more of a hip hop vibe. I’d have loved to have stayed longer, because he was playing some great tunes, but sadly the pressures of the day job meant I had to call it a night.

Chris T-T sings A.A. Milne

If you haven’t already heard about Brighton-based singer songwriter Chris T-T there are two things you should do; firstly – slap yourself, secondly – check out his website christt.com. Chris T-T has been bringing us songs usually described as “crossing barriers between punk, psych-pop and English folk” since 1999.

This time Chris T-T brought us a show with a difference, playing tracks from his recently digitally released album ‘Disobedience’, a collection of songs he has written that have been taken from the 1920s childrens’ poems written by A. A. Milne (Winnie the Pooh). The gig took place at the Friends Meeting House in Brighton with families and children present. He played all songs on guitar and a baby grand piano completely unamplified giving the evening a friendly, intimate and unpretentious atmosphere which was easy to enjoy and fitted well with Chris T-T’s folk aesthetics.

 

The songs were moving in their understated perceptiveness, in particular ‘Halfway Down’ and ‘Binker”, a song about an imaginary friend. There was some outstandingly unselfconscious audience participation for “The Four Friends’ and amusing as well as informative anecdotes throughout.

Having seen Chris T-T play before, wedged in amongst political comedians and comedy acts singing about science, it was interesting to see him in this whimsically innocent setting of his own creation. I’ve wondered before why so few singer songwriters broach the topics that he seems drawn to, and this show made it clear: you’ve got to have a lot of heart to sing about the world in the way that Chris T-T does.

You can download the album here.

Artwork from ‘Disobedience’ by Chris T-T

Words & photo by Ingrid Plum

Riots Not Diets Christmas Party / Shrag live at the Green Door Store 17/12/11

Shrag first came to my attention (musically at least) last year when I saw them supporting Pains of Being Pure at Heart at the Concorde. I fell in love with them immediately – they reminded me of loads of the bands I loved in the mid nineties – Prolapse, The Delgados, Bis and Heavenly. Funny then, that support at the gig was Tender Trap – fronted by Amelia Fletcher, who also fronted Heavenly all those years ago. For most of Tender Trap’s set, Shrag lead singer Helen King stood at the front transfixed. It must be quite an honour to have one of your heroes supporting you at a gig in your hometown. Since this is the Brighton Music Blog, not the Oxford Music Blog, so I’ll skip over Tender Trap’s support and head straight onto Shrag’s set. They played a roughly equal mix of tracks from 2010’s Life! Death! Parties!, earlier tunes and songs written for their upcoming album due to be released next year on Fortuna Pop. The band don’t really aim for professional – the start was delayed by a couple of minutes while the bassist was fetched from the bar, and when a string broke on Bob Brown’s guitar, he didn’t have another spare guitar to swap with, instead having to use keyboard player Steph Goodman’s, which was “impossible to tune”. But it doesn’t matter one jot – I’d rather see a band who are funny, and intense, and who I can relate to instead. Their set was over far too quickly – one of the downsides of fast paced punky indie pop. Let’s hope they play again soon when their album comes out in the spring.

Shrag

Christmas tracks from Munich and Rocker Switch

Christmas is only a few days away, and Brighton’s bands certainly haven’t forgotten. To help you get in the festive spirit, Munich and Rocker Switch have posted up a seasonal track, Munich covering a classic Christmas pop favourite, and Rocker Switch with a new track of their own. Grab yourself a mince pie and click on the links:

Munich – Last Christmas:

Rocker Switch – Hurry Hurry Christmas Come:

 

Metronomy / The English Riviera in the Album Of The Year round ups

As predicted when I wrote about Mary Hampton faring well in Folk Roots’ album of the year a couple of weeks ago, Metronomy’s fantastic The English Riviera LP is showing up all over the place. Drowned in Sound have placed it at number ten, and The Guardian have it at number seven. If you’ve spotted it anywhere else, let us know!

http://drownedinsound.com/news/4144241-dis-favourite-albums-of-2011–20-6

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/musicblog/2011/dec/08/best-albums-2011-metronomy-english-riviera

 

Wildwood and Shhh! Xmas all dayer in aid of Martlets Hospice

Wildwood & Shhh! Christmas All-Dayer, in aid of the Martlets Hospice

Phew! 8 bands and 7 hours of music all for a tenner in aid of Martlets Hospice.

Wildwood and Shhh! promotions teamed up to bring us a marathon of local and Brighton affiliated bands to help raise money for Martlets, who are in dire need of funds at present. Westhill Hall was a lovely setting for this gig, giving it a mini-festival feel and thankfully lacking in hipster pretensions.

First up was Tandy Hard, performing as a duo and providing a very warm welcome with rich vocals and storytelling charm with dual finger-picking guitars. Replacing Birdengine, who had to cancel due to losing his voice, was Mary Hampton. She performed just three songs solo, starting with an a capella traditional folk song about a miner playing the field, moving onto ‘Honey In The Rock’, her recently released 7″ on Rough Trade records (who scouted her) and finishing with another a capella song, this time a negro spiritual. The audience were captivated the entire time she was on stage. 2012 looks like it’s going to be a big year for Mary Hampton, as she’s been featured on countless end of year ‘Best Of’ lists.

Mary Hampton

Mary Hampton

Lianne Hall was next, giving us her abridged version of ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’ and her own country laden breathy ballads. Following her was the outstanding Diamond Family Archive complete with long beard and sharp witticisms bringing to mind the cause behind today’s event, whose sparse songwriting style mixed with intricate finger picking and a simple clear folk voice had this audience member welling up.

Something Beginning With L are based in London but have played with many Brighton bands and provided us with possibly the best indie xmas cover: a folk version of Slade’s xmas classic performed with harmonies on 2 acoustic guitars and a cello. The band have definitely been working hard since they last played Brighton’s Bleeding Hearts night a few months ago, and it showed in their playing.

Something Beginning with L

Something Beginning with L

Next up was 30lbs Of Bone, a familiar face in Brighton since the days of Gilded Palace promotions. After a few false starts we were treated to some delicately written folk songs using a traditional structure evoking imagery of pastoral life. The alternative xmas song concerning the unwritten rule of not breaking up with someone at xmas was a particular gem.

Thirty Pounds of Bones

Thirty Pounds of Bones

King James turned out to be the delightful combination of 30lbs of Bone and Diamond Family Archive. Their set featured banjo and acoustic guitar with harmonies using the nearness in tone of their voices, as well as a beautiful audience participation singalong. Unfortunately their album is currently in record label purgatory, but keep your eyes peeled as it will be well worth a listen.

All the bands played for free, as did the DJs, the sound was excellent and the evening ended with a raffle (so appropriate for the venue!) followed by an acoustic set by Electric Soft Parade. Lovely to see Brighton bands and promoters getting together for such a good cause.

Tom White (Electric Soft Parade)

Tom White (Electric Soft Parade)

Words by Ingrid Plum

Photographs by Jon Southcoasting

Sweet Sweet Lies Christmas gig at the Haunt

When is a headliner not a headliner?

For the gig I went to this evening, the answer could be that the listed band were on early, at  8.30pm. Or it could be that all three bands on the bill could easily be headliners in their own right. I’m quite sure I’ve probably seen all three of these bands headlining their own gigs over the past couple of years. The gig itself was only a fiver – which would be a bargain to see any of these bands, let alone all three, but it wasn’t until I arrived that I realised that also included a shot of Tuaca in the bargain too. Bonus!

First up were Kovak, on criminally early at 7.30. But what a great way to start – they’ve honed their electro pop over many gigs in Brighton over the past few years, and now know exactly how to get things warmed up. They even threw in their cover of Atomic which they’ve been playing the last few times I’ve seen them.

 

Next up were the band billed as headliners – Sweet Sweet Lies. After a few technical hitches with the keyboards, they kicked off their classic brand of guitar led pop. They’ve been secretly working hard since the last time I saw them a couple of years ago, and now everything seems even more polished and professional than ever. Like Kovak, if things go their way, they could be headed for big things.

 

Finally, we had Mean Poppa Lean. It’s impossible not to like Mean Poppa Lean. Even if you don’t like funk, you can’t help but be seduced by their silliness, their outfits, and the fact that they’re just a great band. So it’s best just to join them in their fun. It only took them a couple of songs before pretty much the whole band were just stripped down to their crazy home made pantaloons / boxer shorts. And that’s probably why they were put on last!