Before last night’s gig I’d had a listen to The New Union on soundcloud and what caught my ear was the slick production. Great studio production isn’t a guarantee of a great live performance though, so I was impressed by their display supporting Clock Opera. All dressed in black, the group gave the impression of a band with a unified look, rather than just four guys who happened to be on stage together. The songs were well written, obviously well rehearsed, and sounding tight. If anyone was looking for Brighton’s next big guitar pop hope after The Maccabees, they need look no further than The New Union.
Another month, another Juice FM night at The Haunt, and another three Brighton bands who are all completely new to me. Where do they find them all? I guess it’s probably the endless demos they get sent because they’re the local radio station. But they certainly do a good job of picking great bands for their regular nights.
First up were Tigercub, who distracted me with double denim and a haircut last seen spotted on Dave Hill from Slade in the 1970s. A late start meant that their set of rock stompers was over far too soon.
Having thought after the first band that the night would be a rock night, Holy Vessels mixed things up by kicking off their set with a song with a very predominant banjo. It was their only track that used banjo, but it was a strong statement of intent for their half an hour on stage, which mixed up country, rock and Americana and was a far more melodic affair.
Once upon a time, post-rock was noisy and angular, but then Sigur Ros came along and made it all a bit twee. thedealwasforthediamond hark back to the way it was, sounding like Mogwai at their loudest, or Rothko with the bass leading proceedings. thedealwasforthediamond turned things up to eleven, and quite literally blew the audience away. I was quite glad I had ear plugs in my bag!
The premise of Brighton Music Blog is nice and simple – write about bands from Brighton. So what am I doing interviewing Saint Etienne’s Pete Wiggs? The band have a greatest hits called London Conversations, and London Belongs To Me from Foxbase Alpha came 19th in Time Out’s 100 best London songs last year. Surely I can’t be branching out so soon? Don’t worry. The blog is still dedicated to Brightonians – Pete Wiggs is a Hove resident these days, so I caught up with him over a pint or two at his local to talk about moving away from London, his new album, and making remixes for a new generation of artists.
It’s funny because even now we still do interviews where people ask me my favourite London haunts. I’ve been down here for four years now. I still feel like a tourist now and again here. We’d always intended to move down here at some point, and now I can sometimes go a couple of weeks without going into London. I suppose it’s easier with internet – you can bat things around. Continue reading
Lewes is not too far, is it?
Anyone who follows the Brighton folk scene will probably have come across the excellent Hatful of Rain. This great local folk band have now recorded an album which is coming out via the Union Music Store in Lewes, and if this first song is anything to go by it will be a fabulous thing. The album is out at the end of May.
This Sunday sees the regional final of the Live & Unsigned competition taking place at Hove Town Hall. Live & Unsigned is a national battle of the bands competition, judged by some heavy hitters within the industry, and a fair amount of competition – over the past five years, they’ve had over 50,000 entrants. The prizes are pretty impressive too – finalists get to play at the O2, and the overall winner gets a whole load of press, and the opportunity to tour and play at festivals, with big cash investment made into the band too.
Three of the acts in the regional final have got in touch to flag up the event to me, and to get to this stage, in view of the numbers involved, is a pretty mean feat. Fingers crossed for Jetpack Elastic, Emy Lou Harris, and quAckhouse.
Amongst The Pigeons have just released their new album Get Amongst It. I caught up with them in their pigeon shed / recording studio to do a track by track walkthrough of the album:
With this track, the first 20 seconds was the fadeout sound on the first album. I really like the idea of taking that same sound to open up this album. All the titles came about from things other people have said, seeing things that people were saying on twitter or facebook or just conversations that friends were having. This track came about from my friend Si – we were having a conversation on twitter, and he was saying one of the things that all musicians should aspire to be is a future dead rock star, I think we were talking about the whole age 27 thing, and Kurt Cobain, and everything. This track only works as an opener, because it’s quite a slow song, it builds up, and it’s a bit ploddy for the first couple of minutes but it was one of those songs where I just kept coming back to it again and again, and I couldn’t not have it on the album. It’s a real headphone album – there are little bits that are coming in one ear, and looping over. I get really into just fiddling around with sounds for hours and hours and getting lost in the little bits of what I do. Continue reading
OK, so musically Conor Maynard doesn’t really fit with the other stuff that we right about here at Brighton Music Blog but the path of music snobbery is one filled with pitfalls. So instead we’ll raise a toast to Conor Maynard, who’s gone straight to number two with his debut single, Can’t Say No. Good work!
It’s always pleasing when a visiting band gets a local acts to support them, and it’s doubly good when two Brighton acts get added to the bill. Wednesday night, Sea of Bees played at the Haunt, and as well as Stealing Sheep who have supported them on their whole tour, they were also supported by Abi Wade and Heliopause.
Abi Wade continues to astound every time I see her. Conventional wisdom says that if you’re going to have drums, strings and vocals you’d probably have a whole band. Conventional wisdom also says that you play a cello by pulling a bow across the strings, not using the bow, a variety of drum sticks and even a hairbrush not just on the strings but over the whole instrument. At times last night Abi recalled the dexterity of The Durutti Column’s Vini Reilly who coaxes out rhythm, melody and backing out of just the one instrument, but Abi also has the advantage of a fantastic voice. If there was Brighton act that I’d say people ought to see right now, it would be Abi Wade.
Second act on last night were Heliopause, who were the first band I saw at Sea Monsters earlier this year. Their roots are in folk, but their sound is so much more than that – There’s electronica involved, but it’s not folktronica like Four Tet used to make before he went jazz. There’s elements of post rock in there too, and sometimes the guitars shimmer and send shivers down your spine. What’s important is that it all works so well together, and these elements aren’t clumsily thrown in, which gives the band their own sound the separates them from the crowd. Their next album is released on 5th May, and from what I’ve heard so far, is a real treat for the ears.
Abi Wade is next playing on 10th May at 7.30pm at the Unitarian Church as part of the Great Escape Festival and again on 11th May at 3pm at Latest Music Bar as part of the Alternative Escape. Heliopause launch their album with a gig on 5th May at Brighton Electric Studios.
Going to a Moulettes gig is always a bit more special than going to a gig put on by most bands. Seeing a band live ought to be a bit more of a performance – if a band just stand there and run through their record, you might as well save your money and listen to the cd from the comfort of your sofa. The fact that this gig is at a theatre is a good start and walking into the venue, with the stage imaginatively decorated with an oversized tree with buttons for leaves and a mechanical cloud hanging, sets the scene for an interesting night.
Support came from the incredibly talented flautist Laura J Martin. She’s not from Brighton, so I going to move on quickly, but before I do I’ll say that if you get the opportunity to see her play live, then take it up because you’ll regret it if you don’t.
Being a theatre, the stage curtains closed between acts. No one wants to see roadies moving kit around and gaffer taping leads down. It’s best to keep the mystique, especially if you’re a magical band like the Moulettes. Before long the curtains opened to reveal the group, who seem to be growing in numbers every time I see them play. In addition to existing members, they’ve also recruited Jim Mortimore (who also plays bass with sometime Moulettes collaborators The Muel), and Faye Houston (who you may have seen singing with numerous other Brighton bands). The set was comprised mostly of tracks from the bands forthcoming album The Bear’s Revenge, with only a handful of tracks from their debut. The new songs sit perfectly well alongside the old, but are more developed and less contrived – the band members swap instruments (which now include timpani!) and vocal duties are shared. Musically, the sound is richer and less contrived, and Georgina Leach’s fiddle playing now matches Hannah Miller’s cello to extraordinary effect. As if that wasn’t enough, halfway through the set they were joined on vocals by Arthur Brown, of Crazy World of… fame, who didn’t hold back although sadly wasn’t sporting his famous flaming helmet.
Set closer was the new single Sing Unto Me. Did I mention that they have a new single? And that the gigs (they played on Thursday too) were the Single Launch? It’ll be out May 28th, with the album following a few weeks later (although you could have picked them up at the gig). The band return for a reluctant encore before the bidding us farewell, the curtains literally closing on a top night’s entertainment.
Sons Of Noel And Adrian ended their recent UK tour with a bang, back home at The Haunt in Brighton last Saturday.
First up from the Brighton-based label Willkommen Records, was Emma Gatrill, a familiar face to anyone who has heard her floating harmonies with SONAA. Managing to avoid too heavy a comparison with Joanna Newsom by eschewing medieval folk tendencies, Gatrill’s harp playing mixes with vocal effects and accompanying instrumentation to bring a contemporary sound to the instrument.
Next we were treated to Laish, who have just been picked to play at No Direction Home festival. Fronted by the enigmatic Daniel Green and featuring several players from the Willkommen collective, Laish provided an uplifting interlude with witty, knowing lyrics, danceable tunes and playful counterpoints between instruments.
Headlining were Sons Of Noel And Adrian, who seem to have undergone yet another musical metamorphosis since their last gig in Brighton. Having already forayed into electric guitars they have now brought in synthesizers too, producing a great contrast during the set during which some of the band ditch their familiar acoustic instruments to play polyphonic melodies in a Tortoise style. The new tracks are layered and inventive, with the ever ambitious scope we expect from SONAA. The band clearly love playing these new songs together, and the audience were enraptured.
words & images - Ingrid Plum