Brighton bands at the Great Escape

If you hadn’t noticed, it’s just been The Great Escape Festival around town. What a weekend! Officially I was taking photos for the festival themselves, which I’ve done for the last few years. Unofficially, I made it my mission to get around as many Brighton bands as I could. Over the course of the weekend, I saw Abi Wade at Unitarian Church, Dear Prudence at Above Audio, Us Baby Bear Bones at Green Door Store, Abi Wade (again) at Latest, Catherine Ireton at Latest, Fear of Men at Queens Hotel, Nordic Giants at Komedia, Speak Galactic at Latest, Thomas White at Shipwrights yard, Us Baby Bear Bones (again) at Latest, Woodpecker Wooliams at the Fishbowl and Kinnie The Explorer at The Haunt. Phew!

(click through to the pics to view them larger)



Mr B’s Chap Hop Hurrah!

Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer

In the run up to his new long player The Tweed Album, Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer has put on a show at the Komedia for several nights during Brighton Fringe called Chap Hop Hurrah!

For those not familiar with Mr B, he peddles a genre that he calls Chap Hop, which isn’t a million miles away from Electro Swing – retro sounds mixed with modern beats. The main premise is hip hop sung in a plummy Queens English accent, and accompanied on banjolele over heavy bass – sometimes covers of classic hip hop tunes, sometimes his own creations. The saying goes “know your audience”, and Mr B does – those who remember tunes from around 1990 with fondness, and who won’t get offended by songs abour raping goats. It’s certainly quite a niche audience, but one that has quite a wide catchment, in Brighton at least – The two shows this week were sold out (there’s another show next week which I think there are still tickets for). It’s not the most serious of musical pursuits, but then it doesn’t pretend to be. In my opinion, it’s worth the ticket price along for his cover of Orbital’s Chime.

May Bleeding Hearts Club at the Prince Albert

This month’s Bleeding Hearts Club fell on a bank holiday, which threw me a bit off kilter. Normally the timings work out quite nicely for me to come home from work of an evening, have a spot of dinner, and then head out to the Albert, but what with it feeling like a Sunday my timings were all out, and I missed out on all of this month’s first act Tandy Hard and most of Davo. Oops!

Thankfully the last two acts of the night were both amazing. Jane Bartholomew was positively magical – Beautiful yet fragile tunes backed with lush arrangements on accordion, violin, drums, guitar and autoharp, with a voice reminiscent of Joanna Newsom stripped of the cloying annoyingness.

Jane Bartholomew

Headliners Crayola Lectern are cut from a different cloth to most bands. Disregarding the normal constraints of verses, choruses, and for the most part vocals, Crayola Lectern are more a contemporary pianist act than a traditional band. Piano is augmented by trumpet, sometimes played normally, and other times used to create the effect of heavy breathing or snoring. Piles of percussion are spread across the stage and played seemingly at random, although I suspect that actually everything is perfectly choreographed. The rule book was left at the door. As wilfully independent as the setup of the band is, it’s not at the expense of accessibility – their songs are warm and engaging and intelligent and funny. By the end of the evening the whole room was smiling – entertained and inspired by a band who are prepared to be a bit different.

Crayola Lectern

Heliopause / The Lumo Tapes

Once upon a time there was a three piece band from Belfast who made rather nice dreamy folk music. Then main protagonist Richard Davis relocated to Brighton, and found that being in a band where your bandmates are on a completely different landmass was a bit tricky. For a while, Richard tried his own thing, putting together layers of sound on his laptop, calling his new project Lumo. He played a few gigs which were mostly improvised, and got approached by Brighton label Precious Metal, who have started putting out releases on cassette.

When Richard agreed his original thought was two put out two longer tracks of about ten minutes each, with one on each side, but things grew and grew. Guitarist Niall Harden had also moved to Brighton, and they couldn’t turn their back on Chris McCorry who was still back in Belfast. The release would be as a new, bolder, more ambitious Heliopause, and instead of two tracks, a whole album’s worth of material was recorded.

The result is the Lumo Tape. It’s recognisable as the old Heliopause, but the songs are bigger, richer and more atmospheric. Guitars are run through numerous pedals making them distorted and fuzzy. Electronica generated on the laptop twinkles and burbles in the background. Layers of reverb are added to the songs making the whole sound much warmer – like Sigur Ros with intelligible lyrics remixed by Kieran Hebden.

The album was launched at an intimate gig at Brighton Electric Studios on Saturday 5th May. Support came from local electronica act Krill, and Before Machines, a post-indie band who are old friends of Heliopause’s from Belfast.

Only fifty cassettes have been produced, which went on general release at the gig. Soon they’ll be taking some to Canada – the band are performing at this year’s NXNE festival in Toronto in June.

Emma Gatrill album release


Emma Gatrill (of Laish, Sons of Noel and Adrian etc) launched her first solo album ‘Chapter One’ in the beautiful environment of the Church of Annunciation last Friday night. The quirky but holy surroundings perfectly suited Emma’s hushed yet accessibly moving harp-based songs. The album is really lovely and well worth checking out – available now from the Willkommen label

Support acts on Friday came from two local acts I had not seen before –  the Steve Aston Trio who played some beautiful jazz-based guitar in the style of Django Reinhardt (whose name I surprisingly spelled correctly at the first attempt!), and the opener who was the amazing Nick Edward Harris, who managed to play some extrordinary songs on the guitar using some impressive slapping and tapping and quite original ways of playing that instrument. Both supports are also well worth catching if you get the chance.

Beat Express raising funds to perform at the Irish Performing Arts Festival

Beat Express are a local band with a difference – they’re the UK’s first all learning disabled band. They’ve been going for ten years, and are supported by Carousel – a Brighton charity which works with disabled people and the arts. Earlier this year, they submitted a song to a competition where the prize to play at the Irish Performing Arts Festival & European Song Festival in Cork which is an international performing arts festival for people with disability, and not only have the band been invited to play but they’ve also been invited to host a workshop.

Beat Express

This is all very good news, but taking a band to a festival is a lot more expensive than you or I buying a ticket to festival and jumping on the train. Factor in disability and the fact that the festival is in a different country, and the costs mount up. To help with all of this, the charity have set up a crowdfunding page to help give the band the support they need.

Here at the blog, we wish all local bands every success, but I’m sure you’ll all agree that seeing Beat Express doing well would be something special.

New Fear of Men Single

It seems like forever since Fear of Men put out the debut 7″ Ritual Confession last year. It’s probably been barely six months, and in that time one of their early cassette released tracks, Doldrums, appeared on the Sea Monsters 2 compilation, but now the band are just about ready to put out their next single.

Green Sea is coming out on limited 300 only 7″ on June 18th on Sexbeat records, backed with another new track called Born, which they claim is “hook laden”. If you want to hear what Green Sea sounds like before then, you can because they’ve put it up on Soundcloud:

If you want to hear what they sound like playing it live, then they’re playing at the Great Escape Festival, Friday 11th May at 9.30pm at Queens Hotel, and they’re back again supporting Best Coast at Coalition on 21st June. Of course, there’s no guarantee that they’ll actually play the new single, but I can’t see any reason why they wouldn’t.