Merry Christmas! We’ve gone overboard today, hit the sherry too hard too soon, and crammed Nine bands into our final advent calendar post. The truth is, you can’t talk about one of of these bands without inevitably mentioning some of the others.
Let’s start with Thomas White, who released Yalla back in March. It was originally just a bunch of tunes he recorded for himself when he was bored and restless on holiday, which he was persuaded to release after he shared them with some of his friends, and is one of the finest collections of tunes that we’ve heard all year. Album closer The English Sargasso is a soporific masterpiece. We didn’t do an end of year list in 2011 because the blog had only been running a matter of weeks but to make make up for it we’ll make a mention of the Electric Soft Parade‘s “A Quick One” EP now. Lead track Lily is the kind of melodic guitar pop that most indie bands would sell their grandmother to be able to write. 2012 marked the tenth anniversary of Electric Soft Parade’s debut Holes in the Wall and the White brothers celebrated by playing the album start to finish at The Haunt, and returning to the studio to start work on their first album for five years.
Thomas White was also listed as a member of Restlesslist in the sleeve notes to their fantastic album Coral Island Girl, although he’s no longer part of their live setup. Before this year I’d heard the name but not the music so was quite looking forward to their performance at Sea Monsters. I wasn’t prepared to see so many people onstage. I wasn’t prepared for so many genres crammed into so many songs. I wasn’t expecting it to be narrated, or for that matter for the narrator to be wearing an eye patch. Most of all, I didn’t expect to enjoy it nearly as much as I did. Musically it was fantastic, but it wasn’t taking itself seriously at all. Where Thomas White earns his prime place in our Advent Calendar by doing things so much better and more effortlessly than anyone else, Restlesslist earn their place by being completely peerless.
While Thomas’ other band Brakes were taking a bit of an, erm, break in 2012, Eamon Hamilton made a return to his old band British Sea Power at one of their Krankenhaus concerts at The Haunt. Krankenhaus was more than just a concert though – The bands on the bill were more varied than you would expect, and played for longer. There were DJs inbetween the bands making for non stop entertainment. There was non-musical entertainment in the form of a ping pong table upstairs. At the one I attended, there was a stage invasion by a giant bear and a choc ice give-away! As well as their Krankenhaus gigs, British Sea Power also played at the Duke of York’s, providing a live soundtrack to a film made up of old archive footage called From The Sea To The Land Beyond.
Milk & Biscuits share a number of their members with Restlesslist, and have rightly had praised heaped upon them for their single White Noise, and their mini-LP Balcony times, which came out at the end of 2011, is worth a listen. It features the vocal talents of Jennifer Left (who we wrote about back on 14th), and Kayla Bell of Foxes! who also released an eponymous album of top indie pop earlier this year. Eleanor Whittle and Rachel Dey – who provide vocals in Restlesslist and Milk & Biscuits and have sung backing vocals for Thomas White at some of his Yalla gigs – make up Do you Feel What I Feel Deer?, and have given us a taste of their wonky folk with their lush Save My Heart single. Adam Kidd has also sung backing vocals for Thomas White and his own band Fragile Creatures put out a grower of a track called Dear Michael. The tables were turned a week ago when Thomas White provided support at their Christmas gig at the Prince Albert. The final mention goes to Clowns, a band that Thomas White played bass with for a while before admitting that he was too busy. Every time we’ve seen them live this year (at a couple of Bleeding Hearts Clubs – did we mention that it was Bleeding Hearts who put Yalla out? – and more recently at December’s Source New Music night) they’ve got better and better.
I wouldn’t be surprised if there was dozen other related bands. Here’s to finding out all about them in 2013!