We haven’t even reached the end of January yet, but 2013 is already looking like a great year for new musical discoveries from Brighton. There’s two bands who I hadn’t heard before this year who are already shaping up to be firm favourites – to find two bands in what’s normally quite a fallow month is good, but to find them both on the same bill at a gig was irresistible.
One of the great things about Sea Monsters was that you got to see so many bands in such a short space of time. This meant reduced turnaround times between them, and shared setups, which meant an element of compromise with the sound. That’s not to say that the sound was bad, more that it could probably have been improved if each band had the time and opportunity to set things up exactly as they’d want. Luo impressed us when they opened at last Saturday’s One Inch Badge vs One Inch Badge – they obviously impressed OIB too, who’ve put them on again so soon after the festival. The sound last night seemed bigger and more brutal – the soporific melodic washes of guitars were still there but caught you unawares by growing like post-rock monsters. Some later songs toyed with time signatures reminiscent of Physic House Band’s modern take on jazz. The beats, which kick off once you’re lulled into a false sense of security, seemed more brutal. In short, Luo confirmed the conclusion we came to at Sea Monsters that they were definitely a band to keep an eye on this year.
Anyone who’s anyone is talking about IYES and Lighthouse – their demo which has appeared online to huge acclaim. Give it a quick Google and you’ll see over 11,000 results. Most of those pages don’t give you much more than a link to Soundcloud though, and some gushing words about how Lighthouse reminds the writer about the XX but better. Some of them mention that the band are from Brighton, and some mention the IYES are a two piece, made up of Czech singer Melis Soyaslanova and singer and multi-instrumentalist Josh Christopher. Onstage last night they were joined by an additional guitarist to help create their shimmering widescreen pop vision, leaving the duo to focus on the song side of their tracks. Despite their Facebook page only being created in February of last year, IYES look and sound like a fully fledged band. Behind his laptop and with a guitar strapped to him, Josh looks like a re-boot of an eighties pop star, somewhere between one of the Goss brothers from Bros and Chris Lowe from Pet Shop Boys. Melis took the simpler option of a leather jacket over a dress but still looked every bit the pop star. Already the band have plenty of material for a solid half hour set, drawn from the spectrum that ranges from alternative ethereal alt-pop to chart friendly synth pop which if things continue on their current trajectory will have IYES uniting the underground and mainstream before the year’s up. Melis’ vocals complemented the sound perfectly, carrying the melody or dropping to barely a whisper. The big surprise was the power, strength and control of Josh’s voice which only came out at some of the more epic moments. It was good to see it used subtly at the right times. There were a few gremlins at the beginning of the set which led to a false start, but nothing unforgivable and they soon got going again. The gremlins came back just before the final track leaving the laptop silent, so for a finale we were treated to an acoustic version of Lighthouse which sounded just as strong as the original – a testament to the band’s fine songwriting talent.