Bleeding Hearts Club October

The turn of a new month yesterday brought another Bleeding Hearts Club – a firm favourite in the Brighton Music Blog diary.

Ian Hannah

First on stage was Ian Hannah, who admitted before he started that he couldn’t play guitar. It was a reasonable statement – he probably knew less chords than Status Quo – but what he lacked in guitar playing skills, he made up for with surprisingly good songs. The experience was a bit like an uncle who you’ve never associated with music suddenly grabbing an instrument and initially playing to your prejudices, and then completely changing your mind with a great voice. I doubt he’ll be causing too many waves on the Brighton Music scene, but he was a joy to watch.

Hattie Cooke

Next up was Hattie Cooke, who had stepped in at the last minute having only been asked to play at 2 o clock that afternoon. She was also using a new guitar pedal and running extra effects through an iPad which led to one or two technical difficulties. Behind all that there was a great deal of potential – The songs were there, and when things were going right, the guitar playing was stellar. With more than seven hours to prepare, this could have easily been the set of the night.

Christine Cooper

The third set fell to Christine Cooper, new to Bleeding Hearts, and relatively new to Brighton. Christine used folk music as storytelling, with a powerful voice and fantastic talent on both the fiddle and the banjo. Christine made her traditional Welsh and American folk songs effortless as she used a loop pedal combined with her violin to provide the canvas to her songs.

Tim Keegan

Last night’s final act was something of a rarity at Bleeding Hearts – someone who I’d bought music by, completely independently of any Brighton connections. Back in 2002, Tim Keegan headed up a band called Departure Lounge, and their Kid Loco produced album Too Late to Die Young was hailed in many quarters as one of the records of the year. In the last decade Tim has relocated to Brighton and quietly kept on making music under his own name, and last night we were treated to a short set of this. Departure Lounge’s big strength was Tim’s songwriting, so it was no surprise to hear beautifully crafted stripped back acoustic guitar pop. Joined onstage by another guitarist from his band, intricate guitar melodies were interwoven as naturally as if the instruments were extensions of their bodies. Once again, another amazing end to another Bleeding Hearts Club.

Bleeding Hearts Club featuring Junior Electronics

Brighton Music Blog regulars will know by now that we’re big fans of the Bleeding Hearts Club, Brighton’s first-Monday-of-the-month regular source of below-the-radar excellent new music. Yesterday was the June edition, and being a bank holiday, Chris decided to start an hour earlier and turn the night into a Jubilee-concert-alternative union-jack-free mini-festival featuring six (count ’em, six!) acts, with headliners Junior Electronics.

I missed the opening act unfortunately, the early start being challenged by the grumble in my stomach, but got there in time to hear Danny Kendall singing his heart out. Danny was formerly of legendary Brighton band La Frange.Image

La Frange always wore their francophilism on their stripey t-shirt’s sleeves. Danny was followed by a visitor from the real France, Polyanna (not the Aussie rock band!) who was playing solo, stopping off at the BHC as part of a small UK tour. Isabelle Cassier (for it is she) has a beautiful voice and sings her songs in English, songs about old rockers and working in a factory and other things and was generally lovely.

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Next up was local legend and (as one music magazine recently put it) “national treasure” Mary Hampton. If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing Mary play live, then you’ve been seriously missing out. This time, she had just a short set of three songs, one of which was a long acapella folk story song and the last of which the gorgeous Honey in the Rock from her beautiful album Folly was worth the entry price alone. One day I live in hope of Mary playing a two hour Springsteen-length set, but for now anything will do.

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Penultimate act was the Celloist-singer (and former guitarist in James and Sharkboy…) Adrian Oxaal who played the BHC only recently but made a welcome return. His two John Martyn covers were spellbinding, the combination of Adrian’s deep hesitant vocal and his melancholic cello combining beautifully. He also played two of his own songs which were also fine moving numbers. Rarely seen live these days, it’s marvellous that the BHC provides opportunities like these.

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Finally, the headliners Junior Electronics came on stage and gave me a WTF moment, as strange electronic rhythms started nervously blurting out from a Moog synthesiser. Not what we have come to expect from our Bleeding Hearts. But gradually the songs started to take shape and the sound settled down into an interesting shape, and this listener began to ‘get it’. The final song was a joy, sounding as much like 60s sunshine pop as murky space-rock.

Junior Electronics are the brainchild of Joe Watson, his solo project when not playing keyboards for Stereolab and featured Mary Hampton again (playing a brightly coloured toy electric piano and occasional vocals). They have two albums out which are worth checking if you like post-rock electro-pop.

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And finally – here’s compere Chris Davies saying good night, until next month’s Bleeding Hearts Club.

Good night Chris.

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All Photographs in this post

by Jon Southcoasting,

copyright etc  

available for weddings, barmitzvahs and band shoots

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

http://www.crayolalectern.com

http://www.janebartholomew.net

http://www.bleedingheartrecordings.com

Bleeding Hearts Club again

It’s that time of the month. First Monday. 

Bleeding Hearts Club featured in this blog not so long ago, but seeing as it’s a regular monthly event upstairs at the Price Albert in Trafalgar Street, and inevitably excellent, it is not that surprising that it features again.

This month we had four acts, each playing about four songs each and some excellent sounds from the house DJ in-between.

First up was the bizarre yet memorable King of Cats, a man in shorts who went from quiet twee to slash-and-burn hardcore within a verse of a song. He also did something very strange with a second microphone which gave him the ability to detour into these strange sonic interludes which made him sound a bit lie, er… well, a king of cats. He also had some CDs for sale, in home-made sleeves shaped like underpants with a picture of female genitalia on the front. 

It was never going to be a normal night.

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Next up was Al Chamberlain, apparently playing only his second ever gig. A little shy and self-depreciating he played a series of charming songs telling stories of love and adolescent innocence which completely charmed the audience. 

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He was followed by Lux Harmonium, a sometimes two piece with – you guessed it – a Harmonium, but also some of the most exquisite guitar-playing by Devonian Luke Jones which just got better and better as their set progressed. Fortunately, the night’s host Chris Davies called Luke back for a fourth song which was absolutely outstanding. Worth the pittance of an entry fee alone. Wish I’d remembered what it was called, but you can buy a CD and no doubt it’s on it. 

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Finally, headliners Fire Eyes played – drum machine, guitar and violin fronted by some quirky vocals. Apparently slightly under-rehearsed they strung together an assortment of sort of Mazzy Star influenced songs, battling with their equipment but managing to fascinate and rounding off a fine evening.

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There was the usual candles-on-tables, a joke from a Christmas cracker that was as stale as old cheese, and something about every record label  that wasn’t the Bleeding Hearts record label being rubbish. Suffice to say, we all went home very very happy. 

Lovely.

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Photographs by Southcoasting

Bleeding Hearts Club

For those that don’t know, Bleeding Hearts is both a long-standing month night at the Prince Albert, and a local record label, run by the same people, usually promoting local folk acts. I’ll put my hands up and admit that I hadn’t been to one of their nights before, so didn’t know what to expect when I went along last night. The first thing I noticed was the tables upstairs at the Albert – most unusual, but it created a very different, much friendlier atmosphere. (The cakes on the tables may have also helped there). The format of the night is a bit different to normal too. Rather than just one or two supports, there are three supports, and they get to play just three tracks each, which leads to more variety, and adds to the impression that the time that the bands aren’t on stage is just as important as the time that they are.

First up was Paul Mosley. He plays the ukulele and has an amusing anecdote about Florence & The Machine’s harpist, which he probably tells at every gig. He says he was asked to play sad songs, but he didn’t stop smiling throughout his set. He wasn’t from Brighton though, so we’ll move swiftly on.

Paul Mosley

Next up were the Men Who Fell To Earth. From what I can tell (after wading through several thousand Google search results on David Bowie), they are from Brighton, although the lead singer had a thick Yorkshire accent. How often do you come across a native Brightonian though? I’m guessing this must have been one of their first gigs, or they’re all incredibly shy – the singer had his eyes closed throughout the gig, the drummer and the keyboard player hid in the shadows, and the bass player sat down and didn’t stop staring at his knees. There was some good songwriting underneath it all though, so let’s not pass judgement just yet.

The Men Who Fell To Earth

After another fifteen minute interval, we were treated to Hattie Cooke, who broke the ice at the start of her set with a few words about the relationship between how well her sets go, nightmares, and poo. Like the previous two acts, Hattie only had three songs, so to bring a bit of variety to her set, she played one standing with her guitar, one acapella without guitar, and one seated. Speaking to the Bleeding Hearts guys, they’re big fans of hers – it would be good hear a full set to hear her full potential.

Hattie Cooke

Headlining were Fragile Creatures, who were a bit rockier than the I was led to expect of the night. My first impression was “their look is a bit twenty years ago”. Then I thought “their sound is a bit dated too”. Then I realised that was the point – Following on from the success last year of the likes of Kisses and Washed Out, Fragile Creatures have constructed the look and sound of times gone by, but instead going down the 80s keyboard electro route they’ve ended up somewhere in Prefab Sprout or Simple Minds territory. Personally, I think this may have been better served by them being on a bill with other acts trying to do the same thing – it was only halfway through that I got it. Being headliners though, they got to play for twice as long, and by they end they had got some people dancing (although I think they may have been crazy drunk people who had filtered up from downstairs).

Fragile Creatures

One thing that struck me about the event was the love and enthusiasm of the organisers for what they were doing, and of their loyal audience too. Whether or not I write up any more of their gigs for the blog, I’ll certainly be going back for my own pleasure.