July Brighton Gig Previews

We don’t do gig previews that much any more, mainly because we don’t get out nearly as much as we used to. We’ve got a big feature coming, but it’s taking a little while to get together, so to tide you over until then, here’s a few gigs that have caught our eye over the coming month:

Tomorrow night (Monday 10th July), Bleeding Hearts almost celebrate their fifteen birthday at The Rialto. As they put it: “We’d planned to host an alldayer only to find out that our adversaries had used their telemeters to evil effect. Due to dimentional complications we will not be celebrating the actual anniversary but instead our inability to celebrate our longeveness.”. On the bill are Garden Centre, Academy of the Sun, Gary Goodman and Sam Cutting. Continue reading

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Upcoming gig picks : Drill Festival, Les Enfants Terribles and Bleeding Hearts Christmas party

In a rare return to our gig picks posts, here’s three gigs that have caught our eye:
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Drill Festival is this weekend. There’s a fantastic line up featuring LOADS of Brighton bands from big names like The Wedding Present, Blood Red Shoes and British Sea Power alongside upcoming bands like Speak Galactic, Dog in the Snow and Luo. You can read the whole line up on Drill’s Facebook page, but rest assured you won’t be disappointed.

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Things have been a bit quiet from Les Enfants Terribles since their regular venue The Blind Tiger closed down earlier this year. They’re back next wednesday with out of towners The Away Days heading the bill, supported by locals 10604562_10152654609889262_1113715772719153842_o and Morning Smoke.

Last, but by no means least is the Bleeding Hearts Christmas party. The Bleeding Hearts Club went into hibernation after their Christmas party two years ago to focus on putting out records (by the likes of Crayola Lectern and Cuz as well as upcoming releases from Clowwns and Seadog), but they’re back for a one off event at the Rialto Theatre on Dyke Road next Monday. Expect some great festive music from some of the old familiar faces. You should also be able to pick up a copy the Random Acts of Vinyl Christmas 10″ mentioned in our last blog post too.

Crayola Lectern album launch

This week saw the release of The Fall and Rise of Crayola Lectern on Bleeding Hearts Recordings, and last night they held the launch party at The Brunswick.

Do You Feel What I Feel Deer?

Do You Feel What I Feel Deer?

Support came from Do You Feel What I Feel Deer, fresh from supporting British Sea Power on tour as part of Milk & Biscuits. When I’ve seen them in this incarnation live before, they’ve been accompanied by a small string section, but last night Eleanor and Rachel were playing as a duo. Stripped of their accompaniment the arrangements were a little more sparse, but no less haunting. Close harmonies and acoustic, twisted backing on guitar and autoharp were order of the day. They only played a short set, which included Silence which is being released as a single in July which the band recently filmed a video for, and ended with last year’s download Save Your Heart.

Crayola Lectern

Crayola Lectern

These days proper intervals in the main feature have all but disappeared, unless you’re at a theatre. Cinemas now project films digitally so there’s no need to swap reels halfway through, and music is for the most part digested in the form of a compact disc or a digital stream. The Fall and Rise of Crayola Lectern was conceived as a good old fashioned long player though, where getting up to turn the record over is as much a part of the experience as the music itself, so for his album launch Crayola Lectern split their set in two with each part being a run through of each half of the album, nearly. Last night’s version of the band was just Chris Anderson and Alistair Strachan (although tomorrow night’s London launch gets the full complement of album contributors) – Chris on upright piano and guitar on Trip in D and Fall and Rise, and Alistair on trumpet, keyboard, and all kinds of percussion. The piano playing was sublime, and and to describe Alistair’s contribution as trumpet playing doesn’t do justice to range of sounds that were made. The first half ended with non-album track and live favourite Barbara’s Persecution Complex – I understand that Crayola Lectern have another couple of album’s worth of material so hopefully this will get a full release at some point. The second half kicked off with Trip in D, the psychedelic high point of the album, which has in the past formed the entire basis of improvised gigs but tonight only lasted for a few minutes. Later, the album’s title track sounded more in tune with the more experimental tracks last night rather than the film soundtrack it could be on the record. After rounding off the second half of the record to a room full off applause, Chris and Alistair rejoined the stage for a triumphant rendition of Combobulatory Explorations (from the first half, but not played because of the inclusion of Barbara’s Persectution Complex). It’s one of the boldest and most intricate tracks and was a superb end to the night.

Crayola Lectern

Crayola Lectern

The Fall and Rise of Crayola Lectern

Back in the seventies there was a television program called the Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, built around the general premise of the main character having a mid life crisis. You could suggest that releasing your debut album when you’re in your mid-forties might be some kind of mid life crisis, but to do so would ignore Chris Anderson’s presence on the music scene in Brighton and beyond over the years. You could suggest that the title implies some kind of trip – maybe physical, maybe psychedelic – and perhaps you might be right there.

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Crayola Lectern are a bit like The Beatles. But I hate it when bands are compared to the Beatles, partly because you can’t even make any sort of meaningful comparison between the band who released Please Please Me and the band who released The White Album. If you can’t even compare the band to themselves how on earth can you compare another band to them? Also the most repeated Beatles comparison of recent times has been Oasis, and Crayola Lectern are nothing like Oasis. That said, there are parts of The Fall and Rise which recall A Day in The Life or maybe Fool on the Hill. Songs from when the Beatles were at their experimental best.

Crayola Lectern at The Hope 6/3/13

Crayola Lectern at The Hope 6/3/13

You could also say that Crayola Lectern are a bit like The Durutti Column. This is another poor comparison – Vini Reilly was all about the guitar and most of the Crayola Lectern album is piano based. But there’s something about the Durutti Column’s style (which they once referred to as Avant Garde Jazz Classical) that you can hear with Crayola Lectern. Then there’s the standard of the playing, and also the wider range of influences than most music manages to encompass. Vini was never the strongest singer either, but there’s something endearing about both their deliveries which you wouldn’t want any other way.

Crayola Lectern at the Bleeding Hearts Christmas Party at the Prince Albert 3/12/12

Crayola Lectern at the Bleeding Hearts Christmas Party at the Prince Albert 3/12/12

Crayola Lectern are also a bit like Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci. Actually, Crayola Lectern are probably more like the psychedelic bands of the sixties and seventies who influenced Gorky’s but at the time of my life when I was listening to Gorky’s, songs in Welsh with time signatures that changed halfway through was far out enough for me and I didn’t investigate any further. Maybe it’s time for me to invest in some Kevin Ayers and Robert Wyatt albums. Nevertheless The Fall and Rise’s unifying theme is the quirkiness that runs throughout, not just in some of the lyrical themes (“My goldfish died of boredom”), but also in the twists and turns that the music takes. There’s also a similarity in the gentle psychedelia which runs from start to finish, the high point of which is the album’s centrepiece Trip in D, a ten minute spiralling psychedelic epic with hypnotic guitars tuned to sound like sitars.

Crayola Lectern at the Kemptown Coach House 14/12/12

Crayola Lectern at the Kemptown Coach House 14/12/12

Most of all though, Crayola Lectern aren’t really like anyone else. You can pick out references here and there, but comparisons don’t really do justice to the defiantly wilful independence of ideas on The Fall and Rise. They don’t help describe the feelings that the album conjures so well, often shifting from one emotion to another mid-song, as naturally as our own mood changing. For some people the album may seem a challenge, but if it is then it’s a brilliantly rewarding one. One thing’s for certain – you won’t hear another album like this all year.

The Fall and Rise of Crayola Lectern is out on Bleeding Hearts Recordings on 15th April 2013. The album launch gig takes place at the Brunswick on Wednesday 17th April with support from Do You Feel What I Feel Deer. As a taster, Crayola Lectern are offering My Big Idea as a free download:

Crayola Lectern – The Rise and Fall of… taster

Crayola Lectern’s debut album will be hitting the shelves in April this year, and to whet our appetite, he’s put a couple of tracks from it up on his Soundcloud. My other half reckons Slow Down sounds like Mary J Blige’s No More Drama, something which I imagine would amuse Crayola Lectern no end.

Bleeding Hearts Christmas Party

Is there something in the water that nobody’s told me about? After Friday night’s Miserable Rich gig being their last gathering for the foreseeable future, it seems that The Bleeding Hearts Club have also hung up their hat for now too.

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Whereas most Bleeding Hearts have involved three or four acts, each only playing three songs, last night involved over a dozen bands, each only playing a song or two, with a rule that it had to be a Christmas related cover. I didn’t catch the names of everyone but Fire Eyes, Self Help Group, Nick Hudson, Ingrid Plum, Jane Bartholomew, Things in Herds, Clowns, Crayola Lectern, Tandy Hard and Seadog were amongst the bands who played, some onstage, some in amongst the crowd. Some bands embraced the Christmas theme more than others, and somehow we ended up with two versions of Brass in Pocket by the Pretenders. I’m sure the Pretenders’ Christmas song was 2000 Miles. It was some of the more leftfield covers which raised the biggest smiles. Clowns covering The Sex Pistols God Save the Queen was brilliant, and Crayola Lectern doing Bat Out Of Hell was a moment of warped genius.

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We’re going to miss Bleeding Hearts every first Monday of the month, and we hope that it’s only a temporary break. This isn’t be the last we’ll hear of them though – they told me to pencil in the release of the Crayola Lectern album for next April.

Bleeding Hearts Club 10/9/2012

We keep writing about Bleeding Hearts, but then they consistently keep putting on great gigs, and this month was no exception.

Al Chamberlain

First up last night was Al Chamberlain. When I spoke to Bleeding Hearts top dog Chris Davies at the bar before the gig, he described Al as a “professional Northerner, who does a song about trains”, which was certainly true, but doesn’t really tell the half of it. Al reminded me a lot of The Montgolfier Brothers, one of the bands that Alan McGee pinned his hope on with Poptones, his project after the closure of Creation Records. Despite nobody I’ve ever met having heard of them, The Montgolfier Brothers are one of my favourite bands – they make beautiful songs with lyrics about being at the precipice of the end of a relationship which are very well observed and utterly heartbreaking at the same time, and Al’s songs had similar qualities. Perhaps the most famous song about trains is The Locomotion, which doesn’t really sit alongside the acoustic aesthetic of Bleeding Hearts. In Al Chamberlain’s song about trains, tracks and stations become metaphors for components of relationships and by the end everything’s ok, both with the relationship in the song and with any fears about the handling of locomotive based songs.

Ingrid Plum

Monday’s second act was Ingrid Plum. Ingrid sang solo a capella folk songs, unencumbered by other musicians or instruments. Of the four songs she sang three were her own compositions but you wouldn’t know it and could easily have mistaken them for traditional songs hundreds of years old. Her fourth piece was a cover of Chris T-T’s M1 Song, made her own in the same style. It was an electric performance which had the room held in silent captivity hanging on every note. Ingrid has just released an EP – head over to her Facebook page to find out how to get hold of a copy.

The Droplets

It was all change for third band The Droplets, who also featured Al Chamberlain on guitar. The Droplets also live in the past musically, but instead of hundreds of years old folk music they play 70s AOR, covering the likes of Randy Newman and Big Star. Musically it was note perfect, but it was the voice that made it something special.

Steve Elston

Finally, it was the turn of Steve Elston, who had apparently played quite a few of the early Bleeding Hearts nights, before disappearing off their radar. He’s turned up again playing guitar for Das Fenster (who completely coincidentally Ingrid also sings backing vocals for), and has made a return to Bleeding Hearts. If you weren’t looking you could have been forgiven for thinking that there was more than one person on stage, such was the sound emanating from the speakers. I don’t want to throw words like this around lightly, but Steve may possibly be the best guitarist we’ve written about at Brighton Music Blog. His fingers performed feats of technical brilliance, yet the music that was made had a degree of tenderness rarely seen alongside this level of ability. Utterly breathtaking.