Weekend Gig Picks

Last weekend’s gig pick post was all about quality not quantity, and we promised we’d be back this week bigger than ever. We’re still not scrimping on quality but we’re probably featuring more gigs this week than we ever have done.

IYESWe’re going to kick things off with a couple of gigs happening tonight. Normally we treat Thursday as the start of the weekend, but when two of favourite bands are playing we’d be fools not to give them a mention. IYES play their first ever headline show at the Prince Albert, which we’re very excited about. We’ve been huge fans since we first heard Lighthouse at the end of the year, and they haven’t disappointed since. Best of all it’s a free gig! Elsewhere, down at the Blind Tiger, Brighton Music Blog favourites The New Union are supporting Let’s Buy Happiness.

Thursday night is where we normally start our weekend gig round up, and the weekend proper is starting strong with Calico headlining Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar. Support comes from 900 Spaces and Blackwell, and it’s four pounds to get in. Meanwhile, Normanton Street are playing at the Mesmerist.

PawwsOn Friday some more of our favourite bands are supporting at the same gig. Pawws are supported by the fantastic GAPS and Dog in the Snow (as well as Saint Savanna, who are local and new to us). And it’s a free gig – Green Door Store, you do spoil us. There’s also a free gig at the Blind Tiger, headlined by Transformer, with support from Eagles for Hands, whose new EP we love.

Saturday night’s big gig is the Physics House Party taking place at Sticky Mike’s. As well as the awesome Physics House Band, AK/DK, Alphabets Heaven and Suffer Like G Did are also playing. Over at Fitzherberts, Speak Galactic and Soft Arrows are playing at a night called Ruff Stuff, where Owen from Speak Galactic and some of his old bandmates from Cinemascopes are unveiling a new project called Merlin Tonto.

EsbenRounding off the weekend nicely at Sticky Mike’s, Esben & The Witch play the Brighton leg of their national tour promoting Wash The Sins Not Only The Face. At the Green door store, there’s an event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Gram Parsons early death in 1973, aged only 26. There’s loads of local bands getting involved – the list includes The Self Help Group, Dollboy, and Amy Hill plus various members of Laish, The Repeat Prescriptions, Super U, The Standard Lamps, Woodland Blue, The Pooh Sticks, Lolly & the City of Flies, Redlands Palomino Company, Englemann Spruce, and Lost Dog. Get there early enough and you’ll also get to see Pete Wiggs from Saint Etienne DJing before the live acts.

Bizarro World (with Cousin, Speak Galactic, Black Black Hills and Negative Pegasus)

We’ve been wanting to go along to a Bizarro World night since they started them a few months ago, but this is the first we’ve made it along to. The premise is a simple one – four bands on the bill, each playing three or four songs by a famous act.

We arrived just as Cousin were tackling Pavement. We didn’t manage to get any pictures, because the night was RAMMED. The combination of a great line up, covering great bands, on a weekend, oh, and being free, obviously pulled in the crowds. It’s really encouraging to see live music being supported like this. Cousin played things with a pretty straight bat, and obviously loved their time onstage asking at the end if they had time for one more song.

Speak Galactic

Speak Galactic were up next, and tonight Matthew, they were LCD Soundsystem. The biggest surprise for me was that Speak Galactic were as bold and uncompromising as they always were, and made James Murphy’s songs their own, but at the same time if LCD Soundsystem had played them in that style, you wouldn’t have batted an eyelid. Another shock was drummer Jim Morrison taking vocals on Daft Punk Is Playing At My House, coming out from the shadows for a change. The high point of the whole evening for me was their cover of All My Friends; The slightly disorienting feel of the original being fantastic match for the woozy electronics Owen Thomas creates.

Black Black Hills

Black Black Hills came on after a short break, and each of the four members of the band were Michael Jackson, all picking their own era to dress as, which was a nice touch. Their re-imagining of their songs was fantastic – 80’s pop turned upside down to reveal a garage rock sound that not even Michael Jackson would have recognised. If their covers of Bad and Billie Jean don’t become staples of Black Black Hills’ live sets then I’ll be very disappointed.

Negative Pegasus

Finally Negative Pegasus took to the stage, fresh from playing their album launch at the Green Door Store last weekend. Negative Pegasus are Bizarro World regulars – the nights are organised by guitarist and One Inch Badge promoter Todd Jordan. Previous nights have seen them covering Creedence Clearwater Revival and Daft Punk, but this time they took on Tom Waits, calling in a bit of support from Nick Hudson on vocals. Whiskey soaked bar room drawls were swapped for a full on rock out – a great end to the night. I can’t wait for the next one, hopefully in a bigger venue so that more people can enjoy it. It’s a great concept and a real gem in Brighton’s live music scene.

Speak Galactic / Severed album launch / review

Severed begins slowly and quietly. Opening track Capsule uses the same trick that Boards of Canada use – woozy out of phase ambience, familiar yet disorientating. Sounds echo from left to right almost lazily, lulling you into a false sense of security for what’s to come.

Things step up with recent single Precautionary Measures – wonky arpeggios, clattering drums, yelping vocals. Hyss starts off with more crazy stereo effects and builds into something that sounds like it could be a prog epic from the seventies with layered vocals and deliberately primitive keyboards. Pigments lays off the stereo but brings back the out of phase wooziness against krautrock beats with a crazy breakdown midway through.

Lux and Lost Ones bring some of the menace that comes with the wall of sound created at Speak Galactic’s live shows, thick slabs of electronic noise which fall away and blend seamlessly into the album’s masterpiece, Solar Sail.

Clocking in at a mere seventeen minutes, Solar Sail is a piece of ambient beauty. Twinkling analogue electronics start things off before swiftly moving into a seventies sci fi soundtrack that never was. Around seven minutes in you think it might be all over – there’s nothing except something which sounds a bit like tinnitus and some ambient noise. Xylophones threaten something more and background noises start to rumble. And then the sound of running water, and some simple chords which take you away to a beautiful place. Without you realising some distorted noise creeps in underneath, but it doesn’t matter because you’re still in the higher plane you’ve been taken to. The white noise increases, but there’s a beautiful majesty to it, and then out of the noise steps the final slow motion melody, towering like a giant over the rest of the record leaving you feeling exalted. It’s fantastic. It’s like Stereolab and Spiritualized at their most experimental jamming with each other. That good.

Severed is an ambitious, uncompromising, experimental record which isn’t for the faint hearted. It laughs in the face of genres and convention, but rewards you for taking up the challenge it offers.

Speak Galactic had a launch party for the album at Fitzherberts last saturday night. Support came ambient out of towners Plurals and Brighton Music Blog favourites Us Baby Bear Bones. Last time we saw them live was at The Great Escape, and since then they’ve been off in the studio recording material for an upcoming EP. They’ve obviously learned a trick or two while they’ve been away because their sound now is even bigger than before. The magic is still there and the songs sound better than ever. I can’t wait to hear them on record.

Us Baby Bear Bones

Speak Galactic live are a much noisier prospect than on record, and one that’s even more impressive, mainly because all of the sound (save for some live drums) is created by Owen Thomas. Everything is created onstage with a microphone, a guitar, a keyboard and a handful of effects pedals. There’s so much energy, and you can see the ideas and the talent fighting to get out, channelling itself through his fingers and voice. Visuals have been a recent addition to the live sets, and these complement the performance well – another assault on the sense with repeated patterns morphing with the music.

Music needs pioneers, people who are willing to push the boundaries to see what happens, and in Speak Galactic, Brighton’s got one they can be proud of.

Speak Galactic

Speak Galactic is released on on clear vinyl on September 24th by Cupboard Music.


The New Union / Without You

When I first came across The New Union on Soundcloud, I thought that they were a band who’d been around for a few years who were showcasing their releases so far. A while later I saw a flyer for one of their gigs and I thought they had a major label design team behind them. When I got to the gig they were as tight as you could get and looked like a band rather than a collection of people who had grabbed instruments and got onstage. But The New Union haven’t even released a record yet.

All this changes on the 8th of October, when the band put out their debut single Without You. Produced by Ian Dowling (who’s worked with the likes of Temper Trap, Bombay Bicycle Club, Kasabian and recent Brighton resident Adele) the song is three minutes of soaring guitar pop which sounds like a band several years into their career rather than one putting out their first record.

The band launch the record with a gig upstairs at Fitzherberts on 12th October. Get there early – it’ll be rammed.