Brighton Music Blog Advent Calendar / Day 25 / Thomas White – Electric Soft Parade – Restlessli​st – British Sea Power – Milk & Biscuits – Foxes! – Do You Feel What I Feel Deer? – Fragile Creatures – Clowns

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!

February Source New Music Night at the Pavilion Theatre with Foxes!

After taking a month off (when quite frankly, we were all too busy with Christmas or too poor after Christmas), The Source return to the Pavilion Theatre for their regular New Music nights. I completely missed first act on the bill, Fragile Creatures, who I saw at the start of January headlining the Bleeding Hearts Club at the Albert. From what I heard, they went down an absolute storm though, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them back there higher up the bill at some point.

The night stuck to their normal format of an acoustic act in the downstairs bar to keep the music playing between bands upstairs, and this month’s turn was Daniel James, who started off with a cover of Britney’s Hit Me Baby One More Time (although perhaps sensibly, he missed out the chorus). Daniel had some good songs, knew his way around a melody, and established a bit of a rapport, and if I had one complaint, it was that he wasn’t nearly enough of a geek – because if he was, he’d know twice as many chords, and have spent far too many nights playing with all the different settings on his amp, and he’d sound so much better.

Daniel James

Next came Jetglo. They had the riffs, they had the audience in the palm of their hand, and if you want a good solid rock band, then look no further. Not really my kind of thing, but the response from the crowd showed that one man’s meat is another man’s poison.

Jetglo

I’ve written about headliners Foxes! before. I wrote about the gig they played just before Christmas at the Green Door Store, and I reviewed their album when it came out earlier this year. So when I heard that Foxes! were going top the bill at a show I was planning on going to anyway, it’s fair to say I was quite pleased. The other bands on the bill had good songs and had a connection with the audience, and Foxes! had that too, but on top of that they were in a different league in terms of musicianship, and they had humour, and they drew influence from so many more places. And it’s not every day you see the drummer of a band being female and the lead singer, either. They could have been scuppered by a broken string towards the end of their set, but they carried on regardless. The only thing anyone could possibly moan about was the lack of an encore, but then all the best bands leave you wanting more, don’t they?

Foxes!

Album review – Foxes! by Foxes!

Foxes!

Indie’s history is littered with bands whose members have stronger relationships than just being in the same group – Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon, Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert, Tim Gane and Laetitia Sadier… The latest band to join the queue in this auspicious list is Foxes!, headed up by Kayla and Adam Bell, whose eponymous debut album is out on Brighton based label Big Salad Records next Monday (16th January). The album has been a long time coming – the sleeve notes say it was recorded in 2008 / 2009. Before they found a home with Big Salad, they put out the ace Panda Bear Song last year on legendary indie label Elefant Records.

Foxes! rattle through the dozen tracks on their album in barely more than half an hour – about the right about of time to not overstay it’s welcome and to leave you wanting more. After a short intro track, the album kicks off properly with the Panda Bear Song, which hopefully you’ve already clicked through to, a song about wildlife conservation. The stompers keep on coming, taking in such subjects as spending too long in cafés, days when you feel like you can’t do anything right and girl crushes. Even the possibilities of what happens after death get a look in. But despite the tone of some of the lyrics, it’s not a dark album at all; Foxes! is full to the brim of chirpy indie-pop songs. Oh Rosie tackles the tricky subject of advising the elderly to try internet shopping – not bad in three and a half minutes:

If you’re a fan of choppy guitars, lo fi keyboards and catchy lyrics, then this will be right up your street.

If you like what you hear, but you missed their show at the Green Door Store just before Christmas, you can go and see them in London on Tuesday at The Buffalo bar in Highbury. If not, I’m sure they’ll be playing back in Brighton again soon. In the meantime, you can follow them on Facebook here.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year from Brighton Music Blog! It’s that time of year when pretty much the whole media is looking back at the past year and forward at the year ahead. We only started the blog back in October, so let’s just look ahead. Already it’s looking like a good year for Brighton Music – The Maccabees new album Given To The Wild is out next Monday, with Foxes! eponymous debut album out the following week, and Brakes have posted on Facebook to say that they’ll have an album out later this year too (although they have since tweeted to tell us not to get our hopes up!).

Maccabees - Given To The Wild

There’s also a lot of great Brighton-based gigs around town over the next few months. Here’s a few that caught my eye:

6th January : British Sea Power at The Haunt
23rd – 28th January : Sea Monsters 2 gigs at Prince Albert
31st January : Juice New Music Night (Bobby McGees headlining) at The Haunt
4th February : Electric Soft Parade (10th anniversary of Holes in the Wall) at The Haunt
16th February : Source New Music Night (headliners tbc) at Pavilion Theatre
23rd February : Shrag at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar
9th March : Maccabees at Dome
13th / 14th March : Rizzle Kicks at Concorde 2

I’m sure that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We’ll have reviews and photos from some of those gigs in the coming weeks.

And as if that’s not enough, Brighton Music Blog contributor Jon Southcoasting is DJing his All Time Top 100 at the Coopers Cask this saturday. Jon knows a thing or two about music, so it’s bound to be a good night.

Big Salad Christmas Party with Foxes! and Milk & Biscuits

So when I joked last week about the Juice Christmas Party being one last gig before Christmas, I honestly thought that would be my last gig before Christmas. But I ended up going to another. Friday Night was the Big Salad Christmas Party, headlined by Foxes!, who you’ll probably hear a lot more of next year – their debut album is out on the 16th January.

First up were a band whose name I didn’t catch, but whose tunes sounded like nobody had told them Britpop finished over ten years ago, and who spent more time tuning up between songs than they spent playing songs. Nice Christmas outfits though.

Milk & Biscuits were up next. They’re a bit of a Brighton supergroup – the core of the band is Matthew Davies and Max Earle of Restlesslist, but their mini-LP also features Tom White (Brakes, Electric Soft Parade, and dozens of other Brighton Bands), Jennifer Left, and Kayla Bell from Foxes! (at this stage I should note that I wasn’t making a point of exclamation about the members of Milk & Biscuits, but that Foxes! have an exclamation mark at the end of their name). Mlik & Biscuits started off with a two minute wall of white noise which then broke down to some lovely lilting kraut-pop, built around Matthew and Max’s keyboards and vocals, but augmented with backing vocals, guitars, bass and occasionally flute. Some songs tended more towards Velvet Underground, some were more Stereolab-esque. It was all rather good – good enough for me to buy the mini LP at the end of the gig. Balcony Times was a limited release which came out last October on Big Salad Records and includes a lot of what they played. Resident still have some in stock and it comes recommended.

After just enough time to get to the bar and back, Foxes! took to the stage. Foxes! and Milk & Biscuits are about as different as two indie bands could be – while Milk & Biscuits are all about layers and textures and soporific atmospherics, Foxes! are all about the three minute indie pop song, the lyrics and vitality. At the centre of the band is Kayla Bell, who takes care of vocal and drumming duty. If I had one complaint about the gig, it would be that the drums were placed where a normal band would place their drums – where the drummer is also the lead vocalist, that isn’t so appropriate. But you can’t really complain when the songs are so catchy and so well performed. They rattled through their repertoire with barely a breath inbetween each track. In Foxes! world, short is sweet. Their lyrics are a break from the norm too – I’m sure I won’t hear any other lyrics any time soon about peoples dogs getting anal cancer. Towards the end of the set, they played their track Christmas Songs – it’s quite a measure of Foxes vim that where most band’s Christmas songs are their at the upbeat end of their catalogue, Foxes Christmas track was one of the  least upbeat. When they left the stage, they didn’t come back for an encore – In true lo-fi indie style they were off to man the merchandise stall.

Foxes! debut album is should be out in a few weeks time, so we’ll be reviewing that closer to the date. In the meantime, here’s  Big Salad Records website and here are Foxes! on Facebook.