New Brighton Music

It’s been far too long since we made a new music post – transcribing the recent interview took forever, and rare nights out eat into the limited time we have to post. So here we are with a bit of catching up to do. Inevitably we won’t be able to write about everything we’ve sent, so we’ll do our best, and then try and catch up when we can.

We’ll kick things off properly with something brand new – this weekend ex Shrag / Blue Minkies member Steph Goodman released her debut solo album If You Know You Know. I could describe it as experimental DIY pop, but your best bet is to head over to Bandcamp and give it a listen:

Another track hot off the press is My Shirt Guy is High, the new track from Johnny Kills, officially out tomorrow, but up on Soundcloud today:

Next up we have the new single from Strange Cages, called The Cracks. Strange Cages play the Prince Albert on 13th August alongside Brighton Music Blog faves grasshopper:

Don’t Let The Sun Get In The Way is the latest video to be taken from British Sea Power‘s Let The Dancers Inherit The Party.

Wax Machine, a psych band who could teach a lot of other bands about the use of the word psychedelia, launched their new Harlequin’s Patchwork EP a couple of weeks ago with a gig at Sticky Mike’s:

Finally, for this post, is a release which has been deliberately low key. Black Bunny is the latest project from Thomas White. The Fiction Aisle is still his main project (they play at The Komedia this Thursday), but a new EP, called Gold in the Dark, with a new band name and more guitars has slipped without any announcement. Black Bunny play the Prince Albert on 13th August, supporting Piano Wire, although there’s no clues as to the identity of the band on the facebook event. Mysterious…

 

April Top Ten

Here’s a new regular feature that I’ve decided to start on the blog. We write a lot of posts about a lot of bands, and quite often a blog post about something we absolutely love can easily drop out of view. On top of that, some things we write about are slow burners, and while we’ll write things up as soon as we hear about them, some tracks can creep into your consciousness weeks later. So here’s my top ten for April, based on my plays according to last.fm (although it seems to miss half my plays, so I reserve the right to use a bit of licence sometimes).

10. Interlocutor – Saturday (demo)

Alex White of Electric Soft Parade and Brakes has played a couple of gigs with his new solo project Interlocutor, despite the new ESP album due any minute now. He’s also quietly put up a couple of demos onto Bandcamp which we rather like.

9. Bat For Lashes – Laura (Vogue session)

A couple of months ago Natasha Khan did an exclusive session for Vogue.com. Two of the tracks from this session were released on 7″ for Record Store Day which was a nice reminder of what a brilliant track Laura is.

8. Pete Fij & Terry Bickers / I don’t give a shit about you

This track originally came out back in October last year so isn’t Pete and Terry’s new single. This track has crept into our top ten after being put up on Soundcloud as a free download.

7. Shrag / Sleeprunning

Officially the last track to be released by Shrag now that they’ve split. Sleeprunning is the b-side to On The Spines of Old Cathedrals, their final single to be taken from Canines.

6. Curxes / Further Still

Curxes put out their fantastic new release Further Still at the end of March as a free download, and then put up the video a few weeks later. We can’t wait to see them playing the Alternative Escape in a few weeks time (Thursday 16th May – Les Enfants Terrible stage / The Mesmerist at 18:55 or Southsea fest stage / The Black Dove at 20:50).

5. IYES / Lighthouse (Capsun remix)

We absolutely adore Lighthouse. It was one of those tracks that appeared from nowhere that was some brilliant and so unexpected. It’s spawned dozens of fawning blog posts saying how great it is but the problem was the only way to listen to it was on Soundcloud. Earlier this month though the track was remixed Capsun, which beefed up the beats and the bass and put up on Soundcloud which meant you could listen wherever you happened to be. IYES play the Alternative Escape on Saturday at the Mesmerist at 15:20

4. Black Black Hills / Red Cabin

Red Cabin, with it’s retro reverb drenched rock and roll and backwards video, was an immediate hit when we heard it a couple of weeks ago. Go download it now! Black Black Hills play Brighton Noise’s stage at the Alternative Escape on Saturday at 15:50.

3. Us Baby Bear Bones / You

You is another track which had been floating around for a while but got put up as a free download this month. You is going to be on UBBB’s debut EP due for release in July

 

2. Crayola Lectern / Slow Down

Slow Down is one of my favourite tracks from the new Crayola Lectern album The Fall and Rise of… The whole album is fantastic, but this is the track that we’ve played the most.

1. Electric Soft Parade / Brother You Must Walk Alone

From the moment we heard the new Electric Soft Parade single at the end of last month, it was inevitable that it was going to end up as this months most listened to track. Breezy guitar pop at it’s finest, that sounds even better now that the sun’s out.

 

Shrag call it a day

After ten years, Shrag have finally called it a day. Sussex Heights Roving Arts Group will rove no more. It’s been on the cards for a few months – Their gig at the West Hill Centre before Christmas was their last Brighton date, they had their last BBC session with Marc Riley in January and last Friday the band played their closing concert at the Lexington in Islington.

Of all of the bands in Brighton, Shrag are one of the most responsible for me starting up the blog. Before I’d even heard their music, Greg Neate’s promo photos shot in Bob Brown’s flat at the top of Sussex Heights had caught my eye (he’s recently put up a retrospective set of old shots of the band up on Facebook). It took until July 2010 for me to catch the band live at Concorde 2 where they outplayed headliners Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and I was sold. And the seed was sown to pay a lot more attention to local bands.

Shrag were pretty much everything I wanted from a band – I’d grown up on indie music, so songs like Rabbit Kids and Mark E Smith were right up my street. I loved that they were a little bit rough around the edges, that the singing wasn’t always perfectly pitched and that it could appear a bit shambolic. To me that was charming – if I wanted professionalism, I’d have gone to the bloody opera and been bored senseless. That’s not to say that Shrag were a dumb band – How many records came out last year which used the word Genuflect? (Actually, this isn’t the best example – the Searching for Sugarman album by Rodriguez features the word in A Most Disgusting Song, but I’m sure you can get where I’m coming from). One thing that unites all of my favourite bands is that when you see them onstage or when you read interviews with them, they feel like a gang, a close unit, and more than that, they’re a gang that I want to be part of, and Shrag were obviously a bunch who would joke and laugh and rib each other as only close friends can.

Shrag

The Lexington gig was immeasurably better than the West Hill gig in December (which was woefully unattended and towards the edge of my limits of how shambolic they could get away with). This time they were going out with a bang, and they were note perfect. Support came from longstanding indie legends Comet Gain, who I can’t have seen live for about ten years. They’re still the same as they ever were, and obviously a big influence on Shrag’s sound. Shrag didn’t make it onstage until gone 10 o clock, so didn’t get the chance to play their whole set, but for the hour and a half they played we were treated with tune after tune – it says a great deal about the band that they only released three albums, but could play a set as strong as this. It was quite heavy on material from last year’s Canines album, but I guess that’s the tunes that they’re proudest of and probably that are most rehearsed. Before the band returned on stage for their encore of Rabbit Kids a humorous but heartwarming message from Marc Riley was played urging them to reform soon. I hope they do. I missed the final moments – it’s not quite a simple for me to get home from a gig in London as it is a gig in Brighton – so who knows quite how it all ended. Hopefully with as much energy and fun as they’ve given us for the last ten years.

Shrag Set List

We’re left with one last release from the band – far and away my favourite track from Canines. A 7″ of On The Spines of Old Cathedrals was out to everyone who attended the gig, and has been out in the shops for a few weeks now. It’s the one off the album that goes a bit New Order in the middle, which makes distracts me from whatever I’m doing for a moment with it’s glory. It’s not called On the Spires… as I’ve been guilty of calling it. It is a fantastic note to end on.

Thanks for the music Shrag. You’ll be missed around here.

Brighton Music Blog Advent Calendar / Day 21 / Shrag

Today’s post was meant to be a celebration but I fear it’s going to be a bit of an obituary. I wrote a lot of the Advent Calendar blog posts before November was even up but held off writing about Shrag because I had a ticket for the Riots Not Diets Christmas Party at the West Hill Centre that they were headlining on the 8th of December. I heard a rumour before hand which was confirmed by the band at the gig – it was probably their last time they would play Brighton.

What a bombshell – I had no idea it was coming. This year’s album Canines had been lauded across the music press as their finest yet, and gave us three fine singles – Tendons in the Night (which was a split single with touring partners Tunabunny), album lead track Show Us Your Canines in the Night and and the glam stomper Devastating Bones. While the singles were Shrag’s most muscular yet the rest of the album showed a band who’d finally found a maturity in their sound. The New Order-esque breakdown in the middle of On The Spires of Old Cathedrals gave us the shivers every time we heard it and album closer Jane With Dumbbells was majestic.

Things felt a bit different at the last gig. Helen finally looked a bit older and less like a child, and there was something a bit less indie about Steph. Maybe I was just projecting, knowing that in a few weeks time (there’s one last gig in their Diary, at Fortuna Pop’s Winter Sprinter in London) they won’t be part of Shrag any more. Maybe the band know that they haven’t got anything to prove any more. Maybe they were just drunk. Who knows.

What I do know is that in these quarters Shrag will be sadly missed. They’ve put out some fantastic records over the past few years and played some great gigs. They leave us with one final single put out as part of the Where Its At Is Where You Are singles club. Unseasonal Thoughts melds spiky guitars with 80s synths, and might just be the best thing they’ve ever done. At least they’re going out on a high.

Weekend Gig Picks

Fancy going to see a Brighton band this weekend? Here’s who we recommend:

brighton-rocks-23-online-18183Our pick for Friday is Lout’s regular Brighton Rocks night. This week The Witches, Fragile Creatures, Little Shocks, and Bliss are on the bill at Sticky Mikes. The BIG gig in town is Rizzle Kicks at the Brighton Centre. Apparently that starts at 6.30, and I’m sure most of their audience probably need to get to bed early, so if you were keen you could probably get to both! 😉

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riots not diets shrag

Our choice for Saturday is the Riots not Diets Christmas Party at the West Hill, headlined by Shrag. There’s  support from Cosines, Bad Librarians and Fulhast, as well as a film about post-punk girl group Dolly Mixture. You can pick up a ticket for six quid from Resident.

Action Beat aren’t from Brighton, but Speak Galactic and P for Persia who are supporting them at the Prince Albert are. Also, Luke Sital Singh is on at the Hope – probably your last chance to see him anywhere so small, so don’t miss out!

Shrag / Devastating Bones

Shrag release the second single from their album Canines on Monday. Devastating Bones is a lo fi glam rock indie stomp, which we think might have rather rude lyrics. Judge for yourself by watching the video, where they come over all biology text book.

Devastating Bones by Shrag is out on Fortuna Pop on Monday 10th September, on limited 7″, and is backed with a new b-side “Broken Glass & Fingernails”