Archive | December, 2011

Top 15 gigs of 2011

23 Dec


Number 12: The Jim Jones Revue


I’ve seen more than 120 acts this year and 77 live performances have been reviewed since this blog was born back in February.

Established outfits, up and coming bands and so far little-known Brighton acts have been critiqued, praised and, in a  few cases, hammered.

In a last post for 2011, here’s my top 15 live performances of the year.

1)       Josh T Pearson – Brighton Ballroom, March

2)       EMA – Jam, Brighton (The Great Escape), May

3)       Anna Calvi  – Concorde 2, Brighton, October

4)       King Creosote and Jon Hopkins – Summer Sundae, Leicester, August

5)       Erasure – Brighton Dome, November

6)       Suede (Dog Man Star) Brixton Academy, May

7)       Austra – Haunt, Brighton, July

8)       The Crookes – Debaster, Stockholm, April

9)       Tribes – The Hope, Brighton, July

10)   David Ford – Komedia, Brighton, June

11)   The Naked and Famous – Digital, Brighton, March

12)   Jim Jones Revue – Summer Sundae, Leicester, August

13)   Steve Mason, Komedia, Brighton, May

14)   Aidan Moffat – Duke of Yorks Picturehouse, Brighton, March

15)   Slow Club – Audio, Brighton, September




Live Review: Euros Childs

19 Dec

Brighton Unitarian Church: Saturday, December 17 2011

A few hours ago, the streets outside  Brighton’s Unitarian Church were rammed with manic, wide-eyed Christmas shoppers, their bags bulging with pointless tat that no-one really wants. Now they’re stalked by people three sheets to the wind, giddy because they’ve got a festive excuse for getting tanked-up.

Even Christopher Hitchens would have thanked Christ for being inside the church, having these bah humbug grumbles soothed by the playfully eccentric sounds and lyrics of Euros Childs.

The elf-like former Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci frontman’s show is a fine leveller at this time of year; there’s no brash fanfare, painful pretence or flashy distractions, just one man, his piano, a collection of instantly memorable wonky pop tunes and plenty of endearing between-song rambling.

Touring on the back of new album Ends, he opened with Spin That Girl Around, which is just about the most perfect, understated pop song released this year. 

Hunched over the piano, feet pounding and endlessly fidgeting, Childs then dipped in and out of his extensive back catalogue, reworking the likes of the comical Horse Riding and the euphoric A Good Feeling About Today to suit the stripped-down show.

He even eliminated the swearing from his lyrics out of respect for the venue. He shouldn’t have bothered, because the Big Man clearly had it in for him. After 45 minutes, something on his piano snapped and it ended in the front row.

The piano was unplayable and Childs looked mortified. Thankfully, five minutes later we were all in the back room and Childs was on the church piano, finishing his set in suitably surreal Sunday school surroundings with the Gorky’s Patio Song (“this one’s a bit different, some people actually bought this,” he said) before he took a couple of requests.

Like Darren Hayman and even the Magnetic Field’s Stephen Merritt, Childs’ will forever be a cult hero who deserves far wider acclaim.

At least his CD stand did a roaring trend, hopefully helping to fund his next self-released album and ensuring a few people will be receiving something far better than a giant Toblerone or Clarkson DVD come the 25th.

Top 30 albums of 2011

15 Dec


Top spot: Josh T Pearson


Everyone else is at it…so here it goes…

1)       Josh T Pearson – Last of the Country Gentlemen

2)       King Creosote and Jon Hopkins – Diamond Mine

3)       The Horrors – Skying

4)       The Crookes – Chasing After Ghosts

5)       Half Man Half Biscuit – 90 Bisodol (Crimond)

6)       The Antlers – Burst Apart

7)       The Naked and Famous – Passive Me, Aggressive You

8)       I Break Horses – Hearts

9)       Hannah Peel – The Broken Wave

10)   Cat’s Eyes- Cat’s Eyes

11)   Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes

12)   Art Brut – Brilliant! Tragic!

13)   Slow Club – Paradise

14)   Cashier No 9 – To The Death Of Fun

15)   Marc Carroll – In Silence

 16)   We Were Promised Jetpacks – In The Pit Of The Stomach

17)   Emmy The Great – Virtue

18)   Milk Maid – Yucca

19)   EMA – Past Life Martyred Saints

20)   Anna Calvi – Anna Calvii

21)   S.C.U.M – Again Into Eyes

22)   Times New Viking – Dancer Equired

23)   Admiral Fallow – Boots Met My Face

24)   Sophie Madeleine – The Rhythm You Started

25)   Metronomy – The English Riviera

26)   The Computers – This Is The Computers

27)   Yuck – Yuck

28)   Aidan Moffat and Bill Wells – Everything’s Getting Older

29)   British Sea Power – Valhalla Dancehall

30)   Blood Orange – Coastal Grooves

Live Review: Two Wounded Birds, Young Boys and Ice Black Birds

8 Dec


Two Wounded Birds: There's, er, four of them


Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar:  Wednesday, December 7 2011

Not many bands should relish having Ice Black Birds opening for them.

The Brighton four-piece don’t so much warm you up as set you on fire with their garage-rock concoction of bumper riffs, growling and whooping vocals and pounding basslines.

They are far from one-trick ponies, though; tonight they show some nifty songwriting finesse.

No-one Loves Me Like You Do starts off sounding like a bourbon soaked lament from the Deep South before clattering and careering into a rollicking, furiously paced, foot stomper.

Similarly, closer 22:22 is a taut, rock and roll riot where spiky vocals and punchy bass verses are interspersed by screeching lead guitar.

It’s like the Jim Jones Revue knocking seven bells of shit out of White Denim to a high-octane, classic rock soundtrack.

After that, it was going to be hard for three-piece Young Boys not to appear lightweight.

In fairness, they peddled their indie pop schtick with as much gusto as could be expected from three skinny, pale-faced lads, but too many of their admittedly catchy tunes were either overpowered by grating, plinky, plonky lead guitar or failed to stay in the memory for more than a minute after they finished.

Their strongest song was a break from norm, sounding like a cross between an homage to a Sixties US prom night with some substandard Jarvis Cocker style ramblings over the top.

If you decide to check them out, remember, they’re a fucker to google – especially at work.

And so to Two Wounded Birds. After grabbing our attention at this year’s Great Escape, the Margate four-piece continue to enthral and beguile in equal measure.

On paper they sound absurd, but live they are exhilarating. It’s nigh on impossible to know what Johnny Danger (really) ands his three cohorts are going to sound like from one song to the next.

There’s some Buzzcocks-style pure power pop, a beefed-up Richard Hawley-esque croon-along and a selection of almost old school surf rock rhythms with completely contradictory, yet resoundingly impressive, desolate vocals and scything chords over the top.

With his jet back barnet, leather jacket and jolts and jerks, Danger makes a fine frontman too, especially as he spits out the blistering early single All We Wanna Do.

Now signed to uber cool label Moshi Moshi, Two Wounded Birds are going to soar.

Live Review: The Staves

7 Dec

The Hope : Monday, December 5 2011

Until Monday, Radio One DJ Fearne Cotton’s biggest achievement was making people crave the return of her predecessor, the simpering Jo Whiley.

Then she went and gave The Staves their first airplay on the station.

Suddenly, her banal morning show chit-chat and excruciating TV festival coverage with Reggie Yates was forgiven, because if there’s one act which would flourish with a wider audience, it’s The Staves.

So far the three sisters have built a steady following by word of mouth and support appearances – this was their third show in the city in three months after opening for fellow folky-types Willy Mason and James Vincent McMorrow.

Here they were headlining and, in part thanks to the added air of confidence that brings, they were captivating.

With apparent effortless ease, sisters Emily, Camilla and Jessica deployed terrific three-part harmonies – often alongside little more than a single acoustic guitar or ukulele – to stun the vast majority of the crowd into silence.

They have an aura and authenticity, not to mention ability, akin to Laura Marlin – but multiplied by three.

They’ve got the songs to match the vocal talent too. There were more than a handful of highly infectious tunes which instantly burrowed into the brain.

What’s more, it was all accompanied with a refreshing, prevailing sense of fun. As well as some onstage banter between themselves, we were all urged to “tweet the shit out of Fearne Cotton” so she would play their new single Mexico again.

They had a bit of bite too, as the couple at the front who insisted on nattering can testify after they were on the receiving end of a barbed comment during the encore.

With their natural talent, tunes and charm, The Staves are just about the complete package. Next year could well be theirs.

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