Moulettes – The Haunt – 24th April 2014

I’ve been a big fan of the Moulettes since I discovered their quirky chamber-folk sound back in 2010 at the late night tents of Secret Garden Party Festival. With their high energy and sensational stage presence, Moulettes always guarantee an audience with smiles from ear to ear and achy bones from all the dancing that is bound to occur.

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The Mojo Fins – Circa

The Mojo Fins - Circa
The Mojo Fins – Circa

The Mojos have been making music since the early noughties, a band who have always treated their 'art' with the utmost care. They are a serious band, making serious music. And ‘Circa’, their third album, is seriously good, representing their best yet.
 
Recorded once again at the legendary Rockfield Studios, and again produced by Dave Eringa, ‘Circa’ is the follow through album; whereby ‘Shake the Darkness’ saw the Mojos' sound given more textures, more foundation and a 'produced' feel that verged on the cinematic, ‘Circa’ is a more complete, rounded album, featuring a stream of great songs, from the opener ‘Longwave Reach’ to the closer ‘Hands of Flashing Light’.
 
’Longwave Reach’ is typical Mojos; tinkling piano, echoing drums, bass, guitars and strings harmoniously building up to the brief moments of cranked up and distorted guitar, adding a bit of menace and foreboding to the mix. 'I forgot, forgot to think of you/I lose the plot, get wrapped in myself' sings lead singer Stephen Brett.
 
’Introverts’ is the poppiest track on the album; helped along by an underlay of burbling synth, the song once again building up into a rush of euphoria, with a splendid guitar solo, echoes of U2 and The Sound making themselves heard. And it also contains some fine lyricism: 'Divested of the dreams/that served to keep us stationary/Extraordinary whims unfurl/Introverts'.
 
Brett's singing is powerful throughout, without ever overwhelming a song, and on ‘Circa’ he shows how good a singer he really is, especially on the very personal ‘Catholic Guilt’ track, a low key, acoustically finger picked song, the gentle melancholy of the music coalescing nicely with the regretful tone of the lyrics. Later on, the very personal ‘Friends’ sees Brett almost in solo mode.
 
 
’Arterial Road’ also harks back to the foreboding sounds and textures of The Sound, a hugely admired band from the early 80s, although whether or not The Mojos had ever heard of them is another story…
The REM feel of ‘Grass’ is another welcome change of gear; there's a lighter touch here, more of a band live-in-the-studio vibe, on this relatively straight forward number, which talks once again about possible regrets but this time with less guilt attached. 'We were care-free, we were guilt-free'.
 
’Black Sun’ epitomises the naturally euphoric nature of much of the Fins music, from the inventive tribalistic drums and Brett's downbeat vocal, it erupts into a glorious symphonic wave, before fading back again into the 'gloom.' While final track, ‘Hands of Flashing Light’, is two songs in one, a darkly grooving instrumental passage segueing into the final that finds the band once again musically dueling between dark and light.
 
The music of The Mojo Fins is often suggestive; the titles of the songs offering a direction to go, but not specifically pointing the way: ‘Longwave Reach’, ‘Exhale’, ‘Arterial Road’, ‘White Heart Beats’ and so on… their textured and euphoric meets melancholic atmospherics are yearning, regretful, hopeful, happy, sad, and all those other human emotions you expect to experience in the everyday. While the instrumentation is never flashy or fussy but spot-on throughout, little moments here and there serving to emphasise the mood of the song, but staying strictly away from the bombastic. In particular the drumming is inventive throughout, while the piano, instead of leading a song, is used as a tool, to embellish, to heighten the sensations.
 
The Mojos' generally euphoric and suggestive music is very much in the British tradition of bands such as Editors, the soundscapes and lyrics sympathetically conjoined. With the help of Dave Eringa, responsible for most of Manic Street Preachers back catalogue, but whose varied CV now also includes the rootsy R'nB vibes of the recent Roger Daltrey and Wilko Johnson album collaboration ‘Going Back Home’, they have engineered a complete work to be proud of, made more so by the evocative cover photograph of sculpted sand and rock formations of the Utah desert.
Jeff Hemmings
 
Website: themojofins.com
 

grasshopper – Circle Time

Grasshopper’s new EP ‘Circle Time’ starts with an eerie thirty seconds of searching keyboard instrumental before the first proper track begins with a bass slathered in so much chorus it could be The Cure in 1982. ‘Rico’s Revenge’ is almost an instrumental, getting through two atmospheric minutes before restarting and leading us to a short, nostalgic vocal refrain. The nostalgia seems odd when you consider how young the minds that created this music are, this is the second EP from grasshopper and they’ve been playing the Brighton circuit for two years now despite the fact we suspect the average age of the band is a mere seventeen.

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Moulettes – Constellations

Formed 12 years ago it took The Moulettes a while to really get going, releasing their debut album on the Southampton based musical co-operative Sotones in 2010. Since then they have based themselves in Brighton, toured with the likes of The Levellers, headlined their own tours, released the acclaimed second album The Bear's Revenge, and become a regular fixture on the festival circuit.

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Thought Forms / Esben and the Witch – Thought Forms

 

Thought Forms/Esben and the Witch (split LP)

Brighton's Esben and the Witch (EATW) are known for their heavy, uncompromising post-punk aesthetic, largely involving a basic set up of just bass, guitar and drums. Last seen in Brighton performing a live score to the Argentinian film La Antena as part of last year's Cine City film festival, they are at their most comfortable in experimental, noisy, 'nightmare pop' making mode.
On 'No Dog', a rumbling distorted bass meets crashing drums and overdriven guitar, before the song segues into a quiet, snail's pace passage followed by Rachel Davies' typically foreboding vocals. Slowly, but surely it builds before the cycle is completed and repeated.
The eight minute plus 'Butoh' is even more elemental, several moments of visceral catharsis dotting the 'tune' which is little more than an experimental jam, but remains spellbinding nevertheless.
Having left the 4AD label, EATW are crowd funding in order to raise the necessary funds to record their next album with Steve Albini.
Meanwhile Bristol's 'Thought Forms' (also a trio; two boys, one girl) four tracks on offer somewhat mirror EATW, the alternating cycle of quiet, loud is equally dark and foreboding, but with a touch more of the 80s alt-indie, and a little less experimental and instrumental. Sound of Violence and For The Moving Stars are both obviously influenced by the likes of 80s icons Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine, but remain fiery tracks that mean business.
This highly unusual split LP offering (split singles were more common in the punk and post-punk eras) will be available on vinyl or digital platforms, and is being released via Geoff Barrow's (of Portishead fame) Invada Records imprint.
Jeff Hemmings
 
 
 

Peggy Sue – The Green Door Store – 7th April 2014

Following the recent release of their latest album ‘Choir of Echoes’, Peggy Sue returned to the UK after touring Europe and their first stop was their hometown of Brighton.
 
I’d been listening to Choir of Echoes all day and was excited to see how the tracks would transfer live on stage.

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Wilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey – Going Back Home

What an inspired coupling! The vocals of Roger Daltrey and the Telecaster guitar of Wilko Johnson. Although both qualify for bus passes these days and are only four years apart in age, fame came to them in different decades, Daltrey idolised at an early age with The Who, while Johnson only came through a decade later with the pre-punk, pub-rocking Dr. Feelgood, who at their height reached number one in the album charts with Stupidity, a live album released in 1976.

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The Kooks – Down

The Kooks recently unveiled a new song ‘Down’ which is due for release alongside three brand new tracks on 20th April. This is the first new material to come from the band since 2011’s ‘Junk of the Heart’. ‘Down’ has been described by the group as a mission statement for their forthcoming fourth album and it is a major departure from the more familiar sound of earlier releases. This time round they have worked very closely with hip-hop artist Inflo, who is credited as both co-writer and co-producer on ‘Down’.

On first listen I have to admit I honestly thought this song might have been a joke. To my ears Pritchard’s already distinctive vocal sounds like a caricature of itself. The surprise change of sound, from crisp indie pop to a more sample-led hip-hop inspired production is jarring. It seems to be a bit on the cluttered side: there are several layers of vocals and jangly guitars competing on top of what sounds like an old skool hip-hop break but may well be their drummer sampled and layered with percussion. After repeated listens The Kooks clear ear for melody wins out and I find myself warming to the track.

It seems The Kooks are taking a bit of a gamble by trying an approach which may alienate a lot of their core fan base. You have to respect them for trying something new and following their muse but for a lead single this just seems kind of messy. Here’s hoping they’ve got better material hidden up their sleeves and this is just a little teaser to break people into their new sound.

Adam Kidd

 

Almighty Planets – Interview – 2014

I managed to meet up with the two lead singers from Almighty Planets – Noah and Ally at the quirky Marwoods Café in the south Laines last week. The energy and finesse they exude on stage certainly came across in the interview. It was an absolute pleasure to meet them both as they’re both passionate about what they do and hilariously funny at the same time. Not only is their music and live performance electrifying, but the band’s friendship and deep affection for each other makes Almighty Planets a really unique and special collaboration.

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The Correspondents – Concorde 2 – 28th March 2014

I’ve been a big fan of The Correspondents since I first discovered them at Secret Garden Party a few years ago so I could not wait to see them again at one of my all time favourite Brighton venues – The Concorde 2. Luckily I managed to catch the support band ‘Almighty Planets’ – a ten-piece hip-hop/funk band. Like The Correspondents they too are natural performers, it’s not often you find your eyes transfixed to the stage in admiration whilst wildly tapping your feet to a support act you’ve never heard before.

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