Normally I’m not a big fan of squeezing three bands into a show, especially somewhere like The Haunt where they kick you out early. It often means a rubbish band on first playing to an empty room. Still I got down to the venue early to see and was pleasantly surprised to walk in to a reasonably crowded room just as the opener InTechnicolour were finishing their first song. I was soon totally captivated by them, they were entertaining to watch and had a good heavy indie-rock sound that nicely got me in the mood.
For one of those bands whose frontman and songwriter Greg Dulli claimed “the band would never get back together”. Well it seems like when the band got back together five years ago it may not have been a fleeting reunion. The Afghan Whigs have come up with a timely album that draws on a wide range of styles. From classic 70s stadium rock to the 80s power ballads, all with a very 90s spin on things. This does not sound like another album to milk an established name but a real work of passion putting together some songs that had started to kick around as they have been playing together more and more.
I first saw The Physics House Band live a few years ago at an Alternative Escape event, mainly because I’m a bit of a science geek and loved the band name. Upon seeing them live I then became a massive fan of their music too. Their music is mainly instrumental and for a three-piece they make a hell of a sound. The band is made up of guitarist Samuel Organ, bassist Adam Hutchison and drummer Dave Morgan who together take you on a musical journey.
Mercury Fountain, a nice scientific album title to go with the band name, is an intriguing album which at times can sound like the chilled out music of Vangelis, then snap in a second into a hardcore thrash metal sound. Though never in a jarring way, their sense of timing is superb. They are certainly not a band that will appeal to everyone but in a Frank Zappa way they have a hardcore and growing fan base of people who totally get it and can’t get enough of it.
Fischer-Z are back! A headline that is probably not going to turn many heads in the UK but in Europe it’s quite a story. Fischer-Z, aka John Watts, have been going for 40 years and this is John’s 20th album but his success has mainly been in Europe and Australia. Here in the UK he is still a novelty enjoyed by a small hardcore fan base. Fischer-Z came up during the late 70s with a backdrop of cold wars, nuclear war and mass consumerism and they hit a spot with catchy pop-rock songs that had a political twist. Clever lyrics and a catchy tune became John’s catchphrase but since the 80s John Watts has had an on/off relationship with his own band Fischer-Z and, instead, has released solo projects, art projects, multimedia releases and the like.
When you think of dub or reggae it’s not likely that many British acts will spring to mind. Despite that, Dreadzone have been doing the roots music thing since the early 90s and shot into the public limelight with their second album Second Light. With a reputation for amazing live gigs, a Top 20 single with ‘Little Britain’ and high praise from John Peel they captured a lot of people’s attention. It probably helped that their social-political lyrics fitted in well with the ‘Cool Britannia’, ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ and New Labour rhetoric of the time.
Dreadzone are more than just another reggae band though, they blend in a mix of dance rhythms, melodies from around the world and lyrics with a political slant that give them a bit more of an edge. Just like back in the 90s the social and political subject seem to fit in well with the anxieties, problems and general feeling a lot of people have these day with narrow minded right wing policies setting agendas around the world.
These days it's hard to work out what Gong are. They are not really a cover band but there are no original members in the band these days. So I headed up the Lewes fighting against the weather and Southern Rail excuses to find out.
Concorde 2 was rammed tonight but that’s not surprising, as it’s hard to find a band with a more dedicated following than the New Model Army. In fact their die-hard fans are commonly known as The Family or The Militia because of their closeness and dedication. 35 years later and their family seems as strong as ever. There are many reasons for this dedication, their unique blend of rock, punk and goth music that hits the spot for many followers of those genres is one. Another is their far left wing and no holds barred lyrics along with their refusal to play by the normal rules.
Tigercub are a three-piece from Brighton that have been kicking about for about five years and have grown a great reputation as a live band. Abstract Figures in The Dark is their first album release and from the very beginning you can tell it’s a well polished affair.
The album is full of simple driving rhythms that are reminiscent of classic 70s / 80s pop punk rock. The album starts with a long gentle intro to the song ‘Burning Effigies’ before kicking into full swing with some nice hooky vocal lines like “Until you’re gone”, “Truth denier and truth divides us” and “It’s like I’m made out of stone” and is your typical driven-mad-by-your-partner type song.
Though don’t let this lead you to think this is yet another teen-angst screw-the-world type album. Tigercub have more in the bag than that. The second track ‘Memory Boy’ is almost bubblegum pop with a killer driving bass line. Much like the Ramones they have the ability to come up with clever witty lyrics over simple but punchy melodies that grab your attention.
I have to admit the album sounded a little bit over polished the first time I listened to it but after a few listens and tuning my ears into the sound I’ve grown to like it a lot more. It’s definitely an album that has grown on me the more I’ve heard it. It’s certainly a big sound from a three-piece and they fill the audio spectrum to the full in places. Unsurprisingly ‘Migraine’ is such a track with wailing guitars over a booming bass and clashing drum track.
One of the most bizarre tracks is the fifth one, ‘Can You Hear Me (interlude)’ which sounds like one of those pocket phone calls you get from an unlocked phone. There is certainly something in the background to this 23 second interlude but I could not hear what it was. This is followed by the dreamy tracks ‘Up in Smoke’ and ‘The Golden Ratio’ that does seem to stand out more from having the interlude before it.
‘Control’ and ‘Serial Killer’ get us back on the rocky pop vibe with ‘Control’ being the punchy attention-grabbing pop and ‘Serial Killer’ more melodic. The title track ‘Abstract Figures in The Dark’ is a nice anthem at the end of the album with the closing track ‘Black Tides’ a slow rolling track that sounds like a nod to the old cotton picking songs of 50s America.
After seeing them live a couple of times, listening to the album has given me a chance to get to know the songs a bit better. Which is always a good thing and now I desperately want to see them live again as I missed them when they played Brighton a few weeks ago. Though there is another chance to see them on their tour in London in a few weeks time and as it’s Tigercub I’m fairly sure it won’t be long before they are playing Brighton again.
John Carpenter is already well known as a director, producer, writer, composer and even bit-part actor in the movies he has made. Now you can add to that list live keyboard playing frontman in a band.
The evening started off with support from the Italian ‘giallo horror film-scores’ creator Arcimago who is now based in Brighton. I’d seen him a week ago at the Oxjam festival and was impressed though at The Dome he sounded even better. His simple beats and melodies sounded more anthemic here and he put on more of a performance to the audience that increased throughout his set. It was the perfect warm-up act for what was to follow.
Ten years ago the charity Oxjam launched its month-long music festival Oxjam, which takes place every October. It's made up of hundreds of events happening all around the UK, all run by volunteers with all the money raised going towards funding the good work Oxfam does around the world. Brighton was a bit late to the party but the Brighton Takeover event has been running solidly for the last four years and has hosted an amazing variety of bands at numerous venues over the years. After scanning through the list of about 70+ bands and a dozen or so venues I filled my schedule up with a selection of bands I’d heard of but not seen, old favourites and the odd random act, then headed out into town to see what this year had in store.