It’s been a hectic month of live gigs in London, the great and good of the UK’s DIY scene seem to have descended upon the capital en mass. Whether it’s just a quirk of the calendar or a cynical attempt to remind music writers they exist just before they start writing end of year lists, well we couldn’t possibly comment. What’s been great about the shows over the last month has been the sheer variety of styles being peddled; it’s a scene bonded not by a particular sound, but more by a collective feeling that in the difficult musical climate that we’re all in it together.
We’ve been lucky enough to see the likes of Trust Fund’s emotive indie-punk at The Lexington, Tuff Love’s nineties-inspired scuzz-pop at the newly refurbished Victoria and last night one of our personal favourites Chorusgirl launched their critically acclaimed (it really is getting nearly unanimously great reviews) debut album, and they were kind enough to ask us to play some tunes in between the bands.
Opening proceedings were York-based, lo-fi noise makers JUNK. The two-piece, drums and guitar combo is one of music’s most enduring line up choices, and whilst lazy comparisons to The Black Keys or The White Stripes would be a long way wide of the mark, JUNK’s music is framed by the same limitations. Their sound is based largely around Estella’s expert guitar playing that goes from ferocious riffing to jangling pop, whilst rarely stopping for breath and Danny’s very impressive, loose-pounding drumming style. They play a lot of new material tonight, occasionally they sound a little rough around the edges, and a little more reverb on the vocals wouldn’t go amiss, but there’s plenty to enjoy, and with a little polish they could be onto something very exciting.
Following JUNK, were Odd Box Records signed, Londoners Wolf Girl. There latest single, Deep Sea Diver is one of our favourites of the year and easily the bands best release to date; add to that a full length record on its way early next year, and we were interested to see them live, but we weren’t expecting to be quite so blown away!
An energetic four-piece; their sound goes from riotous scuzzy-punk, to some almost anti-folk inspired quieter moments, all delivered with a pleasant barrage of humour and wit. There’s shades of Martha or The Spook School in their accessible take on garage rock, particularly in the way they embrace the joyous side of music, they’re just an absolute blast to watch, musically impressive, energetic and seemingly delighted to be up there making music. More of this sort of thing please!
It’s been a superb couple of months for Chorusgirl, they’ve gone from largely unknown to releasing an album with the ever excellent Fortuna Pop and getting regular air-time on 6Music. Last summer they played this same venue as the first of four bands, so it’s a sign of how meteoric their rise has been that they draw a near capacity crowd now, and the vast majority seem to be here to celebrate more than critique.
The set is borrowed nearly entirely from their excellent debut album. They open with former single No Moon, the opening low, slow guitar strums seem to fade straight in from the proceeding line-check, and almost take the audience by surprise, luckily by the time the superb repeated drum pattern and low pulsing bass hook have kicked in, everyone seems to be up to speed. They run through the great and good of the album, casually throwing in their biggest hit, Oh To Be A Defector, early on, there’s stand outs throughout; Girls Of 1926, a tale of teenage friendships where, “I knew what you would say, and you said what I would know” with a huge wall of sound chorus, This Town Kills their outsider anthem, with its choppy stop-start guitar intro, which looks set to drag The Shadows back into the public conscious. They throw in a cover of Smog’s Ex-Con, perhaps not the most obvious influence on Chorusgirl’s sound, but Bill Callahan’s tale of loving the idea of community from a distance, and feeling like “a robot by a river” when too engrained in it, is actually a perfect lyrical match with Chorusgirl’s tales of seeking out acceptance.
As the strains of their closing song rang to one final, beautiful crescendo, the merchandise stand becomes a swamped by people eager to show their support. Album launches are always overwhelmingly positive places and this was no different, this felt like a band on the brink of something with an audience more than willing to follow them on their journey: they’d better start working on that second record.
Young Guv – Crushing Sensation
Oh Peas! – Learning To Love You Less
The Wharves – Renew
Menace Beech – Tennis Court
Ezra Furman – Restless Year
M.Ward – Primitive Girl
PINS – Young Girls
H.Hawkline – Moons In My Mirror
Cheatahs – Seven Sisters
Desperate Journalist – Perfect Health
The Goon Sax – Sometimes Accidentally
Tuff Love – Duke
Gwenno – Patriarchaeth
The Drink – The Coming Rain
Grubs – Windwaker
Colleen Green – Whatever I Want
Girlpool – Ideal World
No Age – Teens Creeps
Los Campesinos – By Your Hand
Magnetic Fields – Andrew In Drag
Bruising – Emo Friends
Squeeze – Up The Junction
Trust Fund – Dreams
The Spook School – Binary
The Lovely Eggs – Goofin’ Around (In Lancashire)
Martha – Sleeping Beauty
Gorgeous Bully – Watching The World End
Jeffrey Lewis & Los Bolts – Avenue A, Shanghai, Hollywood
Smog – Cold Blooded Old Times
Literature – Chorus
Pulp – Do You Remember The First Time?
Hefner – The Hymn For The Cigarettes
Buddy Holly – Peggy Sue
X-Ray Spex – Oh Bondage, Up Yours!
Yo La Tengo – Friday I’m In Love
Jens Lekman – Postcard For Nina