Scared To Dance is a club night, it’s soon going to be a film night, and they also put on gigs. You can keep up to date with their ever increasing ventures at their website, HERE. This week they were back in the promoters hat, putting together another eclectic and intriguing bill at London’s Shacklewell Arms.
Opening proceedings was one of our favourite new acts, Deerful. The one-woman synth-pop project of Emma Winston, we hadn’t previously had the chance to catch her live show, but despite a few technical hitches, we are delighted to report that the music works equally well live as on record. Whilst a fleeting view of Deerful’s soundcloud page will reveal a huge variety of musical projects, including field recordings and minimal electronic explorations, for the most part live Emma sticks to her more pop-orientated side. Even within this though there’s plenty of variety; recent single, and tonight’s closing track, Moon Maps hints at an admiration for The Postal Service, whilst elsewhere the soaring vocals and rich electro-orchestral sounds recall Bat For Lashes. Taking on a cover of Joanna Newsom’s track Peach, Plum, Pear, suggests an artist not lacking in confidence, and nor should she be, accessible and intriguing, you’ll be hearing a lot more about Deerful in the future.
Ralegh Long’s debut album Hoverance only came out last year, but he’s already prepped an EP’s worth of new material, with We Are In The Fields set to be released in the not too distant future. It might be slightly odd considering the title, but based on the performance tonight, the upcoming EP sounds a slightly less pastoral-take on folk than it’s predecessor. Whilst Hoverance buzzed with piano-led plaintive folk that explored our place on, and relationship with, the planet we live on, the new material seems to have taken Ralegh’s music into slightly grittier, more sun-drenched places. There are hints of Neil Young, who Ralegh nods to in the form of a cover of Harvest Moon, but also the like of more contemporary artists from Ryan Adams to Jonathan Wilson. Ralegh is a songwriter who seems not to want to settle on a single sound, but to push his music forward, that can only be a good thing.
Thematically there can be few artists who have explored more intriguing topics than Darren Hayman. For example tonight we get a musical interpretation of William Morris’ book Chants For Socialists, a folk song about a bride trapped for months in a clothes trunk, and a number of tracks from his Thankful Village project, wherein he visits every village where every soldier returned alive from World War I and attempts to find a narrative for a song. You certainly can’t deny the ambition of the man, but what’s most impressive is that for all the clever thinking behind the tracks, they rarely compromise on sounding anything other than excellent.
Performing tonight with the latest version of his band, The Secondary Modern, which includes a broken-legged Bill from Allo Darlin’ and his old Hefner bandmate Jack Hayter, Darren ran through something of a career spanning, almost greatest hits collection. The crowd’s reaction to Hefner tracks like Hymn For The Cigarettes, show how fondly they are still remembered, but Darren’s own solo work stands up well, and it’s a well-judged, Friday-nights-for-dancing set, from one of England’s most intriguing and unique song writers.
September Girls – Love No One
Sea Pinks – Trend When You’re Dead
Amber Arcades – Right Now
Alvvays – Party Police
De Montevert – Let’s Not Run Away Together
Hurray For The Riff Raff – The Body Electric
Quilt – Eliot St.
Gruff Rhys – American Interior
This Is The Kit – Silver John
Darren Hayman & The Secondary Modern
Camera Obscura – Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken
Pulp – Lipgloss
Belle & Sebastian – The Boy With The Arab Strap
David Bowie – Rebel Rebel
New Order – Bizarre Love Triangle
The Walkmen – The Rat
Edwyn Collins – A Girl Like You