26 April 2012 (gig)
28 April 2012
New London-based promotions company, “Smashing Blouse” is going to earn itself some real kudos with the kids if it continues to put on show’s like last night’s at The City Arts & Music Project, in East London. With a potentially exciting line-up of bands, performing a range of genres, from alternative pop to grunge, along with some contrasting approaches to the folk genre, the event had some real promise, which it did not fail to deliver.
Arp Attack set the tone delivering a set that a friend referred to as Republica-infused electronica – as crazy as that sounds, you can hear it in their music, which is an AWESOME thing! But, in all seriousness, their jagged and clanging guitar riffs backed up by a collage of fiddly electronic keyboard parts that emanate from a beautiful NORD, and the seemingly omnipresent Micro-KORG, along with the delicate, but enthusing vocals of Frankie Murdoch, gives Arp Attach a real interesting palette of sounds from which they have a real edge live. With their audience growing minute-on-minute, they seemed to become more and more energised as they worked their way through what seemed like the a really short 30 minutes. Only two criticisms: from a musician’s perspective, the guitar tone could do with a little more variation, and secondly, they have too much top-notch equipment, making the rest of us envious.
Mt Wolf brought along a style that critics have previously described as folktronica, with the band branding themselves within the realms of dream folk. Mostly, they are a folk outfit, with some of the usual trappings that the saturated genre brings with it. However, they manage to accompany their arpeggiated guitar, and silky violin tones with some nicely programmed beats and mechanical samples to mix it up a little, and keep it fresh. It works. Nevertheless, having listened to the band online after the show, something didn’t seem quite right. Some of the complex splendour of their recorded sound seemed to get lost live, with the reverbed guitar and drums taking dominance over everything else. Perhaps the sound on the night just didn’t suit them or there was just some mix up regarding levels, which is a real shame as they’ve got some really interesting material, and have a real talent in vocalist Kate Sproule.
Southampton-based four-piece, Pale Seas have songs that immediately sound familiar without sounding tired or worn out, and on the night, live, they gently absorbed the audience, song-by-song, until they were completely theirs. The band’s sound may make you think of a whole host of artists that have come before, from the likes of Elliot Smith, The Shins and Beach House, to The Decembrists and Devotchka, but their own set of beautifully crafted folk pop songs will assure you they deserve to keep such company. With the fine touch of visibly talented Graham Poole on guitar, and the simple but flawless percussion offered by Zealah Izabella Anstey (that name belongs onstage), along with a haunting and refined vocal quality delivered by Jacob Scott, and a whole host of harmonies, Pale Seas took the audience’s attention and held on to it until their parting note. They were certainly the stand out of the night.
Following the intimate, heart-on-your-sleeve performance from Pale Seas, The CAMP seemed to empty rapidly, leaving no more than half of the audience waiting to see the evening’s headline act, The History of Apple Pie. It was a damn shame because THOAP were coming straight off the back of a show at the HMV Forum with no less than the great Graham Coxon, only the night before. It was obvious that they were still buzzing as they got up and began to bash out a sound reminiscent of a poppier My Bloody Valentine, and The Breeders, all pinned down by a chunky guitar and bass sound that sometimes sounded a little 100 Broken Windows-era Idlewild. THOAP are certainly aware of their influences, and they lay them bare, unashamedly, which is refreshing when so many contemporary artists refuse to admit to their real influences; what’s wrong with Rick Astley’s silky tones inspiring you to write a shimmy-ridden ballad, or seeking creative stimulation from Finnish rock legends, The Rasmus? Influence is inevitable, but how you apply it is what defines your music.
THOAP take in their influences, and exhale a rejuvenated grunge sound that has the potential to inspire a new generation of baggy-jumper wearing, heroin chic looking kids to pick up their guitars and bash out some J Mascis style riffage.
If you’ve not heard any of these bands, go see them live as soon as you can, and if possible catch them a The CAMP; a venue with some of that good old East London grit.