12 October 2015 (gig)
16 October 2015
Lauren Morgan and Jonathan Shih are a musical duo from Orlando, Florida who play under the name Sales. Not much is really known about the pair apart from the release of their beautifully understated 2014 EP and more recent single 'Big Sis'. The sound they mine is a languorous combination of intricate duelling guitar melodies with fuzzy drum machine beats under the saintly purr of Morgan. But it is the space within the songs that is so engaging, nothing is rushed and everything sounds honed to honeyed perfection.
Their debut UK gig was situated at Birthdays on the hipster thoroughfare of Kingsland Road and while the audience was small, most were rapt before the first note was played. Often modern guitar bands don't like to say too much; either not to get in the way of the music or because any audience participation is just not cool but Sales beg to differ. Morgan, already adorable in her backwards cap, oozes cuteness but soon shows her comedy chops as she self deprecatingly berates their twee sound while continuously thanking the audience for coming. Shih lives up to his name somewhat with his shy low tones occasionally emerging with a wry comment or two but their chemistry is clear.
As soon as EP track Vow begins their professionalism is highlighted by perfect playing and clear-as-a-bell vocals. Most of the audience are in love with this band by now and if any attendant is new to the group then their discovery is highly enviable. When the wonderful pairing on stage announced new songs were to be played, a phrase often dreaded by gig punters, these fresh tracks were even better than their six or seven existing songs. There is nothing better than discovering a band right at the beginning of their career, when they only have a few tunes and though short, their eight-song set was mesmerising. EP opener and debut single Renee was one of many highlights, with Morgan amusingly counting herself into the mellow track like it was a rock monster.
It was the brilliant Chinese New Year that the crowd really craved and Sales soon delivered it in all its luscious glory. All too soon they were finishing with another new track, jokingly titled Future No. 1 Single, then the duo made their over thanking farewells to rousing applause and, one would imagine, offers of marriage to slip away to the bar still rosy with their first gig in the capital under their belts.
Sales were picked by many music blogs as ones to watch in 2014 and this is even truer this year especially after hearing what is to come, hopefully on their debut album. So, if sparse but tender mini-classics is what you're after then keep your ears out for these two sweethearts and while we all hope that their unusual moniker will translate into the real thing, the selfish gene wants them all to itself. At least until they return to Blighty again or flights to Florida get considerably cheaper.