Tuesday, 30 September 2008

double six double header - eugene mcguinness & laurel collective

Returning to London after a year long hiatus, I resolved to throw myself back into the thick of things, you know what that means kids, a gig double header. And not just any gig double header - A Double Six Records Double Header (That's A Double Six Records, A Sub Division of the Domino Recording Co Double Header). Brief is how I shall try and keep this as I am growing averse to live reviews - they are all beset by the same problems and reporting them never changes. I can only hope to use whatever problems arise to illuminate the artists in some spectacular way to the best of my usually inebriated abilities.

Both of these gigs were marked by pre-performance encounters with singers in toilets, which was a first. One gig was sober and one was not. The beauty of not having to shell out around 10 euros in a gig venue for a pint was not lost on me. One had a support act that did exactly what a support act should do (that is to show enough promise for everybody to be gushing with excitement, but then be withdrawn quick enough for the excitement to be directed towards the top of the bill), the other was utterly forgettable. Both gigs had headline acts that have released mini-albums on the Domino off-shoot, Double Six Records.

The first one was Eugene McGuinness at 229 in Central London. The venue, formerly known as the International Student House, is not really anything to write home about. It's a student union as student unions used to be, in the days before my union bar at KCL began to resemble a swanky, riverside cocktail bar. I think perhaps he would be better suited to a sumptuous riverside location, as at times his music soars in a manner that would be perfect for some kind of epic camera work taken from afar. In a cramped union bar, it just doesn't work.

A brief exchange of words with Eugene in the toilets before revealed that he would be performing with a live band, which comprised his brother amongst other companions. I don't really think they enhanced the experience that much, but perhaps we can blame the surroundings. Additonally, I think Eugene's songs shimmer ever so brightly when its possible to hear his sterling wordplay and lush, lush, layered vocals. If you can't hear what the words are, it's hard to tell what's funny and just how deft this guy is.

Anyway, the below press blurb should make you laugh.

Moscow State Circus is an upbeat, fast tempoed and infectious song full of joyous verve and unpredictability. The track builds and builds throughout its fabulous four minutes, with vocals and instruments added along the way to create an intense musical climax.

Moscow State Circus is a perfect introduction to the 22 year olds forthcoming genre hopping album, which is gloriously out of time yet thoroughly modern, with one foot in reality and the other somewhere else entirely, where every silver lining has a cloud and one unexpected turn of phrase can lead you down a new musical rabbit hole.

After, you have reached the end of the video as well as your intense musical climax, download the song below from the mini-album.

Eugene McGuinness - A Girl Whom My Eyes Shine For But My Shoes Run From

I don't really know what Moscow State Circus means for the album. I'm looking forward to the self-titled badboy cautiously. The single doesn't burst out of the traps like some of the tracks on his mini-album, which could lead to worry if you're that way inclined. I can't see him straying from being gloriously out of time, yet modern though.

Fast forward to Thursday. Stoke Newington is a long, long way from 229. The capital's strength musically lies in the sheer diversity and number of venues that are constantly battling with each other to put on the best nights. Esser was meant to be one of the supports on Thursday for Laurel Collective's launch of their digital single, International Love Affair. He was spirited away, however, by Channel 4 to play at The Macbeth, exposure which I guess anybody would be foolish to turn down. Slight pity, but not a major disappointment as we still had Lawrence Arabia opening things up. I was still waiting on the bench (what other venue has a bench outside...answers on a postcard) outside for my friend Doug to turn up.

Lawrence Arabia - The Beautiful Young Crew

Transparent, as usual, were on to this a billion, million years ago. I saw the singer, Lawrence, outside and noted a remarkable similarity in appearance to fellow Kiwi, Connan (of Mockasin fame) - anybody else get that? This is lovely stuff though, harmonies that you want to cast aside as being overblown and ridiculous, but you just can't. The Beautiful Young Crew sounds like a t-shirt waiting to happen.

They had a gruff edge when they wanted to also. I'll get back to you on these guys. They seemed to have a lot of depth.

The main act, Laurel Collective, are shit hot live. Simply no other way of putting it. Built around a watertight base of guitarist (who had a beautiful ), drummer, synth and bass player, it's left to the two frontmen, Bob Tallast (wearing a FILA t-shirt in a vague attempt to display an abbreviation of their single) and Martin Sakatu (who was brilliant despite spending the pre-gig half hour in the toilets with a burrito related problem), to trade lines and stage moves in a manner reminiscent of 80's kids TV show hosts trying to outdo each other, whilst sharing knowing smiles.

Live, it was a lot more rough around the edges, to the extent where the band really created their own atmosphere really. Admittedly, it seemed like there were more than a fair share of friends smattered throughout the venue, but the way they got down to dancing and just losing their heads to the songs spoke volumes really. Emanating from the stage was the same kind of joyous warmth urging you to dance that I found at early gigs from Arctic Monkeys and Pete and the Pirates. None moreso than Vuitton Blues, it went down an absolute, fucking storm. The new single and other choice cuts from Feel Good Hits of a Nuclear Winter, which true to to the press-release is a bit of a genre-trasher. The balance between fey, somewhat fragile skinny white boy indie vocals from Tallast and more soulful, vocals recalling the best bits of 90's r'n'b from Sakatu is possibly the best combination since peanut butter and chilli sauce. Check out the Micachu and the Shapes cover below also - sweet rapping which epitomises the genre trashing perfectly.

Laurel Collective - International Love Affair

Laurel Collective - Golden Phone (Micachu cover)

click here to go back to my Vuitton Blues post. - v.v.v.v.v.v.v.highly advised

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