Sunday, 15 May 2011

Tender Trap / The Garden City Projects Band – 30 April 2011, Filthy McNastys

My Autumn Almanac, a night put on by The Garden City Projects Band, always has excellent fliers. I am easily won over by a tasty graphic, as I am by a night promising good bands playing in a friendly pub, but somehow I keep missing My Autumn Almanac happenings – they’re rather below the radar, so I’m mighty pleased tonight’s outing at Filthy McNasty’s has come to my attention.

The barman at Filthy McNastys has been meaning to try out the new Strawberry and Lime flavour Kopparberg cider. Tonight he gets his chance when we order a bottle each and he helps himself to a wee taster, ‘You don’t mind if I try some do you?’ Unfortunately, he declares it delicious and decides he may have a new alcoholic obsession on its way. As we’re engaging in this impromptu cider tasting, Tender Trap are soundchecking in the other room. They do a song with a bassline that is exactly ‘Gimme Some Lovin’ which makes us snigger. It isn’t ‘Gimme Some Lovin’ though, later when we hear it all properly we find it’s a stampy, groovy new Tender Trap song, one of a few unleashed tonight.

The band are having to play in a slightly quieter, less fuzzed up mode, but they still make a glorious bounce off the walls shake your imaginary tambourine buzzpop noise. During ‘2 to the N’ the momentum of the song builds into a shining wall of blissful sound and my head goes ‘Wooh!’ and almost bursts like a pop bubble. Another new song is written from the point of view of the boy (or girl or transgender person as Amelia points out for equality purposes) in ‘Train From Kansas City’ - a brilliantly obvious idea for a pop song, as all the best ideas usually are.

Emily of Betty and The Werewolves has taken over from Elizabeth Allo Darlin’ on guitar, adding a gleeful smiley energy, and, along with stand up drummer Katrina, some heart-whizzing scuffed up girl group harmonies.

As ever the band are endearingly entertaining, Amelia tells us she once played in a band with Paddy, The Garden City Projects Band drummer – when they were at school. Imagine!

The Garden City Projects Band are beatnik suburbia new town modernists with hairy leanings who purvey bright folk-bossa-pop with irresistible tunes and lashings of mandolin. A sound not a million miles from The Memory Band’s lush clockwork bucolia. In their words The GCPB play ‘rural sounds for the city’, and their mix of song titles suggests this merging of styles; ‘Winter Solstice Morning’ versus ‘With Love From The Stafford Cripps Estate’ (my fave). After a set glinting with hints of a brighter world, the band close with sway-along stormer ‘Hey Myfanwy’ and we wake from floating on folky tributaries of tune to find ourselves in Central London, and not at The Eel’s Foot Inn circa 1968.

Hong Kong In The 60s / The Sunny Street – 27 April 2011, The Social

Huzzah! We are at a Sonic Cathedral night and Hong Kong In The 60s are launching their debut album. This is exciting as HK60s do interesting things like collaborating on a Ghost Box Study Series seven inch with The Advisory Circle, supporting The High Llamas, and releasing intriguing e.p.s that feature the sound of hospital ward jazz cocktail parties. They also have a selection of delicately constructed mind-stroking tunes.

Unfortunately their album ‘My Fantoms’ hasn’t actually been released in time for this launch, so we can’t get our hands on it. However, we do get a free mix cd and some tasty Chinese sweets – behold the White Rabbit!

We also get to enjoy visuals courtesy of a HK60s-chosen DVD flickering in the corner of the room. It’s giallo ‘triumph’ ‘Hatchet For A Honeymoon’ in all its stylish gory glory. It’s also a highly inappropriate backdrop to the sweet-heartedly elegant sounds of The Sunny Street. Whilst they swathe us in blossom-scented dream-pop behind them a man in bridal drag wields a bloody post-murder hatchet. Incongruous!

The Sunny Street are three boys with guitars, a backing track and Delphine up front whispering sherbet vocals over Acid House Kings style bossa-indie. When they woosh and build, guitars a-twangle it’s like New Order gone all continental and Goddard-ish or The Radio Dept having a sun dappled picnic.

Hong Kong In The 60s channel vintage Chinese pop, the otherworldly tones of Broadcast, unsettling film soundtracks (hence the giallo shenanigans) and a hint of kosmiche through a selection of cranky keyboards. Mei Yau sings in a wistful tone and they flood the room with contemplative, slightly melancholic hypnagogic dust motes of sound. The best bits are when Tim and Chris throw in some harmonies allowing the songs to flourish, and when Tim adds twangly, gooey bass bumping up the driftyness into something almost funky in a ‘Long Hot Summer’ sort of way (‘You Can Take A Heart But You Cannot Make It Beat’).

We spend an enjoyable time, lulled by the sleepy electronic atmospherics, peeking into the cabinets of curiosity that are HK60s songs. By the end of the set there’s a general air of thanks for the sweets, can we have the album now please?

P.S. Yes we can have the album now please. It is out!