Sunday 15 February 2009

Sad Day For Puppets – Marble Gods/Big Waves (Sonic Cathedral)

Scandi bands seems to have a knack for creating luxuriant, lovelorn, fairytale twisted pop songs and here are Swedes Sad Day For Puppets with their whooshing guitars and pristine, elfin vocals doing precisely that to endearing effect.

‘Marble Gods’ is the invigorating rush of frosty air through your lungs when you careen along the pavement on a winter night. This is sugar power pop laced with bombastic guitar, an unashamedly vast sound that snicks bits of Dinosaur Jnr at their PoP-est and conjures The Concretes when they were cute.*

The appropriately titled ‘Big Waves’ perfectly surfs the cracked heart feeling that builds before sobs break out. Husky girl-pop vocals intone a tearstained nursery rhyme tune over swelling layers of twinkling, chiming guitars and your head fills with snow-scapes and fur capes, and contemplating bright stars in inky skies. Think of The Raveonettes take on Buddy Holly’s ‘Everyday’. Not so much a wall of sound as a glacier.

*Er, I just read the press release and it mentions these two bands – but I thought of them ALL ON MY OWN, okay? I don’t read press releases until after I’ve written what I think of stuff.

Saturday 14 February 2009

The Lodger / Je Suis Animal / Esiotrot / Mexican Kids At Home – 6 February 2009, Bardens Boudoir

There are no buses and it’s started snowing, but we’re all excited about tonight’s gig so instead of chucking it in and going home to ‘Q.I.’ we decide to cab it up the road to Hackney. En route, we amuse ourselves by telling the cab driver – whose ears are already boggling at the name of the venue – that Barden’s Boudoir is a brothel. It isn’t, it’s an oddly laid out venue (like a squashed 100 Club) that’s ace when it’s not too busy and shite when it’s packed. Tonight it’s ace.

Before Mexican Kids At Home come on we are discussing how we once saw King Creosote years ago, supporting Gorky’s. The main thing we remember about him was he had a wooden box thing that he sat on to do percussion. Spookily, Mexican Kids At Home have one of these wooden box things instead of a drum-kit. Woo! They also have a selection of folky dolky make your own entertainment instruments like a mini accordion, a melodica, violin, banjo and stuff. They play lively, foot stampy, sea shanty, rollicking cheerful tunes for girls and boys. They are hairy and hand-crafted and the singer girl has a dress made of excellent cat fabric.

Esiotrot are fabulous. They feature two guitarist/singers one of whom looks like the speccy bloke out of ‘The Inbetweeeners’ and has an excellent voice, geekily whiney in a splendid way, e.g. Jonathan Richman. The other one sports a beard and does the occasional terrifying yowl to annotate his tunes. They both scrabble furiously on their guitars. There is a girl drummer (hurrah!) in a Blur t-shirt and a bass player being Alex James before he turned into a pudding-esque cheese farmer. They have a mini brass section (trumpet, trombone). The trombonist has excellent tattoos. The trumpet player has a scary jumper. Between them, they add an extra glowing undertow to the songs, taking them from being fab to fabbest. There is much more to Esiotrot than just sweet jangling indiepop. They are messy and curious. The music is excellently oddball, the tunes inescapable. They have a song about listening to Stereolab that’s kind of heart-breaking. There’s another one where they seem to be singing “Donna Tart Summer” which is clearly an excellent melding of Donnas. They interrupt their brilliant song fest to raffle off a hand drawn comic. It fetches £3!!

Je Suis Animal begin with my favourite, ‘Sparkle Spit’, and then build from there. The set starts at the poppier, Shop Assistants meet Lush end of the band’s spectrum before heading towards sublime noise oblivion. Their music is elemental – sometimes sounding like the first green shoots of Spring bursting out, sometimes a blinding swirl of snowflakes, or leaves whipped high in an autumnal whirl.

Clad in a cute blue frock, the singer lady stamps elegantly shod feet across a smorgasbord of guitar pedals sparking out furzy noise. At times it seems that the dissonance kicked up is going to overwhelm everything, but then a tune will spiral in from the chaos and set your spine tingling. The harsh rattle of ‘It’s Love’ unfurls into bright colours like a fist full of confetti. The clockwork chiming of ‘Hotel Electrique’ explodes into an ecstatic nosebleed whoosh, swirling you off your feet in a flurry. Standing in the midst of it all is exhilarating and when the band finish it’s like being spat out of a hurricane.

The Lodger rattle out their toe-tappy, jangle pop songs and bring us back to damp British streets and cups of tea (in a comforting way). Shining out amongst the racing, cheery tunes is the sweetly gliding ‘Free Period’, and the exasperated gasp of ‘Let Her Go’. To end, it’s everyone’s fave, ‘The Good Old Days’ which makes people do happy little jigs to its jangling funk. It's a nice merrily communal close to a top pop night.