Top 3s of 2011
January 2, 2012, 7:36 pm
Filed under: Gig Reviews, Random

Happy New Year!

Here’s my top 3 gigs, albums and tracks of 2011:

Top 3 Brighton Gigs
1. The Horrors – Concorde
2. Foster The People – Great Escape
3. Cloud Control/Big Deal – Audio
The Antlers – Borderline, London

Top 3 Albums
1. Skying – The Horrors
2. Feel It Break – Austra
3. Burst Apart – The Antlers

Top 3 Tracks

Aside from tracks off the fab albums I listed:

1. Cults – Go Outside
2. Foster The People – Pumped Up Kicks

3. Florence and the Machine – What The Water Gave Me

For the full version of Brighton Noise’s Best of 2011 click here.


Camden Crawl Launch Party: 26th October
October 31, 2011, 8:09 pm
Filed under: Gig Reviews | Tags: ,

I’ve written a piece on the Camden Crawl launch party and you can read all about it on Kettle mag here.

I enjoyed tweeting live from the event from Kettle mag’s Twitter.

If you like it please rate it at the bottom to give me kudos on the site!

B x

The Horrors at Concorde: 25th October

This can also be found here: http://www.brightonnoise.co.uk/2011/10/26/live-review-horrors/

Just in time for Halloween, The Horrors brought their spectral presence to Brighton by singing from the shadows of the Concorde stage.

With a cracking lighting set up, the five-piece progressive ensemble played to a sold-out, jam-packed audience, who sought shelter from the outdoor chilly spit and were met with a manic sweatbox.

Mostly playing songs from their hit album, Skying and a couple from Primary Colours, the band made their presence known by filling the venue with the radical cataclysm of noises that makes them pioneers of progressive sound.

The electrifying set showcased their impressive catalogue of electronic reverberations infused with their trademark ‘80s haunted-house’ vibe which is threaded into the majority of tracks.

Fronted by the silhouette of Faris Badwan, whose intense sexy vocal held its own alongside the symphony of sounds, the band played a tight set showing influences including grunge, punk, rock and pop.

An extended rendition of ‘Who Can Say’ moved into excerpts from ‘Sea Within a Sea’ causing the crowd to swell in excitement.

The band appeared to have each had a spoonful of Iggy Pop’s frontman vigour (if it came bottled) as flashes of light illuminated them severely rocking out engrossed in their enthralling sound.

The venue was often plunged into complete darkness and there was no silence as the buzzy reverb was maintained between songs, with minimal utterances from the band. This was most notable in a slightly over-milked pause for encore which was forgiven by the conclusive legendary extended two songs that followed.

They played most of the songs from Skying including a superb live version of ‘Still Life.’

The band left behind a trail of echoey reverberation leaving the sticky crowd gagging for the crisp cold night air which they had sought shelter from a few hours previous.

Exquisite Noise Festival at the Prince Albert: 13 October

This review can also be viewed here.

Dan Shears has the voice of an angel but he didn’t need wings or anything to hide behind on Thursday as he captivated the crowd on the merit of his stunning voice and thoughtful guitar-playing alone. Starting the Exquisite Noise proceedings, the artist (whose voice is of the essence of Matt Bellamy) hopped, skipped and jumped between notes, in his incredible vocal range.

Between folk/indie songs with heartfelt lyrics, he amused with his wit and during songs his performance was truly spine-tingling. Check out ‘Lily’ which was his final song. To find Dan, in his own words, it’s: “Shears as in the sheep trimming device.”

Next, something a little noisier, as young and energetic 3-piece Little Signals brought their supple indie pop with a kick to the Prince Albert. The lead singer stayed on the right side of shouty with some nice vocal with attitude which combined with bopworthy reverberated sound and punchy drumming. This band can only grow with more gig experience.

We Spies gave an exciting set that crafted together a tapestry of experimental threads fronted by Lucy Elliott and her distinctive 60s-esque voice (think Ronettes.) The 4-piece built a thick layer of sound with three guitars with every song taking you on a journey of instrumental. There was elements of funk right through to rock and an impressive evocation of different moods. This band created juxtaposition between an experimental feel and then also being so carefully crafted in performance. It was evident that this is a band of ideas and they have worked hard on them to create a unique brand of their own. Their songs often finished unpredictably and this evoked a sense of a confident and strong sense of identity which was very invigorating.

Sparrow translated songs from their at times chilled-out, hit album ‘Playtime’ into a versatile and charismatic interpretation for live performance. The 2 boys and 2 girls got things underway with ‘All the things you were hoping for’ with the cracking bass player jiving to the melodies throughout the set. The combination of the lead male and female vocal was as striking live as it is on their impressive debut album. They sailed through their set with confidence and it is evident why they have made it onto the radar. An echoey rendition of the superb ‘Secret’ rounded off the evening of exceptional new talent.

Slow Club w/Sweet Baboo & The New Union at Audio: 29 September

Sweet Baboo

Brighton band The New Union were the first support act for the Slow Club gig at Audio on Thursday night.  This young 4-piece had a fresh indie sound that ranged from the more chilled out ‘It’s You’ with two Korgs to some slamming riffs in ‘In My World.’  Their raw talent was evident and their cracking instrumental showed true potential for the future.

Next up was Welshman Sweet Baboo, a quieter solo acoustic act coming to the end of his first ever tour.  The slightly bewildered-looking, bare-footed musician demonstrated dry, straight-faced humour, giving a story for each of his heavily lyrical songs and making the crowd laugh.  He said: “This is a song about my housemate and what we get up to…fuck all.”

His honest vocal and guitar-playing was reminiscent of Noah and The Whale or Fionn Regan.  There was an element of comedy to his performance as lyrics included “I am in the best band ever and I make the best love ever.”  However this did not take away from his rich vocal sound.

Sweet Baboo, aka Steve Black, joined the Slow Club duo for their breathtaking set on the last date of their tour.  Playing a mixture of songs from their first album ‘Yeah So’ and tracks from September release ’Paradise’ the pair aimed to please fans, and certainly succeeded.

Their music ranges from folk-rock sounds to more indie pop tunes and the gig proved their versatility.

Charlie and Becky stormed onto the stage to the beat of a pounding bass drum.  Rocking a tee that read ‘Rotherham is the new Berlin,’ Becky tunefully howled her way through ‘Our Most Brilliant Friends’ with the perfect blend of Charlie’s falsetto.

The pair, with their lovely northern drawl, interacted with the crowd and kept the set interesting by swapping instruments and sometimes singing solo, sometimes together.

This band is all about the vocal, as they aren’t afraid to lay their voices bare, and although they sometimes used the smashing of the drums, dreamy bass and even a banjo, the bottom line is the stunning vocal harmonies.

Becky is Rotherham’s answer to Debbie Harry, firstly as her looks are similar but also as she is a sexy front-woman with superb vocals. Their rousing rendition of ‘Come On Youth’ was similar sounding to the sound of Jeff Buckley on album ‘Grace.’  Another quieter song ‘Horses Jumping and Paradise’ started off with just Charlie, his humble voice silencing Audio.  Becky joined the song, showcasing the rousing “siren of the sea” element to her voice.

The last song of the set was the recognisable favourite ‘Two Cousins’ released earlier this year.  Again the limitless vocal, of Becky in particular, was underlined.

The band thanked everyone who had helped them on this tour and came back on for an encore including ‘Giving Up On Love’ and finally ‘Christmas TV.’

It was really moving as the whole audience joined in with ‘Just come on home’ for the chorus of the evocative song.

Another corker from Audio in a double bill of two great gigs in two nights.

Review also here: http://www.brightonnoise.co.uk/2011/10/03/live-review-slow-club-w-sweet-baboo-the-new-union/

Cloud Control w/ Big Deal at Audio: 28 September
October 2, 2011, 6:34 pm
Filed under: Gig Reviews | Tags: , , , ,

To view my review with pictures: http://www.brightonnoise.co.uk/2011/09/29/live-review-cloud-control-w-big-deal/

Big Deal was a choice support act for Cloud Control at Audio on Wednesday. Performing songs from their impressive debut ‘Lights Out’ this Anglo-girl/American boy duo brought their two voices and two guitars to create understated stripped-back music. The combination of their effortless vocals created dreamy harmonies fused with at times grungy surf, at times more acoustic guitar riffs. There was a subtle chemistry between the shy pair which really worked as they sang about love, lust, hope and dreams; with honest, catchy lyrics.

The half hour set consisted of seven songs from the new album including ‘Distant Neighbourhood,’ and ‘With The World At My Feet,’ finishing with Noise favourite; ‘Talk.’

This pair have no gimmicks, you get what you see: two guitars, a boy and a girl; they’re the real deal.

Next was the best thing to come out of Australia since Neighbours: Cloud Control. The alt experimental four-piece instantly made their mark on Brighton entering to a thumping drum beat that cranked up the volume for the rest of the night.

Like Big Deal, they rocked the boys/girl vocal, with plenty of crowd participatory ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ as ethereal as the howls of Fleet Foxes. Their tangy, pulsating sound consumed the crowd to the point of euphoria that it sometimes felt they could be playing a much bigger venue.

The energised audience enjoyed the experimental eclectic set that formed a head-banging type of electro that combined smashing drums, stonking twangs and the occasional interlude of toy piano or tambourine. On top of this fantastic buzz was the combo of three of their voices echoing and enchanting particularly noticeable in ‘Meditation Song.’ The variety of their songs showcased their creativity and energy.

Despite a broken guitar and some poor music techie running around to find a replacement, the band still managed to keep the gig flowing, joking with the audience. After a great rendition of ‘There’s Nothing In The Water We Can’t Fight,’ their final song, ‘Ghost Story’ included the lyric ‘I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up’ and I’m sure everyone experienced the same sensation.

Although the venue warned them it was time to shut, Cloud Control returned for a stunning encore that included a cover of ‘There She Goes’ which they made their own with the female vocal infused into it. The encore also featured a drumming solo which demonstrated the drummer’s extraordinary talent.

Like him, they absolutely smashed it.

I’m From Barcelona w/ Emily and the Woods & Dancehalls at Concorde: 22 September
September 26, 2011, 9:47 pm
Filed under: Gig Reviews | Tags: , , , , ,


Brighton’s Dancehalls were the first support band for the I’m from Barcelona gig at Concorde on Thursday night.  The all-singing four-piece thanked the few who had got there early and it was certainly worth it.  Stylishly dressed, the folk indie ensemble used an array of instruments to create a stirring set that had an element of funked up church music with an organ keyboard sound.

‘Thousand Ships’ included a moving four-part vocal harmony that reminded me of the first time I heard Mumford and Sons’ album ‘Sigh No More.’  With a classical touch of violin, it was stirring when the girl and three boys sang together.

The male/female vocal used the balanced vocal trend that bands such as Big Deal are rocking.  Their songs drifted smoothly into one another. They finished with ‘Fortune of War’ which they described as a “seaside song.”  It had a pirate-esque feel that even got the bouncer dancing.

Emily, Emily and the Woods

Next up, Emily and the Woods started with lead singer Emily singing a cappella with her effortlessly stunning voice reminiscent of Adele.  In a quieter, more acoustic set she was joined by her band which included her brother on guitar and her dad on bass – what a talented family.

A notable song was ‘Castles’ which featured a superb guitar solo by Emily’s brother.  ‘Go home’ sounded a bit like Florence’s version of ‘You’ve Got The Love’ which in my book is never a bad thing.  Towards the end, there were a few people dancing.

The crowd surged forward as indie pop band I’m from Barcelona made an entrance like the start of a musical.  The superbly dressed 12-piece (there are usually 29 of them) were a delight for the eyes as well as the ears, as they were animated throughout.

The stage set-up was this: three stubbly suited ’n booted brass players/vocalists to the left, with synthesisers and a guitarist to the back of the stage.  The wacky moustached lead singer was centre stage charming the audience with his quaint accent.  A rockin’ drummer was back centre with two mirrored men of keys to the right of drums.  Three sparkling singers lead the dance routines and clapping rhythms to the front right.  The combo of instruments gave a rich layering of sound and it was impossible not to dance.

I'm From Barcelona

Singing tunes you’ll find yourself humming on the way home, highlights included ‘This boy’ which was 100% sing-along as they passed the mic into the audience, breaking it down to beat-boxing and a brilliant trumpet solo before bringing it back it up to a jump up and down tune.

‘Jenny’ was another feel-good favourite and ‘Paper Planes brought a whole new dimension as the band threw paper planes into the audience.  Next, there were giant balloons and it was evident that this band was an advocate of channelling your inner child.

No one can resist bopping a giant balloon, not even that bouncer. 

The band maintained their energy throughout the gig and came back on for an encore much to the joy of the crowd.  It was an unforgettable show.

Milkmaid w/ Jerry Tropicano at the Green Door Store: 20 September
September 22, 2011, 12:41 pm
Filed under: Gig Reviews | Tags: , , , , ,

 Here’s a new review. To see with pictures: http://www.brightonnoise.co.uk/2011/09/22/milkmaid-w-jerry-tropicano/

Indie pop and rock ‘n’ roll were on the bill at The Green Door Store on Tuesday night as Milk Maid played with support from Jerry Tropicano.

Unfortunately, the gig didn’t get off to the best start with Sexbeat dropping out, and a couple of housekeeping issues with Jerry Tropicano’s band.

The band’s performance was initially a bit rough around the edges; there was a broken string and a few awkward pauses. The slightly disgruntled audience shuffled their feet as the drummer wobbled on a dodgy stool and the bassist-cum-Korgist channelled some vaguely enjoyable spacey sounds from the Korg. (Then again band that works a Korg well always gets a tick in my book, and they did redeem themselves.)

However, Jerry Tropicano and his band took the call of ‘Come on’ from an audience member on the chin and the brief mishaps in their stride. After chuckling a bit, and Jerry asking the drummer ‘Remember this one?’ the band pulled together to produce a clashy, crashy set with good rhythms and quirky riffs that worked well to showcase their originality.

The varied set included some impressively tight drumming to which buzzy layers of Korg were added as a suitable platform for the velvety tone of Jerry’s lovely vocal. Playing around with zany distorted sound, Jerry sprung some anthemy sounds from his guitar and the whole ensemble managed to ‘do’ noisy, while still demonstrating melody and zest when blasting at their loudest.

The highlight of the set was ‘Brian’ the final song played. They were extra tight on this one and it was a good way to end

Next up were Manchester’s Milk Maid, fresh from gigs in Wakefield and Cardiff and ready to take on Brighton.

This band has played with names such as Male Bonding and Mazes, both bands that are amazing live, so their performance was highly anticipated.

The well-oiled set was full of new songs with the lead singer announcing at the end, ‘We’ve got CDs for sale. Most of the songs we played aren’t on our CD.’ Well, great that they’re producing lots of fresh music, as well as being honest!

This band’s true talent was the ability to spawn feisty instrumental while maintaining super-cool poise, especially the bassist who stood tall, off-centre stage, occasionally bending to the passionately frantic fusion of guitars.

The lead singer, with his trademark look, had a slight Gallagher-esque rich ingredient to his vocal and if that puts you off, remember how many records that voice sold. Although he stated at one point, ‘This guitar’s just taken a massive shit, hang on,’ it must have been a lovely shit as it was in reference to a dazzling Harmony Rocket.

The four committed musicians showed that there were many strings to their bow as the set included a couple of slower songs as well as those more fast-paced (with a bit of maraca action.)

Included in the new repertoire* was ‘Bad Luck’ which included stylish instrumental interludes tightly played. Another new song ‘Stir So Slow’ started with slower vocals building up to a enjoyably consuming climax of guitars. Also particularly notable was ‘Summertime’ which blasted into the mix highlighting their trademark drum-bashing crescendo. Finishing on a high with ‘Not me,’ the band proved they are well set to play the rest of their tour dates, including a gig at The Old Blue Last in London tonight.

*NB: I’ve been informed that the new song names may be subject to change

The Growlers at The Green Door Store: 9th September
September 13, 2011, 12:45 pm
Filed under: Gig Reviews

While the blog has been quiet for a few days, life has been busy.  I’ve properly moved to Brighton and started my Journalism course finding plenty to blog about so watch this space.

In the mean time here’s my review of The Growlers which can also been seen on the Brighton Noise Website.

It was impossible not to sway to the psychedelic rhythms that bewitching surf band The Growlers brought to the table at The Green Door Store on Friday night.

This laid-back band allowed the music to do the talking as they bent layers of smooth sound around the intimate venue, much to the delight of the energetic crowd. Giving a sound rooted in 60s surf rock a dark twist, the progressive band played with their signature unpredictable rhythms and reverberated melodies.

The shadowy venue set the perfect underground atmosphere for the “good acid-trip” feel that the band hands out. As ambassadors of the whammy bar and frequent users of the organ setting on keys, the tight-set flitted from toe-tapping cha cha beats, to offbeat funfair notes, to a haunting organ as if it were being played on a cheery Hawaiian beach, which provided a surprising and enjoyable juxtaposition.

It was hard to make out the lyrics as stylish but slurry lead-singer Brooks Nielson’s diction blended into the layers of other instruments, but the fans were quick to sing along. The set’s penultimate tune was meant to be the band’s most recognisable tune ‘Someone Junior.’ However, it was apt that the energy of the crowd was still rising and this initiated two extra songs in response to a hefty call of ‘One More, One More.’

The 60% bobble-hatted band made a 60% bobble-hatted audience very sweaty indeed. It’s a credit to them as so many people are intent on standing still these days, only swinging their limbs for something extra special. This is a band you cannot be stationary for as your body subscribes to their seductive offerings. Just as the tremolo arm vibrates throughout, the fibres of your body submit… and tremble in sync.

Speak soon x

Joe Driscoll 1 September 2011
September 2, 2011, 10:24 pm
Filed under: Gig Reviews | Tags: , , , ,

Last night, Joe Driscoll lived up to his exceptional reputation, and packed out Patrick Casey’s Ale House once again.  Combining tunes from his albums plus some classics re-branded, Joe gave an unflagging, artful performance that made the folks of Canterbury very happy indeed.

This savvy musician is all about the live performance, as his art relies upon layers of sound which he records on the spot.  He might start with some beat-boxing, or some tambourine shakin’  or both, adding soundbites of rhythmic vocal or guitar, in countless levels.  With all that going on, his hand’s moving skilfully between microphone and instruments and he does a subtle tap dance as feet dart between pedals with absolute precision – yep, this guy sure can multitask.

The crowd relished the free gig, with the whole pub on their feet and getting down on whatever ‘dancefloor’ they could find.  Energy really soared when popular numbers such as ‘I want you back’ and ‘Man in the Mirror’ were stamped with the unique and energetic Driscoll stamp.

This virtuoso is the latter-day one man band.  A one man band you want to dance to.

Canterbury awaits his return, go see him anywhere else if you can!  See here.  He’s playing Brighton on September 16, I’ll see you there.

In the meantime, a tasty slice of the evening’s music was provided by Canterbury DJ duo Wax Hands.  With a rotational Thursday residency at Casey’s and numerous gigs around the city, they’re absolutely worth following.

In other news, please feel free to use my new ‘feature’ of being able to rate my blogs and its posts.  This is all a work in progress and I appreciate feedback.  (Feel free to comment.)  Also my confidence has been majorly boosted by this article in the Guardian today.  If Katie Price can launch a magazine completely dedicated to her views, her ‘real-life’ stories and just exactly what her tattoos mean, then surely I can reflect and ramble for those that want to read it.

Until next time,