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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Sunshine Underground/ CSS/ Klaxons

Hammersmith Palais, London, 16 February 2007

Written by Abi Renshaw

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One thing is certain on listening to Swollen and Small; Viking Moses is utterly in love with Neutral Milk Hotel. He knows the songs inside out, for sale information pills upside down, and has grown up learning to play along with Jeff Mangum’s melancholic ponderings on life, the universe and everything.

This EP is a collection of four NMH covers, all played uniquely but strangely similar to the original tracks, with the emotion and devotion of a true disciple of the band he obviously so loves.

Having played with the rock stars of the alt-folk movement over the last five years (Devendra Banhart, Will Oldham, Cat Power), Moses has finally decided to do the self indulgent thing of strumming away his favourite songs for all to hear… And I’m damn happy that he did. It’s an interesting selection of songs he has decided to cover, three from the lesser known On Avery Island, and the dance floor filler Holland 1945 (from In the Aeroplane over the Sea), all of which are done justice.

Viking Moses has the same sort of off -beat, powerful and delicate voice as his idol and pulls off the long high drawn out notes in a wonderful, same-but-different manner from the originals. His rendition of Holland 1945 is truly spectacular, edging away from the rollicking, percussion driven original and opting for a quieter and all together gentler rendition which allows for the heartbreak of the lyrics to really come through.

It’s basically a one man and his guitar affair with occasional slide guitar and harmonica, percussion coming from the pounding of palm on guitar, working particularly well on Gardenhead/Leave Me Alone; a brilliant original and a worthy cover. As goes for the rest of the record.

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This debut single from hotly-tipped Cardiff students Los Campesinos! suffers from the same problem as past efforts from the very similar Leeds band The Research and Bristol-based Kid Carpet. Namely, more about the whole thing reeks of a kind of contrived wackiness. I’m all for simple pop – The Ramones, shop for instance – but there’s simple pop and then there’s children’s music, and this – so sugary and kooky, veers towards the latter. And yes, the Americans say “math” – how amusing.

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The press release for this EP not only offers the terrifying prospect of a “jazz flute” but also the use of something called a “shlang dan”. Thankfully, purchase the prospect of a muso jamming session – high on fannying about, viagra sale low on actual tunes – fails to materialise. That’s not to say, however, that Born Ruffians are particularly tuneful – they’re not. They play an ultimately frustrating kind of country rock reminiscent of Neil Young at his most MOR. What’s more, Luke LaLonde’s singing voice is so whiny it makes the vocals of infinitely annoying Clap Your Hands Say Yeah front man Alec Ounsworth sound like Johnny Cash.

If you weren’t sure with the term ‘neon done well’, pill this could have been your crash course. If you mix ‘indie’ and ‘rave’ apparently this is the uniform! Brilliant, price I got given three glow bracelets from an almost-nuclear guy at the bar. That’ll do nicely.

We’d missed New Young Pony Club – very annoyed about that – so The Sunshine Underground were our first. I wouldn’t have quite put them on this tour anyway and they didn’t exactly win me over. Maybe it was just the wrong place at the wrong time or the fact that it was just too loud! It felt like they were saying ‘Hey, more about notice this! We’re gonna rattle your bones from the inside and knock ‘em out!’. Unfortunately not really any need, their arrogance turned us to the queue at the bar.

However, CSS were next. Oh my god, talk about stage presence, this band have the lot. They started with CSS Suxxx and jumped around in oversized t-shirts with the letters to spell out the songs title, awesome.

You could tell they were completely comfortable, incredibly sexy and very well dressed, if just a touch strange. Love Foxxx revealed (what can only be described as) a massive amount of leather strips sewn on the back of her top like a curtain to the store cupboard in a shop. I think all the females took note and wanted to copy this idea, including me! CSS absolutely got Hammersmith Palais sweaty, the amount of dancing around and finger pointing was immense. Love Foxxx can strut her stuff and I could sense absolutely everyone fancied her, even the girls. Truly great indie/rave.

Then the strobe lighting started, the coloured lights began whirling – the Klaxons were coming on. The stage became lit up with people throwing their ‘glow’ on stage. Dressed in skinny red jeans, hair in the face so they couldn’t possibly see and a give-a-shit attitude, made the Klaxons deserved headliners. My god and was this last hour going to be good!

Picture this, a crowd shouting and screaming trying to sing la-la-laaa, dj oh-oh-ohhhh and oooooooooooh to the point where we all lost our voices. Now that’s what you want. Utterly fantastic, loved every jump off the amp/strut across the stage/abuse of instruments. They had such a good time, an encore was out of the question and guitars got dropped, smashed and bits thrown into the crowd.

Still all four bands came back on and did a Sunshine Underground track and the Klaxons cover of ‘It’s not over yet’ when it actually was. How cruel. Respect for looking like it was all the bands best night of their lives and come to think of it, it was probably ours too.

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