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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Xfm X-Posure

Camden Barfly, London, 27 January 2007

Written by Samuel S

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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.

For such a corporate shindig, physician other than a banner draped over the back of stage, there is little to suggest that either Xfm or Vodafone have taken much interest in their endorsement of this event. Given the eclectic line-up at this sold-out ‘festival’, all feels somewhat subdued… OMG!!! “Donny! Peaches!”…

Hello Dartz! Hello 2007! Having previously had a habit of ambling their way through sets, with the release of debut long-player This Is My Ship imminent, the Teeside three-piece have honed their performance somewhat. Though there is no doubting that the Q And Not U comparisons are apt, they bring more than just Dischord‘s leftovers to the table. Guitarist Henry Carden looks captivatingly awkward on stage alongside his two assured bandmates, as they bark call-and-response lyrics at one another. But as the band occasionally have the habit of sounding as if on the verge of descending into an indulgent thrash, there’s the sense to revert back to sanctity of Carden’s jerky harmonics. There is no denying the stop-start formula to their finest moments (‘Prego Triangolos‘ ‘Once, twice, again!‘ ‘St Petersburg‘) have been abused by their contemporaries heavily before, but Dartz have the charm to help us ignore this.

After years of cutting/grating socio-analytical ramblings from Alex Turner and the like, The Horrors are pure pantomime. They take to the stage; backs lurched, eyes encrusted, sporting their standard gothic-Dickensian-outcast-chic. Faris Rotter, along with his posse of Sunday supplement darlings, has pulled the largest crowd of the day so far, but leave all fairly bewildered/bored with the set opener; minute after minute of what transpires to be their attempt at avant-garde rumblings rather than what, at first, seemed their sound-check.

Eventually, after this politely applauded introduction, something resembling a tune appears in the form of Jack the Ripper: turgid, trite and tripe. Arched over the crowd, Rotter holds some presence and enigma, but whilst Sheena Was A Parasite, Count in Fives and Death At The Chapel appear adored by the mop-haired aficionados at the front, it all seems a little vacuous. There is no doubt that with Little Man Tate storming the charts that a backlash on such blunt social commentaries is bound, but there is something crass about the cover-boy knife-wielding farce that The Horrors represent.

Starkly contrasting are Brakes. With all so far struggling to shake free of the mark left by their contemporaries, they provide something regarding new territory to stand upon. With the more sophomore efforts on The Beatific Visions abandoned in favour of their trademark absurdist country-punk, Eamon Hamilton is capable of crowing captivatingly through a set. In fact, to the extent that ‘doing the Spring Chicken’ makes perfect sense. Whereas a year ago their sets relied too heavily on the over-in-a-minute delights of Give Blood, they now have a depth of material to abuse. Though, that said, set-closer, Comma Comma Comma Full Stop, is seven seconds of marvellous self-deprecation.

The Blood Brothers have so heavily drenched the pages of the regular desktop music magazines recently that there is little to say on the raucous Seattle brats that has not been already. For those unfamiliar with the genre-dodging darlings, minds are made up fairly immediately, sprawling hardcore riddims with Jordan Blilie and Johnny Whitney rasping at one another. The standardised thirty minute sets for the day mean the performance is short and brutal. It suits them. Love Rhymes with Hideous Car Wreck. Curtain Down. Some have danced, some have left, all are exposed.
Rhys Jones has a delivery that sounds somewhere between Frank Black and a fat-tongued child trying to rap. But the clumsy nature to Good Shoes is part of what makes them essential. Rants about being a “talented artist, but my heart’s not into it” are the delusional babblings that have allowed the band to dilly-dally on the release of their debut album and evade diminishing public interest. Instead, all swill their dull tasting four pound lager and indulge in their post-punk-lite offerings with delight. Although having a penchant for childhood nostalgia, this often masks the blunt neurosis that Good Shoes so effectively document. As Jones splutters through ‘Nazanin’, it seems that, despite ambling along the way, they have never sounded quite so sharp and perceptive.

Also performed were a sequin-coated sugarsnack Patrick Wolf, now defunct Million Dead associate Frank Turner, and standard ‘tipped poll 2007′ Scots Dananananaykroyd. But that’s for another time, dharlings.

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