Sunday, January 25, 2009

Review : "The Leisure Society" and "Shoreline" at the Komedia , Brighton

One of the things I love about Brighton is being in walking distance of good small live music venues. I'm not one for big stadiums, however much I like a band i’d rather give it a miss.

I like checking out new bands , sometimes they are crap and other times its a find. I do a bit of research , get recommendations or sometimes just take a chance on an interesting write up in the local listings rag.

Now I love loud rock music and at heart am an old punk, but I also like indie, pop, classical , opera and luckily given Dave and his old mans music pretty being much a staple at chez Osler, a bit of jazz and blues. Osler jazz , not Denham Jazz. There is a difference or so i’m told.

As well as being Stroppy I can be a bit soppy and like sad indie music with soaring violins . Yeah an old softy, but that doesn't mean listening to power ballads and what is meant to be ‘romantic’ girlie slush, yuck. Buy me one of those twee love songs CDs for a valentines and it will get chucked out the window. No, its the tragic, doomed, fucked up dysfunctionally sad songs about love I like ... and people as well.

So anyway, to cut to the chase , I thought i’d do posts on bands I see. Yeah Punchie, more lifestyle, look away now.

So last night I pootled down to a small basement venue to watch a line up of acts put on by a local record label and collective . It seems that there is quite an overlap between the membership of their bands and that was the case with the two on last night.

The first act was a woman with a lovely voice , but with songs that made Leonard Cohen seem chipper. Now I like old Leonard and depressing isn’t necessarily a no no, but her songs all sounded the same and a bit dirgey and not in a good Nico way. They drifted over me and then some of the lyrics penetrated and I had to stop the giggles as they were a bit cliched in a sort of sixth form way. I just remember something about holding hands under the water, or it may have been holding someone’s head under. Or was that wishful thinking on my part?

Next on were Shoreline , who describe themselves as alt new folkers. Now folk normally sends me running screaming away, but they were good. There were 8 on stage, instruments including a banjo, double bass, acoustic guitars, flute and violin . I like violins as i have already said , very haunting and sad. All sang, but the main vocalists were Beatrice Sanjust , James De Malplaquet and Jacob Richardson.

Listening to them I could imagine their music as a soundtrack for some quirky indie film, possibly set in the wilds of Alaska, with a doomed love story involving the local misfit kid who dies tragically after finding true love with someone also dying young of some incurable disease who has to look after her aged abusive father.

Musically I was reminded at times of Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen and the quieter songs of the Magic Numbers.

Next on was The Leisure Society and there was quite an overlap from the last band, part of the collective ethos.Again a mix of instruments including the double bass, violin (goodie)
cello, flute, mandolin, glockenspiel, and there were nine members . Beatrice joined in for some of the songs, but this time the focus seemed more on a lead singer in the time honoured floppy haired slightly geeky mould, Nick Hemming, who brought a stronger sound .

There are similarities between both bands, especially with very overlapping memberships, but The Leisure Society felt a slightly more finished band, a bit more depth and variety and a stronger sound. Again hints of Nick Cave, less so Leonard Cohen, but also Mercury Rev and The Divine Comedy. There was a bit of wistful 60s pop there as well, perhaps a little Beach Boys circa ‘Pet Sounds’.They describe themselves as alt pop folk. I prefer whistful indie sad songs as a label, if there has to be one.

Overall I liked both of them for when I'm in the mood for sad swooping violins and beautiful harmonies rather than in a loud arsey frame of mind. Yes, I can do quite contemplation sometimes.

If you like this sort of thing , check them out. The Leisure Society are playing a couple of gigs with variations on the other groups from the collective , including on in Stokey and another at Ronnie Scotts.

A you tube from another gig ( I didnt have a good enough view to film):

Leisure Society