28 May 2012


------- FRIDAY ROUND-UP -------



Above Audio is always a strange venue for a gig in Owl By Night's opinion. The venue's layout is very elongated and the band can almost feel disjointed from the crowd when having to perform behind a waist high partition wall, however, the charismatic and exuberant mass of energy that is Agnes, lead singer of Sykur, ensured that the barriers came tumbling down. The sheer enthusiasm of this established Icelandic four-piece was incalculable; the youthful bouts of jumping and dancing with limbs flailing menacingly added to the visual performance and enhanced the feel of the music making it almost tangible. With a blizzard of glitchy synth meanders and sexualised robotic frivolity there was unquestionable laser-driven chemistry between the diverse musical elements which cohesively swelled together into a pouncing beast of 'Iceland-tro'; think Icelandic and electro and you get the hybrid. Sounding like a kaleidoscopic mix of Crystal Castles meets Hearts Revolution and the Yeah Yeah Yeah's it is obvious to see why this band are so popular in the Nordic regions. Harnessing computational bleeps over a gargantuan thundercloud of bass makes each track forceful on the eardrums; relentless glacial electronica basally sliding towards your senses with domineering attributes. With Agnes' frosty tinged power-chord vocals almost squawking over the instrumental collective it adds a veritable charm to each song; the tracks are indeed overwhelming but possess innate qualities of fun, flippancy and energy. During the gig, the personality of the band intertwined with each tweet, bleep and chime that ascended that godforsaken partition wall and spread forth with icy precision and fluidity; cosmological electro spewing forth neon pink and day-glow purple haze into an entrancing music extravaganza. Definitely a band to watch out for in the near future.


With a delightful air of charm and ruggedness, this loveable Canadian with his vagabond wiry beard and casual attire sang with such honesty and personal feeling that it was truly a pleasure to watch. With an earthen sincerity to each lyrical scripture the songs dripped sweetly with gentile guitar tweaks and honeycombed resonance. Humble in composition, Woods' songs transcend emotional boundaries and showcase an openness rarely seen in contemporary music. With such interwoven folk realms, this furry array of camp-fire melodies are a must for those hazy late evenings in the warm night air.


This band are destined for great things in the vast music universe. Their infectious mix of delirious electronica spliced open by sharp pop sensibilities and rhythmic dance undertones creates the absolute and perfected sound package for today's contemporary music charts. These enigmatic Mancunians have been a stable favourite on Owl By Night for some time and it is pleasing to see things shaping up and taking off for these lovely lads as the EP comes together and the gig bookings steadily come flowing in. Their performance at The Warren was both captivating and refreshingly vibrant; bestowed by bucket full's of juvenile panache and northern wit Swiss Lips springboked around with snappy bravado and assured capabilities. The dynamic mix of commercial pop and alternative electro gave way to glitter ball eruptions of diamond synths sparkling neatly over soul ridden seventies whimsy and nonchalant indie-pop swagger circa 2008. The fusion of contrasting noise ultimately nudged together into a finely tuned channel of beats, bleeps and reactive thwacks; bass thuds and plucky keyboard chimes gleefully barraged into toxic pop conflagrations that ignited aural senses and physical movements; the manly nod of the head or the discreet tap of a foot. Tracks like "Danz" and "U Got The Power" boisterously dash around in veiled states of playfulness and excitability. With such colourfully pigmented electro-pop assaulting the ears gig after gig, the Swiss Lips name will certainly be uttered on many people's lips.



The somewhat mysterious guise of Strangers was emphatically lifted on Friday afternoon inside the claustrophobic tomb of Life's upper bar level. Amongst the rough brick tunnels and laser-beam red lighting stood the band Strangers; London's adept collective who paint raven black smears across the often joyous cavalcade of synth laden electro. Strangers were Owl By Night's gig of the day for one single and paramount reason; the voice. Their lead singer has a rapturous vocal presence; each key note is sung with such confidence and passion that it cannot help but make the hairs on the back of your neck stand. With hauntingly opaque loftiness, the vocals transcend all possible physical and inventive boundaries, generating a sound plateau that is enticing, absorbing and above all, emotive. Spilling pools of blackened synth droplets amongst organic bass trenches develops a sound which is resonant and powerful; uplifting human senses into ethereal realms of cosmic-pop and binding you with twirling musicality. The deliverance of each track was placid and lacked the usual band gusto to instead be replaced by honesty and instrumental integrity. Keep an eye on Strangers and their unique slant on noire-tronica, they are sure to gain popularity over the coming year and about time too.



The esoteric three-piece from the UK have garnered their own take on predatory electro-pop and established themselves within the paddock field of hybrid music thrashing. With an ever loyal fan base it is perhaps no wonder they drew along an enthusiastic crowd to the alternative courtyard setting of Republic Of Music. Playing within the confines of what can only be described as an open garage was something rather surreal; feeling like an American teeny-bop music video full of angst and adolescent vigour, it was a pleasantly interesting change of scenery to the usual darker club settings. With a brushed degree of self assurance, these guys nailed it with scrupulously precise darker disco slices of indie fantasia. Chopping together the hollow beats of their drums over simplistic techno bloops and tweaks allowed many of the band's songs to feel unrestricted and free of musical clutter. With a sound that is very Metronomy in places, melodic sand dune hills of spectral vocals filter through the heavier bouts of plucky guitars mires; fluid and silken to the aural touch, each track had sufficient inputs of energy, crashing beats and regal compositions.


Michael Lovett must possess the secret ingredients to developing pristine works of minimalistic electro-pop as he does so with such professional ease and ingenuity that it leaves Owl By Night all rather bemused, (but in a good way bemused). With the distinct sound of Metronomy or a very diluted Cut Copy, there is a clear abundance of tidal clarity; gentile trumpeting electronica laps lovingly against the oceanic vocal sprays that emit from Lovett. Each track glistens with a new edge finish; the lacquer of clinical electro beats encapsulate each said lyric and underlying drum beat with marksman precision to chisel at the minimal framework of musical composition. The radiance of NZCA/Lines is enticing; the songs individually possess a distant horizon that shimmers from afar with sun kissed instrumentals that leave you basking contently in the serene waves of layered noise. Performing with such hushed charisma and muted personality the gig at the Republic Of Music was draped in mystery and intrigue, which only left the crowd wanting more.


Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor are the two front faces of the very credible and well matured folk-pop bashment ensemble that is Slow Club. Playing once again at the Republic Of Music, the setting was a crammed cobble courtyard surrounded by several storey flats and open windows with cheeky onlookers sharing a peek at the festival goings-on. Sardine-canned into the open garage, Slow Club delivered an energetic and positively contagious array of elegant tracks from their expanding music catalogue. As the sun began to cast it's increasingly weaker rays into the tiny open square it served as the perfect accompaniment to the textured layers of Slow Club's fuzzy folk numbers. The band's plethora of sound generates an invigorating flume ride of raucous guitar thrashes amidst Hessian beats; feeling and sounding almost abrasive in places; the grinding cogs of musical notes jolt past one another into a skittish display of fervent noisia; terracotta folk which seeps honeyed charm and succulent alt-pop morsels allows the ear canal to feast on the bonanza of uplifting music. Slow Club's set was full of motivating tracks as each member stamped an assured heel of individuality into every note or choral build-up; with a personable frontage the band really connected with the audience delivering a perfect afternoon remedy to block out the chilling breeze and the distaste of warm beer.


The shrouded mystery that is Palma Violets was finally unveiled in all it's stage presence and musical wonderment on friday. Having been together for less than a year and snatching a great little deal with Rough Trade Records, new music should start to filter down the media frame. The absolute secrecy this band imbues is fantastic; the lack of representation and actual music on media platforms has allowed the band to establish a "physical" fan base of actual people who will attend their gigs and support them in person. With such intangible qualities, the Palma Violets package is all the more interesting and adds to the unique dynamics of such a group. With a brief gig at Horatio's the venue soon filled to cattle ranch cramming capacity as nattering words of mouth spread infectiously amongst music lovers across the city. Being compared to The Vaccines or Libertines must become monotonous, but such comparisons can only be a good thing; the small scale resurrection of credible and traditionalist indie returned into a calamitous explosion. Grated guitar twangs, feverish drum beats and echoed vocals helped to achieve a deviantly noxious dose of bronzed noisia dripping with indie hooks and instrumental deference. Each facet of music almost tries to obsequiously comply with one another but soon falters as gusto energy and drive snowball each track into a bashful display of indie fun. With a crowd that lapped up every note emitted, it will not be long before the Palma Violets name will be known by all.



The ever changing line-up of Pond makes them an all together temperamental and frenetic mix of musical professionals who regurgitate their effervescent mix of brassy rock psychedelia on awaiting ears. Hailing from Australia the revolving door policy of band mates keeps the overarching Pond package fresh and vibrant; their gig at The Brighton Corn Exchange served as the perfect antidote to shrug off tired brains and aching legs. Pond manage to lasso a cacophony of juxtapositional sounds and restrain them into a more mature bundle of noises and sounds; almost neatly presenting them with golden purity and shimmered intrigue. With wallowing pits of drenched rock slices nudging at the glimmered array of guitar tweaks and heavier drum stampedes the contrasting elements generate an overwhelming, almost cavernous effect of intoxication; psychedelic rock at it's very best and most original in composition and musical dynamics.


The London five-piece Citizens! have had the most punctual and smooth climb up the social music ladder and deservedly so; their pristine and neatly folded style of origami mood pop has been produced by none other than Alex Kapranos from Franz Ferdinand. The generalised grey toned imagery that evokes from Citizens! has Kapranos' stereotypical and well recognised iron style. Delve past that and you can see the gentle shadows of Kitsune influence (the band's record label) to which distant Gallic flair and glittered frivolity meander between musical notes and the group's persona. The slot at The Brighton Corn Exchange excellently bridged the gap between the earlier afternoon sets and the grander evening performances; with a predominantly full room the crowd loyally engaged with Citizens!' visual aesthetic and musical direction. Each track performed had a playground simplicity but scoop below and it is clear to see the intricate layering of instrumentals and delightful pop compositions. Songs such as "True Romance" ooze mischievous bouncing beats and skipping hoots of synthing as every diverse musical element tumbles into one another with carousel nostalgia; glazing copper hues over vocals allows the background foundations to be impaled by human interference generating a jittery staccato lay out. With reminiscent twinges of Phoenix or The Concept, this band have a scorching amalgam that will definitely grab people's attention; summery pools of translucent indie, bejewelled alt-pop and tidal waves of charisma, lovely.


The elegant façade of Spector immediately draws in your interest, suited and booted and looking like a marketing campaign for Saville Row these London lads are gaining praise and plaudits from every corner of the music industry it would seem, from BBC Radio 1 to NME. With a marketable package of panache, style and musical integrity, it is perhaps no great surprise that this band are set to become very popular indeed. Hailed for a musical sound harking back to the 2010 days of The Vaccines and even elements of The Strokes or a rambunctious, vastly better Kaiser Chiefs, there is definitely an upheld belief this band are reinvigorating the sanguine indie music scene with a fresh burst of clattering guitar strings, charismatic drums and gritty instrumental foreplay. Their slot at The Brighton Corn Exchange was cleverly timed for a late evening billing; the perfect time for when the most amount of people have filtered into the big hall. With a rugged charm offencive, Spector manage to clash together vaulting swathes of guitar against transgressive drum explosions into a sparkling neon display of aural soundscapes. Lead singer Macpherson possesses a voice box of hoarse indie chords that rattle with a vibrancy and fervent dynamic rarely conveyed amongst the genre; sliding down chasms of metallic disagreement the vocals lasso deviant noise into a fireball onslaught of industrious music. With an essence of Americano brassiness this London band hold a unique sound close to their chest that many in the crowd welcomed with open arms and jiving footsteps; such positivity and embrace can only mean Spector are here to stay.


One of the 'IT' bands of the moment and indeed amongst the billing of acts for The Great Escape are Dry The River. The group's hardcore days of grounded noise and thrashment have been utterly ditched having successfully reinvented themselves with a leather beaten folk sound that is luxuriant, smooth and relaxing. Tip toeing guitar strings generate a melodic serenity that transcends each gentle beat and ushered vocal note; seeking solace in underlying ethereal lyrics of Christian teaching and ambiguous religious belief helps to garner a sound that comforts the soul and evokes deep rooted emotion. The watery flow of each instrumental component travels seamlessly from stage to crowd in swirly dances of earthen revelry and sombre noise. Dry The River have a fantastic stage presence that is made even more impressive when you think of how little the band move or "act" during the predominance of their set; the music is the focal zenith; shimmering with hope and tangible enlightenment. Having such placid and likable qualities helps to win the crowd over; a slapping of banter here and a line or two of dry wit there engages both band and audience; seeing and hearing is to be believing as the distorted cliché goes. Like a gut warming whiskey each song managed to unite people into raising arms and swaying with an inebriated glow upon each individual face; with such musical dynamics working in harmony it is no wonder Dry The River are becoming increasingly popular and noted for their song-writing and sound compositions. As each track trickled heavenly droplets of percussion and sugared vocals into the clouded haze, there is was overwhelming sense that this gig is one of those to be remembered for many years, by a select and rather lucky few.

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