An album launch for ‘I’ve Been Over Thinking’, a new CD of self-penned songs from Newmarket based performer Lee Hull.
Taking the stage first was the highly-regarded local indie folkster Flaming June, a favourite on this site and tonight with the added bonus of electric violin and occasional backing vocals from Alex Herring. Louise Eatock’s songs draw on folk traditions, modern mores and the underlying tensions of fairy tales, all performed with the rhythmic drive of acoustic guitar, with its insistent lower and mid-range tones duelling (in a good way!) with the gently soaring violin on the top.
The tracks from the ‘In Pursuit of Happiness’ EP still sound fresh and there is some new material being recorded this summer.
Lee Hull opened his set with an extended cover of ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ but it is his original tracks that are the most engaging, a mix of electronica and very personal lyrical ideas. ‘Kiss Me Like You Used To’ and the ‘The Way I Am’ are straightforwardly effective, with a few keyboard surprises to keep us guessing. ‘Thank You’ was mellower and emotionally voiced while ‘The Way I Am’ is a consciousness stream over a funky synth bass line.
Two more covers; ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ (on ukulele?!) and classic Ray Charles number ‘Hit The Road Jack’ somehow seemed entirely appropriate and new non-recorded songs pointed in future directions.
I really enjoyed the set, it must be that winning combination of 80s keyboards, bass guitar and lyrics that make you think….
In these days of political and social upheaval it is good to have something to rely on; this year is the 35th anniversary of the first recordings by Southend band The Get, and here they are on stage at the Corner House with singer Bruce Gordon strutting around and delivering a set of punk laced with irony and wit on songs like, ‘Dalek’, ‘Batman And Robin’ and a concise guide to the music industry on ‘Hit!’. They have a newish EP out, and from that ‘You Made Your Bed…Now Lie In It’ could be taken as a commentary on large government decisions, or just as a diatribe against an ex-partner…
I have enjoyed and reviewed the album ‘Resounding’ by Moscow Circus (https://cambridgemusicreviews.net/2016/08/29/moscow-circus-resounding-lp-released-june-2016/) so it was great to get an opportunity to hear it live at last. Songwriter Jonathan Beckett delivers the complex lyrics, vocal nuances and jangly guitar parts effortlessly and the four piece band are a tight playing unit.
‘Timebomb’, ‘Bleed For You’ and especially ‘Princess Rainbow’ were all highlights, but there were newer unrecorded tracks too including the enigmatically titled ‘4000 Weeks’ (that’s 77 years…Hmmm).
The set ended on another high with the noisy rocker ‘Ex-Genius’. This music had a long gestation time and has rarely been performed but tonight it was definitely job done.
One of Cambridge’s finest, The Scissors are seasoned presenters of spirited mini-movie songs and taking the stage quite late in the evening they featured many cuts from their 2016 album ‘Haunted Mirror’.
As I see so many guitar bands, it is always good to hear some keyboards too, especially when it is the timeless timbre of a Hammond organ, rolling in on ‘Do You Believe In Modern Love’ or more ska-laced on ‘Gone’. The strident guitar line and theremin wail herald ‘Why Don’t You Cry?’; their standout torchsong which is always a highlight of the varied set.
A quick encore of the album title track (as recently featured on charity compilation ‘Cambridge Calling Volume 1’) ended the trio of authentic acts in the welcoming setting of The Corner House (and all for free too…!)
I was intrigued by the review of the new Paul Goodwin album that read “A great album if you want to wallow in his or your misery” and so I went to hear him at the newly refurbished Corner House pub and venue. With just acoustic guitar accompaniment he weaves impressive and heartfelt tales of loss and love.
The songs are measured and immaculately crafted with each phrase carefully in place, perhaps explaining the long gap between the newly released ‘The Northern Lights In The Neon Tube’ and his last mini-album in 2011. The most affecting songs are the sparsest; ‘Muscle Memory’, ‘Black Coffee and Bromide’, ‘Heat Death’ (a bit of a show-stopper, in the context of a small but rapt audience in the venue and despite a loud mobile-phone conversation at the bar…).
The song titles give clues to the general downbeat mood but like the canon of alleged arch-miserabilist Morrissey, it’s fine by me.
The set ended with ‘Watertight’, a confessional (“..but the scars have just become part of my skin…”) , emotional (and possibly optimistic?) finale and much appreciated by the crowd.
Paul Goodwin plays at the Portland Arms on October 17th, with a full band. See you there…
On a steamy summer evening the place to be was the Cambridge Corner House pub and venue, for a rare UK appearance of singer and multi-instrumentalist Dos Floris.
Opening the show was a special set from Bouquet Of Dead Crows, pared down to Toni Cooper’s voice and acoustic guitar from Neil Bruce. At present they are working on a follow-up to their accomplished song collection ‘Of The Night’, and tonight there were re-imagined versions of many of the tracks from that album. Musically Neil added extra guitar nuance and colour to underpin Toni’s confident vocals which combined to great effect, especially on the new single ‘Epicentre’.
I have been an admirer of the majestic Dos Floris album ‘The Widowed Earth’ since its release, and at the time of writing I still can’t quite believe that I was watching a performance of that hypnotic music and meeting its creator.
The sound is complex and multi-layered, necessitating some backing percussion and electronics being co-ordinated by laptop, but there was plenty of interesting keyboard lines and experimental effects played live as the tracks developed beyond the album versions. Add in some flute, a pure captivating voice and looped backing vocals for the complete picture.
The ‘natural world’ theme that threads through these songs is most evident in ‘Rivers’ but so cleverly are the music and words intertwined that the simple protest of ‘All The Kings Horses’ seems to be a statement that war is somehow a violation of nature (and possibly is as effective a statement against the Iraq War as the 2.6 million words of the Chilcott Report?!).
One of the highlights was ‘Before You Loved Me’, a torch song that could be from 1920s Berlin if they had had waves of electronica in the jazz clubs. Then a version of ‘To The Wolves Part II’ was dedicated to this humble reviewer which made the evening even better…
Flaming June is the performing name of singer and guitarist Louise Eatock, playing a solo set of her own compositions as a warm-up for her EP official launch show with violin and percussion on March 12. The first two songs were from the new EP ‘In Pursuit Of Happiness’ and both are precautionary tales of trust and wariness, with some traditional folk imagery.
Unrecorded new song ‘Firework Maker’s Daughter’ sounds promising followed by older song ‘Stop The Ride’, with a rhythmic onslaught from the acoustic guitar. Although the songs are rooted in folk her guitar playing has a frequent rockier side and in the next new track ‘You’ve Mended Well’ she also shows some Spanish guitar stylings of rhythm and chord progressions. This feeling continues into the assertive ‘Wednesdays and Weekends’ about an ambiguous part-time relationship, compellingly sung.
‘Little Love In A Cruel World’ (“bored with life’s drudgery…”) lifts into a rousing hook-line then the intriguingly named ‘Dopamine Oxytocin’ reminds us that all these feelings are just chemicals anyway(?!) with another catchy chorus.
Louise has an enviable back-catalogue of fine songs to draw on and this was an excellent selection on show this evening.
The world cup hopes of the England rugby team slowly faded away on the big screen of the Corner House….meanwhile in the stage area it was much more uplifting as The Vigilantes opened their set with the brash optimistic blast of ‘No Money’, featuring a hypnotic repetitive monosyllabic riff and rolling chorus. Hailing from the unlikely musical territory of Boston (Lincolnshire) they play noisy, confident indie guitar rock, bursting with energy and ideas. ‘Get What You Pay For’ is a strong pop song and throughout the set their wall of sound was punctuated with clever guitar touches and solid drumming.
It was a good night for the drummers and I was pleased to see Cambridge favourites The British IBM back playing as a full band, boosted by the complex and riveting drumming of Paul Richards. Opening with ‘Cannibal’, ‘Animal’ and ‘Sugar Water’ from their debut album they were soon into the more mellow and introspective tones of the recently released ‘Psychopaths Dream…’, the string-laden recorded versions being rendered with plenty of fuzzy guitar and a emphasised edge in the vocals. This was particularly showcased in set closers ‘We Were The Stars’ and of course ‘The British IBM’, both being stylish hymns of longing and regret expertly crafted by singer/guitarist and creative force Adrian Killens.
I never knew quite where Bristol-based headliners and enigmatically named The Travis Waltons were coming from musically, which I view as a very positive quality. The guitar/bass/drums line-up was augmented by subtle keyboard lines and from the opening ‘Land Of The Giants’, with calm solo electric guitar and vocal, followed by the stately ‘Vampire Bite’ I was not sure what was to be next. It was a strong performance, successfully absorbing the appreciative audience, with tales of drastically thwarted relationships inbetween songs. There was even a cover of ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out'(referred to in some quarters as ‘the National Anthem of Smithdom’) and not forgetting ‘Separation Season’ their unique collaboration with Charlie Simpson of Busted and the closing and moving ‘Millionaire’. I really enjoyed their set, I am still trying to pin their sound down in a few well-chosen words….
A tasty free gig at the Corner House, with Violet Woods (reviewed extensively elsewhere on this site) sounding on great form, big echoing twelve string, organ and explosive drums all in place and bass player Mark Boxall featuring in Mammoth Penguins later too. As well as songs from their self-titled album there was also a new unrecorded song and a French interlude to celebrate Bastille Day.
Violet Woods have an album to be proud of, as now do Mammoth Penguins, with new disc ‘Hide And Seek’ forming the majority of their set. The packed-in and very hot audience warmed to the stripped back and very tight sound, a balance that often only the classic guitar, bass, drums line-up can achieve. Emma Kupa sings tales of grown-up disappointment, regret and hope, mostly distilled into three minute bursts of indie joy with biting lyrics floating on great bass/drum interplay and sharp guitar.
‘Propped Up’, ‘Played’, ‘Strength In My Legs’ are all neat snapshots and ‘March Of The Penguins’ is pure pop delight cloaking a bitter summary of rejection. A promising unrecorded song ‘Put It All On You’ showed a different direction with all of the band contributing vocals and then they finished with the dark chronicle of perceived failure ‘When I Was Your Age’ with the closing line ‘I’m going nowhere…’
Perfect summer listening, deserving a much bigger audience…