A double R*E*P*E*A*T Records album launch; starting with ‘Horizons’ from Horse Party, mostly a collection of songs released as EPs, singles and downloads over the last year. They are a brilliant live band, tonight the original trio were augmented by a bass player on stage and that gives these new songs even more clout.
The stealthy, sparse vocals and guitar from Ellie Langley and Seymour Quigley set the mood of the song, then the hooks crash in; the opening song ‘Animal’ showcases this to great effect with an extra power bass line and of course the ace drumming by Shannon Hope, driving the sound to new heights every time.
Highlights were the slower bluesy groove of ‘Gratitude Falling’, the bittersweetness of ‘Out Of Sight’ and the energetic final song ‘Paydirt’, this was the best performance I had seen by this electrifying band.
‘We Are The Ones’ is the new CD from Gavin Chappell-Bates (reviewed on this site) and instead of his solo live-looping tonight he was backed by a full band, Cambridge rockers Bouquet Of Dead Crows. Gavin’s songs are from the head and heart; he started with ‘Refugee’ a gradual build-up to a huge Manic Street Preachers (his favourite band) style chorus. The band stepped up to the faster ‘Church Of Rock and Roll’ and the mighty bass line underpinning the disconcerting chord changes of ‘Black Holes’.
’95’ was an anthem to get the crowd singing along to the hookline and his very personal early song ‘Last Angel’ was a sensitively sung duet, then his bitter reflection on recent politics ‘The Finest Hour’ got a full workover from the band.
There was a surprise during the end of the ballad ‘Starlight’; suddenly there were 11 more singers on stage , a choir in black who had been part of the audience. This emotional lift carried into the title-track rouser ‘We Are The Ones’ (a worthy successor to the rallying cry of the late 80s, ’68 Guns’ by The Alarm?) and finally ‘Dead End Disco Streets’ closed the show and launched the album in style…
Since their bewitching 2014 album ‘Cover Your Eyes’ Horse Party have continued to build their profile, play live and release singles. On this latest set of three new songs the title track ‘Paydirt’ starts with their recognisable sparse indie blues double guitar, with vocal from Ellie Langley coiling around before it all becomes a bit more boisterous, a wall of guitar crashes in and drives the hookline home. Shannon Hope lets loose on the drums and brings it all to a shattering conclusion.
At the moment I slightly prefer the second song ‘Animal’, an unrelenting ascending riff appears in various guises, mostly very noisy. Although there is a brief pause when ‘I’m animal, you’re animal’ is repeated and is definitely not referring to a zoological collection.
Final cut ‘October’ is slow and spare, but tension is maintained throughout and shows that the band’s skill as songwriters continues to develop. This EP is a very good sample of their ‘live’ sound; unprocessed, energetic and straight to the point.
I was pleased to see Horse Party from Bury St Edmunds opening this show and as I have said in a previous review they are a trio of confident performers of strong songs, many from their debut album ‘Cover Your Eyes’ (highly recommended…). The mix tonight allowed drummer Shannon Hope to particularly shine, the changing dynamics of the music unleashing the thunder and lightning of her constantly changing percussive power, blending with the two guitars. From a band with no bass, next we had a band with a strong bass presence, high and loud in the mix playing counterpoint lines to the two guitars. This was Cambridge band My Estranged, drawing on the influence of the punk pop sounds of Talking Heads, Wire and Television for their original and interesting songs.
The audience had built up to see the main attraction Ringo Deathstarr, all the way from Austin, Texas and from the outset it was clear there was more to this trio than a clever band name. No fragile indie pop here, it was a mighty wall of sound from the guitar effects of songwriter Elliott Frazer which was underpinned by the bass and the ethereal vocals of Alex Gehring and a great drum performance from Daniel Coborn. I heard echoes of The Jesus and Mary Chain and The Wedding Present in their short tracks, sometimes catchy hooks (‘So High’,’Slack’), sometimes impenetrable hypnotic instrumental passages. The songs kept coming, it was an hour of demanding but rewarding and immersive listening….
Horse Party are a 3-piece indie-blues band of drums and two guitars, playing a set of confident tunes, mostly taken from their recent album ‘Cover Your Eyes’. The pounding beat of ‘Back to Mono’ opens the set, the guitars overlap well and nobody missed the bass, it was certainly a full enough sound for the appreciative audience in the confines of the Corner House. There is a definite American influence, the guitar notes bend and linger and each song has plenty of time to establish the mood musically and lyrically. A highlight was when sparse arrangements in ‘Six’ gave way to guitar fireworks and inventive drum power, then back again.
Ellie Langley, Seymour Quigley and Shannon Hope are accomplished musicians, based in Bury St Edmunds (once described as ‘the new Seattle’ by John Peel during a previous musical flourishing..) and are important contributors to the resurgence of the local music scene, including their own fanzine and promoting regular music nights. An enjoyable set, I hope to see them again…