The last single from London based singer/songwriter Dexy was the seasonal ‘Xmas Lights’ in 2018, an affecting meditation on love and loss with bittersweet lyrics such as ‘….I can’t stand another Christmas alone…’ or ‘….I’m blowing out all the candles…pushed your presents back under the bed….’. That may seem a bit downbeat but it is strangely uplifting especially when the full band sound kicks in.
Now new release ‘Drop Your Hand’ arrives, a precursor to his second long-player in early 2021. This is more up-tempo, driven along by rhythm guitar and featuring Hammond organ textures and a persistent drum pulse from collaborator Steve.
Dexy’s vocal delivery has a purity that is laced with tension and reflection ‘…..getting older takes no effort at all….but getting kinder?…that’s a task too tall…’. It is appropriate to the dismissive tone of some of the words, describing that the only way out of the difficult situation is just ‘moving on’. This is summarised concisely in the final stanza ‘……tried to walk together….but you’ve got some way to go…and we could talk forever….and you’d still say you don’t know….so drop your hand, I’ll burn this bridge alone…’.
The metre of the final phrase could be a musical nod to ‘I’ll Sail My Ship Alone’ made popular by Hank Williams or the similarly titled hit by The Beautiful South. As in those songs, the reluctant optimism in ‘Drop Your Hand’ is underpinned by melancholy and a memorable melody; this would make a strong opening track for the forthcoming album…?
This is the third single from London four-piece RAMES; a likeable blend of jangly guitar pop tempered with US influenced rock and a determination to lift the mood.
Their debut track ‘Easy For You’ with its joyous Cure/Byrds introduction was a fine welcome to the band, with an intense vocal, roving bass line, room for the guitars to breathe and a winning chorus. Follow-up ‘She’s Gold’ was more densely layered and driven by a recurring instrumental top line and pulsing drums duelling with the echoing vocal.
Now their new release ‘Won’t Be Long’ shows a band building confidence in their sound. This is also evident in the accompanying video showcasing the quartet visiting a variety of London sights, playing celebratory football and setting up to perform in the shadow of some railway arches. It is a punchy, catchy pop song with all the elements of their sound firmly in place, featuring a neat middle eight and bold chorus. In the strange unpredictable music future it would make it strong opener to their live performances…
The opening night of a short tour by electronica performer Dos Floris, with more dates to follow in the spring next year. The Lexington is one of those cool London venues with a legacy of many musicians playing on their way upwards.
Opening the show was Orlando Seale, with a stage decorated with inflatable animals and swimming aids, he introduced an unconventional support set, with elements of performance art keeping the audience on their toes. He was accompanied by a clipboard-wielding actor who chose to commend or reprimand Orlando on the quality of his performance as well as a second guitarist wrenching unearthly electric sounds to complement the calm and simple delivery of some haunting songs such as the sublime ‘Wrestling’.
He has recorded a superb EP and more with a full orchestral backing, tonight’s show was a complete contrast but nonetheless as effective.
If watching Orlando was like being part of a play by Samuel Beckett, the one-woman powerhouse that is Dos Floris took us onto another heavenly plain altogether. Florence Donovan is an excellent singer and pianist, as showcased later in the show with the stripped-back ‘Human Relations’ but her use of electronic loops, layers and textures brings her debut album to sparkling life this evening. ‘To The Wolves Part 1’ sets the agenda of sweeping soundscape and holds the audience riveted, their silent attention being testament to the compulsion of the occasion.
There is a pleasing unpredictability to the live versions of the tracks, with so many keyboard buttons that can be pressed to twist and enhance. The bass pulse of ‘That Day’ rocks you to the core, the anti-war message of ‘All The Kings Horses’ still cuts through and ‘Before You Loved Me’ is stunningly effective. The album title track ‘The Widowed Earth’ weaves its ethereal spell and when the show is all over somehow those haunting sounds are still echoing around this fine venue as Florence leaves the stage.
From walking on to the stage while playing ‘Bullet’, Franz Ferdinand dominated the high, wide and handsome space of the Roundhouse.
Tight sound, variety, peaks, ‘Fresh Strawberries’ and other thoughtful moments leading to ‘Take Me Out’ and ‘This Fire’ in particular setting the audience alight. The projected backdrop of angular buildings, the patchwork?! suits and the edgy movements of Alex Kapranos complement the music, a brilliant hybrid of early Talking Heads and Orange Juice with an added edge of bitterness for the 21st century. A generous encore rounded off the night, unfortunately not playing my favourite FF song ‘Jacqueline’, but that is a minor criticism….
(Must not forget the short and engaging set from support band The Bohicas, indie power pop with a heavy undercurrent, check out the song ‘XXX’…..)