If you go down to Brighton this weekend, you’re sure of a big surprise. If you go down to Brighton this weekend, you better go in disguise. For every new band that ever there was, will gather there for certain because, it’s the weekend the festival season starts in earnest.
From the 10th to the 12th of May, the entire British music industry – and some guests from beyond our shores – rolls up its trousers, ties a handkerchief around its head and heads to the coast for The Great Escape.
musicOMH shall be there. To ensure you’re properly warmed up for it as well, this week’s tracks column is a salute to some of those noble bands getting in touch with their inner mod during the three days and nights.
Friends – Mind Control
They may have the worst name possible to Google (unless you want to catch up on the mid-’90s adventures of Ross and Rachel), but there’s no denying that Friends are possessed by that indefinable cool that only bands from Brooklyn can possibly pull off.
Given that for one weekend only, Brighton may well be the new Brooklyn, there seems no better time to see if Friends are worthy of all that hype. Mind Control suggests that they are, a big, hulking, bass-driven slab of funk, disco and indie with a pretty brilliant rap thrown in towards the end.
Yes, you may listen to it and think “whatever happened to CSS?” or “whatever happened to Black Kids?” but put such transient thoughts aside. These are your new Friends, maybe not for life, but for a good few months anyway.
O Children – Red Like Fire
O Children lead singer Tobi O’Kandi has an extraordinarily deep voice. It may well be the deepest voice in music today. If the question was how much deeper could his voice be, then the answer would be none. None more deep.
All of which means that when trying to make something sound portentous and foreboding, he has a large advantage. He could read Tom Petty lyrics and make it sound like Nostradamus.
Which is not to undermine Red Like Fire. Four and a bit minutes of swirling, sombre, gothic glory, it is excellent. And portentous. And foreboding.
Theme Park – Two Hours
They’re called Theme Park, so let’s get the puns in early. They’re a thrill-a-minute. Their career is set to be a rollercoaster ride. They’ll, um, er, provide you with lots of amusement? Perhaps we should stop.
Particularly because the London four-piece are actually rather good. They seem to be constantly compared to Talking Heads, and while there’s definitely a hint of David Byrne to lead singer Miles’ voice, there’s more here than a bunch of white-boy funk copyists. Two Hours is imbued with a glorious, yearning quality – it’s one to stand on the beach and gaze at the sea with, while seeming all sensitive.
If you can, seek out the RAC remix, which takes on Metronomy at their own game, and makes a decent fist of bettering them.
Foxes – White Coats
If you’ve been horrified by Ellie Goulding’s hook-up with the Evil Overlord Of All Darkness (or Skrillex as his mum probably doesn’t call him), then Louisa Rose Allen AKA Foxes may be the person to turn to.
White Coats is taken from her upcoming Warrior EP and showcases Allen’s strong voice perfectly. Some subtle beats and a very dirty sounding bass propels it all forward nicely.
It doesn’t have the immediate impact of her previous single Youth, but an appearance at The Great Escape is bound to get all industry insiders in a tizzy.
Chew Lips – Do You Chew?
“Maybe you’re a licker or a sucker too”? Thank you Chew Lips. That is precisely the level of, how’s your father, wink-wink, nudge-nudge, double-entendre that we long for by the seaside.
Although if you’re expecting the music to be similarly old-fashioned you’re going to be disappointed. Do You Chew? zings back and forth on a sparse electronic beat in vaguely Timbaland-esque fashion.
Thankfully it’s also got far more personality than that might suggest. There’s some real charm here. Couple that to the saucy look in its eye and you can’t go far wrong.
We Were Evergreen – Baby Blue
France is, of course, just a hop and a skip away from Brighton (ok, a really long swim), so it’s no surprise to see Parisian indie-poppers We Are Evergreen on the bill for The Great Escape.
Their sound is a cross between compatriots Phoenix and Francois & The Atlas Mountains, taking in the former’s infectious enthusiasm and mixing in the latter’s languid wistfulness.
Baby Blue powers will probably divide opinion. For every person charmed by its exuberance, they’ll be another jamming their fingers in their ears and shouting “TOO! MUCH! TWEE!”. However there’s something about the trio that makes us think that this could sound very good in a jammed, sweaty club in the middle of Brighton.
Savoir Adore – Dreamers
The new single from this Brooklyn duo is floaty, relaxed and kissed with synthesised longing. It is hugely pleasant.
For a bit, we thought it sounded a bit like Morrissey fronting Friendly Fires. Then female vocal cut in and our point was totally lost. Nevertheless, for all of the sun-lapped Balearic shimmer, we maintain there’s a definite undercurrent of morose self-loathing desperate to burst out.
Echo Lake – Even The Blind
Even The Blind is a soaring phoenix of a tune. It’s a track which has decided that this world is dull and lacking beauty, so the only true response is to coat your arms with feathers and the sprint towards the edge of the nearest precipice.
What’s more remarkable is that rather than plummet, Even The Blind catches a current and glides gracefully into the stratosphere.
Stunning. Ok, it sounds more than a bit like My Bloody Valentine, but since when has that been a bad thing? Never people. Never.
Aidan Grimshaw – Is This Love?
As well confused old people, various buzz bands and the inevitable hipster complaining that The Great Escape isn’t as good as it used to be, you may run into one thing you weren’t expecting in Brighton: a former X Factor finalist.
Yes, Aidan Grimshaw, the bequiffed one with the scarily intense stare of a serial killer who came ninth in the 2010 series, has chosen The Great Escape to launch his solo career.
And Is This Love? is actually not that bad – some drum’n'bass beats lie under Grimshaw’s impressive falsetto, and the song’s trancey atmosphere should lead to a whole load of club-friendly remixes. It can’t compete with Wagner and a bongo solo, obviously. But what can?
The Great Escape 2012 takes place in various venues in Brighton from 10th to 12th May. More at escapegreat.com.