Went to a gig at Water Rats tonight, and saw three great acts, for the bargain price of £6.
First up were Big Arm, the spin-off project from Happy Monday Paul Ryder. It was alright stuff; very poppy beatsy indie, with repetitive choruses of chantable lyrics. Paul had surrounded himself with bright young things who seemed quite technically minded (you can always tell this when the band all wear headphones), whilst he stood there looking leathery, wearing a tracksuit top and a man-bag, singing his lyrics of a sheet on the floor. The tracks all seemed ripe for remixes and the indie/dance crossover crowd (shades of Mint Royale in some of the rhythms). It's not going to change the world, and he must be feeling happy that the Mondays have reformed, but it was a good start to the evening.
Next up was David Jordan, the act me mate Tom reckons is "one to watch" over the next year or so. And rightly so; he had a beautiful voice, with incredibly tight control and a wide range. He had a very soulful, retro-pop sound, a great falsetto, and very tight trousers. It crossed over into hair-rock a few times, which is not necessarily a bad thing, especially when he was supported by a suitably hirsute guitarist. The obvious comparison here, which I suspect he is fed up of hearing, is Terence Trent D'Arby, but there were also shades of Dangerous-era Michael Jackson (the GnR rock sound helping that), and maybe a little Prince and Lenny Kravitz in there for good measure. He's being produced by Trevor Horn (whose pedigree I had to have explained to me) and it surely destined for mainstream success. I'm not sure if the youth market will embrace such a straight pop sound though - they seem to like their pop a bit more kooky (Mika) and their soul a bit more edgy (Timbaland), and I think it could be more of a Radio 2 sound than Radio 1. A bit of remix action could work wonders though.
Finally, The Envy Corps. Geek chic American indie rock, it was right up my street. Really tight guitars, keys, and an amazing drummer. It was reminiscent of Doves and Bloc Party, with no pretensions and no egos, just really ordinary guys who liked their music. The band looked fantastic too, from the Napolean Dynamite-esque drummer, through to the Jack Black lead singer, they all looked like they were ready to rock. They're doing a four-week residency at Water Rats, of which this was the first night, and I might even go to see them again. Oh, and Edith Bowman was there with Princess Leia hair, running around taking photos with a Digital SLR. Which was nice.
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