DEMO: ANCHORED DOWN (myspace.com/anchoreddownband) Taking the 40% proof red-eyed rhetoric of old Nick Cave records, that bar-slumped, head-in-hands lyrical insouciance with a ramshackle backing, Anchored Down paint a dramatic picture of down-at-heel dissolution. Opener Happy Hour, title aside, shares not one tiny speck of DNA with its Housemartins namesake, and throughout the rest of the five tracks they create the perfect lock-in soundtrack. Murmured and muttered it may be, but there’s a fractured beauty amidst the chaos that’s as warming as a shot of bourbon on a winter’s night.
DEMO: BUCKET-JOY (myspace.com/bucketjoy)
We weren’t hitherto aware of the concept of bucket joy – most of our bucket experience has been hearing ‘we’d better get him one’ directly before we pass out in all our clothes. But a joy this undeniably is, and we’re sat here happily unable to say oh, it sounds like ‘this’ meets ‘that’. BJ (as they’ll be appalled to see we’ve abbreviated them) have made a prog-indie sound, if you will – there’s some almost-grunge vocals going on over what sounds like layers and layers of distended guitars, with whispers of Talk Talk and old Radiohead atmospherics. You’d like it, we bet.
DEMO: JETGLO (myspace.com/jetglomusic)
Demo reviews are often inevitably about trying to see beyond the odd clumsy drum fill or pancake-flat vocal for some spark of potential – that’s just the lie of the land and if we can’t find something positive to say we don’t say anything at all. So it’s good when you get one which, while obviously not quite “Hello Wembley” material just yet, doesn’t have you scraping the barrel for a single redeeming feature. Jetglo have melody, ability and invention all going on, and it gives us a kind of warm paternal glow to give them our printed pat on the back as they cross our paths.
DEMO: TOM ODELL (myspace.com/tomodellmusic)
Tom’s only eighteen years old, but there’s an immense maturity within these songs – both in terms of their polished studio realisation and their subject matter. It’s probably telling that his top MySpace friends include Jeff Buckley, Brian Eno and David Bowie – if you take those core reference points and shoot them through the prism of Tom’s classical training, you arrive at a set of wonderfully breathy and overwrought mini pop operas. Undeniably good on all levels, the challenge now is to translate it all to a wider audience.
EP: THE SELF HELP GROUP (myspace.com/theselfhelpgroup)
We’re really pleased to be able to share this one with you. The Self Help Group is basically a one-man band expanded to fully realise the potential of the songs he created, and it’s a vast understatement to say that they’ve succeeded. Three softly-spun yarns make up this debut EP, verging from ukulele-strummers and gentle blues to a kind of organic Lemon Jelly type sound. The Arcade Fire would probably be a distant musical cousin, but ultimately this is an original and quite beautiful trio of songs.
EP: THE STARS DOWN TO EARTH Blue Skies (myspace.com/thestarsdowntoearth) We’re all about a healthy dose of droning guitars at SOURCE, but the Stars here perfectly understand the necessity of light and shade. Offsetting the monotone strumming and voicing are some beautiful girlie harmonies and a light dusting of glockenspiel, elevating the mood of the songs beyond mere shoegaze fare into something altogether more sublime. Across the four tracks where darkness is an initial impression, we’re left with the contradiction of optimism and hope. An atmospheric and stylish suite of songs.
DEMO: THIEVES BY THE CODE (myspace.com/thievesbythecode)
An obvious fondness for QOTSA is kind of immediately apparent in the opening track I Wanna House, but that’s OK by us. There are plenty of worse bands you can allow to subconsciously spill over into your thing. Thieves are nonetheless a different proposition to a lot of the BN-postcoded guitar music we get through the door. There’s an instant accessibility to the tunes with an uneasy underlay of sinister harmonies and an eerie violin picking away at the pop sensibility like an irksome scab – it hurts like fuck and you know you shouldn’t, but when it’s off this is that same delicious sense of beautiful wrongness.
EP: THE VALENTINES (myspace.com/thevalentinesband)
Sure, we get a lot of guitar-y CDs sent in for review, and sure, a good proportion of them make a little piece of us die inside. But when we get a good’un like this, we want to make sure you know about it, get you along to their shows and generally provide some kind of goddamn altruistic service to the city. We’ve written about the Valentines before, so we knew we weren’t getting some old crap when this arrived, and we were right. Stuffed with infectious charm and personality, this is a band to watch – we stake our initials on it.
DEMO: THE WELLINGTONS (myspace.com/brightonwellingtons)
A duo whose arsenal of aural weaponry consists of a cello and the occasional percussive shaker, The Wellingtons clearly aren’t here to raise the roof. Instead their twin voices, folk madrigals poured over uncluttered backing, are the centrepiece of the songs – honey-sweet yet with an air of the sinister, hinting at experience beyond their years. Both extremely attractive, Jade and Abi’s obvious allure would see crowds gather to hear them reading from the phone book – this obviously never hurts in attracting attention but the songs do that job pretty damn well on their own.