I wasn’t able to attend the promo event that was organised at Elephant Independent Record Shop (8 Kings Walk) in Winchester last Saturday 16th April, as I had to attend my last shift at the Uni of Winch’s library, but had I done so I would’ve been pleasantly surprised.
In all, the line-up included nine artists and bands playing short 15 minute sets from 2pm until 6pm in a free event to promote the independent store and these acts, some of whom may or may not be unsigned. I’d thought of going just to have something to write about, but nonetheless I would’ve been impressed by the variety and talent on show. I’d assumed it would’ve been a ‘Battle of the bands’ style student gig, and I would’ve felt phased by the derivative students wearing mismatching skinny jeans, waistcoats, half-shaved haircuts and twiddly moustaches, and who would’ve played radio-friendly pop-songs like the Kings Of Leon, Mumford & Sons or Kaiser Chiefs. Afterall, we live in an era of post-retro/electro rock where bands are judged by their image, their ‘coolness’ and whether they produce hits catchy or weird enough to get a Mercury Prize nomination.
Cynical? Yes, of course. But who wouldn’t be, ‘Indie’ music is an outdated genre that died in the 90s along with Britpop, and since then record labels and the music industry has gradually been absorbing talent and rebranding downloadable music into a kindof greedy amorphous borg without any real meaning or innovation. I’m probably wrong about ‘innovation’ in music, since music as gone digital and become more accessible, the diy spirit is more prevalent and alive than ever, while I-Tunes has never had such a massive consumer base. In this world of celebs and power ballads, where Coldplay, James Morrison, Adele and Ed Sheeran are difficult to escape, it’s nice to hear something a little different.
Although, I’d never saw any the acts play live, here’s my list of highlights available on Spotify.
Incredible Weapons, from their self-titled EP, ‘Hammerhead’, ‘Holding Light’, ‘Foxglove Advantage’, quite a stylish blend of My Bloody Valentine-style distortion with some early Green Day and The Shins softer melodies.
Sylva Kay, from her acoustic Heart of Stone EP and electric Undercut album, probably the most impressive artist of the whole show. Her bluesy acoustics and breathy vocals on songs ‘Heart of Stone’ and ‘The Bend’ recall the melancholy of Feist, Jose Gonzalez and Fiona Apple, while her funky/electro tracks ‘Colours’ and ‘Urban Marsh’ sound like a Blondie/Haim remix.
Polly and the Billets Doux, from their two albums Money Tree and Fiction, Half-truths And Downright Lies, pure shit-kicking, whiskey-rattlesnake, country-blues Americana that reminded me of the Cowboy Junkies, Alabama Shakes, and Ryan Adams. My favourite songs were ‘Hold Fast’, ‘Calico Blanket’ and ‘My Father’s House’.
Ben Miller, from his album A Day at the Lake, what can I say about Ben Miller, his music made me like Irish-folk music again, since my tolerance for the genre halted after Mumford&Sons and the Titanic soundtrack made banjos, ukuleles and fiddles passé, and which consequently caused a generation of bearded hipsters to start pub bands to ‘keep folk music alive’! Folk that. Ben Miller and vocalist Anita Macdonald are for real, whilst their songs are softer and less aggressive than the infamous Pogues, their Gaelic (Celtic?) ballad ‘Eoghainn Mhoir a Ghradhaich’ even reminded me a little of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Going to California’. Their music makes me want to drink Guinness, wear suspenders, get drunk at a wedding, dance and fight people, although there’s probably more to their songs than just this.
Ryan Ede, single release ‘An Asteroid’s Applause ‘. I wasn’t able to find anything on Spotify by Ryan Ede on Spotify except his single track is a psychedelic prog-rock style instrumental, so at this time the artist remains a mystery. Elements of Pink Floyd’s stoner vibes on ‘Poles Apart’ mixed with the grungy space-rock pallet of Meat Puppets (‘Up on the son’) and Flaming Lips (‘The Sound of Failure’) that takes you on a trip to the dark side.
Owen Tromans, from the albums Chamber Music – James Joyce (1907) tribute, Golden Margins, Eternal Western Youth Dream, and his singles ‘For Haden’ and ‘No Heart’. Along with Sylva Kay, probably the standout artist on the lineup. An authentic grassroots British son, his bluesy folk acoustics and harder rock songs bring to mind Paul Weller, Reverend and the Makers, and Billy Bragg to name a few. Tromans definitely deserves a lot more coverage in the NME. Standout tracks being ‘X’, ‘For Haden’, ‘1682’, ‘No Heart’ and ‘Golden Margins’.