Taking a Chance:
The Hanging Garden, The Sun, Au Revoir Simone, Sinister Footwear, Panache, you’ve probably never heard of most of these bands but they are producing some of the most exciting music around at the moment. These are not high-profile acts…yet and so are taking advantage of the technology of the internet to make their music accessible to those who may not otherwise hear about them or be able to afford CDs. All of them have available at least one or two (or in the case of The Sun, their whole album) available to download. These are the acts that the downloading issue misses out on, the ones who rely on downloads to get people to take a chance on them. Websites such as myspace.com have given thousands of musicians the chance to get their material out there and by taking the opportunity to listen to them it means you can uncover some really great bands.
The same can be said for local music. Swansea is a city full of live gigs and pretty much every night of the week you can head to town and be sure to find something, whether it’s ska and punk in The Office, hip-hop and drum n’ bass at The Monkey, rock and metal at Escape or even jive at the Uplands Tavern. All of these venues are bursting with all sorts of music and so few students seem to take the opportunity to check out the other sort of local talent which doesn’t involve chatting someone up.
The Caves is a local band who is gradually climbing the ladder to success, they’ll be playing in the Mumbles at the end of April and their shows are really raw rock and roll. Like the bands mentioned before they also have the odd track or two available to download and also like the other bands they appreciate hearing from people into their music. These bands seem to want to get to know their fans and it’s a lot easier to make contact with them now, before publicists and record companies get in the way.
Music is meant to be about experimentation and so it being a student, so why not combine the two and one evening go to a live gig in town or if you’re bored one afternoon switch off the TV and go surfing instead because you may catch a musical wave that’ll give you a ride that’s just a little bit different.Ambulance LTD supporting The Dears January 29 Cardiff Barfly
The Dears are a definite ‘one-to-watch’ and their album No Cities Left is an interesting mix of mellow and alternative rock. However, the night for me was mainly about Ambulance Ltd, a little known New York band who has broken through in the American market and are hoping to do so here too. I was lucky enough to interview their front man Marcus Congleton before the show and was keen to find out how the tour had been going. “[The tour] has been going pretty well” he said. “It seems over here that every other show is good. It’s weird because we don’t have our album out in Britain yet so I don’t want to say good or bad because it was the same in the States. Touring had been a little frustrating but then the album came out and it all changed.” Asking how he replied “when the album was released in the States it guaranteed that people would come to gigs because they liked us. It meant it wasn’t as hard as playing to crowds who don’t know your music because you don’t necessarily have to win them over every night.”
Wanting to find out more about their style I asked if any of their songs were autobiographical. He said “inevitably they are in some aspects. However, it’s not in a truly literal way because it’s not really interesting to play them every night if they’re too personal. We tend to aim for a more bizarre sound.” Asking him to explain this further he said “it’s pretty eclectic. We use acoustic sounds and we draw from country songs such as Neil Young but at the same time trying to include electric rock in the set. If we didn’t mix it up everyone would fall asleep so we try to have no two songs that are too similar. We just aim to show something different and to keep it varied.”
This variation was shown in a short but captivating set. Opening with the instrumental, Yoga Means Union ensured they grabbed the crowd’s attention because it seemed like such a statement. They made sure we realised they were here and were going to be a little different. The six songs following from that showcased their ability to mix various genres into one unique sound. They moved effortlessly from Stay Where You Are, their chilled out debut single to the country/60s pop style of Anecdote. When I caught up with Marcus after the gig he said they’d had fun and had enjoyed playing and it definitely showed when they were up on stage. The album will finally get a British release in March and it’s only a matter of time I think before they will go on to much bigger things.