Back at the Lexington in January 2019 for first outing of the year. Headlined as “The Line of Best Fit ‘s Annual Celebration of New Music” it was the culmination of five nights of showcasing lesser known bands. I booked this randomly on the back of “Our Girl” headlining who were the key draw on the night. Knew they were female led indie band so didn’t expect it to be too taxing on the brain cells or auditory senses. However as often happens these days there were actually less punters there at the end than for the minor bands. Indeed I had to queue to get in although arriving just after 7.30.
So on to the music. First band “Black Country New Road” are to be honest the ones to watch. Already championed in the Windmill Pub scene in South London they are attracting attention. Here is a section of the recent review in Clash music blog available at https://www.clashmusic.com/news/listen-black-country-new-road-athens-france “Pierre Hall puts it best: “Every song twisted and turned in ways you didn’t expect, and lyrically, Isaac had this whole The Fall meets (William) Burroughs cut-ups thing going on, the lyrics seemed to tumble out of him – but they were clever and acerbic in equal measure. It was captivating to watch.”
The songs are self-contained stories and reflections on the current state of the world with universally recognised references to the fascination of social media and the world of Netflix.
They are young band, led by a charismatic front man, in the tradition of the anti-fashion music hero. Having never seen or heard anything of them before I did think that you had to be that young to get away with some of the intensity and pretentiousness on show but that rock and roll I guess. As per the quote above you can think “The Fall” or “Velvet Underground “or avant-garde Jazz, due to the Saxophonist and lesser extent violin.
But I do like the element of experimentation and sheer gutsy attempt to produce something a bit different. Also despite some of the meanderings the rhythm section keeps it on track with a more traditional rock feel. I would seek them out again and musically they can only grow further as they give the impression of being interested in honing their craft.
Second band were “Squid” who are a POP band who I’m sure on hearing a few times infectious guitar led memorable songs. They also are a little unusual as the drummer is the main vocalist. When I did a little research there songs sounded more synthesiser led but in the live setting the guitars were stronger. So in order to give you a feel for the sound the guitars were sometimes heading towards “Dire Straits “ or even at points “Status Quo as they enjoyed themselves and rocked out. But may be that’s just my interpretation of their sound and how my ears were processing it.
Next band and last before headliners were “Gently Tender”. Vocalist kept the attention of the room with songs mainly exploring the more joyous end of relationships. With the vocalists fairly high register they reminded me a of a more optimistic version of “The Magic Numbers” mixed with a bit of “Veronica Falls “ from a few years ago. A really competent set but not sure they had a real USP (Unique selling point) and in a very crowded market I don’t know how far they might go (maybe they don’t care?). Funnily enough just doing a bit of last minute research for my blog and it appears they are made up of ex members of “Palma Violets”. Didn’t see that at the time but now I’ve just listened to the voice there it is. Wow. And by the way they are extremely ambitious they are on record as saying.
As mentioned previously the place was really crowded up to this point but possibly due to the lateness of the hour the crowd had thinned a bit by 10.30. “Our Girl “once they got started played for about 40 minutes and in this intimate venue sounded like a band on the indie side of the spectrum. Lead singer and guitarist Soph Nathan (who is also in “The Big Moon”) uses the guitar to alliterate her vocals in the live setting to greater effect I would say than on record. They are heavier musically and that’s there edge I would say as on first hearing by the un-initiated you could say why the fuss.
But as an observer the audience were enthusiastically grooving along and there were a few comments after on the stairwell by some about the best band they had ever seen. They are gaining a lot of critical acclaim and are darlings of BBC Radio 6.Comparisons to certain aspects of the “Pixies” sound have been made such as the juxtaposition of loud and quiet passages. Also “Breeders” and “Nirvana” (gently) in the influences here possibly I would say .They sound tight as a band and the rhythm section provide a solid background to the grungy guitar sound that dominates the musicality of the band.
I have of course performed my normal trick here of “bigging up” some of the supports and being slightly less enthusiastic about the headliner. That’s just life I guess and probably a very bad personality trait of mine.
In reality as always you have to approach these events with an open mind and I suppose it does as always depends where you are on your musical journey. Again the test is probably not to try to compare too much but just enjoy it for what it is. And just maybe you’re listening to your next musical hero.
If you haven’t been to the Lexington as a venue it’s one of the better smaller venues for atmosphere, ability to see and beer prices.