The XFM Xposure All Dayer at Camden Barfly in London is now in its fifth year and provides opportunity to see a diverse range of up and coming talent for a bargain price in a relatively small (200 capacity) venue. The 2010 stellar line up included a number of Breaking More Waves favourites and ones to watch including Holly Miranda, Stornoway, King Charles, Tinashe and The Cordelier Club. Those who managed to get out of bed early enough witnessed some of the highlights of the whole day, the line up being as strong on the bottom of the bill as it was the top.
This strength started at the very foot of the ladder. We’re informed that King Charles recently underwent some sort of near death experience, but his tribal blend of celtic psych folk is life affirming. With glorious pagan chanting, noodling angry guitar riffing, doomed drumming and braveheart sampled strings, the man with possibly the biggest hair in pop music knows how to ram power packed brilliance tightly into the cracks, with songs such as the jigalistic Love Lust and the upright Time for Eternity. Surely any man that can play a song entitled Hot Blood of a Polar Bear and the Cool Head of a Crocodile and make it sound phenomenally good deserves to go places.
With so many bands peddling the early 80’s sound back into fashion, it would come as no surprise if The Cordelier Club did the same. Yet the four piece reference 1986-1988 rather than 1981-1984. It’s a time when pop music discovered shoulder pads, big hair and pretended to be adult. Fronted by a brother sister duo, lead singer Alice encourages the audience to shout “I f*ckin’ love synths,” and bounds and bounces in an unashamed not-quite-sure-how-to-dance-but-I’m-going-to-anyway school disco manner to their extremely likeable middle of the road pop. Later day Eurythmics, The Pretenders, even Elkie Brooks come to mind and we suspect Alice could be one for the dads. Someone put them in the studio and watch their songs finding big local and BBC Radio 2 support. Possibly. Hopefully.
From FM friendly pop to something more ghostly, hazy and unsettling. The slender framed Holly Miranda (pictured) has none of the obvious hooks or choruses that the previous two acts have had. On first listen some of her tunes can seem almost impenetrable, formed out of odd rhythms, strong ethereal vocals and ambitious layered guitar complexities. This however is the beauty of what Miranda does. Hardly making any eye contact with the audience, Miranda immerses herself in her world and produces something with true depth. “Imagine you can hear bells,” says Holly when the instruments at her feet cannot be heard. There’s certainly something about her music that rings true.
The check shirted Tinashe seems to be everywhere that we are right now, having recently caught him at a Marina and the Diamonds gig (here) Like a distant cousin of Jack Penate bringing afropop influenced snappy acoustica he once again wins new friends, something he seems consummately skilled to do.
To keep the musical variety going Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs push out a seamless mix of laptop and knob twiddling dancefloor breaks that seriously doesn’t take itself too seriously. We seriously mean that. From creature like headwear to whipping out a keytar for a jittering piece of d-i-y techno, T.E.E.D rolls up sleeves and nimbly demolishes any respect for chin rubbing intellectuals. “A weird little afternoon rave” is how T.E.E.D describe the performance. But weird in this case is good. “Do you want it louder,” the chief dinosaur asks. Hell yes. Make it Brontosaurus.
It’s half time, the dancefloor is starting to become rather beer sodden, and the air has become rather stale so a trip outside the venue calls. Part 2 to be continued.....later today.