Monday, 27 October 2008

Album Review: Ryan Adams 'Cardinology' released 27/10/08

Is it possible to pinpoint a moment when extraordinarily talented musicians make the irretrievably slippery descent into morbid mediocrity? Maybe it comes when they finally slip off the knife-edge of living the life of a rock star and into inevitably drug-fuelled song-writing paralysis – maybe the mainstream seems the only way to go once you’ve dallied with success on the periphery for so long. Dylan himself made the veering trajectory through the exhilarating unpredictability of the sixties into the gospel cud that he churned out with heartbreaking regularity by the eighties. His latter-day prophet, Ryan Adams, seems intent on following a similar path.

With Cardinology, you’d be hard pressed to catch even a faded glimpse of the twisted up, fragile beauty of 2004’s ‘Love Is Hell’, or the bold ache of 2001’s ‘Gold’. That Ryan Adams can churn out piffle is not news – his misguided attempt to release three albums in a single year in 2005 will have alerted even the most hardy of acolytes to his somewhat hit-and-miss approach to songwriting. Perhaps most upsetting with Cardinology is the worry that Adams intended this lazy transition to purporting meaningless puddles of MOR – and yet, equally, that is maybe Cardinology’s only redeeming feature.

Adams has transformed a fascination with mainstream modern rock that emerged with his undeniably magnificent transmogrification of Oasis’s ‘Wonderwall’, into a watery emulation of stadium country-rock acts of boringly prolific output. The U2 comparison here is predicable and yet wholly warranted, especially with the aging warble of the vocal on rock-anthems like ‘Go Easy’ and ‘Magick’.

‘Stop’ is a shallow attempt to capture the deliciously sullen, sparse piano-balladry of ‘The Shadowlands’, but where the latter conjoured the frighteningly dark corners of the psyche of the protagonist, the former drifts into faux-grandiose string arrangements and unconvincing lyrics. ‘Memory Lane’ is twee in its reminiscent chatter of “simple times, hands entangled, fingers engaged,” and yet still manages to be less revolting than the pointless chugging of ‘Crossed Out Name’ or ‘Cobwebs’, which are repetitive enough to make Coldplay or Snow Patrol proud. ‘Let Us Down Easy’ dabbles in gospel, and I’m pretty sure ‘Fix It’ and ‘Born Again’ are actually the same song, mistakenly included twice.

If there was some saving grace, just one track that reminded of the man’s capabilities, a single ‘Hotel Cheslea Nights’ or a whisper of ‘Goodnight Hollywood Bvd’, would that be better? Cardinology might be bad, but it’s at least consistently mediocre: the rubbishy yelps of a man that wants to sell records and is following a well-worn blueprint to do so. One can only hope that this unremarkable, middling result was indeed Ryan Adams’s intention.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Album Review: Deerhunter - 'Microcastle' released 27/10

Since the release of their eponymous debut in 2005, Deerhunter have occupied an underground space carved of white noise noodling and illuminated by frontman Bradford Cox’s obvious preoccupation with Lou Reed and Brian Eno. But for this, their third album, some of the distortion has been stripped to reveal a surprisingly melodic and complete long player. Microcastle demonstrates that, far from the fuzz of previous albums that had Pitchfork applauding and almost everyone else scratching their heads, Bradford Cox is capable of producing structural form and harmonic variance that comprises modern post-everything songwriting at its most interesting.

Where as 2007’s Cryptograms suffered from stylistic schizophrenia, oscillating between prolonged, self-gratifying ambience and tough post punk aggression, Microcastle is pieced together with self-conscious deliberation. Opener ‘Cover Me’ introduces the album with a steady compound sway and unhurried percussion that breaks into a ticking chug for Agoraphobia, which then endures throughout the first half of the album. Cox’s vocals, frequently fragile and submerged in reverb, are laid uncharacteristically bare for the opening of the eponymous ‘Microcastle’, erupting into a gently glorious vocal refrain, before damp, echoing guitars twinkle on into the delicious lullabye of Cavalry Scars.

The best of Microcastle is in its characteristically prolonged outro. Perhaps the finest work on the album is with the uptempo ‘Nothing Ever Happened’. An insistent bassline drives and anchors ethereal guitar effects, which no long swamp the aural landscape as with Cox’s previous work, instead interweaving with cogitable directness so that diasporic musical elements are matched into the melodic weave flawlessly. ‘Saved By Old Times’ opens with the lazy psychedelic loop of twanging guitars and sees Cox singing of ‘elaborate designs', before slipping into the lysergic ramblings of spoken snippets pieced together by Cole Alexander of the Black Lips. The penultimate ‘Neither Of Us, Uncertainly’ drifts off into an upward piano refrain before the gentle melodia of ‘Twilight At Carbon Lake’, with its rocking, compound rhythm, plays out to growing distortion, ending on chordal fuzz which reminds of Cox’s noise-laden preoccupations.

Where Cryptograms introduced many to a musical outfit prone to fits of artistic impulse beyond the comprehension of many, Microcastle sees the superficial fuzz of some of the most musically elusive of Cox’s compositions stripped away. Without this deceptive obscurantism, Deerhunter evidence themselves as surprisingly melodic and accessible, and reveal a writing talent in Cox that goes beyond the expectations of a large proportion of critics. Cox insisted in a recent interview that he hopes people hate the new album to relieve himself of promotional responsibilities: if Microcastle gets the recognition it deserves, the reality for Cox could be a far cry from his negative aspirations.

Live Review: British Sea Power @ Roundhouse, 17/10/08

See original post here.

Few bands can lay claim to really putting on a proper spectacle in show business these days. It is perhaps partly due to this that British Sea Power have succeeded in maintaining exponentially increasing popularity, both critically and otherwise, over the last eight years of their existence. The fashionable Brighton outfit, who have cleverly trademarked themselves with songs steeped in historical narrative and outfits themed to suit their obscure naval preoccupations, can lay claim to a fastidious fanbase, sometimes titled ‘The Third Battalion’.

Having been the recent recipients of a Mercury nomination that dragged them from the clutches of the fashionably elusive indie elite and irreversibly into the commercial limelight, British Sea Power proved their mainstream appeal by filling the circular expanse of the wonderfully architected Roundhouse on Friday, right through to the seated balconies.

The respectable venue, a far cry from the cramped and dingy pubs and clubs where British Sea Power once performed, attracted a similarly respectable audience, whose demographic ranged from the younger, flag-wielding hardcore, to the surprisingly grey-haired surrounding majority.

Not that there’s anything wrong with a band transcending the normal commercial demographic, but the turnout was nonetheless surprising. It was as though British Sea Power asked ‘Do You Like Rock Music?’, and even those not naturally predisposed to gig going tentatively raised a hand and said, ‘Yes, actually, and we’ll buy a ticket to prove it.’

Their set demonstrated British Sea Power’s ability to achieve huge anthemic stadium rock during the likes of ‘Atom’ and ‘Waving Flags’, and then juxtapose it with filthy, angular rhythms and screaming vocals as in ‘Apologies To Insect Life’. Mostly though, the evening was composed of tracks from their third LP, with the London Bulgarian Choir (who also provided support) lit up behind a backsheet, providing vocal accompaniment during particularly epic moments. The rest of the time, the backsheet provided a canvas upon which footage of majestic, encircling sea birds were projected: a fitting visual companion to the revolving sea-sounds of ‘A Trip Out’, and the crashing waves of cymbals in instrumental number, ‘The Great Skua’.

Back-catalogue favourites ‘Fear Of Drowning’, ‘Wooden Horse’ and ‘Lately’ delighted a well-versed and receptive audience, that dissolved into catcalls of ‘easy, easy, easy,’ towards the end of the set, even before they were goaded into it by a huge flashing sign containing that one word during the final applause. Cue a characteristically entertaining encore of ‘No Lucifer’, which saw the band ripping up their tree-filled stage with the help of ‘Ursine Ultra’, their life-sized, patched-up mascot bear. For those unfamiliar with the band’s apocalyptic finales, the hilarious set-piece was unlike anything preceding it in rock music, and a subtle reminder of their deserved Mercury nomination.

With their choirs and costumes, British Sea Power can hardly get more musically epic, more theatrically inventive, or more lyrically intelligent. The challenge for them now is to move beyond this comfortably impressive plateau and continue their increasing commercial and artistic success, without compromising the marvellous eccentricities of their origins.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Album Review: The Acorn - 'Glory Hope Mountain' released 20/10

See original article published here.

Sufjan Stevens once tried to write fifty albums, one for every American state. If he’d taken the melodic warmth of his songwriting further afield, to the colourful coasts of Central America, the result may have been something like this. A blend of familiar North American folk and something a little more foreign and tribal, Glory Hope Mountain manages to expound a musical narrative that is extraordinarily descriptive. It was written as frontman and vocalist Rolf Klausener’s tribute to his mother, Gloria Eperanza Montoya (the title of the album is a rough translation of her name), who fled an abusive childhood in Honduras, journeying to Canada to forge a new life.

But Glory Hope Mountain is more than a biographical exercise. A careful ear can hear the chronicled threads of a life caught between cultures and journeying far from home, yet beyond Klausener’s descriptive intentions this LP introduces a vital and diverse musical mind. Each track is an accomplished and carefully realised whole, brought to life through diverse ethnic instrumentation that gives The Acorn’s music a rare vividness and colour, setting it apart from the work of contemporaries in the vein of experimental folk.

Klausener’s music manages to be subtly upbeat without ever straying into the territory of the twee. Clever, poetic lyrics anchor the songs on the right side of comfortingly melodic. Opener ‘Hold Your Breath’ is sparsely orchestrated, telling of a birth, before slipping with a delicious thud into a pulsating, forward facing rhythm during verses. Punctuated mid-track by a beautifully upwards-leading instrumental bridge that feeds into a clattering guitar led outro, it is the perfect introduction to an album that is by shades epic and unrelentingly energetic, such as in ‘Low Gravity’, and at other times unhurried and soulfully down-tempo, as in ‘Flood Pt. 2’.

The foreign influences of the album, inherent and indelible underneath every track, become especially evident in the vocal accompaniment and steady calypso chug of ‘Flood’, a song that sounds so organic it could have climbed, tinkering and rattling, from the branches of trees. ‘Oh Napoleon’ is mesmerisingly woeful, with its rocking, descending guitar riff and lyrics you can disappear into: ‘Talk about your peace of mind/The one I found so hard to find.’

There are weaker moments. ‘Sister Margaret’ is overdubbed by spoken sampling that is barely audible, and never breaks into song, so that it kind of drifts instrumentally, acting as album filler of less memorable quality. Meanwhile ‘Antenna’ starts with radio white noise that leads into uncharacteristically bland songwriting. But with the fragile, wavering double female vocal of ‘Lullaby (Mountain)’, Glory Hope Mountain ends, leaving the listener lost in the mountains and rivers of aural landscapes, handcrafted with painstaking and seamless detail. Though by no means a perfect effort, this critically lauded LP from Krausener and co. nonetheless introduces a profound and expansive folk-writing talent, combining traditional, contemporary and foreign influences that are married with new vibrancy by this Canadian collective.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Music News

Signed Pink Floyd Guitar To Be Sold In Charity Auction

Fender illustrated by Gerald Scarfe will go for thousands…

Those with a few pennies to spare despite the financial crisis gathered in Kensington last night for the launch of a charity auction of a unique white fender guitar. The instrument is signed by all the members of Pink Floyd and illustrated by ‘The Wall’ cartoonist Gerald Scarfe.

The auction is to celebrate the launch of Gerald Scarfe’s book, ‘Scarfe on the Wall’, which details Scarfe’s creation of the artwork for Pink Floyd’s 1979 album, The Wall, a rock opera about the individual’s struggle against society.

The fender is especially valuable as it is possibly the last thing that the late Richard Wright signed before his death from cancer last month. The current bid is £4000.

The only member of Pink Floyd to attend the opening of the auction was drummer Nick Mason. Roger Waters, who resides in New York, was unavailable, while guitarist David Gilmour had to attend a parents’ evening.

Pink Floyd remain one of the most successful rock acts in history, selling over 200million records worldwide since their inception in the late sixties.

The fender will be on auction until the end of the month at

Originally published 16/10/08 here.

Arctics Take Apollo Gig To The Big Screen

In one off cinema preview last night...

Fans of the Arctic Monkeys were treated to a feature length film of one of the band’s gigs in one off viewings that took place in selected cinemas across the UK last night.

‘Arctic Monkeys At The Apollo’, a 76-minute long film of the last performance in the band’s 2007 World Tour, was premiered at the Rex cinema in London on the 7th October, and will become available in DVD format on November 3rd.

Directed by Richard Ayoade, the film captures in high definition and surround sound the ability of the Sheffield four piece to reproduce their recorded work, live.

Vocalist Alex Turner fronts the performance with typical dry wit, at one point convincing the Manchester audience that the cameras surrounding the stage are because of a planned ‘live link-up’ with a Berlin audience, prompting hooligan cat-calls of ‘En-ger-land’ to reverberate around the venue, and several self-serving smirks to be passed between band mates.

The set list for the performance numbered nineteen songs from both Arctic Monkeys albums, including favourites ‘Flourescent Adolescent’, ‘I Bet That You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ and ‘Brianstorm’, and the lesser known ‘Nettles’ and ‘Plastic Tramp’.

Published 15/10/08 here.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Bombay Bicycle Club Interview

“People Treat Us Like A Gimmick...”
Bombay Bicycle Club on the pitfalls of being freshfaced and uber-talented...

It’s busy in the Macbeth in Shoreditch tonight. The pretty and pretentious youth of London’s east end gather on the terrace in the cool evening air of the late summer, puffing resignedly on cigarettes held up to painted lips. There’s a hardened, London look to most of the kids here, which makes it easy to spot three of the Bombay Bicycle Club boys as they shuffle through the smoke for our interview.

Much has been made of their youth by the music press, which is funny because there are lots of young acts about at the moment – Late Of The Pier, Cajun Dance Party, Laura Marling to name but a few. They don’t even look especially young. But there is a kind of sullen reservation in the way they conduct themselves, that soon becomes apparent as shyness. Save for the exuberance of their guitarist, Jamie, bassist Ed and vocalist Jack stare quietly at their shoes, seeming rather endearingly unsure how to answer questions. They might have some confidence yet to gain, but as far as their music is concerned, for a band that have been gigging and writing for over three years, their debut album certainly is a long time coming.

“The last few years have been building towards recording, which is a long time to put together a debut album, especially if you’re semi-well-known,” bassist Jamie says of their plans to record a LP. Semi-well-known is almost an understatement. Bombay Bicycle Club have been a staple festival band since they won Channel 4’s Road To V in 2006, and have been gigging successfully ever since, making quite a name for themselves on the indie circuit as Britain’s baby-faced answer to the Strokes. The only problem being, with their GCSEs only just behind them, there was very little the band could do during term time. “The interest in us was always peaks and troughs,” Jamie explains, “because we’d do festivals in the summer, and then we wouldn’t be able to do anything while we were at school.”

But no longer. The boys finished their A levels in July (Jamie solemnly admits: “School always came first,”) and have decided to take this year off to concentrate properly on the band. While their friends move away to start uni or fly off on exotic gap years, Jamie, Jack, Ed and Suren are getting used to everyday life in a band. “I don’t know what to do with myself now!” Jamie exclaims, with a happy grin, “When we’re not on tour or recording there’s nothing to do. We came back from a month on tour and we just wanted to take a break, but then you realise you’re just sitting at home all day, and all your friends are going on their gap years to East Asia or wherever.”

With this in mind, the boys are keeping themselves busy this month recording their debut album. Lead singer Jack pipes up behind a long greasy fringe that they’re thinking of calling it ‘Emergency Contraception Blues’, “but that might just be a song on it, we’re not sure yet.” As to the album itself, fans can expect quite a bit of unheard material. Bombay Bicycle Club have been lucky enough to secure Jim Abbiss as producer, the man behind numerous Mercury nominated long players from the likes of Adele, Arctic Monkeys and Kasabian. The boys talk excitedly about the prospect of Abbiss’s handiwork on the album. “He’s very versatile,” Jack lauds, before Jamie interrupts, “I think he’s very good at bringing bands like Kasabian and The Arctic Monkeys into the mainstream whilst keeping their edge.”
“Winning a Mercury,” guitarist Ed contributes, finally, “that’s our aim.”

Winning a Mercury is not exactly a one-of-a-kind ambition for a young, gigging band. The difference is, that with the intelligent musicianship and unlikely performing experience of Bombay Bicycle Club, their chances of achieving the outer reaches of British rock celebrity are perhaps not so slight. Each of their tracks combines wide-open-eyed lyrics about adolescence with swirling Bloc Party-esque keyboard and guitar textures and angular, catchy Strokes riffs that stick in the head and induce front row mayhem at gigs.

The only decider for Bombay Bicycle Club, this year, will be for them to get people to finally stop thinking of them as schoolkids and start seeing them for what they are: the most promising act to emerge from North London since Bloc Party. “It sometimes feels as if people aren’t taking us as seriously as if we were older,” vocalist Jack frowns. “People treat us like a gimmick!” Jamie adds, indignantly. “The NME is always saying things like ‘Out of term time, Bombay Bicycle Club are…” he tails off.
Jack adds, “People seem to have picked up on the fact that we’re really young compared to other bands, and have taken advantage of it.”

With school behind them and an album currently in production, Bombay Bicycle Club have a lot to prove in the coming months, especially to those that have underestimated them in the past. For now, as they shuffle off, all awkward handshakes and shy smiles, one can only think that if this young London four-piece can put together an album that is even just a fraction as promising as their early demos, they won’t be quite so unassuming for much longer…

Suggestions for the evening times courtesy of EYOE:

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Concrete and Glass Festival - various venues, London, 2+3/10/08

See original article here

‘The whole idea of a music and art event we know sounds a bit stuffy, but basically what we hope we do is expose you to a bunch of stuff you wouldn’t ordinarily see…’

Those extraordinary things ranged from the neo-classical piano works of Ludovico Einaudi to the Kung Fu games of contemporary artist David Blandy. But somewhere less high-brow, in the midst of the experimental and the avant garde, Concrete and Glass also offered the punter performances from some of the most enticing and eclectic bands and musicians in the industry, including inventive electronica from Fujiya & Miyagi, stumbling and beautiful indie rock from Frightened Rabbit and laptop-folk from James Yuill and his loop pedal. Set across a prolific number of venues in London’s East End, Concrete and Glass politely asked purveyors of art and music in the impressively comprehensive programme to ‘please try to venture beyond your comfort zone’.

This wasn’t difficult given the magnificent job the organisers had done on the line-up. On Thursday Gigwise discovered two of the more promising acts to appear on our musical radar for several months. We started the evening with the enveloping, lazy psychedelia of The Oscillation in 93 Feet East. Though the turn-out left a little to be desired, those in attendance felt privy to an extended and unusually polished jam session rather than a performance. We clung to the edges of the dark venue like the luminous spotted visuals, which were handmade by a boy with a bowl of water over a coloured light. Saxophones and basslines swirled around the magnetic presence of vocalist Demian Castellanos, each song underlaid by a silken, steady rhythm that underpinned the wandering melodies of lengthy tracks.

Over at Old Blue Last, Errors concocted electronic hypnotism of a different variety. It was almost impossible to get into the tiny upstairs venue, but those with the foresight to get a place ahead of the queues witnessed wonky electro-pop with an edginess Foals can only dream about. This critically lauded Glasgow four-piece meld angular guitar riffs a la Battles over sustained keyboard counter melodies, like a more commercially concerned Mogwai. They ended on the delayed, glitchy keyboard refrain and buzzing bass of ‘Mr Milk’, all smiles and substance where their contemporaries rely on hype and frosty pretentiousness.

Back in the Old Blue the following day, Gigwise is just in time to grab a pint and catch the closing folk-rock cries of Kid Harpoon’s cover of Leonard Cohen’s ‘First We Take Manhattan’. The obvious youth of the diminuitive plaid-clad figure of Kid Harpoon making his way from the stage still manages to surprise, considering his distinctive gravelly vocal style and epic acoustic talent.

It is Lykke Li that Gigwise turns to to kick off the weekend over at CafĂ© 1001. The program hails her as ‘the next big thing’, whatever that might mean, but she keeps us waiting some twenty minutes longer than expected, apparently due to illness. She is dizzyingly illuminated once on stage, her recorded hip-hop-pop moulded into new sound-shapes by added keyboards and crashing cymbals, whilst her body buckles its way through polished choreography. It comes off a little try-hard, but is carried by the strength of Lykke Li’s songwriting – ‘Little Bit’, ‘Dance Dance Dance’ and ‘I’m Good, I’m Gone’ are pop gems that can absorb a little too much lipsticked pouting and still stick in the head long after the set.

For the darker and cooler musical underground, Cargo’s dank and windowless arches host the height of Brooklyn brilliance – TV On The Radio. It seems the perfect pinnacle to a refined art-school line-up. Vocalist Tunde Adebimpe and multi-instrumentalist/producer David Andrew Sitek rarely grace this side of the Atlantic with their genre-elusive musical melting-pot of hip-hop, electro and punk. This is their first performance in the UK for nearly two years, and the turn-out evidences how much they’ve been missed.

We gather, pinned against each other, stepped on and shoved, with nothing to do except submerse ourselves in the haunting rumble of dystopic guitar fuzz and delicately pitched falsetto. Though the majority of the crowd are crushed and clearly off their faces, TV On The Radio still manage to get them clapping cross-rhythms before the first song is out. It’s testimony to their cult status and magnetically soulful songwriting that so many stick out the set despite the conditions. Adebimpe suggests we make ‘lateral moves’ rather than shoving each other forward, but with the seductively suicidal ‘Dreams’ most of us are at a loss to make any conscious movement at all, and merely sway, squashed against those surrounding us and subsumed by the comforting intelligence of the music.

It is the wonky techno of James Holden at Plastic People that provides our musical outro to the evening. Border Community’s finest plays in an underground pit, in near pitch darkness, with no fancy visuals needed to enhance the mesmerising polish of his intricately placed electronic beats.

Gigwise might not have made it to the art exhibitions, or have managed to witness more than a fraction of the innovative and intelligent musicianship showcased at this two day event, but, unlike from other London day festivals, we don’t come away feeling cheated. A well-written and simply presented programme makes even the most esoteric musical acts seem both accessible and enticing, while venue-hopping is better-accomplished with the help of a good map and pre-released schedule. While Gigwise regretfully misses the non-musical, the quality and scope of entertainment available at Concrete and Glass makes this an event that will keep people coming back for more ‘extraordinary stuff’, year after year.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Gig Review: Jonquil, The Shakespeare, Sheffield 26/9/08

See original article here

We’re driving round some kind of industrial wasteland in Sheffield. (This isn’t hard – there’s apparently quite a lot of it.) The taxi driver’s lost, deep in conversation with his satnav, on which he’s spelt our destination wrong, anyway. My gig-going accomplice is telling me about prostitutes and drug-dens and where not to go after dark in the steel city as boarded up grey blurs in my outervision.

Defeat seems imminent, and we’re about to give up and head for the shiny lights of the centre, when a little lit-up pub miraculously appears, with a couple of kids sporting skinnies and shoes smoking on the doorstep. After paying the driver about half of what it says on the meter for the pleasure of the picturesque detour, we order double gins in the sudden noisy glow of The Shakespeare. It’s busy here considering the out of the way location, a concentric hub of plaid shirts and painted eyes that seems to do trade by word of mouth among a fairly clique-y clientele.

Tonight the kids are out for one of the most promisingly obscure faux-folk bands of the moment, Jonquil. Faux-folk because, having warned the aforementioned accomplice that he was in for a few hours of ‘experimental folk’ (for want of a better description) and watched him guzzle several pints in trepid anticipation, Jonquil got about five minutes into their set before he turned to me, toe-tapping, and happily admitted, “they’re pretty good, not too weirdy beardy at all.”

Genre-tagging is something Jonquil have been avoiding for a while now, with frontman Hugo Manuel confessing in a recent interview that the band would rather be associated with rock than folk. Live, it’s obvious why. There’s a spreading energy about each of their tracks, rooted in organically created sounds, but multi-layed and building so that the jubilant swell of their music is neither twiddly nor twee, but kind of noisily cacophonous and catchy. To achieve this they fill the tiny stage with band members (all six of them) and instruments that most rock acts would never have heard of.

Tonight Hugo’s vocals are a little shaky to begin with, as he struggles with falsetto in ‘Sudden Sun’, but he soon warms to the task at hand. Hypnotic unison vocals in the humourously entitled ‘Babe, so why no,’ contrast with the utterly mesmerising orchestration of new track, ‘Parasol’. Jonquil end with the creeping twinkle and bespoke beauty of an extended intro to ‘Lions’, their best known song and the title track from their recently re-released album. It’s a wonderful moment, encompassing oom-pa accordion propulsion with sea-shanty chanting, inciting infectious grinning in the audience in the poky venue.

This talented Oxford six-piece have lyrics that transport to musical Narnias, and instrumentation that colours these landscapes with tumescent exuberance, with solid melodic cheer as its motivation. Tonight, though, with the unresolved ending of ‘Lions’, our out-of-town excursion is over, and we’re stumbling down the stairs and out the door, for the directionless, uphill wander back to the city lights.