Belated recapping. We apologise.
But we were quite tempted to look very much retrospectively back on May and June's Basement Clubs, with the view that all appearing artists would have since moved on rapidly to some form of further success. Being (ironically) crass / gross / arrogant, we were most assuredly right to do so.
For, in this case, all such bands have gone on to some further, respectable notoriety. Firstly, May. Absentee signed a record-deal with Memphis Industries (home of The Go! Team, hotly-revered debutants Dungen, and our own Transgressive Records' associated The Pipettes); The Kooks hit the top-40 with debut single 'Eddie's Gun' (#35, to be precise; good going, lads); and headliners Morning Runner unleashed a critically lauded EP, 'Drawing Shapes', which won fans amongst the esteemed Zane Lowe / Steve Lamacq / Jo Whiley camps (the latter attending their performance this evening, and later raving on her Radio 1 show the following day the very virtues of this band and, kindly, our club-night itself). And toured with Coldplay. 'Nuff sed.
The packed hordes that evening knew something special was to unfurl. From the Cohen/Waitsy drawl of Absentee's beauteous, folkin', country-tinged, opening set, it was bliss. Not even an obtrusively ringing, ear-blistering smoke-alarm, set off by accident, or that questionable bear-hat of guitarist Babak, could damage the gently interlocking keys and deeper-than-hell vocals of the 'Tee's deliciously deadpan Dan Michelson - which all built to a delightful climax of screeching guitars and hooks that could reel in even a most mighty and objecting of halibuts in a stormy sea. In November. Their debut mini-LP 'Donkey Stock' is compulsive listening. Evidently, so is their show.
Kick up the arse next. The Kooks rocket on the stage pissed out of their heads; and though one or two members profess to a) not remembering the experience at all, just minutes later, and b) hating it, we ourselves couldn't have been more beside ourselves. Here's a band unashamed to blend scrappy, fluid ragga-dub rhythmic intensity with hyper-pogo pop - so whilst 'Eddie's Gun' melodically jolts and fidgets with teenage fury and pent-up frustration, and beautifully chiming chords, a closing 'Pull Me In' seeks to enhance the effect with a truck-load more of the 'epic' about it. 'Dub Song', meanwhile... we'll leave you to guess on that one. Certain, and ricocheting across the room in all directions, The Kooks are the most frenetic bunch of tunesmiths we've allowed to thrillingly frolic in our adoring environs this year.
And then big-shot time. Morning Runner are the sort of band you'll want to deny and suppress, yet might not be able to. Through sheer dexterity and some severe acumen (they play a mean piano, and sing/spit a fierce line, and consistently seem orchestral. Despite being just four blokes from Reading), they write songs that prove both far-reaching yet coolly intimate, and bludgeon us continuously with not so much hints as violent stabs of greatness. 'Gone Up In Flames' starts the emotional warfare, the specially installed lights for tonight spiralling and bewitching (and blinding those in the front) in a quite absorbing of manners. Most majestic. 'Work', the epic, tussling and frantic ribcage-rattling finale, is our choice for future supremacy, however.
Look at the crowd! How they smile (pictured sample, rockfeedback's favourite melodica-parper, Angela of The Magic Numbers) after such gorgeous displays. You'd have done too, if you were there.
June, meanwhile. A pre-Glastonbury shindig, featuring a myriad of cheeky Transgressive Records scamps. Since our indie-label outlet has been revered as a positive influence in current musical meanderings, we thought it only fair to submit our aural preferences, within which we have a completely-vested interest, into the furrows and lurches of our regular rockfeedback minions. Hope you didn't mind too much.
In fact - how could you have? Consider these people and their wares a gift. Yes, we're biased, but these artists force us to be - to not mention them in a space dedicated to crucial new music would be a farce.
Jeremy Warmsley's opening set, solo and lonesome, is solidly engrossing, and the fact he looks a bit geeky and speccy hardly a deterrent. Those frames are there for a reason - behind them lurks a soulful boffin who undertakes melodic nursery rhymes and menacingly chops them to pieces in his bedroom with a succession of loops and Four Tetty/Aphex Twinny tricks that sends our heads spinning. Onstage by himself, he messes with an octave pedal we're guessing, but is essentially presenting the bare bones of his craft. But, what bones! We're left licking at them greedily even after they've been scraped of all substance - all that remains the idea, this being an electric guitar and winsome vocal, and some belting songs, most importantly. 'Feels Like Home' chips discordantly at the skull; '5 Verses' soothes the heart and reawakens the souls of the betrayed once-lovers; and a closing 'World Of Sound' peters out in a mess of slide and almost incomprehensible mumbling that, in whole, leaves us intrigued and swoonsome. '5 Interesting Lies' EP is out in October through Trans.
F**king insatiable and wonderful are Larrikin Love. They're sending shivers down the spine of many-a-major-label and everyone's going nuts for 'em, not least the kids. How they remained unsigned for more than a week since forming is still a mystery. Tonight, they're landmark. The room heaves and swells to their batch of calypso/reggae/dub/punk-fuelled ragga-indie and singer Edward parades the stage with a compelling, knowing identity last seen by Jarvis. He's well-read, witty, charming, immensely good-looking, and the poet of a generation. 'Six Queens' / 'Little Boy Lost' / 'Meet By The Getaway Car' are your anthems. So is 'You Can't Fool Me Dennis', the Mystery Jets' next single, breathlessly undertaken and given a new, ragged lease of jaunt, and aided ably by Jets guitarist Will, who can't stop bloomin' smiling. This band is ours, children. Happy days. And the 'Happy As Annie' single is out in Sept/Oct through Trans.
Headline time. Make your own witty puns here: caught by the fuzz, etc. But, whatever, Ladyfuzz kick some serious arse. Liz Neumayr struts and purrs and pouts and smiles and glimmers as outright feminist frontwoman numero uno - confounding and enticing and out-horning everyone in the room, bar-none. 'Oh Marie' is a dancefloor smash that gets the bodies shaking; 'Hold Up' is the acerbic-riffed monster that's both a tune yet unrelenting in its multi-sections; 'Black & White' is whistle-based ridiculousness that we fall in love with; and 'There's Women In Studio 3' some deeply fuzzy, dark disco which infuses the shoes with a nagging urgency to shift and throw shapes. It's a triumphant close. 'Hold Up' 45 out now on Trans.
Then, Hope of the States show up and - with the best intent in the world, and imploring shockingly decent music-taste - kill the party. The masses pile out and we're left with merely two or three attendees that can actually stomach a DJ-set from the country's most ambitious and beguiling prog-pomp-post-rock-indiers on the market (who namely muster a murky 'club' playlist consisting of Shellac, Four Tet, and a whole rung of obscuro art-noise pundits that do our heads in, to a daintily modest reception). Oh well. It's more fun this way, we convince ourselves. Who needs The Smiths and Bowie for a good night anyway? Hmm...
Photo-Credit (May's event only): Patricia L Brown