Wednesday, 25 February 2009

The 10:04s and The OK Social Club @ The Mill - The Caves Edinburgh 19 Feb 2009

That really dry, tinny tone of electric guitar solos or riffs up on the high strings with no overdrive or distortion or other effects at all is a difficult tone to accept. It just sounds wrong. Guitar solos don't sound natural unless they're baked in an overdrive pie. Where's that raw, aggressive, masculine noise we're used to hearing guitars make?

This of course, is one of the many lines in the sand we can draw between rock and indie. The 10:04s, in sound, dress sense, and possibly even outlook on life, definitely fall into the indie category. They are not, of course, the first ones to use that particular guitar sound. Most notably The Libertines, who seem to be a big influence on this Edinburgh four-piece, have done a similar thing. One could also very easily draw parallels to The Strokes, who got famous on that constant staccato strumming rhythm guitar style, and The Fratellis, with whom they share a love of "wo-oh" and "da-dah" singalong football-chant melodies. These would be easily lines to draw. Perhaps less obvious would be the indie-boys affinity for rockabilly, as they demonstrated with a quick cover of Chuck Berry's 'You Never Can Tell', which they used to cover up some kind of equipment failure.

A lot of excitement and energy from the two guitarist/singers and the drummer, and a lot of "too cool for school" posing from the bassist, and the songs, though a good decade past being an original sound, are catchy and well-structured pieces of indie-punk.

The second band, The OK Social Club (pictured), got their new name for a live music night they used to run at The Mitre (a cookie for anyone that can tell me the 80s classic that inspired the name The 10:04s). The band formerly known as Kiddo are a well-oiled gigging machine. The whole band played with a tremendous vigour. Rocking out and making it look easy. The bassist, though, convulsed, headbanged and stomped his way through the songs like he was possessed by the devil. In fact take away the chequed shirt and trendy shoes and replace them with a loose black t-shirt and boots and this guy would look right at home in a metalcore band.

Still, flawless basslines, and superb vocals from Raff, who also performs his solo acoustic stuff on the Edinburgh circuit. The music is what people like to call pop-rock. The punch of heavy guitars and powerful rhythm section, mixed with the catchiness and charisma of pop music. Raff successfully treaded the thin line of working the crowd, pleasing the current fans and cocky showing off. I've seen these guys cross the line and fall short, but this time I think they hit the mark.

Having no more songs left for an encore, the band reprised the chorus and outro of one of their catchiest tunes. The ease with which this was managed, even after a stage invasion, is testament to their hard-earned performance experience.
Myke Hall

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

EdTwestival - The Hawke and Hunter Edinburgh 12 Feb 2009

No one would blame you for assuming that the first Edinburgh Twestival (that's "Twitter festival") was a total geekfest. And in some ways it was. The members of the audience in the gazebo out the back of The Hawke and Hunter were able to hunch over their Iphones, Blackberrys and notebook laptops and tweet their opinion of the gig while it was going on, which was then projected onto a screen at the front. Gimmicky, huh? Well, the novelty was fun.

Peter Gregson played the pretty darn original set-up of electric cello and laptop samples, and I don't think I was the only person in the room wondering why no one has thought of this before. The cello makes a gorgeous sound, and the laptop's swirling digital faux-orchestration made for some absolutely breathtaking backdrops. The music, which I guess you could describe as post-rock or romantic-era orchestral, depending on your point of view, seemed part-way classical, part-way motion picture soundtrack. Heavy on the synthetic strings, Peter Gregson is at the centre of his own invisible orchestra. The final piece was credited to someone in the room, giving merit to my guess that he was mixing classic and contemporary compositions, but all in his own style.

The gorgeous Plum (pictured) and her shiny "Twitter bird" earrings, were second to bat. Another MacBook musician. Plum seemed to have two different types of tunes. Some were guitar strummed love songs, accompanied by swelling high-attack bass and synth-string noises from the laptop, which were entrancing, if a little wet. Her voice is soft and unobtrusive. Lovely background music but more tricky to grip people's attention. The others were the intriguing ones. Using a loop pedal, she records several layers of vocals over the top of each other. Starting with a repetitive bass, maybe some hand claps, then adding the vocal melody, the some haunting harmonies. The effect is like an aural kaleidoscope, with each pattern weaving and meandering smoothly into the next. While these songs lack the reality and accessibility of the guitar songs, they make up for it in creativity, and for that reason they're a treat for the ears. Plum is an innovative creature. My favourite was 'The Eagle and the Penguin'.

The final act of the night were Epic26, who opened with the new-wave/indie dancey floor-filler Loving Lucy. Heads were bopping and the chorus melody was being written into the attendee's heads. It must have been over two years ago I first heard that tune. To the best of my knowledge its the only song that's survived since then, especially with the introduction of the MicroKorgs into their line-up and, I reckon, its still the best song in their repertoire. However, they didn't get much of a chance to prove me wrong as I nipped off to the lavvie and came back to find they'd blown a fuse and all their power had gone out. After some heated exchanges and panicked motions between the band and the sound guy (JT of Live Systems - mate of mine/library monitor/one of Edinburgh's finest techies) I gave up and went for a drink upstairs. I hear they got the sound working again and played the rest of their set. I missed that, I'm afraid.

You can follow on Twitter @edRocknet to keep you updated on new blog postings.
Myke Hall