Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Live Review: Liverpool Sound City: Double Denim Showcase (Saturday) (BidoLito!)


The Kazimier. Liverpool Sound City.

Wolstenholme Square is the pounding, bleeding, beating out your chest because you’ve had too many amphetamines heart of Liverpool Sound City. I mean lets face it, you could bounce around the square all weekend and still come away with fifty new favourite artists. This is where I find myself drinking into oblivion and celebrating the end of Liverpool Sound City.

Before Oblivion though, we have Italian producer MIND ENTERPRISES. The enviably named Andrea Tirone’s had a single out on the excellent Double Denim Records last Summer with Sister, and sits beneath one of the more experimental line ups of the festival. The vocals on Summer fight for space with a warped, skittish accompaniment to disorientating effect, whilst aforementioned Sister brings a more kitchen sink approach, as a steady disco beat is interrupted by infrequent stabs of African guitar. Sonically it’s all very impressive and displays a remarkable pallet of sounds, but it doesn’t quite manage to bring a jaded Kazimier to a stand, as that dichotomy between electronic music that is quick enough to move your feet but lacking the bass to dance to is exposed.

London’s BROLIN takes to the stage sporting a gold mask and snapback with an audacity that vastly juxtaposes his delicate and fragile take on R&B. Reykjavik’s muffled drum-machine backdrop allows a dazzling array of percussion to build above it, until you can hardly hear the “I will lead you astray” refrain. Lead away, sir. NYC was one of the best songs of 2012 and is an inevitable highlight, as Brolin gently whispers, “NYC is the Place I have to be” to a hushed (and still seated) audience. It should sound crass and affected, but the twinkling xylophone and pounding piano transform the couplet into a poignant display of loss and what could have been.  

AMATEUR BEST, or Joe Flory, has had a good year. His debut Album No Thrills came out on Double Denim last month to acclaim both sides of the Atlantic, landing him at the front of the long list of one-man-bands emerging from London. Despite being the only act on tonight’s bill to have an LP out, his set seems alarmingly short.  There are some great songs fighting to get out here, like the bubbling Ready for the Good Life, but where Flory’s ennui and disinterest is charismatic on the record; tonight it just comes across as well – disinterest.

Local heroes OUTFIT have already developed cult status around these parts. Despite having only releases two EPs since 2011, they have remained at the top of the Liverpool Music hierarchy. It’s not that we don’t have great, hard-working bands here; it’s just that none of them have done it with the same flair, the same charm, the same who-gives-a-fuck as Outfit have. Maybe its their elusiveness; I mean before finally announcing their debut album Performance last month, you wouldn’t have been surprised to see them pack it in for good. More importantly though, is that there is nothing notably local about their music. In a city where like it or not, its sound is defined by mid level guitar bands, Outfit provide local music fans with a chance to identify their music scene with a national sensibility.

Opening with the brooding Performance, that syncopated percussion and dissonant chord changes surround the audience in a sinister atmosphere. New songs House on Fire and Nothing Big finally give the audience a beat to work with, but fall flat on childish imagery and a chorus that lacks the direction and the purpose to really take us anywhere.  Two Islands draws their set, and Liverpool Sound City to a close. And as one of the best songs to come out of Liverpool in the last ten years (even better than Whole Again) it’s a fitting finale. This is a fucking remarkable song, as its snarly executed percussion and straightforward funk-fusion leaves us in that rare, perfect middle ground between life affirming dance floor euphoria and introverted headphone bliss.

Mike Townsend

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