Jazz Morley, Stephen Langstaff, Steve Papa Edwards, State of Emergency, Jade Hopcroft, The Leano, The Carnabys, The Talks
The shock of the new is how very good the new is. The way the dates have fallen we’ve got a double dose of the wonderful Alex Kerr-Wilson’s Discovery Talent showcase at the perfectly formed basement venue that is AAA@archangel. Since it's been an action packed November Kensington and Chelsea music scene, we’ll just run through all the acts in one sweep. If you want to stay up to date with breaking music, or you’re getting jaded and you think acts today just jump off the TV without putting in the hard yards, come and meet the guys on the last Thursday of every month at Archangel on Ken High.
I got held up at the office so dashed round just in time to hear the end of Jazz Morley’s set so I apologised and bought her new single Stories and was pleased I had. Jazz is nearing the end of a forty gig tour but I'll be making a special pilgrimage to catch up with this promising young singer-songwriter in the New Year. If you’re looking for a new Christmas song her latest single, released as I write is a good new take on In The Bleak Midwinter.
Echoing Alex’s previous set orders, Stephen Langstaff with his acoustic guitar and strong vocals followed. Stephen hits the guitar in a muted staccato style and uses his voice to create crescendos maximising the effect of the great AAA@archangel sound set-up I've praised before - innovation isn’t history. Langstaff’s range extends entertainingly and includes a lovely falsetto descant.
Steve Papa Edwards and his band killed the graveyard slot from the moment they hit the stage with a Sweet Jane referencing hook to support what developed into English acoustic soul from Sheffield. The Velvet Underground meets northern soul made The Verve famous but this is a different take with a hatful of classic soul thrown in. Strong melodies combined with great stage presence and the room was sad to see them go.
State of Emergency is a new group put together and fronted by Steve Marshall. With a hard-edged presence Steve led seasoned musicians in a guitar bass and drums fusion of reggae, blues soul, afro jazz, country rock n roll - a great end to a classic Disco 2 night.
There isn’t much value in comparing gigs but November (perhaps because it’s so fresh in my mind) was an even stronger showcase. In what would appear to be the year of the female singer- songwriter Jade Hopcroft’s breath-taking opening set put the bar high, with support and light banter from the ever- cool Sophie and her cello. Jade’s guitar kept soaring vocals grounded throughout a remarkably consistent gig but I suspect she’d want me to highlight her latest single Saint.
The Leano is a musical and entertaining show-stealer. Arji, supported by excellent guitar and backing vocals, gave us a folk-rap take that in the signature epistolary freeform numbers referenced art-reggae pioneer Linton Kwezi Johnson. The Leano’s latest album Postcards fiom Now/Jere is a must have.
50 years after the infamous Decca guitars’ epitaph, a great young guitar band is still hard to beat and award- winning emerging stars The Carnabys are well worth their place in that wonderful British tradition. Twin lead guitars echoing Wishbone Ash themselves are held together by truly excellent drumming (as indeed were the Ash) and I’ll be watching this band’s career with considerable interest. Their chances of success are greatly enhanced by a genuinely charismatic vocalist who leads with style and charm.
This month’s extended Discovery 2 session (eight great acts) was closed by the quite stunning The Talks. The Talks’ take on post-punk ska is riveting and possibly the most energetic performance I’ve seen since I last saw Iggy Pop. All the acts I’ve seen this year at Discovery 2, and I mean all of them, could get the big break, but it’s the heavier acts like The Talks (with their infectious Yorkshire sneer and glorious rhythm section perfectly at ease taking the lead), The Carnabys and Solko that have got the best chance, outstanding acts and riding the crest of the prog revival. Seeing the The Carnabys revving up the floor and pogoing like it was ’77 to The Talks you sense that both acts have the ability and the attitude to make it to the top. I for one will wish them well and I suspect I’ll be treated when they get there with the same level common-courtesy they showed the other night. Good luck to all Discovery 2’s acts and God speed.
In the meantime I suspect a fair proportion of the AAA@Archangel crew will be reassembling to support The Carnabys’ EP launch at Bush Hall, 310 Uxbridge Road, Shepherds Bush on 11th January 2013.