In these dark economic times 3 decent sounding bands for a fiver is not to be sniffed at and value for money is something the Green Door Store tends to do well. This was a gig with a bit of an Irish theme. Girls Names and Heliopause are Belfast bands although the latter are now based here in Brighton.
First up, Heliopause, a two piece, but with their multi-layered vocals and guitars and electronic backing tracks, controlled through a multitude of pedals, sounded far more complex than two guys with guitars. Their delicate, pretty soundscapes, accompanied by main man Richard Davis’ lovely voice, would probably be described, for those obsessed with bracketing music into genres, as folktronica or whatever. Having done huge research it seems that they are influenced by American Analog Set and there are definitely similarities. Accompanied by a filmed back-projection, that my friend thought at one point was scary horror hands until I pointed out was floating eyes, they were pleasantly hypnotic and mellow. I was pretty impressed that the girl in front of us, who was clearly part of their entourage, managed to dance quite energetically through most of their set.
Now I’ve recently read much nonsense about the ‘death of indie guitar music’. Having sat through a few bands at The Great Escape solely comprised of synthesisers playing insipid songs that Depeche Mode would have rejected as b-sides, it was refreshing to be aurally assaulted by London’s Splashh. This is a band I was going to try to catch at the aforementioned festival where they were last minute replacements for Reverend and The Makers, which can’t have been a bad thing.
The slightly ragtag looking bunch oozed energy, propelled along by a fantastic drummer. Clearly enjoying themselves their catchy songs such as Lemonade have a slight ‘Madchester’ vibe about them with hints of 80’s C86 jangly indie-pop. Despite the slightly dodgy sound quality of the vocals it was a hugely enjoyable set and looking round I could see the majority of the crowd nodding along, always a good sign and about as animated as the average gig-going crowd gets. I hear there is a minor buzz about this lot and I’m not surprised. Chatting to the singer outside he told me that they have only been together three months and are desperately writing more songs as they only have about five, or something.
Now I must confess that I only discovered Girls Names recently. Despite last year’s album, Dead To Me, being a very decent thirty minutes of so of sharp, short jangly post-punkiness, and getting a very decent 7.3 on Pitchfork, they seem to have been very much under the radar, reflected by the disappointingly sparse crowd.
Weirdly, listening to the album they remind me of the brilliant Josef K, but live they were more like Joy Division or Echo and the Bunnymen, slightly dour and propelled along by Peter Hook type baselines to the fore, not necessarily a bad thing of course. Having done more exhaustive research it seems that this is the direction that they are now taking, reflected in their new single, A Troubled See. Their set started off with their new material before playing tracks from Dead To Me. I did think that the new stuff worked better and seemed more polished and structurally interesting than the album tracks that tended to meld into one another. Still, I really like this band and Dead To Me is certainly worth checking out. They are certainly deserving of greater exposure.