Fractured Pop More

Granadaland Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Monday, November 12th, 2007

Sky Larkin', White Light Parade, Buffalo 77 Granadaland at The Love Apple, Bradford

Sky Larkin' suggest perfect pop. Perhaps it is the lacking a G to remind one of 1980s Video Game classic loopin' or perhaps it is the air of Sarah Records around the band but their name at the top of this evening's Granadaland bill is an indication of type.

On the undercard were to be The Sugars - modern Boo-Wop kids that they are - but like Rooney injury has ruled them out and so the slimmed down bill begins with the pseudo-Americana stylings of Buffalo 77.

Coming from the Midlands Buffalo 77 are a bassless three piece and very pleasantly they aurally harkens back to the early 1990s 4AD doodlings. It is simple and melancholic and all the better for it with the noir three's lead singer Jay Leighton's musing vocal complemented by a twiddlesome keyboard.

The wheel is not reinvented but the motion is good and the three have an impressive presence on stage. Avalanche is the stand out moment closing the set "Mid-October and I'll start it up again/It's not over but it is almost at an end/please, why do you have to say that?" is typical of the soothing lyricalisms and the night is started well with something like pop but of a more fracture type.

White Light Parade are approaching fixture status in the Bradford music scene but markedly improve to a point where they push past support slots and onto bigger and better which will surely come with the release of debut single Wait For The Weekend in December which - when played tonight - is greeted with an insane boogie by three of the more loyal followers. They are a band who should inspire loyalty with their swaggering attitude of ebullience which fits the cold Friday night in Bradford and lifts all listening. Musically they are tight with the brothers Danny and Johnno Yates complementing each other's picked out guitar work riffing off each other until Johnno's strings meet microphone finale.

Comparisons are easy and obvious but there is a glistening of originality in songs like Turn The Lights Down "Six O'Clock/I've been locked up/But I just want to go home." It is a craving for Liberty rather than a stealing of it.

Sky Larkin' cannot match the pace of WLP and come over a little more shambolic and less driven than the previous act. Vocally they sink under a fuzz of guitar - and not in that cool Steve Albini way - and lack a projection.

Which is not to say that they are not entertaining - they are - but that they seem unsure as to which direction they want to take you. Are they perfect pop or rough and ready? They play a couple of new songs and appreciate the friendly atmosphere of the Love Apple more than the previous night's Club NME crowd and the Love Apple responds with hearty applause but one is left confused and wanting to hear more of the melody of Buffalo '77 or the swagger of White Light Parade.

The night ebbs away pleasantly into the cold Bradford sky. Buffalo 77 are sombre, White Light Parade serious and Sky Larkin' a little sillier. All present pop of a sort and perfection is always something to strive for rather than achieve.

The One That Ends Happy More

Granadaland Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Friday, June 8th, 2007

The Lodger, Laura Groves, Le Tournoi Granadaland at The Love Apple, Bradford

I'll ruin the surprise ending: This one ends happily.

If you ever read Dalliance before you will know how convinced I am to the Laura Groves cause, that I think Le Tournoi have something about them and how impressive The Lodger were supporting The Long Blondes earlier this year.

All three on one bill, on a sunny evening, after a day off, at The Love Apple, on a night named after a Wedding Present song. I'll ruin the surprise: This one ends happily.

Something seems to have happened with Le Tournoi who open the evening sans trumpet section but with more of a controlled presence than they have shown previously. The word polish is thankfully never to be applied to the joie de vivre that the Bradford four piece bring to the stage. Where previously Le Tournoi were an explosion of raw ideas now they are showing signs of focus.

Trees early in the set starts a tempo which is maintains as they bash through a collection of ninety seconds songs that are rapidly fitting together into a rather impressive package. Christmas Eve and I Was A Victim Of A Series Of Accidents, As Are We All regretfully fall from the set but perhaps as a result everything is tighter and everything works.

Vocals and guitar William Sanderson carrys on an easy charm joking with the front rows of an unusually full Love Apple looking every inch nerd cool in contrast to the prim prom dress of keyboards and vocals Emilie who offs heels to perform and sturdy Rob on Bass. Le Tournoi are jagged pieces put together into strange and interesting shapes.

These shapes press though into the lyrics - "And when the night begins/The moon will illuminate everything/The trees are closing in/Or So It seems" entertains with lyrical painting using darker palette colours. Some Murder Perhaps offers "Hopes dashed anew everyday/I'm reading the paper to find something new and refreshing/Some murder perhaps". Le Tournoi are short spiky songs about interesting things and dubbed Modern Folk meets Joy Division but my interest is sparked with comparisons escape me and when to finish the set off William embarks on six or seven cords of almost Hendrix-esque guitarmanship - or at least some kind of twang based heroics which was hitherto not hinted at - then I give up searching for something to complete my "Folk done by The Ramones" observations and join the hurrahs.

What can I say about Laura Groves which I have not before? A set that I never tire of, a voice that belays her size and so on and soon one is going towards words like Elfin which I steadfastly refuse to use.

Tonight was the first time Groves has stamped my hand on the way in and the first outing for new song Does Anyone Love Me Now which sits alongside the delights of Coast, Imaginary Flights and Can't Sleep which all blend through the darkening night air. She mentions that Bridges which appears on on anti-torture compilation Fifty Minutes and gives that a plug so I shall too.

Any plaudits that come her way she is worth.

Granadaland's twilight zone comes when the local heroes finish. The Lodger face the often apathetic and frequently far off rows of The Love Apple with a confidence. The Lodger have been playing venues like this for two or three too many years and have seen a couple of bands with a couple of less pints of talent go a bit further. Put this down to the fact that the stompalongs that populate the sets of Leeds lad rock peers like Kaiser Chiefs and The Cribs are replaced by an intelligent set of pop songs that fit perfectly with vocal and guitar Ben Siddall's roots as a bedsit musician.

Without wanting to shortcut the process Siddall is Morrissey and Marr. He is a guy who can write a bittersweet romantic lyric like "Our parents will stay together/And our last dance will last forever." and play then play the jangling Strangeway Here We Come guitar to go with it.

Unsatisfied is all urban paranoia and alternation with a fading melodic lilt, Kicking Sand is melancholic resignation to a furious pop beat. The drummer Katie seems to be - well - older and more of a bloke than last time. Joe The Bass has two go faster stripes on his guitar which may or may not be ironic but see him keep the pace fast with his plucking. It is very impressive to people of a certain disposition.

Those people would seem to be out in reasonable force and The Lodger maintain a healthy focus from the often drifting Love Apple audience. "I never thought I'd say this," Siddall comments, "But could you come forward a step or two."

And people do which is always a good sign and a guy in a Clash t-shirt goes crazy in all the right places and Siddall's guitar drives the self-effacing lyrics on. Stand out track comes at the conclusion of the set after the plug for long time gestated album Grown Ups in Many Thanks For Your Honest Opinion which paces through the most Smithsian chorus since 1987 and The Lodger leave a room impressed.

Me, I'm happy.

The Swing Movement Explode Flatness More

Granadaland Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Saturday, May 12th, 2007

Komakino, Mother Vulpine, The Tendertraps, The Swing Movement Granadaland at The Love Apple, Bradford

There is something flat about this second Friday night of the month of that is Granadaland at the Love Apple in Bradford. Perhaps it is this, or perhaps it is the idea that this this here Granadaland night might become a subset of this or perhaps it is the non-metonymic strangeness of the four day week but whatever it is something it has left the room flat.In a couple of hours things will have been changed.

The Swing Movement are one of those bands who are so easily tagged "improbably young". The mothers have come for a quick one and to say hello as the kids with guitars set up. They have to drink water cause not only are the Mums in attendance but they probably could not get served either. They are that sort of young, they are also that sort of good.

The sort of good that demands attention of the room when they start up with the anthemic How It Goes with it's "shudda/wanna" refrains and scratched out guitar. As a band they welcome comparisons to The Clash for the funked up bass sound of moody Joe Gamble but without one of them being over 17 they are more likely to be versed in The Libertines with Ben Walker and Patrick Wanzala Ryan riffing off each other in a familiar way. They share the energy of performance and have a dynamism between them that drives the music impressively. "Why not be The Libertines," someone comments, "after all Pete and Carl don't want to be any more and when was the last time they took to the stage with four lemonades?"

Walker looks like every scruffy bleached blonde teen hanging around a town centre but takes the middle of the small Love Apple stage and looks off to top right with effacement, almost embarrassment. Wanzala Ryan's hair puts one in mind of the legendary Ces Podd and his bandy legged bobbing shows a similar lack of hauteur. Joe Gamble is just moody while Drumsman Kieran Borrett might be able get served at the bar. As good a reason to pick one drummer over another one supposes.

All of which sells The Swing Movement short. While not being the most original band to pick up guitars they are certainly authentic. They stand nervously on stage with a refreshing lack of arrogance but they hint at a confidence as they buccaneer through the lyrically nimble Shooting Blanks - "I'm happy if you/but I'm happier if you're not/you've got all the money in the world/but you never show me that smile" - and on to the ridiculously catchy Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

Just as the set draws to a close they lads on stage begin to notice the room of attention and confidence grows with Walker and Wanzala Ryan going guitar to guitar with a swagger. They own the night - they will own more and more nights if they carry on as they are now - and blast away the earlier malaise.

Tendertraps are off the bill. Not a problem.

Presentation is the thing for Mother Vulpine. They are the sort of band who do their eyeliner after arriving and wear matching ties tucked into their black shirts and for a moment as they expand the stage forward into the acre between band and audience they seem to have taken too long a look at Franz Ferdinand - the band not the deceased Arch Duke of Astro-Hungary - for comfort however it would probably be more accurate to say they were born of the same mothers.

Mother Vulpine are Gang Of Four meets Eighties Metal and that goes down well on this their first visit to the town that gave the world Terrorvision.

Single Keep Your Wits Sharp (Her Words Are Quick) has one cup of smartness to three of guitar thrashing - the Bass Vulpine is a sight to behold with arms and legs flying everywhere and, according to Lead Vulpine, a tendency to make bass/head contact a little too often - while We'll Be Detectives goes to tight structures and enunciated vocals. "It is Friday night," Lead Vulpine tells us, "so you can come up to the front and dance." The success of Mother Vulpine is that from the initially sceptic audience a few take him up on his offer.

Stand out is the hypnotic Snow Falling In Unison which takes the night from thrashing guitar through smart pop and indie rock and settles impressively into what is increasingly known as newgazing and while watching at the four identically dressed Vulpine it becomes clear that while visually they are together musically they have a full Swiss army knife of styles and songs and - delivered with gusto - there is something for everyone.

Mother Vulpine are visiting Bradford for the first time except for Guitar Vulpine who had a curry here once and tells us she enjoyed it. Bradvirgins too are Derby's much noticed rocksters Komakino who extend stage further to include chair jumping and generally storm around the room. MTV2 like them and it is not hard to see why but immediately they fall more into the like than love category and while they keep an audience entertained and bopping along pulling a few from the bar they seem a little less fresh than the support. Not bad just not brilliant they seem a little like you have heard it all before despite the energy of the delivery.

Following on from the surprisingly pleasing Mother Vulpine and the never ending joy of The Swing Movement they round off the night keeping the mood high.

Next time on Granadaland: The Lodger, Laura Groves and the "Joy Division meets Folk Rock" of Le Tournoi.

Flat? Not so much no.

The Views Are Still Astounding More

Granadaland Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Friday, March 30th, 2007

fourteencorners, White Light Parade, Le Tournoi, Kubera Granadaland at The Love Apple, Bradford

"The views are still astounding though, even without the smoke."

This is the second time in five days that I've seen harder than most rockers Kubera and they are growing on me in a conspiratorial way. They are louder than the Love Apple and it is not hard to see why they get mentioned in The Gasworks but they are amusing and kick this night of four off with energy. The lead singer wears a dressing gown and swears less than last week but my mate who also saw both and thinks that music is music when the amp is turned up bops along and that is good enough for me.

She was not bopping away to the altogether more melodic Le Tournoi who swim between the tweeness of a Sarah Band and something more Steve Albini produced. The view down one of many futures Le Tournoi are a young version of Cinerama circa Torino putting out intelligent pop with a warm tinge, down another they are Heavenly, Blueboy or The Field Mice making smart music for a small band of devotees.

Taaryn's sax is lost in the mixing desk which is a shame but not as bad as the band's unending need to suppressing William and Emilie's intelligent vocals. Le Tournoi are still a work in progress and there is a chance that that work is going to be blistering and blinding and brilliant.

Already dubbed blistering and blinding and brilliant are White Light Parade who - in common with a lot of bands around the City at the moment - are destined for bigger. Tonight they are second on the bill to fourteencorners cause Danny Yates wants to get plastered after they finish and strut the stage with the swagger of an fantastically arrogant band. They aim for The Clash and come over as The Libertines but that is no bad thing. Wait For The Weekend is anthemic, When The Lights Go Down memorable. Bigger things, more record sales, downloads, bigger venues. All that stuff await and White Light Parade will stand alongside The View and probably be lots and lots of people's second favourite band.

Which sounds like a criticism and is not supposed to - the kids lap them up after all - but for all the energy of White Light Parade they are treading a familiar path. They tread it well but the smoke and mirrors of media interest might just mask a bunch of talent lads being put on a three month release cycle with the likes of those scamps from Dundee.

There is no familiar path for fourteencorners who open with a stripped down Small Northern Town and go through five perfectly formed numbers with confidence. Tsotumi sounds better than it ever has done and bursts the stage after Josh's picking through SNT. The increasingly absurdly tall Luke takes flight on We Are Pathetic! We Are Stars! scraping guitar strings and backing with a power call - "So, Come On" never sounded so good.

Nor have fourteencorners - or so is the consensus in an increasingly growing crowd who all seem to know the Larry David samples missing from the live set - who reminisce in sound on The Wedding Present, on Billy Bragg, on Grant Lee Buffalo while having a set of songs that demand attention. They close with New Limbs For Old Flames which would seem to make sense further up the order but while notes fall out of place the impression is that fourteencorners are a band to love not like and that there is no smoke and mirrors and that the view really is astounding.

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