My First Tooth

The Sensational My First Tooth More

Live Review r[pm] Presents

Written By Michael Wood Sunday, April 5th, 2009

My First Tooth r[pm] Presents at The PM Bar, Shipley, Bradford

My First Tooth, Live at The PM Bar in Shipley

The problem with West Yorkshire's second City - Bradford - is that one can not hear the sound of anything happen for the volume of those who tell you that nothing is happening and the sight of Northampton folk-popsters My First Tooth playing to so few people so very well is as good an indication of this situation as any.

Augmented from the two of Russ Witt and Sophie Galpin - who is once more wearing the I Put The Rad In Bradford shirt - My First Tooth now number five having added a drummer, a bass and a second guitar to add to the lead acoustic. The sound is rich and textured shaped by Russ's deliberate delivery and Sophie's violin.

They start with Margaret Yen which is as catchy a slice of pop as one could hope to hear before a runaround that sees the band swap instruments and a second violin lilting through a set of songs that are both original and bright yet seem older and as familiar as something pulled off the better parts of your family vinyl collection.

Sleet and Snow is their signature tune - their White Winter Hymnal - and the encore is called for by the smattering of people and enjoyed.

The smattering of people. A problem with the City, a problem with the scene, a problem with a music industry that has bred a consumer of product rather than appreciators. Without the sensationalism of bands who become trumpeted as next big things (sometimes justifiably) wonderfully textured and real acts like My First Tooth have to survive on scraps when they should be feasting.

Fourteencorners, My First Tooth, Le Tournoi Excel Before The Peak At All Day Hootenanny More

All Day Hootenanny Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Sunday, April 20th, 2008

Mark Levin, Garfunkel and Simon (Patrick Dowson), My First Tooth, Pablo's Last Stand, Kid Id, fourteencorners, Laura Groves, Le Tournoi, UltCult, The Seven Inches, The Rosie Taylor Project, Buttonhead All Day Hootenanny at 1 in 12 Club, Bradford

If I ever was to see a man playing Radiohead on a harp - see it and enjoy it - I might have predicted that it would be in the surroundings of left wing cafe serving bean burgers and vegan food to a crowd that divides it's time between band watching and knitting. The All Day Hootenanny - an ambitious split headed all dayer - was a good day and this was a suitability curious start.

Mark Levin's harp performance comes after Garfunkel & Simon - aka Patrick Dowson of Monty Casino - has titillated with a Springstein cover retitled and reformed into Born In The BRI and sets up the curious afternoon in the Library of the 1 in 12 club on Bradford's Albion Street. Having seen Radiohead in my time I can say that I enjoyed Levin's versions of their songs more than the originals and that is credit enough for any man.

There is nothing but credit for Northampton duo My First Tooth who take to the rug that makes a stage wearing matching cardigans - one of which hides Sophie's amusing t-shirt - and perform with a similar fused coordination.

The duo deserve better than to play to a handful of people but play they do with Sophie's multi-instrument performance going from violin to a long necked mandolin to a Bontempi mouth organ while the stoic Ross bends his vocals emotionally around a set of self penned, heartbreaking tunes. Sleet and Snow stands out and is delivered with perfect phrasing on the lines "Who's idea/was this Gondola ride/the cable frayed/we're plummeting."

It is emotive without being overtly emotional and fits the dynamic of the band with the youthful Sophie providing a charm next to the painfully shy Ross who would hide everything but his abilities which shine without braggadocio but with a calm confidence.

Certainly Ross shows less confidence than those in Pablo's Last Stand the two strong folk group who follow My First Tooth but do not exceed them. They are serious folk - the type of folk where one stamps a foot on the floor to keep the beat - and they are good but lack the spark of the previous act who form the highlight of the acoustic half of the day.

Downstairs we are in rockville and Kid Id are a squeezed onto stage party reminding one most readily of Madness but with a more obvious political agenda and this could make them nauseating but in truth they are a riot.

A bongo playing drummer recalls Animal from The Muppets and the Henson theme continues as Kid Id mellow out to play a stand out song called Skipping Stones which recalls Mississippi Mud and for a band who my id seemed keen to dislike I find myself beaming.

I beam when fourteencorners take to the stage. They are shy a bassist - Jim has left for the Marines recalling the Napoleonic phrase about not knowing what he will do to the enemy but he scared the Hell out of me - but have Laura Groves filling in on organ and with customary 'corners ability they master the muddy sound set up to come over as clear as any band will today and more so than most bands will in their gigging career.

I think for a moment about how the ability of drummer Marco Pasquariello especially but also Josh Taylor and Luke Silcock to get the band sounding good when playing in venues of varied qualities may be the decisive factor in my belief that they are West Yorkshires's finest hidden gem. Certainly that skill augments their desire to play cleanly sung, intelligent lyrics over crisp guitars and as with The Lodger one is amazed that this county offers up bands like The Pigeons or Kaisers above them.

Tsotsumi has been dropped from the set but The Walk Home continues to sound better and better with Groves keyboard straining background and Pasquariello's softer touch of drumming. We Are Pathetic! We Are Stars! is Silcock's chance to show finger work on an acoustic that makes one glad one never had to play Subutteo against him and in the centre is Taylor who's heart bleeding on sleeve lyrics and determined certitude create the focal point. Few songs on my Walkman get as many plays as New Limbs For Old Flames - in fact my Last.FM says that none do - and that is the mark of this band.

The mark of Le Tournoi is an inconstancy between a disorganised discord and something that touches on genius and as afternoon begins to fade into evening they are very much the latter having been augmented by the livewire antics of Keiron Casey on guitar the family Sanderson plus one are on form and when on form there are few better.

They are a Scooby gang of a band. Kieron's ebullience seems him leap from the stage to grab a pint, Robert on bass is calm and centred taking vocals at one point for a Neil Young cover - "I can't sing" he intones - while James on drums has praise heaped on him by the previous band's sticksman Marco Pasquariello and pounds the band on.

Emilie - effortlessly cool - streams melody from her keyboard and pitches vocals high augmenting William who continues to grow as a guitarist and songwriter playing newer songs that are richer than the back catalogue that is dipped into with It's Only a Power Station sounding especially full and while many bands group together through likeness the five members of Le Tournoi seem to be a desperate as could be.

The difference is heard in the music and when it goes right - and it does - it creates drive, snappy, intelligent tunes. There is a new drive in demeanour of Le Tournoi - a determination to push things on - and there is a randomness of how far that could go. Tonight they are enthralling and recapture the excitement that saw them catapulted from bedroom band to Bradford's most talked about act. More of tonight in their support slot at St Georges Hall with Lightspeed Champion could see them seize attention.

Coming off the back of such a support slot are UltCult who are a shadow of the band that played only a few days ago struggling with sound problems and having dropped the most interesting song from their set. They will have better days than this one hopes.

Sounding great are Leeds band The Seven Inches who take the stage with lead singer Ian looking rather like Klinger from M*A*S*H with only my Grandmother's wardrobe to choose from and he is annoying in that punch him way but memorable too and should the band be aiming for distinction in a sea of similar acts around the scene then they achieve it with Ian strumming a paper guitar, bouncing around the room and generally giddying it up.

The songs are strong with Our Type Of Friends (title? - mw) standing out amid a general collection of good pop tunes which do not out stay their welcome with the exception of a lyric about Tom & Jerry which returns to the wanting to punch style of sticking in the mind and at that point one has to wonder if people said exactly the same thing about David Byrne when Talking Heads used to perform and it never did that band any harm.

Not able to do themselves much harm at The Rosie Taylor Project who's inexorable rise continues regardless of a distinct lack of memorability to their songs. They are a serious and sombre act and may be perfect on a mellowed out summer's evening but they do not stick in the memory on a dark night in Bradford.

They play through a set and they seem very in control but they lack the ironic smile of the better Tweecore bands. Buttonhead are twee without the lyrical smarts and after forty-five minutes of tuning up momentum drifts away into the night. They shriek, they need more melody they are easy to break away from, and so I do.

The Embers Of An Acoustic Sunday Evening More

Blank Generation Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Monday, January 28th, 2008

My First Tooth, Two Madre and The Rosie Taylor Project Blank Generation at The Love Apple, Bradford

As the acoustic offerings of other gigs in Bradford are lost in a hub-bub of conversation and chatter The Love Apple's oft forgotten other night of mellowed out tunes offers a proposition that could not be further from those busy Friday nights of Granadaland.The Rosie Taylor Project open Sunday night's Blank Generation and as with the other bands on they play mostly to an audience of each other and a selected few who have turned up making a Spartan yet friendly crowd.

Veterans of Jens Lekman support The Rosie Taylor Project are a throwback to the simple pop of The Field Mice with a loving hint of the Modern Folk or Badly Drawn Boy et al. They struggle to balance the sound with a newly signed drummer on stage thickening the sound but eventually manage to project and start to impress with Black And White Films sounding crisp and a growing and warm appreciation towards the five piece.

Jonny looks like the kid in Almost Famous and makes the most of his limited chord set while cloud heeled Sophie switches between trumpet and French horn mid-song and while the latter is lost in the drifting sound the effort is appreciated. Nick the chain trousered bassist has a sit down between songs and sometimes they seem a little too twee for their own good but The Rosie Taylor Project works well and they are sent from the stage with smiles.

Two Madre are small on smiles and this is their last gig for a while. They are dubbed "Bradford's Experimental Superheroes" and while they are amiable they revolutionise nothing and seem to struggle to get comfortable in this their finale.

Guitar and vocal Bill seems to enjoy himself more than the sullen faced Ruth who prods keyboards and plays Sax and the sound drifts around the room transiently.

More enthusiastic is Sophie of My First Tooth who steals tonight's show as something of an all tricks assistant to senior guitar and vocalist Ross's performance. Obviously talented My First Tooth's acoustic pushed melodies are whimsical and border on the wonderful when combined with the odd trumpet - another brass blower - and a bizarre mouth keyboard thing that the youthful Sophie masters with amusingly powerful effect.

The two make an interesting combination on stage and the willingness of the one combines with the wistful detachment of the other. Sleet & Snow is dreamy and tasty and a good percentage of the small audience queue for a copy of the band's demos after the applauded set comes to a close as does the Blank Generation night which deserves more support if only for being the ideal way to spend the drying embers of a Sunday evening as Winter pushes into Spring.

More please.