Fat White Family @ The Waterfront 14 May 2019

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Fat White Family are a band I cannot claim to be overly familiar with but they came with extremely high recommendations from a variety of friends and musicians, including some of my favourite local bands … Gladboy recently told me that Fat White Family were a common denominator for them in that all six band members of that band loved FWF and it was no surprise to see them here for this one.

Support on this gig was from Sorry, a London band whom I saw in the same venue sharing the bill with Shame and Fontaines DC at the tail end of last year but again something wasn’t clicking and although some liked them they didn’t do it for me, nor many that I spoke with after. There was the odd flicker of promise but something was obviously lacking and we didn’t connect. Sorry, just not my thing.

If Sorry were plodding (as I heard them described) then Fat White Family were driving, insistent and intense, transcending genres and labels. Opening with When I Leave (!) and by third song I Am Mark E. Smith I knew we were into something very special and into Gigs of the Year territory.  Another friend remarked that he’d planned to pick up a vinyl copy of new album Serf’s Up and already, just a few dates into the tour, they were completely sold out. That tells you all you need to know about the quality of the new material and the live set. Filled with flavours of post-punk, a heavy dose of stomping 70s glam, 80s electro and even strong hints of Roxy Music plus the brooding darkness of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, especially with those deep choral chants, and Slim Cessna’s Auto Club intensity whilst creating something utterly unique. The songs were big, dirty, loud and dramatic,  this was glorious, powerful stuff. The spirit of exciting rock ‘n’ roll is alive and well in Fat White Family who put on a superb live show.

So enjoyable that it felt over all too quickly at just shy of an hour but with a show of this quality and intensity that gave everything. They pleased everyone with a selection from Serf’s Up as well as a liberal sprinkling from their back catalogue, including the likes of I Am Mark E. Smith and Touch the Leather. They entertained the near capacity Waterfront throughout, the venue filled with a mixed crowd from youngsters to veteran first-wave punks. This was a gem of a gig and I join that long list of those who highly recommend them.

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“FAT WHITE FAMILY return with their third album ‘Serfs Up!’

Serfs Up! is Fat White Family’s third album and their first for new label Domino. Released on Friday 19th April 2019 it marks the most gratifying and unexpected creative volte face in recent musical history.

The band have today shared the first track to be taken from the album, Feet, a triumphant return which perfectly heralds the overwhelming musical scope and ambition of the album.

Having released their second album, Songs For Our Mothers in January 2016, core-members Lias and Nathan Saoudi relocated to Sheffield and set about writing the album. Joined by co-conspirator Saul Adamczewski and recorded at their own Champzone studios in the Attercliffe area of the city, Serfs Up! was finished in late autumn 2018 with the help of long-time collaborator, Liam D. May and features a guest appearance from Baxter Dury on Tastes Good With The Money.

Serfs Up! is a lush and masterful work, lascivious and personal. Tropical, sympathetic and monumental. It invites the listener in rather than repel them through wilful abrasion. Fat White Family have broken previous default patterns of behaviour, and as such their third album heralds a new day dawning.

Gregorian chants, jackboot glam beats, string flourishes, sophisticated and lush cocktail exotica, electro funk and the twin spirits of Alan Vega and Afrika Bambaataa punctuate the record at various junctures, while the dramatic production of Feet is as immaculately-rendered as ‘Hounds of Love’-era Kate Bush. The dirt is still there of course, but scrape it away and you’ll find a purring engine, gleaming chrome.

Echoing within the arrangements throughout are traces of blissed-out 60s Tropicalia, Velvets/Bowie sleaze-making and star-gazing, 80s digital dancehall, David Axelrod-style easy listening, joyous Pet Shop Boys synth crescendos, acid house, post-PIL dub, metropolitan murder ballads, doom-disco and mouth-gurning, slow-mo psychedelia so by the time it comes to a close only a fool would deny that Serfs Up! is something very special. No longer is unadulterated music malevolence Fat White Family’s stock in trade; this is cultivated music for the head, the heart. For tomorrow’s unborn children.

Where once they soundtracked a grubby Britain of vape shops, Fray Bentos dinners and blackened tin-foil, a crepuscular comedown realm stalked by Shipman, Goebbels and Mark E. Smith, Fat White Family now inhabit another cosmos entirely. Serfs Up! is the product of a band of outlaws reborn. Few but themselves could have forecast it: Fat White Family survived. Fat White Family got wise. Fat White Family got sophisticated.”

Big thanks to Everything Is Fine Music for another very fine booking.

 

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Norwich: Music City, UK

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Pony Up presents: Gladboy + Ravenous Hounds + Bug Teeth @ NAC 11 May 2019

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When I arrived at the Arts Centre I quickly realised it was going to be one of those gigs full of friendly, familiar faces and a generally uplifting vibe. In the bar DJ Pappy (father of Gladboy’s George) was already spinning the tunes on vinyl and just after 8pm I headed into the hall for the opening set of the evening, from the rather special Bug Teeth. This is the project of Poppy, a 19 year old UEA student whose song Serotonin caught my attention last year.  Shortly after that I had the pleasure of hearing her perform live in one of her first gigs at Annie Catwoman’s Sonic Youths showcases at NAC. I was extremly impressed then but this set took things to another level still.

bug teeth

There’s a dreamy quality to her voice and sound that reminds me of the feel of eighties shoegazey and indie acts with hypnotic guitar, backing beats and sometimes with a vocal quality reminiscent of Sundays’ vocalist Harriet Wheeler but Poppy creates something altogether unique and her own. She charmed, captivated and delighted the enthusiastic audience.  This was something special and magical under NAC fairy lights and possibly my first sighting of a glitterball in this lovely venue. These are heartfelt, sometimes melancholic but always beautiful songs that leave one feeling wrapped in a sensitive embrace of empathy and understanding, and healed in some way by the music. Bug Teeth’s new single Emily is released today through Spotify and she’s doing amazing things. She can be seen again at the Octagon Chapel on 31 May for Milly’s Sisters of Silents.

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bug teeth

bug teeth

Next up was one of my favourites, Ravenous Hounds, who recently released a self-titled new album. I’ve seen them in tiny underground cellar spaces and big stages like Epic and they always fill the space with their sound and energy.  Garage punk rock n roll at its best and an extra treat that they were on this bill, which was quite a mixed one but all the acts fitted together well, which showed in the way this lively audience was so appreciative of everyone in the evening’s line-up.

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And so to Gladboy – also Sonic Youths alumni – with their ever-expanding line-up and a stage adorned with inflatable canaries to celebrate our recent promotion, and even what looked like furry handcuffs on the mic stand! This is a band who love what they do, seem to have bucketloads of fun doing it and are different each and every time, making their shows quite an event. There was a celebratory mood on the floor and on the stage, giving the gig a sense of occasion. George took turns on drums, Sonny took turns on guitar, we were all made to sit down, stand up and sing along. It was great fun.

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Less than a year ago the still very young band had only been going a few months and bagged a support slot to Starcrawler in this same venue. They were a trio back then and this time they headlined their own Pony Up gig with a line-up expanded to a six-piece to include trombone, synth, tambourine and backing vocals which has obviously developed their sound no end. I like that they have the drumkit up near the front of the stage too as Sonny is a phenomenal and energetic drummer.  You can hear many of their influences but the wide melting pot of these influences along with their creativity and originality means nobody else sounds like Gladboy. An interesting and exciting band.  A nice line of merch too with specially printed t-shirts for the occasion as well as sweets and a special edition newspaper!

gladboy

“Spit-balling into the heart of the Norwich music scene from soon-to-be demolished UEA student digs, junkedelic misfits Gladboy started out as a loud, energetic and assured 3 piece who in less than a year, cemented their place as one of Norwich’s most intriguing upcoming bands – garnering support slots with Jeffrey Lewis & Los Bolts, The Regrettes, Willie J. Healy, Brix & the Extricated and L.A. glam rock provocateurs, Starcrawler.

Expanding to a 6 piece through the addition of synth, tambourine, and trombone, the band continued to refine and texture the noise that overwhelmed earlier incarnations and created a buzz centred around camp, theatrical and fun performances that range from blistering cacophonies of noise to gigs that encourage whole audiences to sit down. No words showcase this better than Outline’s review stating: ‘This is art-pop – think Bowie, early Talking Heads or Pulp – that veers into psych and dreampop but always has a roughness and bite that gives it an edge.”

Ravenous Hounds play high energy psych-punk-rocknroll that will shake the foundations of any venue set upon. Baritone & electric guitars and stomping drum grooves are soaked with saxophone and analogue synths, creating bold and exciting sound with a range of esoteric influences. Featuring former and current members of Savage Island / Juke & the All-Drunk Orchestra and Beast with a Gun.

Dreamy, emotional ambient pop – Bug Teeth is the solo project of 19 year old Poppy Johnson. Following on from sets with The Orielles and See Thru Hands, Bug Teeth combines intricate Slowdive-esque guitar arrangements, Four-Tet Style electronics and a crystalline voice that makes her one of Norwich’s most exciting prospects.

+ DJ Pappy

Expect a blitzkrieg of spaced-out indie, banging electronica, 70s trouser problem soul and maybe even a dusting of old school Norwich sounds, as DJ Pappy drops all the big guns for one night only. The Gladboy fans came to hear Mrs Parsons; they went home with her dad.”

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The NAC currently has a 40/40 fundraising campaign to raise £40,000 to unlock a £499,000 grant from the Arts Council for its regeneration. You can help by donating an extra £1 when buying a ticket, or at the Arts Centre itself in one of its collection jars, or by clicking here. Or even buying a 40/40 ale at the NAC bar at a gig where £1 will go to the fundraising.

 

To end the music for the evening, after this gig I purchased one of the t-shirts and then headed quickly over to the Louis Marchesi Crypt to catch an hour or two of the first Long Swords night. Sparks were playing as I walked down the steps to the crypt, which was a good sign, and it looked really well-attended too. It’s a cool blend of prog, krautrock, psych, glam and space disco. A welcome addition to the music calendar with a night in the crypt every month … and it doesn’t clash with Cave-In.

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@RShashamane

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Norwich: Music City, UK

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TMT : HANK + The Wolf Number + Ghosts of Men + Guranfoe @ Epic 2 May 2019, Chad Mason + Yellowlees @ UEA Drama Studio 1 May 2019

On Thursday there was once again no less than 23 gigs, dances and open mics happening across our musical city. My destination of choice was Epic Studios for this month’s That Music Thing selection, one of the very positive outcomes of The Future of Norwich Music forum on Facebook and a show curated by Rick Lennox.  An advance online ticket for the gig is free and it’s still only 3 quid on the door for these events.  May’s line-up included two of my favourites in HANK and The Wolf Number, plus another chance to see local prog-rockers Guranfoe and for me a first opportunity to see Colchester’s rock duo Ghosts of Men.  Everyone present seemed really impressed and satisfied by all acts. The Wolf Number closed their wonderful set with a brilliant and unexpected tribute to the recently passed Keith Flint and HANK closed the night in truly excellent style. I was glad to catch them having unfortunately missed their recent NAC support slot due to a typical Norwich gig-clash.

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ghosts of men

The previous evening I made my way through a particularly drunken campus as it was apparently “derby-day” and UEA had beaten Essex at something or other but I headed to the rehearsal room of the UEA’s Drama Studio where Chad Mason and Yellowlees were co-hosting a fundraiser for Cruse Bereavement Care.  Chad also played a few numbers at the piano, a beautiful version of Tonight and an unexpected but apt cover by one of his musical heroes, Nick Drake’s Pink Moon. He and Yellowlees had decided beforehand that they’d both do a cover, Yellowlees performing Peter Frampton’s Baby I Love Your Way.  I like the Drama Studio as a gig space and would be pleased to see more music taking place here.

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Chad plays alongside Shane O’Linski. Bark Prelude and Ross Mitson at Richard Penguin‘s Folk on the Pier fringe where he presents three days of his Tea-time Showcase. Chad plays on Sunday 12 May at Cromer Social Club.

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Norwich: Music City, UK

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Dereham Blues Festival 11-14 July 2019

Preparations for the 2019 Dereham Blues Festival in full swing
Tickets for the opening gig kicking off the 2019 Dereham Blues Festival on July 10th featuring the sensational American blues guitarist Hamilton Loomis are selling as fast as his electric fingers move up and down his guitar fret board.
The headline concert at the Dereham Memorial Hall on Wednesday July 10th features Hamilton and his top band which also includes the Grammy award winning jazz saxophonist Fabian Hernandez. It is fabulous to think that a Grammy award winning musician is coming to Dereham to play alongside such a rising star as Hamilton Loomis.

Support on the night will come from top local Norfolk blues man and British Blues Award nominee Ron Sayer backed by top local band the Shunters. Ron is a firm favourite among blues fans locally and up and down the country.

Don’t miss this fabulous gig and to avoid disappointment, hurry and get your tickets straight away via the festival website http://www.derehambluesfestival.org.uk or at
http://www.ticketsource.co.uk/date/594723 .
Thereafter follows four days packed with the very finest music that is the Dereham Blues Festival featuring some 52 top blues acts drawn from the all over the East Anglia region and the UK from Thursday 11th July through to the super jams on the final day, Sunday 14th July.
13 Dereham town centre venues including clubs and pubs, bars and restaurants, cafes and even on the platform at the railway station will host live blues and roots music every day starting in the afternoons and running through to the late evening. A unique feature of the festival is that entry to all the venues is completely free. So order some refreshments at the venues and sit or stand to listen to and even dance to some of the hottest blues sounds around.
Once again this year the festival organisers received more band applications to play than there was space in the program, even though this year the festival has been extended by an extra day to five days from July 10th to 14th. The full programme and timetable have now been published and is available on the festival website http://www.derehambluesfestival.org.uk
A brand new website by local software developer David Smith, available from the 29th April, includes the facility to create and print out your own schedule of acts you want to see, so now there are no excuses for missing your favourite bands!
As summed up by the Dereham Blues Festival’s chairman Harry Collins “I am so looking forward to this year’s festival which will be bigger and better than ever. Together with all the hard working volunteers who organise the festival we are proud to be associated with an event that brings so much to Dereham and boosts its place on the map economically, socially and musically.

Finally a big thanks must go out to the venues for hosting the music and of course the bands who come increasingly from far and wide to make the town centre come alive over the five days of the festival. Truly a whole load more than 12 bars of blues.”.
Don’t miss the 2019 Dereham Blues Festival July 10th – 14th. It’s going to be fabulous.

 

“The market town of Dereham in Norfolk has seen significant growth over the past few years and the town’s blues festival reflects and supports this continued social and economic development.
The estimated 2000 or so festival visitors provide a real economic boost to the town as well as bringing the place alive throughout the festival weekend in July.
The Dereham Blues Festival continues to be a growing success story in the region thanks to its two lead organisers, Norfolk Blues Society founders Doreen and Stewart Aitken. As founding members, they remain fully involved and are determined that the blues festival has a long future.

The festival is run by an entirely volunteer group of twelve local Norfolk blues enthusiasts and is supported by the Norfolk Blues Society – http://www.norfolkbluessociety.org.uk
We are proud to be associated with following sponsors of the Festival and we thank them for their support: East Bilney Garage who are the Headline Sponsors; Heineken, Main Sponsors; Stephenson Smart, a Main Sponsor, and Orchard Caravans, a Business Sponsor. Please see our website for more details at: http://www.derehambluesfestival.org.uk/about/sponsors
The 2019 Dereham Blues Festival will take place from 10th to 14th July 2019.
Applications from bands wanting to play in 2020 will be accepted from September 2019 via the new website http://www.derehambluesfestival.org.uk and will remain open until February 2020.”

 

http://www.derehambluesfestival.org.uk

http://www.norfolkbluessociety.org.uk

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Odd Box Presents: Alexander Carson + Milly Hirst + Miles @ The Birdcage 29 April 2019

On Monday Odd Box Promotions brought us a rather lovely and intimate gig at The Birdcage with three sets of beautiful melancholia, provided by Miles, from York, Norwich’s Milly Hirst, and making one of his occasional return visits from London, the rather legendary Alexander Carson who was launching his new album Ellipsism.

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Poster by Joel Benjamin

Miles (or Mikey as he is known offstage) was a completely unknown quantity (to me at least) but was something of a revelation. Songs quite varied in tempo and it was the slower, softer delicate ones that actually hit me hardest though the faster, angrier ones certainly had impact too. The slower songs are sad, delicate and beautiful with clear, descriptive and poetic lyrics. In mood it reminded me a little of Jay Ducker or Matt Harding. A strong and enjoyable start to the evening with fine music and engaging chats between.

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It’s always a treat to hear her but I haven’t seen anywhere near enough of Milly Hirst lately so her set tonight was particularly welcome. Starting at the piano she then moved to electric guitar and delivered a typically gorgeous set with songs of love and loss, ghosts and the coast, with Book or a Film sounding like it has had some re-arranging.

Some five years ago I saw Milly play the same venue supporting Wooden Arms and from the same spot in the room I experienced the debut performance of her song Mary.  Next to me on that occasion was the much-missed Andy Sacre. We turned towards each other with expressions of “Wow!” mirrored on our faces as we were equally moved. This remains one of my most powerful gig experiences and is an indelible musical memory. We were both present again a few days later where she kindly played it again for my birthday at the Bicycle Shop. The following year she was singing it at Glastonbury. Every time I see Milly play I get lost in the worlds and stories she creates and her incredible voice. Magical.

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Alexander Carson, or Alex as most of us know him, has a connection with The Birdcage that goes back a long time. He explained that he first performed to an audience in this very room and although I was not present at that one this was also where I first heard him and have done so many, many times since. He sounded in good form despite having a lingering cough which he said was affecting his voice on the falsetto notes so had to adapt the setlist.  That’s not to say that on his choice of cover – Tom Waits’ All the World is Green – his sounded in any way like Waits’ voice!  It was quite simply a beautiful interpretation of the song which also strongly brought out the melody and feeling.  The rest of the set was a selection of his solo material from the album and older songs. Joined onstage by Miles on guitar, Milly on vocals and Jess on violin there was a special moment for a Wooden Arms reunion of sorts to close the night with a False Start.  Alex then announced that the band would be getting back together “to do something” after a two year hiatus. It will be good to see them back.

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alexander carson

A fine Odd Box evening in a pretty full Birdcage ballroom, it was quite cramped at the back at any rate. Thanks to Alex, Milly, Miles (Mikey), and to Conor for doing amazing things on his mobile phone sound desk to keep control of things, and of course Georgie of Odd Box Promotions.

Alexander Carson is a neoclassical, downtempo, composer and songwriter based in London UK. Carson spent the better part of 7 years as the lead singer, and songwriter for genre-fluid quintet Wooden Arms.

““Lovers” is a perfect blend of modern songwriting and classical musicianship.” – Line of Best Fit

“Sounding at times like an Irish prayer and others a bit Bowie-ish, but never dull or less challenging.” – Where the Music Meets

“The fragile vocals and piano playing are unmistakably Alex – a distinctive timbre and delicate working of the keys that always reminds slightly of Anthony and the Johnsons” – Outline Magazine

http://www.alexandercarsonmusic.co.uk
New single ‘Colour’ – https://orcd.co/colour

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Norwich: Music City, UK

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Norwich City clinch promotion + Gladboy @ Louis Marchesi Crypt 27 April 2019

Sunday has felt somewhat dreamlike after another amazing evening in Norwich.  Feeling much too nervous to listen to Chris Goreham’s Radio Norfolk commentary for the Saturday night game on my own I instead watched the Norwich vs Blackburn match with friends in the city.  Norwich needed just a point to guarantee promotion but certainly did not start as if they were content with just a draw. They laid siege to the Blackburn goal in swashbuckling, confident, and actually quite beautiful style.  Quickly taking a 2-0 lead with a Stiepermann strike and an absolute worldie from Vrancic.  Blackburn pulled one back with their first attempt on goal and although there was a slightly nervy period in reality Norwich looked pretty comfortable and the 2-1 result rather flattered Blackburn, it could easily have been about 4 or 5-1.

Wild scenes on the screens and a celebratory atmosphere. What Daniel Farke, Stuart Webber and this young group of players have achieved this season is a football miracle. They also are playing the best football I think I have ever seen from a Norwich side. Daniel Farke is a hugely popular figure in the city and meeting a group of German fans later in the evening I mentioned that he has made me fall in love with football again. One of them said “I will tell this to my brother, he is Daniel Farke” !!   Farke has created a real oneness with the staff at the club, the players, and a strong connection with the fans and with the work of supporters’ groups the atmosphere is quite special. There’s a powerful unity now and Daniel Farke is absolutely adored by fans and players alike. Thank you for this quite amazing season and making football so enjoyable and exciting again. There’s a sense of connection which along with the frequently stunning football makes us proud of our club. The recruitment has been outstanding (Pukki, Buendia, Vrancic, Leitner, Krul, McLean, Hernandez, Trybull, Stiepermann, Zimmermann et al.) and so has the faith in youth with many academy players establishing themselves with incredible consistency.  I get goosebumps every time Farke orchestrates the Oles! with the fans, when have we ever seen anything like this? Good times.

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Music seemed to be coming from pubs and clubs all over the city and football songs could be heard on the streets, there was a great atmosphere. I just managed to squeeze in a gig at the Louis Marchesi Crypt where live music was happening on various floor levels. Gladboy were performing when I arrived, as energetic and fun as ever and with the lineup seeming to continue to expand from the trio they were just a year back.  George was getting through the guitar strings and Sonny was also really going for it on drums. I’m so looking forward to their headline show at Norwich Arts Centre next month.

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I once again missed The Renadeans but heard no end of complimentary comments about their set. I hope to catch them soon.  The night was closed by Marla, whose bassist Ryan put on this gig at very short notice.

 

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Norwich: Music City, UK

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Sink Ya Teeth + Sister Wanzala @ NAC 26 April 2019

The gigs seem to be coming thick and fast in Norwich these days and it was a bit of an effort to overcome tiredness and head out for the third consecutive night but once again, I was so glad I did. It’s quite an event when Sink Ya Teeth play a hometown gig at Norwich Arts Centre and there were so many musicians in the crowd, friendly faces everywhere.

Sink Ya Teeth

In February Gemma and Maria played a gig in London and also on the bill that evening were Bradford’s Sister Wanzala, whom they invited here to support their Norwich city gig.  They quickly impressed me and soon had the room filling up and showing their appreciation. The singer had quite some vocal range and the band had a funky post-punk, bass driven sound. Everyone I spoke to enjoyed them and I heard comparisons ranging from The Beloved to Edwyn Collins but the name that came into my head was that of a funkier O.Children, who I saw in the same venue about ten years earlier.

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I liked their dynamics between songs too, at first one wonders how they get away with ribbing each other like they do but when we learn they are siblings it all makes sense. They charmed us with their warmth and gentle humour, not to mention some cracking good songs.  Tonight they play in London at The Old Dispensary, with Sleaze who I remember enjoying at The Owl Sanctuary a while back.

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Sink Ya Teeth‘s set can only be described as a triumph. A fairly full NAC with a vocally appreciative audience in the mood to dance that clearly adore them, on top of that there was also a superb laser night show from NAC’s own Nick.

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They sounded tight, confident and totally engaged with the audience, even giving a rendition of Happy Birthday at one point. It all passed so quickly and when it ended the crowd absolutely demanded an encore, which they got but Maria said “This will be the last one, we don’t have any others left!”  A lovely gig with another great audience. Familiar faces were everywhere and any time anyone nipped out of the hall, for a smoke  or to the bar there was invariably a happy catching up with a friend. It was one of those sorts of night with a strong sense of friendliness, musical community and a shared love of great music. Norwich at its best, and in the heart and soul of it all too, Norwich Arts Centre.

Sink Ya Teeth

“Sink Ya Teeth’s sound arrives fully formed—a melding of post-punks like ESG and The Raincoats with the early machine patters of Chicago house.” – Pitchfork

“…quirky and brilliant songs in a perfectly sparse, spartan sound with songs that captivate with their melodic thrill and catchy as fuck vocals and bass lines…” – Louder Than War

Weaving threads from post-punk, Chicago house, and 80s/90s dance music, Sink Ya Teeth make slick synth-pop that will make you want to dance.

 

@RShashamane

http://www.facebook.com/sinkyateeth/

http://www.sinkyateeth.com

http://www.facebook.com/sisterwanzala/

http://www.norwichartscentre.co.uk

http://www.facebook.com/norwichartscentre/

http://www.norwichartscentre.co.uk/donations/

http://www.facebook.com/NorwichMusicCityUK/

http://www.facebook.com/NorwichLiveMusicPhotos

http://www.facebook.com/ShashamaneArtPhotography/

http://www.instagram.com/rshashamane/

Norwich: Music City, UK

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