Monday, 4 February 2008

Live review: Lightspeed Champion, Semifinalists, Jonquil @ Oxford C***ing Academy

here's a story about a pop concert i went to, and whether it was any good.

jonquil are from oxford, which doesn't usually bode well, but they're actually rather nice, in a sufjan-stevens-does-cheery-beulah-type-beach-boys-folk-meandering way. seven-strong, or thereabouts, the 'quil are strangers to fashion, which is endearing. their ponytail-sporting frontman occasionally sounds like late-period morrissey, which is unsettling. closing song 'lions' is a standout, featuring an accordion-and-voice breakdown that wouldn't sound out of place on the latest beirut album. this chap says they sound like grizzly bear, but i wouldn't know about that.

album review

semifinalists come on like billy corgan fronting the happy mondays, but are less oppressive than that sounds. plaid-shirted axe-shredding frontman chris steele-nicholson trades shrill vocals with freaky-dancing foil ferry gouw, while lightspeed champion's dev hynes helps out on gangly bass duties. or is he a permanent member? it all seems like a lot of fun. they may as well play the same song ten times, or not play any real songs at all - it's all a dizzy blur of goofy noise, which is fun to watch, though it bears little relations to their gentler records.

band blog

lightspeed champion last visited oxford with his abysmal, influential comedy-thrash-disco-troupe test icicles. although he doesn't apologise for that indiscretion, his performance goes a long way towards redemption. his cheery, self-deprecating manner and unchallenging, inclusive brand of indie pop make for an easy performance. it's not hard to see why he's attracted so much goodwill amongst fans, critics and fellow lo-fi musicians. backed by a full band and leaning more heavily on electric compositions than he does on record, hynes' songs combine buddy holly-style directness with melodies and lyrics that are often so artless as to verge on musical theatre.

reviews of his debut album, falling off the lavender bridge, have emphasised his debt to bright eyes, and the presence of an often-superfluous violinist adds to that impression. but hynes borrows more from weezer (including an original 'W' guitar pick, which he stops to boast about). like rivers cuomo, hynes plants introspective, self-loathing lyrics behind a sheen of brazen populism (both singers also indulge their tendencies to litter songs with sardonic hip-hop references). does he have a pinkerton in him? perhaps not. but it's hard to demand a tortured masterpiece from such a pleasant-seeming chap, what?

whole album streaming at myspace
band blog

lightspeed champion - 'galaxy of the lost'

No comments: