Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Odd charity shop find #86568 / The Joy Formidable

I found a signed copy of the Mike Bassett: England Manager soundtrack, signed by Cerys Matthews, Jarvis Cocker, Danny from Supergrass in an Oxfam today. Checked the sigs, and they all seem genuine. Bought it for curio value, really. It's a ragbag, last gasp of Britpop compilation (featuring Justine Frischmann's last contribution to the world of music). The Jarvis track is the only worthwhile moment. Don't even think I can be bothered to Ebay it!

Went to see The Joy Formidable at Pure Groove a couple of nights ago for their album launch. Interesting sound they've got there, very big for a three piece. They borrow the better parts from Bloc Party, Gary Numan sounding synth-style guitar and My Vitriol's attack but manage to sound entirely different thanks to Ritzy's voice. She's the focal point of the band, their blue eyed, blonde haired ringleader, half whirling dervish, half 1000 yard stare. Also a genuinely excellent guitarist, with the requisite skills and intricate pedal set up to sound individual. They're road-ready tonight, but still a little nervous in front of a packed shop crowd. After a mini acoustic set, they rip through the rest of the album at pace. The bass player is a former guitarist of note himself, I think; he plays the bass right, with a punchy mid sound, and throws understated poses. Over the sea of heads, the drummer is almost invisible, but doesn't drop a beat all night, later songs showing advancing technique. 'Cradle' and potential third single 'Whirring' are the stand outs tonight, all action and blurring guitar shapes. The kinetic energy they unleash isn't transferred to the crowd as it should be, though. There's toe-tapping and head nodding aplenty, but no dancing. As with all small instores, the lack of a raised stage means unless you're six foot plus, you won't see anything *at all* unless you're at the front. It's hard to get a gig vibe at a performance like this, impossible if you can't see the band. This is the first record store show I've been to where they have a functioning bottle bar, making the experience feel closer to a gig and less achingly bone dry than your usual promo performance can often be.

Giving your album away for free via the NME, being tipped by DiS, a little radio support, album released on a tiny and hip London label, good videos, free shows and appearing on a Skins trailer.. they'll all boost your popularity. This has been a super-solid joined up PR job, and I'm not saying that in a negative way for once. Here PR has been used to get a good band out while everyone has been chattering, blocking the way with a swathe of new year hype. I like seeing the cream rise to the top like everyone else, and am predicting BIG things for this band. I'm a little late to the party on that count, but am happy to lend my inconsiderable support to their cause. Should you not be able to make it to their gigs (and I bet you they'll be gigging virtually non-stop), try and see them at a festival this year. They'd tear the roof off a tent at Reading, I reckon...

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