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The SQ Showcase: July ’13

Posted on Thursday, 18 July by

The SQ Showcase July

As Glastonbury rolls on by, there are a few things we can deduce: Alex Turner suddenly sounds incredibly like Elvis Presley (and even inherited his gestures), decay and nostalgia are not synonymous and people seem to really like Mumford & Sons.

Maybe I’m just cynical but no matter – if Glastonbury passed you by, Latitude and Secret Garden Party have an array of allures to satisfy your needs. They are two of the most colourful festivals of the month.

But you’ll need some aural paint to go with the visuals. So here is July’s SQ Showcase – your one-stop shop for the best sounds on the south coast.

Matt Carpanini – The Vagrant Soul

We begin this month with dulcet tones that harmonise with glowing summer rays effortlessly. No doubt, it’s the melodic guitar that provides much of the warm hues in his tracks while the pop composition provides a natural flow. For some, the soothing sound will be nothing special and in essence, it’d be difficult to disagree. But that’s not the point; Matt Carpanin isn’t trying to be left-field. He’s using a formula that’s well-tried and applying his own flourish to it. ‘The Vagrant Soul’, like many folk tunes, is a travelling song about hitting the road with notions of hope and optimism ahead of you. You don’t actually need to be going anywhere though – find a quiet field, lie back and just let the tune take you away.

The Semper Teens – Somebody

It’s always a shame when decent bands decide to walk away form their craft but there’s usually one person who doesn’t give up so easily. When Kill Kenada fizzled away, bassist and vocalist Tim Smithen stamped his foot and formed The Sember Teens who blast out a similar sort of racket albeit more refined. ‘Somebody’ is the opener to their self-titled EP and its early Ramones delivery hits you with the immediacy of a fist to the face. The romping bassline forms the spine of this surf-tinged brawl with an acrid tone apt for the band name. It’s everything you’d expect from a sound intended to rankle your parents and the splash of surf-rock evokes memories of your carefree years.

Negative Pegasus – How It Happens

‘How It Happens’ is the opening track of Negative Pegasus’ debut album Looming. And it provides a delicately accurate cross-section of the sound the Brighton three-piece like to toot. Actually, it’s not so much a toot but a plethora of psychedelic drones washed over relentless drums. It runs throughout the track like some kind of entrancing tribal beat designed to send you into a world of hallucinogenic visions while reverb-swathed vocals emphasise the nightmarish dream-state further. And like most nightmares, the intensity swells to inconceivable levels unleashing all sorts of psychotropic vivacity on you. Only this time, you hope you don’t wake up but instead savour the fading drones. It’s a cracking way to open an album so you should definitely hear the rest here.

Grasshopper – A Happy Medium

Grasshopper is the creative wanderings of Sam Lonsdale. And though it’s an oft-used phrase, he is one of the most exciting producers in Brighton right now. With a sundry production style and sparing use of vocals, Grasshopper has all the ingredients to weave any kind of tune he so wishes. But like many of his tracks, ‘A Happy Medium’ has a soulful vibe at its heart while blaring brass hangs above. And if you still needed more feel-good ambiance, the gospel vocals are infectiously smile-inducing. Grasshopper wields the kind of crisp and tight production that should have him collaborating with artists everywhere.

Cave Painting – Nickel

This is an old track now from Cave Painting’s debut album Votive Life. So what’s new? Well, if you haven’t been listening to the quintet’s polished multi-faceted sound then this is all new. And to help you get into it, ‘Nickel’ is now free to download. Sonically, the track is relatively serene compared to the rest of album as Adam Kane’s emotive vocals tug at heartstrings. Lyrically, it’s a sombre affair about giving up on love and life representing the band’s more tender approach to songwriting. But as the track progresses, the free-roaming instrumentals take on a new lease of life in the finals section of the tune lifting you from its understated beginnings.

AK/DK – Battersea

Duelling drums, analogue effects and raw synth-punk goodness – this is the exactly the kind of sound you might see Bowser raving to. It’s very much of a similar ilk to DA-10 (March’s star pick) but the duo’s tendency to improvise leaves a meandering trail of troughs and peaks like a side-scrolling beat ‘em up. ‘Battersea’ is a frantic, combo-smashing boss battle and scintillating synths are the weapons. To some ears, the noise is perhaps too manic – it’s certainly more thick slashes of paint rather than subtle strokes. But this opener to their EP Dispatch #3 is just AK/DK going a little wild; it’s fun, lively and provokes an involuntarily twitch in your feet. Be sure to catch the rest of the EP to hear something altogether more considered and intricately textured.

Jennifer Left – Black Dog

Much like Kill Kenada, the end was nigh for Gloria Cycles. But unlike Tim Smithen, Jennifer Dalby ditched her bass and now hugs the microphone. ‘Black Dog’ is her first single and its sprightly hook will immediately have you whistling along. Fans of Gloria Cycles will remember aching for those times when Jennifer made a rare encounter with the mic. So it’s a delight to have her smooth vocals lavished over folk that draws heavily from early-20th century jazz and swing. Along with Tim Bidwell (producer of Kate Walsh and Fink) and Ewan Wallace (from Bonobo’s band), Jennifer Left should have debut album out very soon that we can all hop along to. Perhaps Django Reinhardt will join in too.

Faux Flux – I Can’t Pretend

Under the leadership of Alex Ensoll’s creative engine, Faux Flux is Brighton’s new indie electro artist. Cultivated from lively melodies and crisp percussion that Demelza Mather commands on the live stage, the sound is loaded with rich textures and polished with pop to create a vibrant palette. A new EP Come Alive came out earlier this month and it illustrates Alex’s growing confidence as his production and composing becomes dependably assured. While ‘Spending Time’ highlights the more pop-centric side of his songwriting, ‘I Can’t Pretend’ is infinitely more enjoyable on the ears as it entices you through all its auditory avenues. It hinges on the spirited tussle between guitar and keys while the vocals encourage you to join in with the refrain “You are all I need”. There’s nothing fake about the flow that whisked up here.

Two Jackals – Cartagena

With delicate melodies and wispy vocals this Brighton-based four-piece craft a wonderfully rounded sound that belies their tender age. Still in their teens, Two Jackals’ mature sound has led to comparisons with The xx. ‘Cartagena’ opens tentatively but the purposeful drums marches the track into bewilderingly atmospheric realms while crystallised guitars soar like shooting stars lighting the way ahead. But not too brightly because the track is inherently dark in tone – ‘Cartagena’ oozes a moody purple. The sound isn’t exactly new but it’s what people are into right now. And with this debut single produced by Pablo Clements of UNKLE, it’s not difficult to imagine Two Jackals picking up some weighty momentum very soon.

Star Submission

The Flash Gordons – About You

Sometimes you come across a band so endearingly fun that they’re simply impossible to dislike. The Flash Gordons will have that effect on you. Not only do the duo find joy in their whimsical identities (Mandrake the Wizard Vampire and Phantom the Space Cat) but even like to dabble in a spot of neologism. Although there are splashes of psychedelia and surf-rock, their sound is built around a kraut-grunge skeleton – or as they like to called it ‘krunge’. And despite only have two members, The Flash Gordons do well to build a rounded sound. ‘About You’ induces you into an involuntary swagger to its staccato riff and the surf-rock vocals keeps it light and playful. What’s not to love about the juxtaposition between lively krunge draped in a fanciful sheen? By far the funnest track of the month that will have you creating your own bizarre secret identity.

The SQ Showcase is our attempt to provide a platform for some of the best unsigned talent in Sussex. We’ve received tens of thousands of plays since launching this flagship feature in late 2011 and this year, we’re aiming for even bigger and better things.

To get involved, submit your tracks here, or send a message on Facebook with a bio.

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Matt Yau

Matt Yau

Showcase Critic at SQ Magazine
Freelance music journalist with a reputation in Sussex for uncovering new music. Has led SQ Magazine's 'Showcase' since 2013. Obsessive thinker, habitual music listener and timid photographer.
Matt Yau

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