Live at Baby Jupiter on Thursday, 5th January 2012
My first musical excursion of the New Year found me at Leeds' own little hidden gem, Baby Jupiter. A wonderful little bar nestled underneath Wellington Street, no bigger than a northern line carriage but with considerably more visible signs of life.
The first band, Deadwall seemed slightly tentative and self conscious during their opening number, exchanging uncertain glances and words off mic.
This was soon to be explained as front man Thomas Gourley announced they were a bassist down, after his decision to elope with his girlfriend for the time being, possibly in search of a kinder climate. This resulted in the band playing an admittedly quickly thrown together set in stripped back fashion. Never the less, post bassist confession, they grew in presence and filled the tiny room with ethereal synth lines and their well arranged and mature sound came to life.
Gourley's pristine falsetto suited the raw take on their repertoire well and they pulled off an enthralling couple of tunes. A couple of times, when they broke their songs down, a darker, reverb sodden sound reared its head and threw light on the band's potential at full strength, begging to be utilised and sadly retreating when it was declined the chance.
All in all a heroic effort in difficult circumstances. Congrats to them for having the backbone to play regardless.
Next in line to flick switches on amps, balanced precariously on sofas were Phonetics. A sturdy reminder that for a long time, as people elsewhere ponder global issues and drink herbal tea, indie pop bands in the north of England have been powering through sets with driving back lines and murky guitars, because after all, that's what the crowd seemed to appreciate.
They steamed through a couple of straight forward, no tricks, kick in the teeth tunes before debuting some new material with a more little more edge, enlisting clever vocal lines from the drummer and rowdy guitar breaks to dance over the headier lyrical stance of the now familiar lead vocal style. Fans of breakneck, power chord anthems - indulge yourselves.
The last band, Happy Daggers showed, in the first ten seconds of their set, why they were headlining the evening. Effortlessly they acquired every scrap of attention available with the painfully catchy opener, 'Hey!' bringing a previously lacking sense of danger and innovation to the table, shuffling about in sync and bouncing with their own evident adoration for what they were about to spend the next half an hour doing.
Having already heard their latest E.P online, I merely expected live renditions of their recordings. What I got instead, was extended, inspired versions with additional interludes and intelligently reworked song structures. Considering the band are only a year old, they play together with a tight, military precision whilst still providing a great sense of the unexpected. Songs 'Ordinary Love' and 'Jupiter' stand out particularly.
Front man Sinclair Belle is captivating. His voice radiates soul and offers a stunning range with apparent ease, clashing wonderfully with the hard faced yet high spirited sound the band have created. It's a rarity to hear such eloquent poetics in songs with such that pulse with such a brutal energy but the combination is astonishing. Equally as astonishing was the rumble of approval as the drummer on backing vocals nailed an insane vocal line in response to one of Belle's chorus hook lines. An unexpected treat.
It's impossible to fully stereotype the band into a category or style, they seem to span genres and defy the rules of pigeon holing to a specific sound or appropriate audience.
Without doubt, one to watch out for with a growing fan base and a recent bout of local radio plays. A reminder to keep an eye out for new talent invading the scene this year.
Phonetics are a four piece 'inidie'/ 'lo-fi' band from Leeds. Check out their Facebook & SoundCloud pages for music and news.