Saturday surprises


A day in the City threw up some marvellous music moments…

It’s rare that you walk in Topman and be greeted to the sound of Nick Drake‘s Bryter Layter, but that was the early promise of a Saturday full of welcome musical highs last weekend.
The parping brass of Hazey Jane II never fails to put me in a good mood, and despite the aneurysm-inducing nu-rave textiles threatening to burrow into my temples, Nick’s breathy timbre waltzed his way into my mind escorting me to rolling hills and green meadows.
So much so, I actually tried on a few bits & bobs which didn’t really tempt me (no fluorescent pinks, mind you), but I wanted to hear the end of One Of These Things First.
Outside was the pits. Lashing down drabness, and a biting wind, but more musical rays of sunshine were in store just around the corner.
An instinctive trip to Bold Street’s Oxfam proved most fruitful. Passing on the way that young busker who appears rooted to Church Street and shares a passing resemblance to Gruff Rhys.
I check out Oxfam about once a fortnight, there’s frequently something which grabs my attention with a recent goodie being Gonga‘s self-titled record. The Bristol act are signed to Geoff Barrow‘s (Portishead) label Invada, and specialise in progressive sludge akin to Kyuss.
On this occasion, another gem presented itself in the form of Sunhouse‘s Crazy At The Weekend – a record I’ve been meaning to buy since the late-90s but simply kept forgetting.
I first came across the enigmatic trio through Shane MeadowsTwentyFourSeven – an uncompromising film about an amateur boxing club set in Uttoxeter, and the soundtrack largely featured Sunhouse‘s warm, kitchen-sink folk. Meadows was such a keen admirer he later reused several tracks in his masterpiece Dead Man’s Shoes. So you’ve probably heard them unknowingly, already.
I also have knocking around in a draw somewhere a blistering session they recorded with Steve Lamacq on the Evening Session, it included my personal favourite Hurricane which needs to be heard to be believed.
It’s a slide-guitar epic and sounds like a band on the brink and it’s of little surprise that Sunhouse recorded just the one record and imploded mere months after their debut release, although singer Gavin Clarke has recorded under the guise Clayhill and guested for UNKLE.
The track below, Hard Sun, features Sinead O’Connor on backing vocals and is video created by a fan.

Having had enough, I returned home, where two tickets for bands I’d yet to hear were waiting, and despite the unremitting rain, me and a friend chanced Make Model‘s headline gig at the Carling Academy.
Good job we did. I’d only heard snatches of the Glasgow six-piece on record, and to be fair I wasn’t overly-enamoured. But with rave reviews peppering the music press, we were fair game.
First band we caught were another I’d heard much about, Liverpool’s Vagabonds who ripped up the stage like their lives depended on it, mixing hardcore, intricate post-punk and in their Perry Farrell look-a-like frontman, a nutter who’d very probably believe he would get the better of a tank in a head on collision. They left the stage in a whirl of flying beer and bloodied fingers.
Next up were another Scouse band, The Deconstructors, standing in for going places goFaster>> who were off headlining in Manchester, and while the four-piece blended psyche, The Doors and early Verve, there was ultimately little memorable to truly get excited about. That said, the whacked out set closer and an impressive rhythmic bluster contained enough drive to warrant further investigation.
On first inspection Make Model looked like every hipster’s wetdream; Sonic Youth t-shirts, a plethora of instruments (they had about 17 lap-tops for starters), assorted beards and an angelic-toned co-vocalist in the shape of Aimi Gold.
So far, so Broken Social Scene. And to be fair, it’s hardly lazy journalism to compare their sonic offerings to the Canadians, for there’s so much to savour and so much to grab on to. But make no mistake, Make Model are not copyists.
Wistful folk transformed into crashing waves of dissonance, and zesty, beat-pop merged seemlessly into ragged, raw college rock.
Sticking around for just half a dozen numbers, it was a triumphant mini-portion of excellence that left me more than happy and eager for more. And you can’t ask for more than that.




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