FIFTY3 FRIDAYS: STORMY WEATHER
As Britain braces itself for a weekend of inclement weather as Storm Arwen heads for the UK bringing with it 75mph gales and by coincidence we see the return of the dreaded Red List, I feel blessed to merely have a ten-minute walk into Kingston to watch Curse of Lono instore at Banquet Records to contend with this evening. More of Lono next week as the new album is unleashed and a full band gig at London’s Electrowerkz awaits. That reminds me to check where on earth that is.
All of which provides a less than seamless transition to our first featured act this week, Barbara; yes, not a girl, but the moniker of brothers, Henry and John Tydeman from soon to be storm-lashed Brighton. Topically this is to introduce a new song from Barbara, aptly or not titled “Rainy Days in June”, not that we are in June but it is at least raining here. We’ve met up with Barbara before via the pair’s absolutely stellar singles “BRB” and “These New Communications” both of which tackled modern themes in a musical style that very much evokes the heyday of bands like Queen and 10cc in the mid-70’s. The latest song continues agreeably down that avenue.
“Rainy Days in June” is a paean to the pleasures of eschewing the rock n’ roll lifestyle and being alone, far away from life’s fast lane, with nothing but a good book for company. The Queen-like chord change stings and vocal harmonies are a particular delight while the video uses footage from a holiday to France that the brothers went on late in the summer to capture the mood of the song splendidly. If you would like to stop by Barbara’s YouTube page, you’ll also find a plethora of podcasts about individual films. True film buffs, the brothers love talking about movies and the results are an afternoon delight. They equally make some fine, inventive music that should be around for as long as many of the classic films they discuss.
Photo of Alex Jayne by Laurie B.
The next two features are both by way of a catch up as, with the limits of time and space on a weekly column, it’s easy to get behind with releases. Having sung the praises of London via Shropshire alt-pop artiste, Alex Jayne, previously via her singles “Backseat” and “Hollywood”, I am a tad late in acknowledging the release of her 4-track EP, The Blue, which came out on Bonfire Night. The title track was rightly picked out as a Fresh Fave by Fresh on the Net voters two weeks ago.
While the EP overall coalesces different facets of the future and our relationship with it, the title track “The Blue”reflects on how people enter your life and then vanish into the air when they leave it. Musically the song has great presence and moment, while Alex Jayne’s voice has never sounder bolder or more assured even when trying to grasp the newly insubstantial. Her rich vocal style which blends soaring alt-pop tones with a resonant country-like drawl is really commanding. The song ends rather abruptly, almost to underline the fleeting nature of things.
Dublin-based quintet, The Crayon Set, released its third album Downer Disco in September. Having covered the singles, “Moment” and “Don’t Step Back Too Far” this year, I contrived to miss this event as a result of random emails mysteriously going to spam. Led by founder and chief songwriter, Robert Baker, the band has evolved its sound via a fluid membership culminating in its current line-up in which the graceful Kate Dineen shares lead vocal duties with Robert amid perfectly gauged duet interplay. If you haven’t caught up with Downer Disco yet I really recommend that you do. The album mixes “sadness with sunshine”; its electronic elements nod a little towards dance music while its melodies are up there with the very best in alt-pop. Now, as John Peel might have said in his trademark deadpan manner, this is “Boring”.
“Boring” is one of the nine tracks on Downer Disco and popped up as one of last weekend’s Fresh Faves on Fresh on the Net, along with our next act, Tiny Dyno. It seems to encapsulate the happy/sad vibe of the album perfectly. Robert Baker describes the song as ‘a semi-autobiographical, sentimental reminiscence on a time long passed, starring two lead characters who were once joined at the hip but now probably wouldn't recognise each other if they passed on the street.’ In essence it is a song about what might have been and displays all the atmospheric art that hallmarks The Crayon Set’s work. Infamously yet memorably described by The Irish Times as 'As catchy as a virus', The Crayon Set should really be on those ‘Best of 2021’ lists that propagate at this time of year.
Photo of Tiny Dyno by Ania Shrimpton
From Dublin to Bristol, which is not exactly doable by ferry, where we find Tiny Dyno, a breezy indie pop duo made up of Emily Gardiner and Tom Kuras who came together through the Bristol music scene, finding connection through a love of infectious pop music tones. The band name comes from a tiny plastic dinosaur Emily randomly found when changing trains on the way back from Manchester, so blowing out my theory that it might have anything to do with small blocked drains. Or tape [that’s Dymo – Ed]. Gigging as a duo or as a six-piece full band, Tiny Dyno has been busy songwriting and recently unleashed this little melodic gem, “Still”.
Tiny Dyno is developing a really polished and assured sound. Paradoxically given its title, “Still” just flows along serenely, yet with an underlying energy to it that feels like you’re on a journey. The chorus, embedded with smooth harmonies, quickly sticks to your memory and there are some nice dynamic moments along the way. The band say that the inspiration behind “Still” is past relationships and addiction; that there is a bit of themselves in the lyrics as well as observations of friends' relationships and their experiences. Bristolians can catch the duo playing an acoustic show at The Green Man on 11 Dec while the next single is timed for the New Year ahead of a debut EP in March.
“Still” is such a cracking good song. Something about it puts me a wee bit in mind of the marvellous Summer Camp. On that note, let me reprise “Two Chords” one of my favourite Summer Camp songs that seems a really apt companion piece to Tiny Dyno’s “Still”.
Finally onward to South Wales via Bristol and grunge drummer turned indie pop songstress, Lisa Martin aka Aderyn, who pulled out the red carpet with her second single “Silver Screen” as featured back in March. She has been busy studying for a Masters at the University of Bristol so can be forgiven for not quite rushing out her next single. The good news is that the wait has been more than fruitful as just this week her latest work, “Scotty”, has landed; it’s her first on the amusingly titled Phwoar & Peace record label. The ‘Star Trek meets Mean Girls’ accompaniment is the work of videographers Pups n Pone and has an exuberance to match Aderyn’s own quirky presence.
Here, Adreyn offers a fresh, off-kilter take on the feeling of wishing you could erase someone from your memory in a kind of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind scenario. Penned after a night at the pub, and quite possibly too many drinks, the words spill out as she gets to work on beaming herself out of the memory of a relationship gone south. “Scotty” nicely moves through the gears from an acoustic opening through to an urgent chorus, back to a reflective mid-section before cruising off through more choruses and peaking in turbulent air with a soaring guitar solo. If you can beam your way out west, you can catch Aderyn live at Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff (4 Dec) and Louisiana, Bristol (6 Dec).