This will mean precisely nothing to three young men from Copenhagen, but here is one Half Man Half Biscuit fan delighted to be able to state at last that I've got a 4AD 3D CD.
(Indians - photo the author)
It's Saturday night in Studentland. We must be insane.
Landcross Road, Fallowfield. One of my best friends lived here in the 90s, we went round there a lot but we never went out there. There was a pub at the bottom of the road but it was for students, which we weren't. I don't mean we thought ourselves too cool or whatever to go in a student pub; I was barely a month or two past graduation myself at the time. I mean you actually had to be a student to enter the premises. Also, it looked like shit, as did every bar and pub in the area. All zany theme nights and fancy dress rubbish, "cocktails" with rude names, crappy lager piled high and sold by the bucket - a lazy lowest common denominator idea of what "students" liked. I'd never been massively into this culture even when I was a student, choosing to live in rough and ready (and very cheap) Longsight as opposed to this semi-isolationist society where "locals" were either to be feared or dismissed as scallies depending on how hard they looked. You'd certainly never get a band playing down there, aside from the friends of the halls of residence committees doing hilarious covers for charidee. It certainly wasn't a place where you'd go out, from another part of the city, to see the latest signings to the esteemed 4AD label.
Trof, one of the foundations of what's now a renowned Mancunian mini-chain of bars and venues (also including Deaf Institute and the new Gorilla) which somehow manage to be cool and fashionable without being remotely arsey, was a couple of terraced houses back then; from the terrace we can see the pub in which our money wasn't good enough and the attic flat window from which our mates would thrown their keys down to us so they didn't have to trudge down loads of stairs to let us in. Equally welcoming to students and those of us with a few more years on the clock, decent selection of bottles and taps, and a lovely little room upstairs for that intimate gig experience.
Some blog I read the other week was doing one of those "tips for new bands" things that's 50% patronising and obvious, 10% useful and 40% bewilderingly misguided. One of the tips I dismissed into the 40% pile was "Avoid un-Google-able names". I once saw a band (well, probably a lot more than once, but I'm thinking of one in particular) whose name was a common word onto which they had appended a "silent" extra letter and proudly explained from the stage how thanks to this amazing innovation we could all find them on the internet; I for one didn't bother, they were shit and it smacked of desperation.
That's not a completely unconnected tangent. The new 4AD signing headlining Trof tonight goes by the gloriously un-Google-able name of Indians. I don't know why this appeals to me, but it does (aside from that solo artist with band's name thing again) and anyway, I'm intrigued to find out what sort of thing's floating the 4AD boat these days.
First, a few songs from Anna B Savage. She doesn't appear to have been gigging for very long, her Facebook page is but a couple of weeks old and says she mainly does covers (her multi-looped acapella rendition of Everything Everything's Cough Cough has already impressed the orignators, and not without reason), but it's largely originals tonight. Very original originals, as well. Her voice is arresting, full of textures, a little Regina Spektor, makes you want to listen; her melodies, too, avoid the obvious. She's singing with an acoustic guitar but this voice, these songs, they're a long way from any of those person-plus-acoustic cliches. They'd work equally well against a backdrop of dark, twisted electronics - or nothing at all.
Or indeed the increasingly bizarre noises coming from the plumbing, which we surmise may well be haunted...
The corner of the room that passes for a stage is so stuffed full of synths and keyboards you wonder where the band are going to go; I think they do, too, but they manage to squeeze in by virtue of all being quite small, and I don't want to start turning into one of those old gits who gets all "oooh, don't they look young" about bands but fucking hell, some of this lot do, even in a part of town where Incendiary's very presence has raised the average age significantly.
"Hello, we are Indians." No you're not, you're from Denmark. Sorry, obvious gag. As you were...
On record, Indians is Søren Løkke Juul; on stage he has two friends and they make a lovely sound. It's reminiscent of the fractured, introspective electrogaze of earky Kyte, the oddly layered beauty of the stuff Maps used to slip out in between official releases, the captivating sadness of Sleep Party People. There are scatters of twitchy electro-percussion, great sheets of synth mist, sweetly happy-sad indie pop vocals, pretty waves of colour. The traditional instruments on stage total one acoustic guitar - used on two songs, both sticking out a little as a result - and a cymbal with a bit missing. There's quite a polished pop thing going on at times, too, but never overwhelmingly so: even the odd one that starts a bit piano ballady goes all fidgety-electronic. The last one ends in a great driving swirl that's pure serotonin.
Every sound is there for a reason, meticulously built, and yet there's a really friendly feel to it all. When Søren says how they're happy to be here and what a great little place it is it's from the heart. There's just something about seeing a band like this, wide-eyed and alive and happy to be out there playing their music and having new experiences in new places. One day in the future someone might ask what were you doing the night Kevin Shields broke the internet, and I'll remember - most bands start out like this. Hang onto it if you can.
Outside is not the wild Saturday night in Fallowfield I remember picking our way through en route to our mate's place.They have bus stop marshals these days. Seriously. People in hi-vis directing the human traffic. I don't care though, the album I just bought from a still smiling Søren looks beautiful; good to see in these downloadable days 4AD still care. It has a little relief bit cut out of the front. This will mean precisely nothing to three young men from Copenhagen, but here is one Half Man Half Biscuit fan delighted to be able to state at last that I've got a 4AD 3D CD.