*Not quite gig reviews, not quite blog posts
Sinkane album launch party, Shacklewell Arms, September 12th
Around a week before I go to see Sinkane at the Shacklewell Arms, I sum up his latest release “Mean Love” as “”groovy pop-rock”, if groovy didn’t conjure up images of Austin Powers and bell bottoms”. Thankfully Sinkane (born Ahmed Gallab), is the antithesis to this poor description: nonchalant, the UK born, US raised one-time Caribou and Of Montreal collaborator leans against the merch table watching support band Swim Mountain (recently praised by 6Music) just moments before he’s due on stage. His Soulja Boy-esque Twitter handle (Sinkane Tell Em!) oozes swagger, but standing on stage he has a calm class to match his sound, which – over the course of his past two releases – has grown in range. Gallab’s role as musical director of “ATOMIC BOMB! The Music of William Onyeabor’” – a supergroup honouring the music of the Nigerian synth legend – seems telling of his current guise. With “Mean Love”, he too has painted futuristic strokes onto a Pan African canvas. Joined by guitarist Jonny Lam, bassist Ish Montgomery and drummer jaytram for tracks from “Mean Love” as well as 2012’s “Mars”, he takes the crowd of his first sold out London show on a soulful voyage, from the breathy vocals and reggae beat of “Young Trouble” to the East African-inspired pulse of “New Name”, which on record comes complete with the coolest horns since St Vincent’s Digital Witness. There are ethereal moments, like the hypnosis-inducing synth line of “Young Trouble” (Gallab’s also commanding keyboards). The Sinkane live experience is varied and uplifting, a United Nations of groove which – thankfully – comes minus the bell bottoms.
Sinkane tours Europe before returning to the UK for a show at Hackney venue du jour Oslo on December 1st.
Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, Bristol Exchange, September 4th
“It’s Lennon!” squeals my friend, pointing to a fellow with a headband and circular specs and doing her best impression of a Cavern Club reveller. As it turns out this is not John and Yoko’s son Sean – rather it is one of the troupe who accompany him and partner Charlotte Muhl on tour. He’s a slightly taller, more imposing version of his bandmate, although the glasses. Powering through tracks from Midnight Sun, which was released back in April, they refuse to falter even when Lennon’s wah pedal gives up the erm, goastt. From mafia-themed Seventies throwback “Poor Paul Getty” to the sprawling psychedelia of “Too Deep”, it’s wall to wall rock, full of screeching guitars and choral harmonies. Cutting and pasting the best parts of the 70s but remaining distinctly modern and self-consciously East Coast, there’s no chance you’ll confuse “Animals” with “All You Need Is Love”.