Driving home for Christmas? In that case, you’d better download the lovely Lucy Rose’s special take on the apt festive tune. We weren’t sure whether we approved of anyone messing around with this classic, but we’ve decided to allow Lucy Rose the privilege because she sings it so nicely, and looks great in a Christmas jumper to boot.
Fusing minimal techno, electronica, psychedelia and noise rock may sound like a recipe for self-consciously cool vacuity, or worse an unlistenable mess. But it’s a line that Richard Fearless under his Death In Vegas guise has bestrode with critical success since emerging as a satisfying counterpoint to the big beat and Britpop of the mid nineties. Always operating outside of the mainstream, but with commercial success as a result of 1999’s ‘Contino Sessions’ and 2001’s ‘Scorpio Rising’, this is a man with an impressive CV. On Thursday night the Don of dark disco invited us all into his dungeon – aka the Electric Ballroom.
Having put Death In Vegas on extended hiatus in 2004 until the release of ‘Trans-Love Energies’ earlier this year, there was a sense of occasion around the return of Fearless and co. A mixed crowd of hipsters and ageing, beery 90s ravers rubbed along happily together in a state of expectation, with the venue absolutely packed.
Fearless did not disappoint. Taking on vocal duties for the first time, he produced a pulsating and hypnotic set. Storming versions of old favourites such as ‘Dirge’, ‘Death Threat’ and ‘Aisha’ sounded re-energised by the full live band on stage, comprising members of his side project Black Acid. Set closer ‘Hands Around My Throat’, perhaps DIV’s biggest anthem, was similarly reinvented and had the obligatory set closing effect of causing the biggest crowd surge of the night.
But it was in many ways the new material which stood out, with the garage rock stomp of ‘Black Hole’ and ‘Moe Tucker’ showing a new side of Fearless’ song writing. Recent single ‘Your Loft, My Acid’ was more familiar DIV territory, with killer synths and the looped vocals of Austra’s Katie Stelmanis showing that Fearless can still do Berlin style techno bangers with the best of them.
Therein lays the almost unique value of Death in Vegas when measured against their late 90s peers. They have always evolved and always sounded fresh, and even after so long away this has not changed. It may not be the late 90s anymore, even in Camden, but Richard Fearless is still going strong and on Thursday night he proved that he remains a singular and compulsive voice in the UK underground dance scene.
A couple of weeks ago I found myself at Camden’s indie den, KOKO. There was a slight murmur from the few people sporadically dotted about, but nothing to write home about.
I was waiting for Dexters, a five-piece guitar band born and raised in North London, that are causing quite a stir on the current live music scene.
Within the past week they had been chosen as one of NME’s “On Repeat” artists and Q magazine’s track of the day with the ridiculously catchy ‘Start To Run’, so you could say that I was curious, bordering on excited, to see the lads in action.
Whilst the support acts bashed their way through some mediocre sets, and Dexters’ explosion on to the stage came ever closer, the room rapidly began to fill to capacity, and the slight murmur from the audience transformed into a hive of anticipation…
As the curtain rose and the band blasted into their first song the crowd’s reaction was incredible. The band clearly already had a large following, and based on the guitar-fused melodies that followed, I sensed I could soon be joining them.
Dexters’ lab has cooked up a genius mix of lyrically perfect songs with clear influences from musical heavyweights such as Oasis and The Clash. I reckon they have a perfect storm brewing around them, so watch out – Dexters are coming.
We’ve all been there - everyone has had the universally awkward experience of going home for Christmas and bumping into a past flame in a favourite teenage watering hole, and not knowing quite what to say.
This year, unlikely couple Emmy the Great and Tim Wheeler have written an ode to that particular festive phenomenon. ‘Home for the Holidays’ is just one track in an entire album dedicated to this time of year. They must really like Christmas.
Sit back with a mince pie to watch their yuletide video pastiche with us, and download a free copy of their Beach Boys-esque track ‘Christmas Day (I wish I was surfing).
Are we allowed to get excited for Christmas yet? Yes? Good, because the festive spirit is alive and kicking in Camden and we’re forging ahead with the curation of our perfect Christmas Day playlist.
Top of the bill for us always has to be Slow Club. No strangers to a good Christmas cover, this delightful duo host a seasonal show every December over in Islington’s Union Chapel, and in 2009 even released an EP dedicated to this oh-so-special time of year called ‘Christmas Thanks For Nothing’. It’s best known for their gorgeous original track Christmas TV, but we’re bucking the trend and placing Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) in poll position instead – it’s guaranteed to get you up off the sofa and singing your heart out into a mulled wine bottle.
Slow Club will be paying Camden a visit during the festive season with a slot at the Wheelbarrow’s big NYE party over at HMV Forum. Superb.