Another slab of gypsy swing majesty from Jorge’s Hot Club
Jorge’s Hot Club are a breath of fresh air. Their brand of gypsy swing is infectious. For those of you who haven’t yet had the pleasure of witnessing their barnstorming live sets Jorge’s Hot Club pilfer pop culture for its ripest musical apples to re-interrupt it to their DIY gypsy punk vibe. In the past Disney classics like King of the Swingers and Everybody Wants to Be a Cat have been put through Jorge’s musical mangle. Now they’ve turned their attention of pop music from the 1930’s.
Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen was originally a hit for the Andrew Sisters in 1938. Loosely translated to Mean That You’re Grand, the song is about trying to woe a partner by flattering them. The chorus sums this up “Bei mir bist du schon, you’ve heard it all before, but let me try to explain, Bei mir bist du schon means that you’re grand, Bei mir bist du schon, it’s such an old refrain, and yet I should explain, It means I am begging for your hand”, but it’s in the delivery that Jorge and co really sells its message.
2017 is looking like the year the gypsy swing really tries to crossover into the mainstream media, after bubbling along under the surface. Through the rise of the Post-Modern Jukebox the genre is starting to reach a bigger audience, but what separates Jorge’s Hot Club from their peers is their wild abandon, their ability to shred and their ability to turn even the most serious subject matter into something that makes you want to dance!
consuumer are on the brink, but what is on the other side, only they know
What do you get if you mix the grunge, proto-punk and doom rock? You get Brighton based noise rock duo consuumer. This duo managed to combine the energy of The Stooges, the intensity of Sunn O))), the technical beauty of Black Sabbath and noise of the Melvins to create something that shakes you to your core with every note played.
After releasing their debut single, Radio, and playing pretty much anywhere and everywhere they are about to unleash their debut EP Shattered Fruit. The band recently said “I think that as a whole the EP works within themes of being young, confused and uncomfortable, both of us work jobs we hate to fund doing the thing we love and I think that the frustration of not being where we want to be and not necessarily being comfortable in our own skin made the record quite cathartic for us.” This definitely comes across. At times it feels like these noise-niks are so angry with the world all they can do is scream and attack their instruments, yet at other times of melodic introspection it feels like they are world weary and just want everyone to get along.
This is exemplified on title track Shattered Fruit sounds like Lightning Bolt covering Black Sabbath’s Sweet Leaf at their most laidback. This is in fact a massive compliment as it shows that, unlike some of their peers, consuumer known when to make an unholy racket but never at the expense of the song.
Shattered Fruit is released on 13th January
God’s Teeth and The Interstellar Tropics isn’t a name that runs off the tongue easily. The same can be said for their music. Instead of gliding out of your speakers or headphones it comes forth ungainly, with jerks and spasms. This of course is to its benefit. If it was smooth and slick it wouldn’t be God’s Teeth and The Interstellar Tropics, would it?
The music is abrasive and awkward. It’s full of tonal juxtapositions and melodies. At first sounds out of sorted with itself and idiosyncratic, but after a few minutes you realise that this is far from the truth. Under all the off-centre layers of ad-hoc rhythm you find purpose and regimented melodies. Granted it doesn’t have a polished sheen, but it’s not meant to. It’s meant to sound unorthodox from the skitter drumming, to its wailing guitars and clock chimes. Everything is designed to put your on edge, while trying to make you feel comfortable. In the sequence where it sounds like a ruler is being thwocked on a table there is a very catchy melody playing just below it. This technique peppers the album, and adds to its charm.
What GTatIT have done is make black and white psychedelic drone. This might sound like a slight, but I promise it is not. It is in fact high praise. Instead of using every instrument they could get their hands on GTatIT have used a few, but inter woven them to create something that is as terrifying as it is delightful. What they’ve done is similar to 1950’s B-Movies. They trick us into thining they’re in colour. I’ve watch Plan 9 and Quatermass and the Pit so many times that I could tell you what colour certain characters of the film are. The same is true for Kim Deitch’s. I would swear that Smilin’ Ed was in colour as it’s so vivid and exciting, but alas its in black and white. The same is true for GTatIT. And that’s the greatest trick.
The sentence “Hello, I’m John Carpenter…” is a simple one when you break it down. All its doing is just saying a simple salutation, but its effect was devastating. It turned a few hundred people into a jibbeirng, shouting, frothing mess. Very similar after watching on of Carpenter’s films. But I’m getting a bit a-head of myself. Let’s rewind things slightly before we continue.
John Carpenter has been horror/action films since the late 1960’s. Films like Dark Star, Assault on Precinct 13, Halloween, The Fog, Escape From New York, The Thing Christine, Starman and Big Trouble in Little China really put his name on the cultural map. As well as writing, directing and producing these films he also wrote ground breaking scores. They were stark synth soundscapes filled with chilling motifs and eerie moments that really helped cement the vibe and feeling of these films. And it’s thanks to these scores that hundreds of people have braved a cold October evening in Brighton to watch a master of screen become a master of the stage on his debut UK gig.
Carpenter opted to open with ‘Escape from New York’. While ‘New York’ doesn’t have the bombastic opening of other themes, it did say to us “Don’t worry. While I’m opening with a classic, I still have plenty of bangers left in up my sleeves” and this is exactly what happened. As Carpenter, and his 5 piece band, played the theme shivers ran up and down my body as I was transported by to my mate’s parent’s lounge one summer holiday when we watched film after film and slow became obsessed not only with his films but his music. While the band belted out their opening number, there was a screen behind them playing a condensed version of the film. This really helped to hammer home not just not just where the theme was from, but where it fitted culturally.
Once Carpenter had finished we were in the palm of his hand. “Hello, I’m John Carpenter…” he said before launching into ‘Precinct 13’. Since I’d first seen this film as a 15 year old it has stayed with me. This is partly down to the exquisite minimal electronic score and its catchy theme. The footage that played in the background of deserted suburbs and inner city sprawl coupled with the heroes of the film slaying an unending army of gang members really helped ground the feeling isolation and violence that permeates through the score. I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t the highlight of the set.
Next up was the first of the sets low points. At the back of all of our collective minds was the thought “He won’t play any new songs will he?” The answer to this was yes. While there was nothing wrong with ‘Vortex’ and ‘Mystery’ they didn’t have the bite of the opening salvo. However when they finished Carpenter and co. launched into ‘The Fog’, ‘They Live’ and ‘The Thing’. These three films turned Carpenter from an underground hero to mainstream superstar, and this was down again, to their delicate, eerie suspenseful synth scores. As the footage rolled in the back ground, the songs took on even more sinister tones. ‘They Live’ was the first track of the set that deviated from an electro sound. The main component of the track is a blues guitar riff, while industrial beats recreate the sound, and feeling of loneliness of a major city. As the song started the band all put in black wayfarer sunglasses and the screen showed the “Obey”, “Consume”, “Submit”, “Conform” and “Money is You God” slogans that Roddy Piper sees in the film when he put on his sunglasses. These little touches really show that Carpenter had thought about how the set would look and feel, rather than just playing some ‘the hits’.
Throughout the set Carpenter spoke briefly, when the mood took him, danced behind his keyboard. Now we spoke to the audience in a bit more detail. “I’ve made five films with my very good friend. The one film when we have the most fun was about some big trouble in little China’ the audience roared with delight and approval. This was one of the songs where the backing video really hammered home the music. Seeing Kurt Russell strutting about as Jack Burton on screen while the band played their hearts out remind me of watching the film for the first time as a child with my parents and being on the edge of my seat. As Carpenter and co played on I was back on the edge of my seat again, trying not to blink in case I missed something amazing.
Carpenter addressed the crowd again after ‘Big Trouble’, “I direct horror movies. I love horror movies. Horror movies will never die!” then he launched in ‘Halloween’. This is by far his most iconic song and the crowd responded with whoops, cheers and hundreds of devil horns were thrust in the air, to which Carpenter replied! The last song was ‘In the Mouth of Madness’. This is a lesser known work in Carpenter’s back catalogue, but possibly his last great film. And its inclusion at this point in the set made sense.
The band then bowed, applauded us and left the stage. However, after a short break, they returned to the stage. Their encore consisted of ‘Prince of Darkness’, new songs ‘Virtual Survivor’ and ‘Purgatory’. Before the final song of the evening Carpenter thanked us for coming out and said “Make sure you get home safety, as Christine might be out there…” then launched into the final song of the night ‘Christine’.
On the walk home, as well as looking out for killer cars, I played the night over in my mind, and although it had been a sublime trip down memory lane there were some downsides. Most notably the inclusion of five or six new songs. We all get that he is proud of both of the Lost Themes albums, but there are other themes that we would have rather heard instead. ‘Starman’, ‘Village of the Damned’, ‘Vampires’ and ‘Ghosts of Mars’. Yes the new songs were enjoyable, and sounded like cues from his existing films, but they missed that spark that all his themes have. This might have been done to them not having backing visuals, but they were the weaker points of the set. However, when Carpenter went back to the well everything was forgiven. Seeing John Carpenter is more than a cash in to watch edited versions of your favourite films with a live score. It’s a way to watch a legend at work. Carpenter look comfortable, and at times, like he’d been playing live for years. But as Jack Burton would say “It’s all in the reflexes…”
Rotten Foxes sound like Turbonegro covering the Misfits on a night out fuelled by Buckfast shandies!
Punk will never die. Neil Young said that. Well actually he said that rock ‘n’ roll will never die, but as punk is rock’s younger, cooler brother, it’s technically true. But all joking aside punk will never die, especially when there are bands like Brighton’s Rotten Foxes.
Their brand of visceral infused incendiary rock is a total breath of fresh air. The majority of their songs are about going out, drinking, a slightly unhealthy obsession with Danny Dyer and basically having a laugh. In all fairness what isn’t to like about this quartet?
So far there is only a four track demo, available on their Bandcamp, but this is enough to get me through the last hour of a painful Monday. They’re got a slew of shows coming up between now and the end of the year and if you can make them, you should as this is a band you need to see live!
Rotten Foxes fixtures:
Nov 12 The Globe, Brighton
Nov 19 T Chances, London
Dec 17 Prince Albert, Brighton
Dec 18 The Hope and Ruin, Brighton
Dec 31 Unicorn Camden, London