THURSDAY 23rd MARCH: WITHERED HAND + THE BALLET + PETE ASTOR + WOULD-BE-GOODS
Bush Hall, 310 Uxbridge Rd W12 7LJ
Tickets - http://www.wegottickets.com/f/10555
Active in the world of visual art and dabbling in music for many years, Dan Willson aka Withered Hand came late to singing and songwriting at age 30, in a period of reflection between the death of a close friend and the birth of his first child. The resultant material, much of which went on to become debut album Good News, was praised for its depth and startling honesty and saw him embraced by Fife-based musical powerhouse the Fence Collective and his songs picked up by MTV and cult series Skins.
In 2014, five years on from “Good News”, Willson returned with the critically acclaimed second album New Gods, a triumph of songwriting talent and superb musicianship that touched the heart of everyone that heard it. Willson went for broke, enlisting legendary Scottish producer Tony Doogan (Mogwai, Teenage Fanclub), and a veritable who's who of Scottish music including King Creosote, Eugene Kelly of The Vaselines, and members of Belle & Sebastian and Frightened Rabbit. The result: eleven meditations on love, fidelity and transience that saw Willson’s songwriting hit dizzying heights: by turns confessional and melancholy, raucous and life-affirming; a beautifully executed collection of songs from one of Scotland’s most gifted songwriters.
“Endlessly lovable stuff… zings with Teenage Fanclub-ish exuberance.” (NME)
Unashamedly “sissy” and explicitly queer, The Ballet marry the DIY ethos of the Hidden Cameras with the wry poeticism of The Magnetic Fields to create literate, infectious pop gems. Formed in 2005 by Greg Goldberg and Craig Willse they’ve released three albums to date, the self-released Mattachine! (2006) and Bear Life! (2009), and I Blame Society through Fortuna POP! in 2013. Inspired by Stephin Merritt’s body of work, songwriter Goldberg also draws from an array of pop artists and periods, from 60’s bubblegum to 80’s synthpop and 90’s indiepop, fusing these in sophisticated and novel ways which rewards repeat listening. Avoiding autobiographical or confessional modes, Goldberg nonetheless mines his own psychological constitution and intellectual interests to craft songs whose overt musical prettiness is often contrasted by a dark and complex subtext.
"Recalling Holiday-era Magnetic Fields, these songs bop with heady buoyancy, yet are underpinned by complicated but universal themes: self-deception, infidelity without shame, war fatigue and finding love in a world of online hookups." Time Out New York
Indie auteur Pete Astor, previously of The Loft, The Weather Prophets, and other esteemed acts, released his most recent album “Spilt Milk” via Fortuna POP! in 2016. It was recorded onto ½ inch tape at the home studio of James Hoare of Ultimate Painting, The Proper Ornaments and Veronica Falls, with James playing guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and singing backing vocals. The album has all the hallmarks of a Pete Astor classic, drawing together key strands and tributaries of his work over the years, blending intuitive songwriting, acute lyrics and incisive melodies.
Spilt Milk is part of a continuum: from Astor’s beginnings with The Loft and The Weather Prophets on Creation Records in the 1980s, via his solo work through the 1990s and his more left field albums with The Wisdom of Harry and Ellis Island Sound on Matador Records, Heavenly and Peacefrog, through to his return to solo work with the Songbox album in 2012. As well as this ongoing musical activity, Astor is also Senior Lecturer at the University of Westminster, where he teaches, researches and writes about music; 2014 saw the publication of his study of Richard Hell and the Voidoids’ Blank Generation as part of Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 Series.
“A doleful jangle that often feels like a bedsit Velvet Underground fronted by Lawrence or Ray Davies… the true beauty of Spilt Milk lies in Astor’s wry commentaries on domesticity, raging libidos and the pitiless march of time”
Eccentric and evocative guitar pop helmed by Jessica Griffin, enigmatic star of cult label él, with her crew of elegant rascals - Peter Momtchiloff, guitarist (Talulah Gosh, Razorcuts, Heavenly, Scarlet's Well) and occasional songsmith; Debbie Green, drummer and darling of the London nineties garage scene (Thee Headcoatees); and ex-Adam and the Ant and Monochrome Set bassist Andy Warren. Since their reactivation in 2002 the Would-Be-Goods have released three albums full of melancholy charm and wit coupled with a classic guitar pop sound ranging from new folk, tango to garage rock. Love songs to lions, frolics in the Garden of Eden, French Casanovas and personal demons await you. Let the Would-Be-Goods be your guides.
“Elegantly melancholy indie from a dapper London band” (Word)
+ DJ Ian Watson (How Does It Feel To Be Loved?)