Broken Records/Jesus H.Foxx/Withered Hand
Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh December 9, 2009
The last time I saw Broken Records at Cabaret Voltaire was August 2007. It was the first time I had encountered them, and they were there as the support act to Emma Pollock, then just about to release her debut solo album Watch The Fireworks. At first we gasped at how they could possibly manage to fit seven people on what is a tiny stage. Then we were blown away by the sound of a band later described by one monthly magazine (clue: it rhymes with ‘Poo’) as ‘what Nirvana would have sounded like if they’d formed in Belarus instead of Seattle. There are bands that have come along subsequently that have tried to persue similar terrain – check out the recent solo album by Wojtek Godzisz- but BR are perusing their own way through their musical life.
And the thing is, Broken Records have now got people from far and wide focusing on Edinburgh and realising that it has much to offer muscially as a city. Sure, history has seen Edinburgh giving the world Aberfeldy, Idlewild, the Fire Engines etc.. but Edinburgh now has a myriad of bands of many different styles kicking a serious amount of arse.*
And two of these bands are here in support tonight. To my shame, it’s the first time I have seen either of them, but it sure as heck will not be the last. First on are Withered Hand. Dan and assorted friends saw the release of their debut LP Good News this year on SL Records. Having released two EPS and the aforementioned album, it is clear that Dan has got into his stride and has written some amazing songs. ‘No Cigarettes’ ‘Religious Songs’ and special new Christmas song ‘It’s A Wonderful Lie’ (see link at the bottom) are fine, worthy additions to the scottish songbook of the decade.
Jesus H. Foxx are normally a seven piece, with two drummers. Tonight there’s just (ha!) the six of them. Their fine set open with ‘I’m Half The Man You Were’ from their fine EP Matter, released on Song, By Toad Records. Matthew from that fine blog and label joins Mrs. 17 Seconds and I and it’s clear he feels they’ve made a whole heap of progress since he first saw them. B-side to first 7″ ‘Tightt Ideas’ (sic) ‘This Is Not A Rental Car sounds particularly fine live, and they finish with ‘O Messy Life.’ Next year should see the release of their debut album. Put me down for a copy, folks.
By the time Broken Records come on, the place is heaving, and I suspect Cab Volt, as it’s known locally, could well have been sold out many times over. They open with ‘Nearly Home’ and it feels like the sound of heroes returning home. By the time they are onto their third song ‘If Eilert Loevborg Wrote A Song It Would Sound Like This’ I’m almost as sweaty as Jamie is on stage, and rueing that I want to dance like a Cosack and there’s just no bloody space. ‘Wolves’ is fantastically intense. They finish with early single and album closer ‘Slow Parade’ and I’m reminded not only that this is many people’s album of the year but just how amazing a live band Broken Records are. They work in different environments and adjust accordingly -this is a totally different vibe to their gig earlier this year at the Queen’s Hall.
Except…it’s not quite the end. Tallah from Jesus H.Foxx comes on to join the band for an endearingly shambolic run-through the festive fave ‘Fairytale Of New York’ and even with the two of them reading the lyrics off sheets, nothing removes the magic. They finish, and the crowd patiently makes its’ way up to street level to the sound of Tom Waits’ ‘Christmas Card from A Hooker In Minneapolis.’
Broken Records said that this will be their last gig for a while as they intend to work on their sophomore album, due for release in September next year. Take as long as it takes, guys. We’ll wait.
*Meursault, X-Lion Tamer, Chris Bradley, eagleowl, Blueflint, Lord Rochester…