Sunday, 10 August 2008

Star Shines Light On Unsigned Bands

I am always on the look out for good music venues in and around London and last Thursday I struck gold. The Star ( in North London hosts a weekly event of high quality unsigned bands selected by eARmusic and I’m told that the standard of the show last week was typical for the venue.

With cosy couches, candles and a carpet for a stage the upstairs room where the bands perform gives you that welcome feeling of sitting in a living room instead of your typical soulless London gastro pub. There’s even a pub dog (always a good sign) who skulks around and made a brief appearance on stage during one of the performances.

If I haven’t already given you reason enough to just go there to enjoy a drink, let’s not forget about the music. Here’s a rundown of some of my favourite bands amongst those who played last Thursday and why you should listen to them:

(Dan Whitehouse(Cajon Drum): Photo By M Ward)

Dan Whitehouse

Mr Dan Whitehouse, backed by a piano and Cajun drum, delivered a powerful and passionate performance. His music is what is what I would describe as a British take on folk with a strong story telling element, think along the lines of Damien Rice, Chris Martin. A strong and textured voice very much leads his compositions, the instruments are used to emphasize the story being told rather than to lead the song.

Fresh out of the studio having recorded two EPs ‘The Balloon’ and ‘The Bubble’ for release later this year, Dan has recently supported big names such as Lykke Li and Maria McKee and is certainly one to keep an eye out for.

Dan Whitehouse: Photo By M Ward

Kal Lavelle

A colourful, energetic performance from this Irish gem. Accompanied by her acoustic guitar, Kal took us all on a journey through the joys and frustrations of past romances with a truly heartfelt openness. Stunning acappellas proved without an element of doubt that this girl can sing. She captivated the audience with her rendition of Gnarls Barkley’s 'Crazy' and left us all hungry for more. Nominated for the 2008 Indy Awards and boasting an impressive list of artists she has supported including The Beach Boys and James Brown (as well as playing for Mr Riverdance, Michael Flatley), Kal Lavelle has all the ingredients to take things much further.

She will be playing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival during the coming week, check out her MySpace page for more details.

Kal Lavelle: Photo By M Ward

Off Ground Touch

Off Ground Touch: Photo By M Ward

Here’s a band that knows how to make a lot of sounds. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I saw these three guys pitch up with a small drum kit (complete with bells and triangles), a banjo and a xylophone amongst many instruments but I can honestly say I was captivated from the first note. Their music is like a folk explosion with hints of Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes with sweet harmonies and infectious rhythms. The mood was perfect for the evening. I was surprised to find out this was their first performance, they took to the stage with much ease. To get a good feel for their music check out ‘Soft Options’ on their MySpace page.

They’ll be playing at The Hungamunga Festival in Bethnal Green on Sept. 28th.

Off Ground Touch: Photo By M Ward

eARmusic showcases unsigned bands at The Star every Thursday evening. Check out their Facebook Group and MySpace page for more details of other events – once again I was really impressed by the level of the bands they had along.

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