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OOTB 325 – 4 Dec 2008

OOTB 325 – 4th December 2008 – reviewed by Calum Carlyle (whoever he is!)

Ho there, traveller, and welcome to the haven known as Out of the Bedroom! None of your karaoke here, or those dodgy oasis covers you hear floating around the ether. It’s the final OOTB for 2008, if you weren’t there, you missed it. Never mind though, here’s a review of the entire night! just look up all the performers on myspace, then read the review for each one while their music’s on and you can sort of kind of not really approximate what it was like. Well, actually myspace is never going to be as good as live music no matter what happens, so you’ll just have to make the effort to come along to OOTB more often in future if you want to hear quality music such as the likes of these brave souls you’re about to read the review of (go on, read it, you know you want to!)

OOTB will be back in 2009, and no doubt we’ll badger you with emails before then telling you all about it. Till then, here’s my review of Out of the Bedroom number 325 to give you something to read on those long cold winter nights:

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NICK – “I love you, England, you’re a diamond geezer”

Nick starts the evening off with three lovely scratchy jangly folk tunes. He detunes the guitar quite shockingly but to good effect. Ray Davies style lyrics (at one point he rhymes “butter” and “nutter”, lovely!) and John Renbourn style guitar are in evidence, both of which i very much approve of. His voice is very distinctive also, i keep trying to think who he sounds like, but can’t work it out.

AL YOUNG – “Being in your own space can be a positive thing and it can be a negative thing”

Al plays us three songs of what i’d call ethereal acoustic pop – like Coldplay if all their awfulness were harnessed and somehow used to do good in the world. It’s like hearing a song on somebody else’s radio that you try to sing along to, but find you’ve never heard it before. His second song, Africa Dancing, has seven beats to the bar, nice. Two protest songs in Al’s set tonight, mainly because he’s plugging an evening of protest songs that he’s hosting at Forest Cafe on Sunday 14th December. His final song has a hint of good old psychedelic chordal improvisation and Al’s trademark unpredictable chord sequences.

MISTER BROKENTOOTH – “ninety nine names for God, not one of them is ‘father’, for what kind of parent would ask his son to be a martyr?”

Toothy starts with old favourite, Hold Fast, he gives us a spirited rendition as usual, i’m always impressed by his ability to be about twice as loud as everybody else. He’s a bit tired tonight, but this doesn’t detract from his performance, instead he incorporates it into his style. Toothy’s a Scottish bluesman. He doesn’t sing blues in an och-aye-the-noo accent or dress in tartan, but he does play blues, instead of mimicking the American mode of blues he puts his own life experience into his music, which really is what blues is about. His final song, Summer Rose, breaks the mould a little, acoustic pop with Toothy’s usual broken vocals. Somehow nostalgic. The first half’s like hearing a Billy Bragg song sung by Tom Waits, and the second half’s like hearing a Black Crowes song sung by, well, Brokentooth!

AILEEN – “I’m a ghost in the queue at Haddows”

Tonight’s only first timer i think. Lovely voice, lovely songs. The first song was quite mysterious and curious. Aileen’s got a lovely voice. As she’s playing her second song, Nobody’s Daughter, i’m thinking she sounds like Tanya Donnelly if she was from Glasgow. That’s definitely a good thing in my book. More nice acousticness with the third song, and this time it’s mysterious and curious, but also slightly insidious. Also, maximum points for using the word “dystopia” in a song.

MILO – All day i’ve been sitting here waiting to be given some work that is humiliating.

Later on this evening, Milo will win a much coveted OOTB T-shirt in tonight’s raffle but for now, in these early innocent hours, he plays us some interesting music. He stops during the intro to his first song to comment “That was obviously wrong”, and then carries on immediately, into a song reminding me of 80s ska, like The Specials or the Beat. Second song was the hit single out of this set, in my opinion, I’m Not Your Mailman, plenty of interesting tempo and pitch changes and imaginatively written too. It’s almost like he’s doing all his own backing vocals as well. More tense depressingness for the third song (and i mean that in the nicest possible way). “You’re going to want your money back when you find out what’s wrong with me” he sings, well i didn’t think there was anything wrong with him, myself!

NYK STODDART – “Ho ho ho, secret Santa”

Nyk does a quick squashee (what a word!), and sings his Syd Barrett style song about Christmas in Edinburgh. Also featuring surprise (even to him!) special guest Robbie Sprout-Cranberry on bongos (yes, very seasonal). Everybody sang along of course, well you would. Life’s too short not to.

*** NICKY CARDER *** – “What we do we just do and I don’t know why we do, we just do”

Nicky is tonight’s featured act, and i for one am very pleased about that. Nicky’s really impressed quite a few people since appearing almost from nowhere a very short time ago. She’s got a lovely voice. This is the sort of honest voice i think pop singers should have. She has lovely songs too, full of syncopation and interesting chord voicings, setting the scene for Nicky’s huge vocal delivery. Nicky’s second song, Ice Cream, could be my favourite of hers, but it’s tough to decide. As i said she keeps up the quality the whole way through her set.

Her third and fourth songs, Pacing Shoes and Your Words, come and go and she maintains her power throughout, managing to move effortlessly up and down her dynamic range. She’s no slouch in the rhythm department either, with several of her songs changing rhythm quite effortlessly. Everything’s there, all the ingredients. This is the sort of thing that Radio 1 should be playing. The fifth song, Trees, had some crazy augmented or suspended chords in there. Nicky’s songs remind me of my favourite songs from back when i was still young!

Powerful + Honest = Impressive. I could have listened to Nicky Carder for another half hour yet with no complaints to be honest, but the show must go on.

YOGI – “The inner rage is inside of me, getting higher in intensity”

Go on it does, with a squashee from Yogi, he attacks his song, Prevail, playing lots of interesting suspended chords and other curious things. This is a triumphant no nonsense rock song on one acoustic guitar. Good stuff

ROB SPROUL-CRAN – “She thought my piety would last and she was wrong”

Rob Sproul-Cran in 2006

Rob Sproul-Cran in 2006

Possibly tonight’s quietest performer. He starts off with a groovy swing number, but done in Rob’s signature minimalist style. Everybody’s rapt, but somehow i want to hear a screaming electric version of this. Maybe that’s a sign of good songwriting. His second song, I See Stars, was written tonight while Nicky Carder was playing! That does impress me. There’s actually been quite a lot of “improvisation” at OOTB recently, and i certainly applaud it, honing a song actually in front of an audience. Well, that’s what you’d do in your actual bedroom, so why not bring it out of the bedroom to… well, Out of the Bedroom? Anyway, the song’s lovely, but it does veer precariously close to Coldplay at times, but not in a bad way.

SAM BARBER – “There ain’t no millionaire made it by playing fair”

Sam Barber regales us with pop ditties from a land where guitars smile but singers know life’s bitterwseet aftertaste. I detect the ghost of Ray Davies in here too, and possibly Donovan as well. All his songs are good, his second song, Equals, is a protest song, a good few of them being played tonight now i think of it, nothing wrong with that, quite the opposite in fact. I wonder if all these protest singers are popping along to Forest on the 14th of December. A solid performance from Sam.

MARTIN – “The stratosphere won’t let me know how it was born. The alphabet is less complex, but I use it more”

Martin’s stuff is a bit weird. Not weird bad, and not even weird inaccessible, but weird in a sort of indefinable way. You can’t actually hear why it’s weird, it just sort of suggests weirdness somehow. That’s great though, for me weirdness is a prime ingredient for a performer and/or songwriter. Spread the weird, i say. His first song’s about the aplhabet. Lovely Bert Jansch style fingerpicking and a nice harmonised chord progression. I’d like to hear this played by a duo, just to see how it could be developed. His second and third are just as good, and just as imaginative as the first, the third one being quite bluesy. Imaginative is the word with Martin, actually. His second song’s a bittersweet tale about a laughing asthmatic, for instance. Don’t go away, Martin, you’re good.

TICA DOUGLAS – “Nineteen years old is the perfect age to give your old heart a thrill!”

Tica’s a relative newcomer and yet somehow it’s almost like it wouldn’t be OOTB without something from her! Anyway, she plays a squashee (!) song, Five Years Isn’t Bad, that she wrote on the piano, and which she plays standing up (a first for Tica at OOTB) on the guitar. Hadn’t heard this song before and it’s a little different from her usual, though still recognisably Tica. Jolly, nice long lines, clever song construction, bouncy accompaniment, smooth vocals. Tica comes across as a relaxed and confident performer. she recently threatened to go back to the USA but i think somebody must have blackmailed her to make her stay, which is no bad thing.

HENRIK AND CONRAD feat DOCTOR BARNEY – “I’m red like the devil, I’m blue like the sea”

No messin’ stompy jugband bluegrass rhythm and blues, including some great blues harp, played with real feeling, as well as some highly extravagant rug cutting, and special mention must go to the excellent tambourine playing. the amount of times i’ve heard a tambourine actually being played well in my life can be counted on one hand, but that number’s increased by one tonight, good stuff. Sometimes a bit ragged, these guys really make it work for them rather than against. A nice skiffle combo, they really get it going.

CALUM CARLYLE – “You were the one true thing that i could believe in”

I finished up the night with three songs, and when i’d come offstage i found that Jonny Pugh had helpfully reviewed me as i performed! So here’s what he had to say about me:

1)Living Proof, Nice to hear with a fresh audience who really appreciated the whimsical lyrics. Well delivered by Calum tonight, guitar work had some nice embellishments which sounded delicate high up on the fretboard. The song works particularly well because of the elegant musical backing.
2) The Sound of Falling in…, This song washes over the listener with a beautifully warm timbre. The lyrics speak of an aching loss made all the more poignant. Emotional honesty on show, “I wanted to be there just to see you smile”. Peaceful music, anguished lyrics.
3) Ain’t Gonna Look Back, Foot tapping stuff, quick pentatonic runs lending a bluegrass feel to the intro. Sense of emancipation in the lyrics matches the excitable guitar work, which shows off both Calum’s dexterity but also his ability to craft a catchy melody.

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