ALLO DARLIN’ Since forming in 2009, London indie-pop quartet Allo Darlin’ have had a ‘seat of our pants’ couple of years, between making their self-titled debut album for Fortuna Pop! and touring the US and Europe. Australian vocalist Elizabeth Morris describes swapping Brisbane for the Big Smoke and forming a band in thrall to the wistful sounds of Magnetic Fields and Camera Obscura.
‘Brisbane has a great pop history, but there was a lot of noise, Sonic Youth-style stuff going on, and I didn’t think I could make the music I wanted to. So I moved to London, started going out to indie-pop clubs and eventually met all the people who are now in Allo Darlin’.’ Fortuna Pop! are something of a twee institution – you must have been delighted when they signed you?
‘Definitely – it was quite incredible really for [Fortuna boss] Sean Price to take a chance on us. He’s been going for 14 years or something, and enjoys bringing out a six-figure sum for the amount of money that he’s lost in that time! It’s great that The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are doing so well and that there’s lots of other exciting bands on the label.’ DIY indie-pop festivals are a growing phenomenon globally – do you welcome a surge of interest in the genre?
‘It’s amazing, it feels like a community all over the world. We get asked if it’s just a fad, but there are people who come to our shows who have been into indie-pop since the 80s. Suddenly the spotlight is on this type of music, but even if the spotlight goes away, it’ll still be there’. (Malcolm Jack) ■ Captains Rest, Glasgow, Fri Jan 28, www.allodarlin.com
RAP DRAKE O2 Academy, Glasgow, Tue 4 Jan ●●●●● AFRO-POP BWANI JUNCTION King Tut’s, Glasgow, Fri 7 Jan ●●●●●
The streets have barely been swept of new year’s party mess, and already Aubrey Drake Graham is making a play for success in the UK in 2011 with this first date of a national tour. The weekend after this show, he hit number one with ‘What’s My Name?’, his track as a featured artist alongside his ex, Rihanna. It will be little surprise when the Kanye and Eminem- endorsed rapper recaptures the glory his debut album Thank Me Later enjoyed in the US and his native Canada last year. With a sizeable live band hidden away behind all the dry ice and an impressive, nightclub-style lightshow, this felt like a dry run for an arena tour. While there’s impressive versatility in the power-rock of ‘Forever’, the smooth, spare R&B of ‘Karaoke’, the pounding dancefloor style of ‘Shut It Down’ and some gospel-infused, Kanye-style anthemics throughout ‘Miss Me’ and the mighty closer ‘Over’, he could do with less of the predictable chat about ‘money, cars, clothes and hoes’ which blighted ‘Successful’ and dragged this fairly impressive debut towards the same old, same old. (David Pollock)
A new year’s musical fad is generally to copy one of the last year’s successes, and Edinburgh’s Bwani Junction (perhaps named after George Cukor’s 1956 movie Bhowani Junction?) don’t entirely dodge that accusation. They are four handsome and well-spoken young men who went to the exclusive Merchiston Castle School and look like they’ve barely left, if at all. Their fresh guitar- pop sound incorporates Afrobeat and what singer Rory Fairweather jokingly describes, during ‘My Body, My Mind’, as ‘mental shmental’ oriental styles. The subtitle ‘Scotland’s Vampire Weekend’ surely awaits. Which would be a good place to leave it were they not so dazzlingly good. Incorporating meaningful lyrics (‘Leave your pride down at your ankles’ from opener ‘Bianco’s’ is an early attention-grabber, while ‘Today’s Crusades’ is an anti-war protest) with a distinct and unforced Scottish flavour (Fergus Robson’s breastbone- shaking bass on ‘Middle Meadow’ recalls the exuberant, upbeat pop of Orange Juice), this is a band to listen closely to and to party along with. This country will surely produce few better in 2011. (David Pollock)
INDIE-FOLK THE SEVENTEENTH CENTURY Captains Rest, Glasgow, Tue 11 Jan ●●●●●
Five young lads who clearly believe music without lashings of passion and intensity is not worth making, The 17th Century align themselves with like-minded Scots Broken Records and Meursault. Singer/violinist Mark Farmer scrapes his fiddle so violently at this launch for the Glasgow band’s self-titled debut EP he threatens to take the eye out of someone in the front row with his flying bow. The baroque indie-folk quintet have a fine way with a multi-part harmony, and a textured, triumphant build-up – all martial beats, twinkling glockenspiel and mournful cornet – recalling Beirut and Sufjan Stevens. But big crescendo fatigue sets in quick. It’d be nice to see them shift the dynamics around more and temper swelling hold with cathartic release. An extra dose of confidence will equally go a long way to help them realise their undoubted potential (they commit that cardinal sin of performing with backs to the crowd on several occasions), as will a realisation that by reaching for hairs-on-back-of-neck- raising peaks slightly less, it’ll be all the more stirring when they do hit them. (Malcolm Jack)
POP SHAKIRA SECC, Glasgow, Sun 19 Dec ●●●●●
With costume changes and dance moves aplenty, South American pop sensation Shakira does not disappoint – trademark belly- dancing, flamenco skills, concrete midriff and all. Drawing on her back catalogue of
hits, including many from her ‘Spanglish’ repertoire, she ensures language is no barrier for the Glasgow crowd, who end up dancing in their seats. She enlists audience help for the
first song, selecting four women from the crowd to perform her trademark hip shakes on stage.
At 5’2’’, she’s small in stature, but not in stage presence. A personable and dedicated host, she performs non-stop for over 90 minutes, rounding off the show with her official FIFA World Cup song ‘Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)’, alongside clips of her UN work in African countries.
With special effects including indoor snow, a flurry of confetti, a central catwalk for close-up dance segues and visuals over three giant screens, Colombia’s finest export since coffee creates a spectacular show. (Yasmin Ali)
20 Jan–3 Feb 2011 THE LIST 59