So last night I went along to see Fuzzystar, The Occasional Flickers support The Oates Field at the launch of their new EP Cafe DB, released on Linger On Records.
Although I’ve seen the Occasional Flickers in the past, and greatly enjoyed their album Home Is A Four-Letter Word, the only contact I’d had with The Oates Field was through their track on Jonnie Common’s Deskjob.
Fuzzystar were a guitar duo that played sweet twee pop. They complimented the other acts well, in that they seemed quite comfortable in the chamber indie of Occasional Flickers’ own styling. However, the dynamic of two guitars and no other instrumentation served to give them a unique edge, and a sound all their own.
In the busy Wee Red, they struggled slightly to raise their voices about the volume of bar talk (not everyone had arrived yet). Although I like the more intimate setting of Wee Red, I think the absence of a raised stage probably means that acts have to work a great deal harder to apply their stage presence.
The Occasional Flickers put in an assured performance last night, rattling off some of the tracks that I knew and especially liked from their aforementioned debut album, as well as some new ones. I’ve always liked the wordplay on December In Athens and the way it mixes protest music, observation and indie pop, but I liked their more recent material too – it has always reminds me of the Belle & Sebastian song The Eighth Station of the Cross Kebab House, which is about the Israel-Palestine conflict. There were a couple of tracks that seemed inspired more by Americana and bluegrass music than their usual twee noise, which made a good change.
The Oates Field are a three-piece band led by Alan Oates, a long-time collaborator with the Fence Records collective. Their guitar-driven sound, together with Oates’ soulful voice, makes them more rock than pop to my ears. But what’s cool about them is the odd songwriting; the opening track Energy is written about instruments and music, about the hum of guitars and the click of drumsticks. For a trio, they make a bigger sound than they are allowed; loops and pedals enable the Field to play around more on Carnivore (apparently inspired by the film American Werewolf in London).
All of the tracks were recorded in a cottage in the Highlands, and I think that dos come through in the music – each one is quite close in style, but also compact and playable as a stand alone track. Either way, their performance at the Wee Red was an excellent showcase for the EP.