Sunday, 16 November 2008

Arctic Circle / Winston Echo / The Mountain Parade - Port Mahon, Oxford - 06.10.08

Here's a review that was published in the November issue of Nightshift, the local music magazine here in Oxford. If you want to read the magazine online, which you really should, go and have a look here.

Arctic Circle / Winston Echo / The Mountain Parade
Port Mahon

Tonight sees the welcome return of MyAnalog as a promoter, for how long or how frequently is anyone’s guess, but it’s good to have them back however fleetingly.
The Mountain Parade number 9 or 10 tonight, which is far more people than they actually need to create the noise they do, but it’s all part of the fun watching them squeeze onstage. It takes a couple of songs for them to get into their stride, but when they do its delightful stuff. It’s the horn section that makes the songs special, cushioning the tunes and gently ushering them along. This is over-populated folk-pop at it’s best, they have some cracking tunes of which Shackleton Bewley and the climatic Skyscraper are the best.

Winston Echo is a funny fellow. Rather sweet and bewildered onstage, yet slightly terrifying off it. You wouldn’t imagine such a frail yet tender voice to come out of such a man, but it does. Singing his set off mic makes people pay more attention and renders things still more lo-fi. He’s a troubadour with a funny tale to tell and some deft, witty lyrics. Bureau de Change proves the highlight and provokes a singalong and to quote the man himself, he really is a “millionaire in yen”.

Arctic Circle have a lot to follow, but trump the lot. They’re nowhere near as lo-fi as I expected, but exuberant, funny and multi-faceted. Sometimes they’re a little like Los Campesinos! with the more irritating bits taken out. Other times they’re layering loads of noise over the end of a song. The other thing that sets them apart is that usually acts with two vocalists have one that’s noticeably stronger than the other, but not in this case. They swap over regularly and seamlessly; he more laid back and tender, her more hyper and excitable. They make the kind of crazed ramshackle pop that sounds like pots and pans rattling in a kitchen too close to the railway line as a train goes past. They make me smile, which is the best thing of all.

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