Alternative music reviews

October 13, 2007

Little Fish at The Jericho Tavern, Oxford

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Tristan and The Troubadours looked very young (even younger than policemen these days). It seems age isn’t a barrier to talent and originality. They have violin and keyboards and guitars and swap instruments a bit as well. Sadly (I assume because of their age) they will almost certainly not know what a complement it is for me to say that I was reminded of the same sort of vocal intensity and varied arrangements as The Band Of Holy Joy.

House Of Brothers is one man with a guitar. He plays music that is alt-country influenced and doesn’t suffer in a comparison to Elliott Smith or Richard Buckner, although lacking their musical variation. Heartfelt songs sung with a voice that is evocative and entrancing.

Roxy, also known as Roxanne: The Early Years is very Folk and has a great voice. She also has a set of charming songs – especially when her friends joined her on a variety of instruments.

And then it was my main event. Little Fish have produced one of the best set of demo songs I have heard in five years of reviewing. I am not even sure they fit into my Indie/Alt arena of the last 10 years – there is no reason why they couldn’t have been contemporaneous to the great moments in the 70’s when Patti Smith produced Horses. Perhaps the only thing that really cements them in the 90s onwards is the fact that they are a two-piece through design and not necessity (the White Stripes proved it could be done).

No secret that I like the music, but I saw a real performance as well. On the opening song Devil’s Eyes Juju’s eyes actually flash and I’m sure it wasn’t just me but everyone thought she was looking at them. I had to drag my eyes from her and observe the other Fish (I am a Muso after all) and one of the secrets was clear – in a two-piece you need a shit-hot drummer. The songs Perfect Stranger, Infidelity and Am I Crazy followed and they were all made more exciting by seeing them live. The energy and enthusiasm that JuJu puts into her music is exciting and the impassioned singing just leaves me breathless.

Let’s not get carried away here, there’s a lot of development in song-writing to be done yet and there will be pitfalls such as being offered a support slot because they don’t need much setting up. But Little Fish, in my humble opinion, have the ability to break out of any genre trap and find a big, though discerning, audience.

Apologies to the final band, but no-one could follow that and I walked off into the night with my mind spinning and a new energy in my steps.

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