We’ve published a few pieces about Vera Lynch this year and we were very sorry to hear that the band had decided to split at the end of October. Despite having an incredibly hectic schedule touring in Japan, former singer Guy Harries made time to tell us about his favourite five musical events of 2014.

 

These new puritansThese New Puritans live at the Barbican -- 17 April 2014

An astounding live show in which the band performed their spellbinding album “Field of Reeds” with a large ensemble (members of the Heritage Orchestra) and vocalists (Synergy Vocals), along with a couple of older material and a new track. The material is so nuanced, intricate and complex, that it was a wonder that it could be played live. I later found out that the performance was recorded and will be released soon.

50 words for snowRediscovering Kate Bush’s more recent material

The whole buzz around Kate’s live comeback (which, alas, I did not manage to attend), encouraged me to have another listen to her album “Aerial” from 2005 (which I didn’t really think much of at the time), as well as her more recent “50 Words for Snow”. This time around, I found a deeply moving voice of an artist who is true to her own artistic vision, takes her time to move beyond short song -form to create atmospheric, personal songs with a melancholy touch that I highly recommend for these wintry months…

 

LiquidLe1f -- live in Oslo, Hackney London -- May 2014

This musician stretches the boundaries of rap music in terms of sound, agendas, voices and looks. I particularly like his “Liquid EP”, in collaboration with producer Boody. His live performance in Hackney this year was no disappointment, revealing a charismatic artist, with some killer dance moves.

 

 

mexicoGusGus returns

On the heels of their recent album “Mexico”, which is a return to form for this Icelandic band, the band performed in Koko, London in November. Underground house beats and soul-drenched vocals from Daniel Agust and Stephen Stephensen were a complete treat. Unfortunately, the set was too short and we had to shift to make way for the ensuing NME club night.

 

Benedict masonAurora Orchestra playing Benedict Mason’s Meld at the Proms 2014

This spectacular piece makes use of the entire Albert Hall, with musicians constantly moving throughout the whole space, including the galleries, entrance corridors, back stage, and audience area. It questions what a musical performance or classical concert is and was utterly immersive.

The End of the WorldOK, I’ll admit it; the Riot Squad are big fans of Vera Lynch. We’ve seen them live a couple of times now and it’s quite an experience.  So what happens when you strip away the stagecraft and theatrics? Well the second Vera Lynch EP, “The End of the World”, answers that question.  The musicianship is superb throughout the five tracks as they bounce between musical styles from the mutant funk of the opening song “Child of Jago” with its wah-wah and clean, clipped guitar sounds to the sleazy camp metal of the closer, “Dog in the Club”.

The End of the World” starts as a slow environmental ballad before a squalling guitar signals the apocalyptic final third of the song, neatly underlining the song’s lyrical message.  Stormy Weather” combines pumping melodic bass with clipped guitar chords on the off beat and over-driven guitar to back lyrical themes of extremes of nature; you even get a reggae breakdown towards the end. “Horror Doctor” is a psychobilly/Cramps-style piece which is already a live favourite.  The band sounds perfectly at ease with the various genres featured across the five tracks of this EP and the instantaneous switches from one to another.

It’s easy to see why the Vera Lynch fanbase is growing; the live performances are riveting, but there are some good songs to back up the shows with thoughtful lyrics (“Child of Jago” made me hit the search button a few times) and interesting arrangements delivered with a theatricality that’s reminiscent of the late Alex Harvey (look him up kids) at his best.  It’s a clever mixture of the thought-provoking and the unhinged and it’s great fun.

You can see them live at the EP launch on May 10 in Shoreditch.

“End of the World” is out now and available from Amazon, and ITunes.

Cover229, The Venue?  It’s easy to get to because it’s part of the International Students’ House complex just across the street from Great Portland Street tube station.  Venue 2 is a basement room with a stage at one end and a bar on one side.  The acoustics are reasonable so it’s not a bad place to watch up-and-coming bands.  My mission tonight, if I choose to accept it, is to have a look at London alt-indie (let’s leave the description at that for the moment) band, Vera Lynch.  In keeping with their highly eclectic sound, the band has a multinational line-up with members from the UK, USA, Hungary and the Far East.  They are: Sándor Sztankovics (drums), Ted Barker (bass), Keisuke Nishikawa (guitar), Brian Pistolesi (guitar) and Guy Harries (vocals).

If you could splice the musical DNA of Dick Dale, Ennio Morricone and English ‘80s post-punk, you might come close to defining the Vera Lynch sound; you might even want to throw a bit of early Bowie and INXS in there.  The band has an EP out at the moment, “Evil Cowboy Surfer Songs” (to be reviewed here soon), and you might expect to hear all four songs from the EP as part of a short live set, but it doesn’t work out that way because, well, this is Vera Lynch.  In fact, only two songs from the EP, “Fire” and “”Evil Cowboy Surfer Song”, make the live set.  The band opens with “Dog in the Club” and then “Lost Property”, “Horror Doctor”, “Child of Jago” and the anthemic closer, “The End of the World”, follow the two songs from the EP.

It’s quite a spectacle; the band look great and they play together as a very tight unit, moving through varying musical moods with style and panache and providing a bedrock for the lead vocals.  Guy Harries is mesmeric and messianic, a twenty-first century Ian Curtis (but with a sense of rhythm) who transfixes the audience with his scary, stary-eyed delivery and a voice that might just have a hint of Freddie Mercury in there as well.  Musically and visually, they are impossible to ignore and you really should make the effort to go out and see them.

If you want to see Vera Lynch live in the next few weeks, you can see them at The Dolphin in Hackney on Friday February 28 or Underbelly in Hoxton on Friday April 18.