Georgia and Amy TitleIt’s been a couple of years since we last visited Birthdays in Dalston, so it was good to get an invite for the monthly Amazing Radio/Robomagic F.T.F.H. (Finding the Female Headliners) night. It’s a simple concept; all of the bands playing are either female-fronted or completely female, and if this is a typical line-up, then it’s worth making the effort to get the Overground out to Dalston Kingsland once a month. If you don’t live in London, don’t worry; I suspect this particular franchise might be making its way around the country soon. This month’s bill featured bands from Leeds, Stockholm and London, so it’s not just a parochial London thing.

Opening the bill, Actor (from Leeds) featured the stunning voice of Louisa Osborn against a backdrop of shimmering guitars and big drums. The songs are strong and the smallish audience warmed immediately to Louisa’s warm stage presence, but her incredibly powerful voice is the focal point of the set. A great start to the night and the bar was already pretty high for the remaining bands.

Dolores Haze (from Stockholm) brought along their own very vocal and very lively fans (probably not from Stockholm) and added another dimension to the evening with a slightly shambolic, spiky set of songs that alternated between thrash, angular and atonal guitar parts and faux-naif B52s style pop. If you threw The Cardigans, Television and Fuzzbox into a blender, then it might sound something like Dolores Haze. Music or performance art; you decide. Their fans certainly loved it and you definitely couldn’t ignore it.

So, on to the headliners, Nova Twins. Amy Love (guitar/vocal) and Georgia South (bass/backing vocals) have just released their first single, “Bassline Bitch” on Rob Hallett’s Robomagic label (reviewed by MusicRiot a couple of weeks ago) and we couldn’t wait for the chance to see them live; it’s fair to say they didn’t disappoint.

In a live setting, Amy and Georgia are the real deal. This isn’t some manufactured image backed up by session musicians; they can both play live and with the addition of drums, they have a huge sound. Georgia’s raw, visceral and melodic basslines are a thumping backdrop for Amy’s guitar, vocals and raps. It’s a fusion of metal, hip-hop and melody that’s almost impossible to resist and it’s delivered with style and assurance. They’ve got the material as well; the set included “Dirty Stop Out”, “Kiss”, Play Fair” and “Hit List” as well as the obligatory “Bassline Bitch” and they all sounded the business. Even the inevitable technical difficulties didn’t faze them; a failed bass lead was just a chance to have a bit of chat with the audience before blasting back into the set again. I think we might be hearing a lot more of Nova Twins.

So it’s a big thumbs up to Amazing Radio and Robomagic for the concept and an even bigger thumbs up to the bands for three great sets.





OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, I’m in a basement bar in Dalston, painted black of course (the room, not me) on a Sunday night in July and it’s the hottest day of the year so far; this had better be good.  I was in Birthdays on Stoke Newington Road for the launch party for a new release from The Nyco Project, whose EP “The New Machine” is being released in the form of an app.  The Nyco Project (TNP) has four members: Ben Hardy, Zahara Muñoz, Joantoni Segui and Daisy Brodskis.  I’m not going to list their instruments because, apart from the drummer, Joantoni, they mix it up quite a lot.

There were two support bands for the evening, Sky Between Leaves and Turnpike Glow.  TNP decided to ignore the usual headline-band-last hierarchy and played between the two support bands to ensure that anyone leaving early to make sure they could actually get home on public transport (yeah, that’s me) didn’t miss their set. Unfortunately that meant I missed Turnpike Glow; sorry about that and I’ll try to catch you soon.

After an interactive session using the sound and vision clips from the EP on a big screen which allowed the audience to remix the songs in real time, Sky Between Leaves took the stage to play a set which was enthusiastically received despite the unbearable heat in the venue.  The low-tech lighting effect created by shining a lamp through a stencilled cylinder rotating on a Technics SL1200 deserves a mention as well.

TNP are usually described as psychedelic indie, but there’s a lot more than that going on.  From the opening song of the set, “Blown”, it’s obvious that they have great songs but the really impressive thing is that they deliver so well as a live act.  The playing isn’t flashy, but the arrangements are perfect and when it has to be spot-on (vocal harmonies, for example) the band always nail it.  The EP tracks “The New Machine”, “Fade Away” and “You’re So Weak” are spaced equally throughout the set, but TNP save the best for last.  The final three songs, the storming “Poor”, the experimental “Disco Pedro” (which has a feel of early Pink Floyd) and the closer “She’s Only Carbon” are stunning.  The final song was dedicated to a friend of the band who is no longer with us and demonstrated the quality of the band as they gave a perfect performance while struggling visibly with strong emotions.

So, what’s all the fuss about the EP/app release?  The concept is that the band recorded each instrumental and vocal take as audio and video files with the motto “Everything you hear, you see”.  They took this concept to the Arts Council, which agreed to fund the project (so even that losing lottery ticket is a winner for someone) and that enabled them to produce the app which shows the video footage of all of the takes used in the production and allows the user to isolate individual instrumental and vocal parts or to get information about the band members.  It’s an original idea which works really well because the listener gets the chance to unpick the song and hear the way the parts fit together as well as having plenty of eye-catching visuals.  It’s very addictive because you can’t see or hear everything at one attempt and you have to repeat to pick up on the parts you missed.  And the live interactive version on the big screen is even better.  Apparently there’s a chance that you might even be able to see this at The Barbican at some point and it’s the kind of installation that should work really well in that environment.

As a live band, The Nyco Project is superb and the EP/app is an innovative attempt to explore the possibilities being opened up by developing technologies; I love both approaches and I think you should download the EP/app and then get out and see the band live as soon as you can.  You won’t regret it.