Review: Kidnapper Bell / Falling and Laughing / Black Heart Generator / Cast and Crew @TheVictoria by @JeffStuka

Kidnapper Bell / Falling and Laughing / Black Heart Generator / Cast and Crew
Falling and Laughing Present…
The Victoria
6th February 2010

It’s Saturday night so naturally, me and my moustache dipped into the Vic for a strut and a listen to the musical offerings at Falling And Laughing Present…

Presented first are Cast and Crew who turn out to be one cast member and no crew, if you don’t count the guitar.  That don’t matter though, cause what one man and a guitar does is enough for a delightful engaging set of acoustic post-folk (if that’s the right idiot label for it) that draws comparison with Steve Malkmus and Conor Oberst.

Very much the kind of wry, introspection that you’d expect to find soundtracking heart-warming American independent films set in Maine or such like.  I’ve got a feeling that to catch more of this chap, you’ll have to head to an Open Mic night or two but I tell you, it’s worth it.

I was expecting fun three piece psycho indie action from Black Heart Generator so was surprised to find one piece acoustic indie action instead.  Not that it was a problem as I’m assuming that Greg is the black heart at the heart of the generator anyway.  An enjoyable set of lively tunes that stem from a much more English root than Cast and Crew, are laced with a dark, outsider wit, a distant echo of the sharp intelligence that has informed music from the best of punk through to fey popsters such as Belle and Sebastian.

Which leads me nicely into Falling and Laughing, whose B and S influence is as obvious as it is pleasurable.  It’s nearly three years since I last saw Falling and Laughing down at a criminally empty Flapper.

My thoughts at the time, if I recall were good songwriting let down by poor arrangements.  Not a problem for them this time, as they’re down to two, guitarist Duncan and his sweaty drummer friend Darryl, the sweat being a measure of his work ethic according to the performance scale he handily shared with us throughout the show.  The pared down approach is a good thing here as the songwriting is allowed to shine rather than being lost beneath duelling guitars.  Decidedly gentle and rather lovely.

Thought that was it but no, Kidnapper Bell bounded on stage with Anglo-American vigour, spraying suggestions of influences around the place like cats scenting their territory.  The obligatory Bloc Party and a bit of, dare I say it, Emotional Rock amongst others. It would be easy (and lazy) to draw comparisons to Johnny Foreigner, what with the boy / girl dual vocals, but I think that would be off the mark.  Their DNA appears much closer to that of another American band, Joy Zipper.  I wouldn’t have expected this melange to work under normal circumstances but with a great guitarist in tow and a solid backline, Kidnapper Bell were thoroughly enjoyable.

Jeff Stuka

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