9th October | Friendly Records (Photos: Rob Potter)
In celebration of 10 years of BBC Music Introducing, Monday night had industry ears and keen-bean fans congregate in Friendly Records, a small and… welcoming record shop in Bedminster. BBC Introducing In The West’s ‘10 in 10’ saw 10 favourite acts play two songs each – needless to say we got what we were promised and more. Merrily emceed by BBC Introducing Presenters, Richard Pitt and Sam Bonham, and broadcast alongside The Bristol Music Show on BCfm, this was an evening of hand picked talent and good-spirited storytelling.
Starting the night was local loopster, Mike Dennis. He laces string over funk and rhythm, rapping a first date story. “Nope, we didn’t sleep together… but, we did… stuff” rolls out with ironic self-satisfaction, his genuine nature breaking through to laugh at himself. The next verse (and date) involves a roast. “I keep dropping parsnips and fiddling with foil” making rap more accessible to the middle class than ever.
Following on was my favourite of the night, Kitty Macfarlane. With vocals delicate and warm, her songwriting talent allows her to sentimentalise the mundanity of a bus ride home. “I wish you’d taken the 25B with me”, a treasure of opportunity missed. ‘Wrecking Days’ reflects stories behind washed up rubbish on the shore, with lyrics “untangle fishing tackle” displaying her neat and sophisticated writing.
Josie Blakelock creates the atmosphere of a tormented Disney song. Her compositions imbue darkness reminiscent of her influencers, Nirvana and Laura Marling; her lyrics as surprising as her shy demeanor: “The love disappears, there is smoke in your tears”. Meanwhile Rhain is all wide mouthed, non-apology as she hurls her voice out over keys. With Bjork-like range and variation, she finishes her song off with a proud, girly flourish.
Alex Lipinski runs in as Sam and Rich continue with their between-set chit chat. “Artists very rarely remember there upcoming gigs…when’s your next gig Alex?” “Ooh, in about 2 minutes”. Lipinski is old school charm and Johnny Cash lyrics “Got no destination, no ticket at the end of the line, no direction”. Later on Robin Allender entrances the audience with his mature finger picking and soft, light melodies. There’s a similarity to Simon and Garfunkel’s sound; lyrics “I keep the wound green” matching their bitter sweet writing.
Lead singer of LICE, Aliastair Shuttleworth, retells Rich and Sam’s dramatic tale of being locked out of the Frog and Fiddle on their South West tour (“It was 5 minutes”) before emphasising the cosiness of the stage by tripping over. His Californian drawl bare and brave, as the band stagger and slump through their off-setting, scene-changing, rock.
As a welcome surprise, special guest for the evening is Sam Bonham himself. All doubtful (and even apologising at the end) in actual fact he delivered a touching piano ballad ‘Carry’s gone, carry on’. Fantastic songwriting, made intimate by its simplicity. This is the song ringing through my head two days later, along with the sing-along chorus of She Makes War’s new release ‘Slow Puncture’. Creator, Laura Kidd’s, signature broody atmosphere is forged with merely voice and guitar, while ‘Dear Heart’ shows her ever-courageous vulnerability before her audience. This admirable dedication to DIY is reflected in producer and singer RXC, delivering a strong performance of electronic, avant-pop after breaking from her label.
Together the evening was a nest of quirky creativity and community. With Friendly Records moving to a bigger location, wedged between two interlocking bars, this felt like an inspiring testament, not only to the talent in the South West, but also where the scene might be heading.
Check out She Make War’s ‘Slow Puncture’ below.