Big Things For Little Brother Eli
Where do the cool kids go on a Thursday night when Islington and Camden are ‘off the menu’? Notting Hill. That’s where. The Notting Hill Arts Club to be exact - a scruffy/chic basement bar with some very cool artistic projections on the walls. The venue, tucked between a Tex-Mex restaurant and a natural remedy shop, was so understated that my gig buddy and I had to loop back to find it. Once there, our reward was a showcase of new music.
The first band, Soma Music, had a lot going on visually: afros, saxophones and congas. A seven-piece jazz band that has been performing for only five months, their newness was evident: with regular head nods between members to acknowledge they were in-check with each other mid-performance. With a respectable sound and tight performance, their jazz-funk crossover style had strong vocals and a ‘street’ edge. If they were from Brooklyn, NYC they wouldn’t be out of place. Tracks ‘Mother’; ‘Who is Alone’ and new single, ‘On my Mind’ were a fav. If you like The Aristocrats, you’ll like Soma.
Next up were The Smokey Krows from West London, a four-piece alternative-funk-rock band that have been together a couple of months. The young lads, initially a covers-band, recently started writing their own material (heavily influenced by the Red Hot Chili Peppers) and managed to rattle through a surprisingly long nine-song set list. This included their demo, ‘Glass of Your Eye’ as well as a fab cover of ‘All Along the Watchtower’ by Jimi Hendrix. Vocalist Kristian Major became more at ease as the set progressed but the band’s newness reflected in their sound, which felt quite ‘samey’. A sound and style need to be defined if they are to differentiate themselves in a market that is saturated.
The final performance witnessed came from Little Brother Eli. My favourite band of the night, by far. A five-piece, rock-blues band from Oxford, who packed a punch with opener ‘Who Do You’. It was loud, it was gritty and it screamed “we’ve arrived”. Think Jack White or the Black Keys. This is a band that knows who they are and where they want to go. The audience’s attention was caught. Their sound is a heady mix of rock, blues and garage with powerful vocals from singer Alex Grew (who equally pulled off some fine dance moves); growling guitar sounds and catchy hooks. With a faultless set, predominantly made up of up-beat tracks such as ‘This Girl’, ‘Dreams’ and ‘Beautiful People’ that got the crowd grooving; they also showcased their softer side, with ‘Cold Tales’, the title track from the debut album. Keep your eyes on this band… they’re definitely ones to watch!