Interview: Hella Better Dancer

Ahead of their January gig at The Lock Tavern in Camden, I caught up with London four-piece Hella Better Dancer in a (loud!) café down the road. Find out what the guys had to say about being back on the stage, abusing instruments, and why they have unfinished business with Lauren Laverne:

Check out more on the band over at http://hellabetterdancer.tumblr.com/, and don’t forget to check out a quick video from the gig below.

Introducing: Hella Better Dancer

So, it’s been a very quiet period on this blog as of late. Of course, the usual excuses have been holding back the updates; a new job, moving cities, the holidays, etc. And while it may be the turn of the new year and the renewed excitement that comes with it which has me blogging again, I am happier to say that it is more down to a collection of artists that have me all excited about new music once more, a few of which I will be blogging about over the coming weeks.

The first of these is  Hella Better Dancer. While they hail from Camden, London, there is little else listed online to describe the four-piece And yet, with music as immersive as these guys are putting out, you’ll almost be glad that there are no such distractions.

No doubt about it, Hella Better Dancer’s music is some of the freshest I’ve heard in a long time. Even despite the obvious youth seen in their press shots, they have a rich and atmospheric sound that artists double their age long to pull off successfully- a sound sometimes even captured through nothing more than a Built-In-Microphone recording in a member’s front room.

However, as the video above shows, this is more than just some laptop trickery. Indeed, played live, tracks like ‘Sleep’  are delivered with even greater passion and impressive musicianship than their lo-fi counterparts. Why not see for yourself? The band play The Lock Tavern, Camden on January 20th (more info). In the meantime, be sure to check out the band’s Bandcamp page for some free downloads (link).

Review: Spector and Of Monsters And Men @ Village Underground

Problem: how do you best promote your latest range of high-quality audio accessories? Of course, the obvious answer these days is to make them out of toy-grade plastic, slap on the moniker of a famous rapper, and ship them over to the discerning ears of pro-footballers and half-wits worldwide. Thankfully, the good folk at Logitech and Ultimate Ears had a better idea: to show you care about music sounding good, why not put on a night of good sounding music?

And what a night it was. Choosing Shoreditch’s fantastic Village Underground as the setting, the hosts lined up impressive visuals, moody-blue lighting, and top warmup DJ Rory Phillips to whet the appetite of the crowd. The scene then set, Spector began the evening’s proceedings, rattling through the hits from their “critically…reviewed” debut album, ‘Enjoy It While It Lasts’.

Tonight, singer Fred Macpherson and his gang are in buoyant mood and on top form, injecting energy into the crowd and feedbacking off it even more. Tracks like ‘Celestine’ and ‘Friday Night, Don’t Ever Let It End’ are played at full throttle, with spiky guitar chords, Rock ‘N’ Roll guitar solos and 80s-synth-pop sounds providing the recipe for a party. Over the course of the set, slower moments like ‘Grey Shirt & Tie’ and epic-closer ‘Never Fade Away’ show that under all the indie-punk energy and Macpherson’s braggadocio, there is still emotional depth. Above all, despite a live performance that is at times shambolic, Spector showcase why they are one of the most sought-after guitar bands on the live circuit at the moment, and deliver the crowd with an outrageously fun experience that the night’s hosts no doubt have banked on.

If the support came off as a somewhat of a rabble, headliners Of Monsters And Men are anything but. Despite taking what seems like an age to arrive on stage, the first bars of atmospheric opener ‘Dirty Paws’ are enough to make anyone forget any complaints they may have held. The Icelandic 7-piece band bring to Shoreditch an enchanting set that travels from joyous full-band chant-a-longs to stripped-back tales of romance, citing the best parts of Arcade Fire and Mumford & Sons along the way (and with none of the grim melancholy or tediousness).

Experiencing Of Monsters And Men’s live show tonight is almost like experiencing a play. Two talented lead singers are backed by a supporting cast of wonderful instrumentalists, taking to the front of stage periodically to rally the crowd into chanting, clapping and dancing. Of the leading duo, Nanna Hilmarsdóttir supplies a charm that lead the troupe through their tender moments, while her counterpart, Ragnar Þórhallsson, provides a stunning power that cuts through the warehouse space on ‘Your Bones’, stunning the crowd into silence only to rally them back up again with the forthcoming single ‘Mountain Sound’. Despite perhaps being the lesser known of the evening’s two bands, it is clear that Of Monsters And Men have earnt their headline status through their brilliant musicianship and great connection with the crowd.

And so, the end of the night’s proceedings bring us back to our original question: is this new range of headphones any good? After two very special sets, perhaps the crowd no longer remembers, or cares. But, present any of them with a pair playing back either of these two performances, and I guarantee they’d say yes.