Thursday, March 26, 2009

Live Review: ‘Loz Bridge and the Box Social’ supporting ‘The Boy Least Likely To’

Another fulfilling night at The Joiners in Southampton where we discovered some happy pop mixed with social blues and jazz.

A thin crowd were throughly entertained by the first act of the evening, Loz Bridge and the Box Social. Although sometimes it’s a bit disconcerting when the band sit and the audience stand but that's the case when it's their acoustic line-up.

Featuring Loz on piano, Andrew Foster on guitar/banjo and Matt E sitting on a cajon - a Cuban/spanish box drum which you play with your hands.

It’s a remarkable instrument which adds enough bass to the mix so that you are not too disappointed about the missing double bass player.

Also missing were my table and chair, glass of wine and a smoky atmosphere which would have really suited the mood as Loz and the band mix blues and jazz with a touch of modern day reality.

They had everyone’s attention with the haunting ‘Sarah & the Wolves’ a song about unfair dismissal and a subject rarely covered by bands like Coldplay, or even Radiohead.

And then you have ‘Witches’ which has the catchy “I hate my job” chorus and is no doubt the anthem for most musicians unable to make a living from their art.

My only complaint is that Matt E had to “sit out” the song ‘November’. I’m sure he could find something percussive to gently waft while Andrew Foster uses his effects peddles to wrap sonic landscapes around the crooning Loz Bridge.

Maybe he could just read a book. Something dark to suit the mood; Edgar Allan Poe is a suggestion.

Due to conversations with the above and others I missed all but the last song of the second act "The School" so can't really pass comment apart from my usual "more effort in the stage gear required".

The night's headliners were ‘The Boy Least Likely To’ who I was ashamedly unaware of but they were such a fun act they won me over very quickly with their infectious, good time stomp and harmonies which seemed to spark up the pleasantly full room.

Formed around the duo of Pete Hobbs (instruments) and Jof Owen (singer) this seven piece smiled their way through a set of merriment that quietly hides a dark and sinister side.

“A lot of our lyrics are sad anyway,” Jof told me, “that’s kind of our trick to undercut the upbeat stuff.”

They describe their music as ‘Country Disco’ which does it justice but there is also a pure and natural Englishness about their sound which might be why they are loved in America and little known in the UK.

According to Jof: “America seems to understand us a little bit better. They seem to get the tongue in cheek, they get that we are not entirely serious and the sounds that we use are because we think they are quite funny.”

It’s the kind of aural flavour that gets XTC such great respect but enough awareness among the general public and it fills their second album “the law of the playground” which has taken two years to release thanks to legal wranglings with their former record company.

In fact in the past two years ‘The Boy Least Likely To’ couldn’t have record any new tracks as their old company would have owned those as well. It is a valuable lesson to anyone who still wants to get signed to a record label and maybe the resolution of these problems brings out the big smiles on stage.

From the new album the best example of their dark side is the song “I box up all the butterflies” which says enough really. The lyrics are wrapped up in the shades of summer that only an English band can create while hiding the definitely un-politically correct content within.

They are definitely a band for the economic crisis as plenty of people need uplifting and even if the feeling only lingers then at least music, in this case, has done its job.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

CD Review: Loz Bridge and the Box Social

The debut EP “Witches” from Loz Bridge and the Box Social kicks off with the stomping sing-a-long title track whose memorable and resonating chorus has the immortal line: “I hate! I hate! I hate my job!”

Loz Bridge's song is the natuarl anthem for the frustrated musician who needs a day job to survive and has to suffer the pain of the 9 to 5.

The former Suburbian singer wrote it from the heart and office chair and it is naturally an audience favourite although in this time of financial crisis I am sure many people will be singing along while hoping that the boss doesn't hear their true feelings.

The second song on the EP is the set opener China on which Andrew Foster on banjo and Matt E on drums drive it along with a true head nodding vibe.

Its a perfect EP to re-create the live experience and any new fan will be delighted with the purchase.

But for me this collection wins with the two songs that some people seem to causally pass by. Both “November” and “Sarah and the Wolves” are classic songs that ooze a blues/jazz feel yet hold a commercial edge.

They are also a place where Loz's piano and Andy Booth's double bass can add their charms.

Maybe its the age I've reached that sees me leaning towards these tracks but there aren't many people writing with this kind of feel and, if I had a record company, I would be pleading with Loz to deliver an album full of these songs.

However it is unlikely I could persuade him as the forcing of songs into straight jackets is something he did with Suburbian and now he says: “I made a contentious choice not to go in that direction. I'm keen to go in whatever direction is appropriate for the song. Either people like it or they don't.”

Either way you'll love this EP and, if you do hate your job, you'll have something to hum as the boss walks past.

Here's what they look like in the flesh...