The Lodger

The School, The Lodger Master The Art of Kissing in Different Ways More

Live Review The Art of Kissing

Written By Michael Wood Saturday, April 19th, 2008

Simone White, Peter Von Poehl, The Lodger, The School, Chiara L's, Voltaires The Art of Kissing at The Faversham, Leeds

Voltaires are the kind of noisy cliche that I worried would mark The Art of Kissing - a night in Leeds pub The Faversham and while they have their charms they lack a little originality. Guitars grinding and guys singing and they are rewarded for their efforts by applause but Leeds - as opposed to the other four centres of population in West Yorkshire - seems to produce a formula for bands and Voltaires are very much of it.

The Chiara L's are from a similar template. Musically they are strong with a powerful drum and bass pushing lively guitar but lead singer/keyboardist Chiara lacks the stage presence to make the band stand out. She hops and jigs on stage and at one point seems to engage in performance origami all of which screams "quirky" and serves to underline her slightness on stage. She wears the dress of a sparkling front woman but no one is at home.

The band are plagued by technical problems not of their own making and before the next band arrive an amp is replaced which is a shame because behind the girl is an interesting sound which is over-ruffled tonight. Up front though they seem - once again - to lack originality

Having loads of people on stage and coming from Cardiff is anything other than original these days and The School share an almost identical set up to the previous band save the addition of a xylophone glockenspielist who looks as if he has been dragged from a building site and is none too pleased about it but the breezy brand of annunciated vocals and tweed up backing is more disarming.

They wear their influences well - The School being the suffix of a Belle and Sebastian song which has obviously been digested by the band - and they bring something fresher to the mix. All I Wanna Do sounds like Dusty Springfield fronting The Divine Comedy while Valentine sounds like it could be pulled from a lost Camera Obscura album that had slipped back in time to the 1960s.

The band are invaded on stage by five friends who join the band in high hand clapping and despite the fact one looks as if he is about to swing his pants the whole stunt appears charming. Strains of Steph's violin drive Let It Slip and tweecore finds a breathy Sarah Cracknell. They are selling singles on pink vinyl after the show and that fits rather well. If you do not tap your feet to The School then you probably don't have any.

The Lodger do not need to find their feet and tonight play a set of two old and five or so new and brilliant songs including new single and perhaps best work so far The Good Old Days which marks a real advancement in Ben Siddall's song writing hanging the melody off a palmful of chords and if you buy into the idea that this band really are the new Smiths then this is their How Soon Is Now?.

All of which comes at the end of a set which sees them augmented with an extra guitarist who adds a breadth but not a weight to the sound and they still sound crisp and picked out of the best of pop music. The band have just finished new album Life Is Sweet which improves on the excellence of Grown Ups. A Hero's Welcome lyrically plays with themes of isolation - "You could be waiting for this bus forever/waiting for the fun to begin" evokes Manchester's finest while being up to date.

Ben Siddall of The Lodger

The Lodger are the sound of waiting for a mobile phone to bleep with a text that never comes. How this City adores The Pigeon Detectives and Kaiser Chiefs over this band amazes me.

After such excellence Peter Von Poehl - a single, tall, hairy Swede - has a tough time impressing. He is the next in an increasingly long line of Swede solo artists and he is more Jose Gonzalez than he is Jen Lekman but eventually he wins me over with a cover of Heartbreak Hotel that omits the word lonely in favour of a guitar break - Elvis would be impressed - and if his songs do not have enough of an honestly to them then his performance certainly does with his neck snapping up right to sing high notes.

Von Poehl will live longer in the memory than Simone White who’s acoustic stylings are lost in the late night hub-bub of the pub at ten thirty and one is forced to wonder who put the two solo acoustic performers on last?

No matter. These all day events peak between eight and nine and that is when The School and later The Lodger shone.

The One That Ends Happy More

Granadaland Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Friday, June 8th, 2007

The Lodger, Laura Groves, Le Tournoi Granadaland at The Love Apple, Bradford

I'll ruin the surprise ending: This one ends happily.

If you ever read Dalliance before you will know how convinced I am to the Laura Groves cause, that I think Le Tournoi have something about them and how impressive The Lodger were supporting The Long Blondes earlier this year.

All three on one bill, on a sunny evening, after a day off, at The Love Apple, on a night named after a Wedding Present song. I'll ruin the surprise: This one ends happily.

Something seems to have happened with Le Tournoi who open the evening sans trumpet section but with more of a controlled presence than they have shown previously. The word polish is thankfully never to be applied to the joie de vivre that the Bradford four piece bring to the stage. Where previously Le Tournoi were an explosion of raw ideas now they are showing signs of focus.

Trees early in the set starts a tempo which is maintains as they bash through a collection of ninety seconds songs that are rapidly fitting together into a rather impressive package. Christmas Eve and I Was A Victim Of A Series Of Accidents, As Are We All regretfully fall from the set but perhaps as a result everything is tighter and everything works.

Vocals and guitar William Sanderson carrys on an easy charm joking with the front rows of an unusually full Love Apple looking every inch nerd cool in contrast to the prim prom dress of keyboards and vocals Emilie who offs heels to perform and sturdy Rob on Bass. Le Tournoi are jagged pieces put together into strange and interesting shapes.

These shapes press though into the lyrics - "And when the night begins/The moon will illuminate everything/The trees are closing in/Or So It seems" entertains with lyrical painting using darker palette colours. Some Murder Perhaps offers "Hopes dashed anew everyday/I'm reading the paper to find something new and refreshing/Some murder perhaps". Le Tournoi are short spiky songs about interesting things and dubbed Modern Folk meets Joy Division but my interest is sparked with comparisons escape me and when to finish the set off William embarks on six or seven cords of almost Hendrix-esque guitarmanship - or at least some kind of twang based heroics which was hitherto not hinted at - then I give up searching for something to complete my "Folk done by The Ramones" observations and join the hurrahs.

What can I say about Laura Groves which I have not before? A set that I never tire of, a voice that belays her size and so on and soon one is going towards words like Elfin which I steadfastly refuse to use.

Tonight was the first time Groves has stamped my hand on the way in and the first outing for new song Does Anyone Love Me Now which sits alongside the delights of Coast, Imaginary Flights and Can't Sleep which all blend through the darkening night air. She mentions that Bridges which appears on on anti-torture compilation Fifty Minutes and gives that a plug so I shall too.

Any plaudits that come her way she is worth.

Granadaland's twilight zone comes when the local heroes finish. The Lodger face the often apathetic and frequently far off rows of The Love Apple with a confidence. The Lodger have been playing venues like this for two or three too many years and have seen a couple of bands with a couple of less pints of talent go a bit further. Put this down to the fact that the stompalongs that populate the sets of Leeds lad rock peers like Kaiser Chiefs and The Cribs are replaced by an intelligent set of pop songs that fit perfectly with vocal and guitar Ben Siddall's roots as a bedsit musician.

Without wanting to shortcut the process Siddall is Morrissey and Marr. He is a guy who can write a bittersweet romantic lyric like "Our parents will stay together/And our last dance will last forever." and play then play the jangling Strangeway Here We Come guitar to go with it.

Unsatisfied is all urban paranoia and alternation with a fading melodic lilt, Kicking Sand is melancholic resignation to a furious pop beat. The drummer Katie seems to be - well - older and more of a bloke than last time. Joe The Bass has two go faster stripes on his guitar which may or may not be ironic but see him keep the pace fast with his plucking. It is very impressive to people of a certain disposition.

Those people would seem to be out in reasonable force and The Lodger maintain a healthy focus from the often drifting Love Apple audience. "I never thought I'd say this," Siddall comments, "But could you come forward a step or two."

And people do which is always a good sign and a guy in a Clash t-shirt goes crazy in all the right places and Siddall's guitar drives the self-effacing lyrics on. Stand out track comes at the conclusion of the set after the plug for long time gestated album Grown Ups in Many Thanks For Your Honest Opinion which paces through the most Smithsian chorus since 1987 and The Lodger leave a room impressed.

Me, I'm happy.

The Best Thing From Bradford, The Riot & The Blues More

Your Attention

Written By Michael Wood Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

Teasers, The Swing Movement, The Lodger - Currently Available For Your Attention

The Swing Movement claim to be the best thing out of Bradford - they are obviously oblivious to Faith Nelson - and they back the claim up with a collection of songs which put one in mind of a less snarling and some watch mixed version of The Libertines. Truth be told Kiss Kiss Bang Bang hangs a little too close to The Libertines romantic English rock but as far as calling cards go it is impressive and hangs around for just the right length of time.

Digging continues the theme which beings to tire on Shooting Blanks until the sound drifts from would be Libertines to something early nineties and interesting. The Swing Movement have a vibrancy that drifts in and out of their songs as they form up a sound. Black Russian puts you in mind of the heavy drumming of Adam & The Ants and that is no bad thing at all. They are gigging around Bradford and Leeds at the moment and have the kind of sound is worth getting out to hear.

Always worth getting out to hear are Londoners Teasers who are favourites at The Gasworks in 2006. Back then they come over as a kind of Blondie played by The Wedding Present - continuing reading of Dalliance will show that everything that impresses me will be compared to The Wedding Present - and since those gigs they have expanded the sound adding a frantic drum to Work It Out and some rather strange bass sounds to Light Of Day which suggest someone would like to bring Johnny Cash back. Molly - Molteaser if you will - takes centre stage with her breathless vocals on the latter half whispering over the steady beat and the cowboy calls of the start of Osward perfectly pitch the band. They are a riot worth seeing but current tunes are not as appealing as last year's Bang Bang.

A different kind of riot live - the riot of tapping feet if you will - is Serious Sam Barrett who raised spirits in the basement at The Woollen Wig Out more than I ever thought a man on a five string Banjo could do. Gambling Man - a Serious Sam Barrett original - sounds just as good as it did then and Cocaine Blues gets into your soul. Serious Sam is a blues man from Barnsley but his sound is pure Americana - the good kind - and gives your day a an often much needed shot of soul.

Barrett's gigs takes in most of West Yorkshire but turning up early to his second spot on 24th April, 2007 at the Faversham, Leeds under T-Model Ford will get you the also ace bluesman David Broad.

Further Reading

The Lodger that just does not leave More

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

The Long Blondes, The Lodger at Metropolian University, Leeds

Well... The Lodger Really. Such a necessary evil playing support to the band that energises young listens so much that you get a 18+ stamp on your hand on the way in and such a thankless task.For sure later on Kate, Dorian et al would impress and in the mean time Leeds based The Lodger have to fill ear time.

The come on looking strangely confident and set about a set with steady precision.

Lead guitar and vocals Ben Siddall projects and disinterest turns to curiosity. Feet tap and comparisons are draw. Are The Lodger The Cure mixed with The Wedding Present? Are they Maximo Park from Yorkshire?

A few tracks in and The Lodger seem to have cut away from such guessing and have won over those who made their way from the bar to watch. Siddall's guitar work recalls the jangle of the late 1980s and his kitchen sinkist lyrics are straight out of the big book of Northern Singers.

Single Many Thanks for Your Honest Opinion stands out and the mental note taking when Siddall comments that the album will follow in April is almost audible.

And so quick The Lodger depart leaving a good impression behind - off to slip down some Leeds side streets no doubt.

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