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The Brackish + Sweetpool + Jon Hunt

Sunday 16th June 2024

The Fiddler's Elbow, Camden, London

Last Sunday afternoon, as a treat for Dad on Father's Day, as well as to set him up for England's first Euros game later in the evening, London Prog Gigs presented The Brackish at Camden's The Fiddler's Elbow in London NW5, that also saw the four-piece experimental band from Bristol, supported by an intense melting pot of Psychedelic Punk, Flamenco and Space noises from Sweetpool, plus London singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Jon Hunt

As we await the latest offering from Jon Hunt, we can enjoy the tit-bits that are around. Also known for his involvement with “Car Crash Casino”, his track record goes back to 2008 when he released his first album. Sadly, I have not known of him since those days so I can only judge him by what I was presented with.

English Singer-Songwriter is where he falls and this is where he sits. This was very much a guitar pedal exercise (and a reasonably well performed one). I have witnessed some absolute disasters too!

Most of the material appeared to be off his previous couple of albums (trying not to be too depressive) but admitting defeat on occasions! Big on guitar loops and big choruses, Jon is fully conversant in building a big song, now he just needs the “breakout hit” to cement his place in the business.

Sweetpool describe themselves as “Psychedelic Punk”, and this Birmingham based three-piece, sure pack a punch! With Ant Hook keeping those beats together, meshed together with Jason Holgate who holds the low end with some tasty licks amongst those solid bass lines, Nic Beales kept the melodies soaring, in-between the occasionally, savage hooks! Once things settled a bit, the Punk attitude started to seem more obvious and started to make more sense.

Promoting their new album: 'Triple Earth Star', with songs like 'Here Are The Stones' and 'Spring Devil', setting the tone for their latest offering, it appears to set the dial just right position! Once again, with the early start, the band were trying to create a “11pm vibe” at 3pm. Not always the easiest thing to do, but the band did its best and almost succeeded. But everyone was conscious with the time of the England game and people needed to get home, so we were battling a time crunch!

Finally, the headliner's for the afternoon: The Brackish. Here’s a band I haven’t seen since 2017, at a rather strange place called “The Good Ship” in Kilburn, so it was great to get another chance to catch the band. Despite the Euros, somehow the band didn’t feel that rushed at all, and it made for a much more chilled vibe, than I’d expected.

I am not as familiar with the present set-list as I would like to be and it did on occasions, seemed a little bit ‘experimental’, not that that didn’t work, either. I think I first met these guys back in 2014, as I had met Jacob’s brother before, so I am quite embarrassed not to be more up to date with their new material, but it is what it is. It becomes a question just accepting things as they are and not questioning anything about it. Very enlightening and a great way to treat new music.

The grooves were new but they seemed as experimental as always. Always pushing the limits as to what acceptable or (occasionally not) as to what works or not. It’s this is that makes the band what it is. Very much "soundtrack-esque” is probably the best way of describing what goes on musically, with a lot of improvisation on melody and narrative! The two guitarists, Luke Cawthra and Neil Smith play off each other in ways which many others struggle with, pushing what they do to new levels of ‘interesting’, while drummer Matt Jones and bassist Jacob Tyghe, keep things rolling in a fascinating fashion. A powerhouse duo, to be sure!

This is experimental music to be sure and that is what makes it what it is. There are times it works and occasionally not so much, but that is ‘jammin’’ at its best! You get lost in the ‘experiment’. Maybe the drum solo came a little early, but that’s a matter of my own personal taste. Sadly, there weren’t any set-lists knocking around at the end of the set, but they hadn’t seemed to need one either!

All in all, an interesting day. What a great idea to have the concert in the afternoon, then a rush to get back home in time for the football!

Tim Russell

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