Sion Russell Jones is off to SXSW soon, but he’s still found the time to give us a few songs before he boards the plane. Musically, he’s more interesting than most lone men with acoustic guitars, especially when you factor in the cool vocal effects pedal thingy which gives him a backing choir at the stomp of a button. The songs occasionally stray into the tedious folk-lite territory upon which Scrubs has built its legacy, but most of the time his note-perfect voice, nimble fingers, and natural ear for a tune make for a very engaging performance. One song, ‘Mandy’, even manages to achieve jumpy dynamics that Mogwai would be proud of. Not bad for one man with an acoustic guitar.
Houdini Dax seem to have drawn quite a crowd – Gwdihw is packed to the rafters, and there are yet more people stood outside, watching through the window. They’ve certainly created a buzz and, happily, they live up to it, bashing out a set that’s chock-full of loutish rock ‘n’ roll charm. Their music, of course, is completely in thrall to bands like The Beatles and The Who, and they’ll be pleased to hear that they sound like all of their 60s heroes. Not in a crap Oasis way, mind you – instead, their sound harks back to a time when rock music was fresh, unpretentious and potent. They’ve got the whole bag of tricks – surf rock guitar licks, ‘woo-hoo’ backing vocals, rockabilly influences, fuzzy psychedelic moments, and shouty (and suspiciously Scouse-sounding) vocals are all present and correct. Hell, even their shirts display a distinct 60s influence.
They play a new song or two, and it becomes pretty clear that they’ve not got any major strategic rethinks in store for album number two. That’s no bad thing though – hopefully they’ll be making this loud, dirty, wide-eyed noise for a while yet. JDE