There has been a flurry of activity in the UK lately for Violens, a band based in New York but originally from Miami. They have just released a four-track self-titled EP through Deadly People and last week played two gigs at small venues in London.
The four-piece, whose name is pronounced "vy-lenz", apparently, have been going for a little over a year. With a trickle of new songs and some recent support shows with MGMT, they are starting to get a healthy amount of notice; enough positive feeling to make people's ears prick up but not too much to tip them into that dreaded over-hyped bracket.
I saw one of the gigs and there are lots of good things to say about their music. It's best summed up by their label's blurb: "Dreamy pop songs that are perfect for winter... sunshine-soaked harmonies, Eighties production and Sixties psychedelic sounds." Comparisons have also been drawn to Of Montreal, though thus far they seem to eschew the latter's less self-regarding "weirdness".
Five tracks, including my two standouts, "Lighting Lightning" and "Already Over", are currently streamed on their MySpace page, http://www.myspace.com/violensmusic, while a free download of another song, "Violent Sensation Descends" is available at http://tinyurl.com/22ddol.
With their pun-like name straddling violence and violins, their music skirts between prettiness and something sinister, with lyrics and song titles playing into this too. As does the video for their song "Doomed". In it some pretty girls flit airily around a grand-looking house, but is that the body of a dead man lurking in the background? (Or perhaps he's just a deep sleeper?) Watch it at http://tinyurl.com/6n8bgb.
Violens' EP is the first release from the record label wing of Deadly People, "a collective in London who throw parties, manage bands and put out records they love". Keep abreast of Deadly People's newest endeavours on their website, http://www.deadlypeople.co.uk/.
The venue Matter at the O2 is the newest venture from the people behind Fabric nightclub in London and the Fabric record label ( http://www.fabriclondon.com). Albeit on a far grander scale, they offer an insight to young pretenders such as Deadly People into the art of promoting artists, releasing records and throwing parties.
Fabric recently put out its first album of original artist music – all previous releases were DJ/producer mixes or live DJ sets. That album was Black Diamond by Buraka Som Sistema, a group I mentioned last week. Buraka Som Sistema performed at one of Deadly People's earliest events in July.
Upset The Rhythm is another London-based promoter/events/label collective that operates in a similar head space to Deadly People. Running since 2003, it shows what such independent operations are capable of, putting on some excellent gigs and boasting an impressive roster of leftfield bands and musicians. Its website, http://www.upsetthe rhythm.co.uk, serves up a comprehensive primer of the bands they work with, and there are some good podcast mixes available on the site. Also look out for its blog, http://upsettherhythm. blogspot.com/, which posts videos and photos from their shows, along with other random links – they're not averse to revelling occasionally in video footage of jock-rock dirge merchants Nickelback getting heckled by fans, http://tinyurl.com/6a2tza.
Another relatively new band worth keeping an eye on are Toronto psych-rockers Ten Kens. They released their self-titled debut album in September on Fat Cat Records and their first UK tour begins next week and runs until early December. To mark the occasion, they have made a video for their song "Spanish Fly", which can be seen at http://tinyurl. com/5k6udy, where you can also enter your email address and receive a free MP3 of the song.
Pick of the week
Stereogum's 'friendly deals'
Stereogum is in the second week of a nice new deal with amazon.com's MP3 shop. Each week, the music site selects a critically revered indie rock album that is then available to download from Amazon at a sale price, with up to 75 per cent reductions. This week's offering is 'The Meadowlands' by The Wrens. Stereogum is also giving positive shouts to the up-and-coming Welsh rock trio Threatmantics. The band's song "Don't Care" can be downloaded for free.