Channel Cairo, Barfly, London
Every now and then you discover a new band that you feel have belonged in your record collection for years. Rarer still, you discover that the band live on your own street. This I discovered when a local fire in Willesden Green, north-west London, led me online to Twitter, and to my neighbours, the pastoral dream pop band Channel Cairo.
Via some BBC6 radio play, and gigs across London – and on the strength of an astounding debut single, “Elephant Room” – the small Camden venue is packed out with fans, including one who’s so enthralled she’s travelled all the way from sunny California to rainy London. It may be early days – tonight the band are launching their second single, “A Year” – but it’s easy to see what lured her across the Atlantic.
This five-piece create blissfully expansive, dreamy melodic pop. In their singer and pianist Josh Bowyer they have a charismatic frontman with a talent for song writing. But it’s the beautifully crafted arrangements and lush instrumentation of their timeless pastoral pop, which each band member contributes, which renders their songs so magical.
The prominence of the piano – Bowyer stands at it at the front of the stage – strikes obvious instant comparisons to piano-led indiepop band Keane, but their music is far more interesting and beguiling.
While recalling the inventiveness and intricacies of art-rock band Wild Beasts, they blend this with classic influences from the harmony-laden Sixties pop of The Beach Boys, and the spacious instrumental sound of the Seventies, nowhere more redolent than on the majestic and melancholic “A Year”, with its widescreen feel. “Elephant Room” is one of the best singles I’ve heard this year. It also boasts some knowing lyrics such as: “she’s a singer in a rock group/ and don’t she let you know about it all the time”.
Bowyer opens with a confident flourish of piano leading into blissful harmonies contributed by his band members and builds to a dramatic climax that’s so typical of the refreshing twists and turns their songs take. There’s nothing formulaic about Channel Cairo. “Drifter” has an eerie feel, hinting at Radiohead as do the skittish beats that the spectral “Halo” breaks into, all the while carried by Bowyer’s keening vocals.
Channel Cairo aren’t just putting Willesden Green on the musical map – they are set for pastures far wider.
tv Jenny Lee may have left, but Miranda Hart and the rest of the midwives deliver the goods
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Christmas comes early to Hong Kong, as millions of bank notes spill out onto busy street
- 2 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public can visit police’s grisly crime museum
- 3 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 4 Vagina canoe artist facing two years in jail defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
- 5 The Queen’s speech 2014: Recap and Twitter reaction to Game of Thrones reference
Felicity Jones on being Stephen Hawking's wife in The Theory of Everything: 'I didn't want her to be a saint'
EastEnders Christmas Day special, TV review: It's all about the Carters this Christmas - and Danny Dyer is brilliant
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
Doctor Who: Jenna Coleman to stay on as Peter Capaldi’s assistant Clara Oswald in next series
The Interview finally gets US release after Sony hack and terror threats – but reviews of North Korea satire are mixed
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader