Pop: No flies on Blue Dog

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Putting on three relatively unknown bands seven nights a week is a feat that few venues ever contemplate. However Camden's Barfly Club keeps the punters (and A&R people) coming in every night, thanks to an eclectic booking policy and a reputation for having an ear for bands on the way up.

In the past (when they were known as the Splash Club), they had Cornershop, Kula Shaker, Skunk Anansie as regular fixtures long before they were big. They also booked the first London show by Oasis and hosted the UK debuts of Weezer and Beck. It's that kind of thing that keeps people coming back.

Now branching out, they've started a record label called Blue Dog and Monday sees the launch of that label's Singles Club - a monthly despatch of limited-edition 7-inch singles sold mostly through subscription (pounds 15 for six months). These presumably highly collectible singles will feature the best live acts at the Barfly. The first release is by cosmopolitan east London four-piece Sonar Fariq (above), who are headlining on the night. A very worthy double A-side, the "Dr John" track is a hip-hoppy, skatey aural assassination, indicative of their live set. Though still in a formative stage, it's the sheer exuberance of vocalist Michael Frankel torpedoing round stage in synch with the energy emanating from the guitar, bass and drums of Dom Bouffard, Abrar Hafiz and Wasif Husain that's won them the honour of pressing this first single.

Frankel's quick to point out that the melodic qualities on the other track - "So Perfect" - are there to show the depth and many influences Sonar Fariq possess and to mark them apart from others that just like to rant: "Essentially we're a live band. Gigs are pretty mental and full on, but it's energy over aggression. There's a lot of things going on, be it the Seventies funk and groove thing, reggae, pop and even dance culture."

A little bonus on the bill are Fungus, a very young Swedish quartet playing their first gig since signing up with the Midas-touch indie label Food, home of Blur, Dubstar, Strangelove and Idlewild. From Varberg, a town on the south coast that's devoid of a rock venue, they ply a no-nonsense powerpop of catchy riffs and even catchier little chorus lines, with vocalist Johan Lundgren at times sounding British and then taking on an American tone. Effervescent drummer Caroline Engdahl explains, "Someone back home said we sound like American Britpop. Hopefully we take the best of both." Fungus probably lean more toward the classier, less obsolescent American edge of the genre, and with their set of already polished songs, we'll be hearing a lot more of them before too long.

Sonar Fariq + Fungus + Hossy. Blue Dog Records Singles Club launch, Barfly Club at The Falcon NW1 (0171-482 4884), 9 Mar

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