The Black Angels @ Scala


Word of mouth following The Black Angels killer live shows this summer has done a good job gathering people at their autumnal London gig.
In four words, it’s a sell out.
With its striking black and red gamut coupled with strategically-placed balconies that circle the stage, Scala hardly lacks in atmosphere. It only needs those psyched Texan sounds to take us off on an illusory journey into space and time.
In charge of the fussy warm-up are Seattle’s Night Beats. They waste little time in hastily awakening spirits of sixties psychedelic rock, channelling the sounds of 13th Floor Elevators amongst others. The Beats hallucinogenic excerpts from their self-titled debut ensure their first London gig will stick in the minds of tonight’s revellers.
While James Traeger drums wild and Danny Lee Wild plays dirty guitar, Tarek Wegner goes further when deliver his distinctive bass lines. Assuming responsibility as the band’s “rockstar” attraction, he jumps on and off monitors before ending up flat on his back. It’s quickly business as usual though, as Wegner picks up his pace and makes for the crowd. I realise that sleek showman moves, or not in this case, Night Beats soulful and haunting garage sounds do the work.

Ringing true to their sinful garage past, this Seattle outfit are definitely ones to watch out for. The Black Angels, on the other hand, connect to that first and authentic Texas blast of the past both sonically and geographically. Yet there’s something undeniably revitalizing about their sound. Their forward-thinking music sensibility is the reason they so seamlessly complemented U.N.K.L.E.’s electronic soundscapes on With You In My Head, a moody piece of work surprisingly supplied by The Twilight Saga: Eclipse soundtrack.
The Angels’ third full-length album, Phosphene Dream, also widens their neo-psychedelic palette. Passing from the classic Velvet Underground, who inspired their evocative moniker, The Black Angels are surprisingly retro stomping and even cheery by their standards on Telephone. This tune is the one basic change of attitude on their live take though, with that dark, obsessive, mid-tempo rite doing a number on sucking you in.
With his cap precisely settled just above the eyes, frontman Alex Maas leads the way as Angels’ dive into shadows past and present. Excerpts from second album Directions To See A Ghost like Mission District remain a highlight, as are Maas’ sudden cry-outs with their dramatic, nightmarish vocal effects.

Stephanie Bailey’s rabid drumming aside, this Texan quintet ooze sinister, sexual power. Seamlessly swapping places on stage whilst adding musical intrigue with their percussion and keys, The Black Angels’ undisturbed coolness dangerously flirts with monotony. As their hypnotic beats go on, and they do, you almost start to wish for one false move or note.
No doubt there are sophisticated fluctuations throughout their challenging and insightful rock spectrum, but perhaps The Black Angels are not capable of going that extra mile; one that would really shatter an audience’s pre conceptions and make their live shows truly unforgettable.

Review and photography by Danai Molocha for

Peggy Sue @ Rough Trade East

Hail to the Acrobats


Just a day after the release of their sophomore effort, ‘Acrobats’, Peggy Sue , (a trio), visited Rough Trade for a face to face presentation.
Calmer than usual, befitting the intimate surroundings of the record shop, half the crowd sat cross-legged in front of the stage, attentively listening to Peggy Sue's intriguing Post-Folk stories.  A big part of the band's strength lies in the beautiful double vocals by Rosa and Katy, a rather dark, sensual and emotive blend that makes your spine tinkle. Then joined by Olly, the masterful drummer, a talented string sectionand the occasional bassist.
New songs like 'Shadows' crossed paths with older melodies, ‘Read It In The Paper’, interspersed with spontaneous pans that eliminated the distance between audience and stage. The band's goodbye comprised of a surprise medley, that peaked with an impressive triple drumming.
Peggy Sue’s a name that at first evokes something fragile; but this band definitely knows how to bang that drum – both literally and metaphorically.

Review and photography by Danai Molocha for

Babeshadow, Sulk, Crushed Beaks @ The Macbeth


Whole Lottarox love

Lottarox London decided to fight September's typical melancholic mood with a music cocktail – the season's first - that mixed abrasive noise, dreamy escape and bouncy beats. The Piatchions dropped out not long before the show, launching their debut album out the window instead of to the public, as promised; but Babeshadow, Sulk, Crushed Beaks and an interesting bunch of djs (Cool for Cats and Vuvuvultures, among others) were there to guarantee good times.
The loudest of the three live bands, Crushed Beaks, were assigned the unorthodox warm-up. Matt and Alex are a noisy pop take on guitar/drum duos, a music form that the last years has gained a lot in popularity, as well as in confidence. Their collection of tunes was rough and melodic in turns, with an obvious weakness for feedback and sudden endings that kept their audience on edge.
Sulk, on the other hand, opted for the rather dreamy, naughty and nostalgic side of life reminiscent of Madchester's rock psychedelia, both in music and character. Their recently released debut single Wishes was among a handful of songs that stuck out, proving there's material in Sulk's music basket that is both individual and inspired. But while the rest of the band aptly backed it up, frontman Jon Sutcliffe tended to draw our attention from music towards his own vanity – something they could frankly do without. They can go places without the looks; word has it they'll hit the English North and Paris next.
Babeshadow gave the final boost to the increasingly carefree mood of the show. Dressed in pretty flashy retro prints, the two frontmen/vocalists of the band spelled fun from the start – and their sound put it to practice. Their uplifting energy and exotic rock rhythms clicked instantly with the crowd, which was suddenly dancing as if vacationing in a sandy beach bar.
 ...Back up in the Macbeth stage, a friend of the band wisely decided to join them for a drinking-singing-dancing highlight before the grand finale; which was none other than Babeshadow's new video Days of Old, an adventure that followed the protagonist duo in classic bike scenes a la Easy Rider - only funnier.
Trippy stuff, in two words.

Review and photography by Danai Molocha for

Lexi James Jr, Andy Secrett @ Lemon Monkey

From punk to spank
In a cosy Stoke Newington café known for its tasty bites a small corner was packed with sonic paraphernalia for the Friday night show. Andy Secrett came straight from the North with just a guitar and a friend on the bongo. An unusual combination, which at first glance prepared us for something Ethnic or Folky; but Andy is a soulful songwriter with a weak spot for Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins. His cover of the latter's Ava Adore was seamlessly woven with the electric guitar dynamics and the underlying melancholy of his own songs. As for the bongo, it magically intensified the rhythm and depth of an otherwise typically alternative rock set.
Ms Lexi James Jr misleadingly declared Shattered at the very start; in truth, she was pure in-your-face energy. Brash and sassy with her punky platinum Mohawk and unabashed lyrics, she gathered people around her like magnet.
All in all, though, her stage persona came out too strong. There was also sweetness and funk hiding in there, like the rhythms dedicated to her big sister; something she could benefit a lot more from.

Review and photography by Danai Molocha, aka rockets4solitude