Pickled Egg Records, in association with The Phoenix Arts Theatre, Magic-Teapot and Red Leicester present:

'Jar': a Pickled Egg Records Showcase

(and launch party for the forthcoming double CD compilation, 'Jar'), featuring:

Scatter, George, Oddfellows Casino, James Green (Big Eyes), Zukanican, Dragon or Emperor & Fabulous Foxes

Sat May 7th
Phoenix Arts Theatre, Leicester
Doors open 7pm (not 8pm as published elsewhere). Prompt start!

Leicester-based Pickled Egg Records is one of the most sharp-eyed, adventurous independent labels around, releasing some of the best music of any label, anywhere. Eclectic to a fault, and firmly out of step with current trends, since it's inception in 1998, it has dedicated itself to redressing the world’s musical balance in favour of quirky genius, bent tunefulness, noisy playfulness, jazz turmoil, inventive retro-futurism and downright emotional heart-on-sleeve belief, hope and passion. In a world in which the musical balance is already, irretrievably, weighted down on the side of corporate flatulence, labels like Pickled Egg are so a priori unnecessary, and yet so a posteriori essential.

The label's roster is genuine quality. Artists like Philadelphia's Need New Body, Chicago-based Bablicon, Pop-Off Tuesday from Osaka, and Leicester’s very own Volcano the Bear, have tapped rich musical mines, mixing jazz, avant rock surrealism, and a punk rock approach.

This showcase features the cream of Pickled Egg's UK roster

Read Ben Haggar's review here

Scatter are a large Glaswegian ensemble with a somewhat fluid membership, who create music to spite those who classify sound into genres. There’s a lot of brass instrumentation (over some fairly swinging rhythms), but you wouldn’t call them jazz; there is a proliferation of voices and acoustic instruments, though you wouldn’t call them folk; but there are flourishes of stranger sounds - electronics, vocal babbling, and odd percussion - as well as ethnic/rock leanings. At their core Scatter are a glowing ball of musical energy; the clatter of various instruments are layered to create their dialogue. Scatter were recently invited to support Belle & Sebastian at shows in London and Edinburgh, and one of their former members now plays guitar in a certain Franz Ferdinand.

George (aka Michael Varty and Suzy Mangion) sound partly like Manchester's answer to Low, but a studied eccentricity percolates their music, pitched somewhere between folk electronica and sepia-hued melancholy. Instrumentally, George display an antiquarian's magpie methodology, with their vintage sense of otherness broadly occupying the same territory as Pram or Young Marble Giants - the music's junk shop aesthetic matching primitive electronica and music box tinkling. However, Suzy Mangion's voice cuts through the muggy layer of postmodernism to deliver songs that beautifully capture a sense of perpetual loss through the passing of time itself.

Oddfellows Casino is the latest incarnation of Brighton-based singer-songwriter David Bramwell, whose past exploits have included recording with cult producer Kramer for the Shimmy Disk/Koko-Pop label. Bramwell makes some of the most swooningly harmonic melodic pop-as-art being recorded today. Lush, dreamy intimate constructions made from a mixture of folk, jazz, avant garde pop, show tunes, bright acoustic and electronic textures, as well as classical flourishes, all employed with great empathy and tenderness. Oddfellows Casino have recently released their 2nd album, 'Winter Creatures' (on Pickled Egg). Written and recorded in collaboration with Stereolab's Simon Johns, the album mixes elements of psychedelia, the dark folk sounds of the Wickerman, dirty electronica and early Soft Machine, all held together by Johns' punchy drum and bass playing, Emma Pepper and Alistair Strachan's melodic horns, and Bramwell's tender voice and accomplished song-writing.

James Green is the brainchild behind Sheffield/Leeds-based ensemble, Big Eyes, who, over the past four or five years, have become something of a Pickled Egg houseband, releasing no fewer than four albums for the label. Although Big Eyes are currently undergoing something of a musical revamp, James has continued to write music and perform solo, and those familiar with his group's discography will recognise James' unmistakeable grasp for simple, affecting melody, presented with an honest, confessional simplicity, which commands attention. By consciously limiting himself to the acoustic guitar, James has developed a sound that might complement the New Folk troubadours currently emerging from the US, such as Jack Rose or Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance), but with a lightness of touch almost absent in any of those guitarists' work. Let it be said that this is closer to the work of Mick Turner (Dirty Three), John Williams, Bert Jansch, Eric Satie or Debussy than Fahey, Kottke, Basho or other names so often paraded but rarely equalled.

Zukanican are like an unholy hardcore collision between Can, The Soft Machine and Art Ensemble of Chicago: theremin battery, skippy keys, s-bending bass, drill pattern drums, siren organ in continuum, other pulses muscling in on the action, a diversion into free-funk with sci-fi white noise cutting across. This is merely track one. Sax skronks, flights of intense fancy, you can imagine Acid Mothers' Cotton Casino wanting to collaborate with this lot, but would be hard pressed to make it more dynamic than it already is, or cram much more in than is already there. This is a jammed door-way of sound.

Dragon or Emperor are the recently formed two-piece of Aaron Moore (Volcano the Bear, Songs of Norway) on Drums/vocals, and Stewart Brackley (Black Carrot, Songs of Norway) on bass guitar/vocals. To-date, they've only played a handful of live shows, but have already caused quite a stir with their explosive, high energy shows, which reminded this observer of nothing less than some bastard offspring of Pere Ubu and Lightning Bolt. They could be huge, if they want to be.

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