Moscow Youth Cult & 1914s @ Queen Of Hoxton, London 28.04.11

Bearded came to review electro-pop newbie Japayork tonight, but a last-minute complication made this unfeasible. We did manage to catch retro-inspired synth duo Moscow Youth Cult and moody electro three-piece 1914s. Our verdict was thus..

Apr 28th, 2011 at Queen of Hoxton, London / By Frankie Reeves
Moscow Youth Cult A couple of MYC's tracks sound rather good on myspace – ‘Girls Of Boredom’ in particular is thoughtfully created with nice production, unpredictable synth choices, and a refreshingly authentic 80's vocal. They continued to arouse our interests even as they set up at the Queen: the stage lay-out, two synths on either side of a laptop and an old TV screen on a table, which would be used to play accompanying visuals, seemed brilliant [there's nothing like a good gimmick after all], and the lack of live drummer seemed a foreshadowed tribute to their ability [after all, most bands need a drummer live to make anything sound good] – before they had started, we predicted brilliance.

We predicted wrong. The band seemed lost on the audience; there wasn't a defining moment between the DJ finishing and MYC starting, and with the minimal stage set-up the set ran almost as a glorified DJ slow, the audience frequently and genuinely unsure whether to clap between songs and many continuing light-hearted, dismissive conversations over the music. The two chaps were obviously talented electronic creators, but their complete lack of live stage presence was to their detriment. None of the songs stood out as memorable and, although the last couple were livelier and encouraged a little audience movement [or at least helped us recognise that there were people on stage at all], it is hard to believe that anyone walked away from the set feeling any greater than indifferent or average at best. A live drummer to replace the TV might be a worthwhile future move.

Next up were unashamed London hipsters 1914s. The guitar/vocal/keys set-up was endearing [it soon became apparent that any band without a live drummer is always going to appear interesting initially], vocalist Shay Phibbs looked and sounded promising, and although a little more energy wouldn't have gone amiss, the performance was enough to keep us relatively engaged. The fundamental problem was that, aside from generally weak songwriting, one could have gone into any live music venue in Shoreditch that night and seen another unsigned group either very similar or better.

An accurate comparison would probably be Esben & The Witch meets Electrixcity, with the obligatory Siouxsie Sioux vocal influence the most apparent characteristic. You might have heard enough 80's-inspired, NME-friendly, female-fronted, electronically-orientated artpop, but if not it might be worth giving their new single ‘Never Before’, which stood out as the set's best track, a listen [link below].

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Check out 1914s new single for free @ Their myspace is