Bearded’s Guide To… Liverpool

Field reports from Our Man in Merseyside. This month Richard Lewis investigates Outfit and Lucky Beaches.

Posted on Aug 3rd, 2011 in Features and Interviews, Outfit, Double Denim / By Richard Lewis
Outfit Two bands for your perusal this month, both very different sonically and in other ways markedly similar. Both are attracting much attention, yet have managed to remain anonymous at the same time.
Despite having only played roughly a dozen gigs, Outfit are already receiving nationwide attention. The Guardian and that famous music publication with the initials in the title are sending heavy praise the band’s way.

Declared by many as one of the best bands to emerge this year, the mighty ‘Two Islands’ was the starting point for much of this. One of only a few tracks the group have uploaded into cyberspace, the six-minute plus bliss-out is seemingly custom made to be listened to on repeat.

Seeping into the brain deliciously, the track starts out like a glacial Sigur Ros soundscape before gradually mutating into a Talking Heads-esque punk-funk hybrid.

Stagewise, the Birkenhead-based band’s earliest gigs saw those who weren’t dancing stood open-mouthed at the band’s fully-formed beauty. A fundraiser at the Wolstenhome Project, opposite the defunct Cream and the very much alive Kazimier saw the quintet rattle the floors of the Georgian terrace. Stellar support slots with Clinic at Liverpool Sound City and Ladytron, playing in the splendour of St. George’s Hall have raised the interest in the group to fever pitch.

Not especially fond of exposure, press or being recognized in general to be brutally honest, the quartet have named their URL after one of their tracks, the gently unsettling ‘Every Night I Dress Up As You’.

Elsewhere, ‘Killer’ skips along on offbeat drumbeats and unspooling arpeggios, while the edgy ‘Firemen Don’t Fly’, replete with its own decidedly strange video easily shore up the attention the band has received. With comparisons to Wild Beasts, The xx and New Order, the five-piece are able to shoehorn these various sounds together while firmly stamping their own imprint on to them.

The band’s press biog is stuffed full of light-hearted mis-information, not giving a thing away. The basic message coming through loud and clear, the music takes precedent. The band’s debut 12” ‘Two Islands/Vehicles’ is being released in early September on Double Denim, that much is certain. One of the singles of the year already? Indefatigably, yes.

Continuing the theme of musicians who maintain a low-key presence yet have got people talking are Lucky Beaches. Juxtaposing lo-fi home recorded material with high-volume re-inventions live, the group piloted by the eponymous Mr. Beaches are creating a significant buzz about them.

With a career trajectory that would make for an excellent biopic, Beaches was recruited into music maverick Pop Levi’s band at the age of 17. The group then swiftly decamped to the States, swapping Liverpool for Los Angeles. Having spent two years in the US serving as Levi’s bass player (a position he still holds), the singer-songwriter returned home to his native Merseyside.

The experience was captured for posterity as surreal-road-movie-documentary ‘You Don’t Gotta Run’, filmed by Beaches. Possibly the missing link between The Monkees’ Head and Dylan’s rare-as-rocking-horse-shit tour film Eat the Document, the flick entertainingly confuses as much as it clarifies. Mixing with the great and good of LA with a generous side-order of chancers and fly-by-nights in the record industry clearly did wonders for his songwriting talents.

As heard on the five track, prosaically titled Lucky Beaches EP, the half-album showcases the band’s mastery of the three-minute alternative pop song. Wrapped in a sleeve adorned by a figure in comedy ‘tache and specs, the disc has been selling steadily at Liverpool’s legendary Probe Records. Working in several different genres, sometimes all at once, the lo-fi Beck-esque affair boasts upbeat summery pop songs, gently psychedelic moments and tangents suggesting Prince and Gram Parsons, topped with a Lennon-esque vocal delivery.

Onstage they become a fully-fledged band, the songs retooled into different shapes, yet still retaining the essence of the originals. The country element of the songs is pushed to the fore, the Laurel Canyon influence imbibed while over in LA given more room.

Lead track ‘Jenny Mo’, coupled with a wonderfully imaginative low-budget video in a galaxy different to this one would be a sure-fire hit. ‘Circles on My Mind’ and ‘I’ll Let Go Now (Honey, True)’ are equally worthy of being 45s in their own right, while out of the record plant imminently ‘Group Hallucination’ sounds like Bob Dylan via Walton Vale as opposed to Greenwich Village.
The record company, the off-kilter self-produced songs, along with the myriad films available on YouTube plus the artwork suggests we have a bit of an auteur on our hands. Self-released on Girl Records (so-called as much of its creator’s output concerns girls), the EP will be followed by a Long Player in the not-too-distant future.

Outfit’s debut single ‘Two Islands/Vehicles’ is released on Double Denim on 12th September