I don’t know what it is about Brighton that makes it such a breeding ground for dark cabaret acts. Maybe it’s something in the water, but it’s just about the only image that comes to mind when I think about Brighton – well, dark cabaret and Julia Sawalha as Lydia Bennet. Then again, maybe it has more to do with the fact that I spend so much time listening to Bitter Ruin and Birdeatsbaby (I’ve been especially keen on Birdeatsbaby the last few weeks) that I never have time to explore what else the city has to offer. And today is no different, especially in light of the new videos both bands have release in the last fortnight.
You probably know about the Bitter Ruin video. Tim Minchin shared it over the weekend. Then Stephen Fry tweeted it (and I’m pretty sure 93% of the people who read this blog also follow the Marvelous Mr. Fry), so feel free to skip down to the next paragraph if you’ve heard this one before. After all, they pop up here from time to time – and this particular video is for “Trust”, which is basically the quintessential Bitter Ruin song (it was old the first time I featured them here 18 months ago). But still I can’t get enough of it. There’s something almost Shakespearean about watching Ben and Georgia trade jabs like some sort of sadistic Beatrice and Benedick that adds a degree of vitality to the visceral sensuality that is so indicative of their music.
Then there’s Birdeatsbaby whose “Through Ten Walls” gives us a Gothic glimpse into their upcoming album Feast of Hammers – and I mean “Gothic” in the Revival sense. Recorded in Boston this past spring with Jason Rubal (Dresden Dolls; The Cure), Feast of Hammers promises more of the rich instrumental textures and metric modulations that marked their 2009 debut Here She Comes-a-Tumbling and made their single “The Trouble” a YouTube hit. Combined with Mishkin’s endearingly bleak and cynical lyrics and wry wit, it’s pretty easy to see why Birdeatsbaby would have been Mary Shelley’s favourite band (were it not for that pesky 200-year generation gap).
So maybe you know something about what’s going on over there that I don’t. If you do, please enlighten me. Why are they so good at this? Or perhaps I’ll just have to swing by this fall and check it out for myself. Who knows, maybe some of it will rub off on me. In the meantime, if you’re geographically inclined, catch Birdeatsbaby with the ubiquitous Jason Webley in Brighton on Friday (26th August). [tickets]