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DESPERATE JOURNALIST @ UPSTAIRS AT THE GARAGE, LONDON 21/11/13 - REVIEW BY LEE MCFADDEN

 
Desperate Journalist made their live debut as recently as February this year.  The North London based quartet have a Bandcamp assisted EP “Cristina”,  and most recently Fierce Panda digitally released their stunning second single “Organ”. I first saw the band at Dalston’s Tipsy Bar at the end of July. The set is mostly similar tonight, but the approach, confidence, ability, and dogged determination of the group seems to have substantiated heavily in these four short months.
 

Opening with new track “Nothing”, captivation is immediate. Jo Bevan’s vocal pinpoints its way towards an undefined emotional core. Rob Hardy’s screaming guitar provides enveloping intensity, and the rhythm section of Simon Drowner and Caz Hellbent steams the whole shebang like an uncompromising express train.

Desperate Journalist take their name from – well, the ardent Cure fans amongst you will already know. Being aware of this somehow illuminates and defines the early Cure influence in some of their output, and alerts you to other appropriations. Jo Bevan’s vocal sometimes express a hint of the delivery of Bjork, effortlessly combining with the phrasing of Morrissey – and Simon Drowner’s bass owes a little to the styles of Peter Hook and Simon Gallup.  To showcase these references (or indeed any influences at all) may have been unhelpful to bands in times gone by, but in the eclectic world of the internet they can provide a bold statement as to where the band reside at this point, and it is not mere hype to confirm that their combined fusion culminates in a magnetic, cathartic sound.

“Kitten” and “Happening” both tease with dreamlike introductions, but throw you off balance with full on sonic assaults. Kitten’s chorus of “Never Apologise, Never Explain” may sound like a motto for inept government departments to employ when you query yet another indisputable error, but here it is a positive rallying cry – the reason somehow buried in your subconscious. “Wait” simply soars. The highlight of the “Cristina” EP surpasses its studio version tonight. Undeniably emotive – a rare moment of contemplation in the set.

The final offering is coyly introduced as “Bruce”. A savagely brutal and wondrous cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “State Trooper” is unveiled, barely recognisable from the original “Nebraska” album track.  Desperate Journalist triumphantly rechristen this song as their own.

The band’s standard of performances and the attention they are receiving are increasing at a colossal rate, and it may be sooner rather than later that Desperate Journalist may be a name to drop amongst the discerning cognoscenti. An exhilarating half hour well spent.

For further info investigate here….

www.desperatejournalist.co.uk

Lee McFadden 29/11/13
Photo provided by Rob Hardy