I don’t know about you, dear readers, but I have noticed a bit of a trend creeping up in music of late. That trend is nothing new, but in fact something quite old. I have decided to dub it, somewhat oxymoronically, retromodernism. I am talking about bands like Beady Eye, The Horrors and Yuck who are taking elements of the past and polishing them up, creating a sound heavily indebted to genres of yesteryear such as grunge and shoegaze, but with sharper guitars, cleaner production and wittier lyrics.
If there is any solo performer around at the moment who embodies this, it is Eugene McGuinness. Earning a modest name for himself as a singer songwriter since 2007, the domino artist has more than paid his dues, performing as part of Miles Kane’s band and releasing three accomplished records that disappointingly didn’t quite receive the commercial acclaim that they are worthy of.
However, here in 2012, Eugene is taking another shot at fame with his latest record ‘The Invitation To The Voyage’, which hosts the reinvention and retro sheen I have mentioned. We’re talking 60’s suits, spat lyrics and suave guitars, propping up massive choruses that would nestle comfortably on any radio stations A List. Having been lucky enough to have already heard the album in full, I can confirm that it is chockfull of potential hits. Indeed, Eugene himself seems so confident this time round that he has allowed standout single ‘Thunderbolt’ to be downloadable for free via his facebook page (click here) . With triple threat ‘Thunderbolt’, ‘Lion’ and ‘Shotgun’ (streamable above) all gaining media attention, hopefully Eugene will finally get the attention he deserves.
Myself and my coursemate Kevin Lawson (who is also responsible for the lovely photography here) caught up with Eugene in Leeds to ask him about the album, his relationship with Miles and what he thinks of british music today.
Gig Review - Eugene McGuinness and Miles Kane, Leeds Academy, 25th April 2012
I haven’t sat at a gig for a long time. Personally, being stuck in a square of space that doesn’t allow for any movement or indeed, any exposure to some decent sound, doesn’t do a lot for me, but it does allows for some better crowd watching. Hoards of Miles-a-like mods with leathery skin and bowl haircuts are dressed in pindot shirts, supping plastic cupped pints and forcibly reminding me that I am in the North.
Emerging from within the noise of the now instrumental ‘YORKSHIRE, YORKSHIRE’ chants of the crowd, Eugene McGuinness arrives like a popstar, the lights bouncing off his dapper gold silk shirt. His tall frame fill the stage as he settles into the cat-and-mouse thrill chase of Lion, the rattling, almost rapped vocal delivery exemplifying it as the clear hit it is. A born frontman, it’s obvious that he would never have been content as Miles sidekick. That said, older material like ‘Fonz’ are shot through with a similar high energy, his agitated bobbing a sign of the nervous energy that fuels his music. Whilst Thunderbolt would have perhaps benefited from a more grandiose band (the grungy set up tonight makes its razor sharp lyrics seem somewhat lost in sludge) but hey, maybe in time.
Whilst Eugene is standing on the cusp of bigger things, headliner Miles Kane has made it. And he more than knows it. Strutting crotch first onto stage, he capers around during the glorious opener ‘Rearrange’, conducting the crowd from on high, a slow grin spreading across his face as he realises just how easy a gig this will be. However, complacency is not in young Kane’s vocabulary. He keeps up the pace through Counting Down The Days and a particularly aggressive Better Left Invisible, snapping at his white jeaned waist as he bends back with his guitar, living out the rock start fantasies he's kept dear all these years. Things take a welcome rest with the meandering melody of My Fantasy and self confessed 'very sexy' Happenstance, but it is his newest material that shows promise, record store day release First Of My Kind prompting girls to be pulled out of the crowd at a rate of knots. Dissapointly, the academy's acoustics can’t quite do him justice as he culminates in Inhaler, but nonetheless it causes the same cacophony as always, more bodies in the air than on the floor, Miles screeching and grabbing at the insatiable crowd.
The Invitation To The Voyage is out on Domino Records on July 2nd. For more information visit www.eugenemcguinness.net