This image: 75 Dollar Bill
Jordan Worland, from local music website Slate the Disco, selects his must-see gigs in Cambridge during July
The Folk Festival might hog attention somewhat but there’s plenty more happening in our city’s music venues this month, too. Hugely influential indie rock outfit Pixies at the Cambridge Junction has to be our best pick for July’s action. Having released their latest album Head Carrier earlier this year, they play the Junction as one of only a handful of dates in the UK this summer. Unfortunately this one sold out pretty sharpish, but the Junction is operating a waiting list. Another sold out one to check for last minute returns is Future Islands, who play the Corn Exchange on the 1st. If you’re new to Future Islands, their music is built around rippling synths, propulsive basslines, and vocals determined to plough the rawest of emotions into the lyrics.
Mode9’s Hidden Rooms appearance on the 6th is another top pick. Formed and fronted by Cambridge-based vocalist Ollie Lepage-Dean, Mode9 features some of the region’s most talented young jazz musicians, playing music with a refreshing fusion of neo-soul and jazz with just a hint of funk. Playing almost exclusively original compositions and arrangements written by Ollie himself and James Brady, Mode9 mixes smooth melodies and unique harmonies with a fiery horn section.
Over at the Blue Moon, 75 Dollar Bill on the 3rd is a must. 75 Dollar Bill have mastered stripping down rock and roll to its elemental parts and rebuilding it in their own image. The duo’s electric, richly patterned music can shapeshift from joyful dance tunes to slowly changing trance minimalism, an uncategorisable hybrid which draws on early electric blues, the modal traditions of West Africa, India and the Middle East, Sun Ra’s space chords and the minimalist and No Wave histories of their home town, New York.
This image: Mode9
Staying at the same venue there’s a great night in store on the 27th when Mammoth Penguins and The Hearing play. Mammoth Penguins are a three-piece indie rock band based in Cambridge. Composed of members of other bands including Standard Fare, The Pony Collaboration and Puncture Repair Kit, they got together in spring 2013 and put out their debut record in 2015. This show will see the trio showcasing new material from their upcoming album, John Doe. The songs tell the story of a man that fakes his own death, only to return to his family years later. The Hearing is Finnish musician Ringa Manner. She makes perfectly formed electro-pop with warm vocal harmonies, pop melodies and moving rhythms. The Hearing is coming to the UK especially for the Indietracks festival and this Cambridge show is a special one-off warm up appearance.
Another Blue Moon tip goes down on the 14th with Moonstrips and Newts both performing. Moonstrips are a heavy psych rock outfit from Cambridge, whilst Newts bring superb noisy rock from the folk who were in Econoline and Hey Colossus.
Over on Chesterton Road, Airways start a busy line-up for The Portland Arms on the 5th. A four-piece indie/alternative band from Peterborough, Airways had an exciting 2016 supporting bands such as Sunset Sons and Nothing But Thieves, playing the Neighbourhood Festival, and releasing their first single One Foot.
A British singer, but based in the States, Callaghan’s return to the UK this month includes a Portland visit on the 6th. The tour coincides with the release of Callaghan’s latest EP The Other Side which came out last month and is the first of a trio of releases planned for this year. The Whybirds return to the Portland Arms this month on the 7th for a very special show – the last for the foreseeable future. The band are all singer/songwriters, giving the group a diverse range of songs and vocal styles, but without straying from their moving brand of Americana. Other shows of note at The Portland this month are Beguiled on the 13th and Chasing Cadence on the 12th.