This image: Car Seat Headrest
Jordan Worland, from local music website Slate the Disco, selects his must-see gigs in Cambridge during May
May’s must-see show is the Cambridge debut of Will Toledo’s acclaimed musical project, Car Seat Headrest, at the Cambridge Junction on Monday 21st. Starting out as a bedroom project, 25-year-old Toledo has written and released some fifteen albums, the most recent of which, Twin Fantasy, was released earlier this year. Toledo’s style and sound has moved from bedroom pop to something approaching classic-rock grandeur with nods to The Cars and William Onyeabor.
Elsewhere at the Junction this month we have Sydney trio DMA’S – who released their sophomore album last month – on the 7th. Expect stadium-ready guitars with jangling acoustics and melodic yet gritty vocals. The former frontwoman of dance-punk trio Gossip, Beth Ditto opens her UK tour at the Junction on the 29th; part of the tour in support of her solo debut, Fake Sugar.
Cambridge legend Robin Hitchcock will play two Cambridge dates this May. The 18 May date sold out almost instantly but tickets for Thursday 17th at the Unitarian Church Hall on Emmanuel Road are still available. Famed for his neo-psychedelia band The Soft Boys, Hitchcock is playing a small run of UK shows in support of his acclaimed, self-titled 21st studio album.
There’s a busy month down Norfolk Street at the Blue Moon. It kicks off on the 4th with Les Carter, best known for his work in Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine in the early 90s, but these days he plays guitar for folk punk kings Ferocious Dog. When not on the road with said Dogs, he is on stage solo and acoustic. Mary Ocher has become a rather prominent character in the European queer music world over the last five years thanks to her quirky voice, unsettling lyrics and slightly out-of-this-world live performances. Ocher plays The Blue Moon on the 15th. Finally Goldblume, Ragweed, Megalomatic and The Grey play on the 17th.
“There’s a busy month down Norfolk Street”
Jangle-pop Cambridge trio The Centimes have been quiet for some time. They return for a rare show at Relevant Records on the 12th. Meanwhile, The Waterman hosts a rare intimate solo show for Lucy Farrell on the 3rd. She is one of the most vital musicians and vocalists in contemporary British folk. An inveterate collaborator, she first emerged through her duo with Jonny Kearney and is possibly best known as one quarter of The Furrow Collective.
Back in 1998 a quirky indie band from Southport saw off favourites Massive Attack’s Mezzanine and The Verve’s Urban Hymns to the Mercury Prize. 2018 sees Gomez commemorate the 20th anniversary release of Bring It On with a run of shows where they’ll play the album in full, including a date at the Corn Exchange on the 6th. The record realised the possibilities of combining indie and roots music with lo-fi electronics and can still be heard as an influence in other bands today: this is one not to be missed.
May is ridiculously busy at The Portland Arms with two must-see acts in particular, starting with Bully on the 15th. Fresh from releasing their second record, Bully mix sugary melodies with yawning slacker guitars and songs that smile and snarl. From Nashville, the quartet have been charming everyone from Pitchfork to NME ever since they formed, with the kind of college rock that sounds fresh from a repackaged 90s soundtrack. Following that, another top recommendation is Avi Buffalo on the 31st; picture slacker indie-rock with elements of psychedelia, with a sound that falls somewhere between the likes of Modest Mouse and MGMT.
Vundabar are a charming, chaotic pile-up of surf-, maths-, and art-rock – though their songs are brimming with hooks, the Boston group’s main draw is an unpredictable, fast-twitch energy. They play The Portland on the 11th. The following night sees the iconic post-punk/new wave The Monochrome Set grace Cambridge as part of their tour to promote their 14th studio album and celebrate 40 years since their formation.
Sticking at The Portland there are honourable mentions for Ciaran Lavery (1st) Hayseed Dixie’s John Wheeler (4th) and the hard-hitting indie-rock sounds of BBC Sound of 2018 nominee Sam Fender (10th). Everything he’s touched so far has been gold (see Slow Club and The Surfing Magazines) so we’re keen to see Charles Watson solo show on the 21st. We end with shining lights of
the early 90s alternative dance scene, Jesus Jones, who play The Portland on the 23rd.
A busy month indeed, enjoy!