Every Wednesday our UK columnist Sam Richards gives you the latest and greatest in British rock and pop.
Propelling pencils out, cartographers of cool. Just as in New York, London’s hipster consensus is drifting steadily eastward, lingering briefly last week in The Victoria pub in Mile End, where The Big Pink launched their debut single, "Too Young To Love"/‘Crystal Visions’ on the all-new House Anxiety label (“Another way to lose money,” smiled its founders on the way in). Beneath a pair of giant antlers and letters politely spelling the word "Riot," Klaxons and the Cocadisco crew manned the decks, while mingling in the crowd were most of TV On The Radio, at least one Mystery Jet, Mark Ronson and his Likelady, and almost every vaguely plugged-in music hack, DJ, club promoter and indie scenester in London.
The Big Pink’s de facto principal Milo Cordell—who also runs Merok Records—is after all, one of the best-connected men in East London. But the way his band remained icily impassive in the face of such crushing expectation suggests his preferred guest list would probably have included Jason Pierce, Alan Vega and Kenneth Anger.
The Big Pink are something a bit different. Akiko from Comanechi on drums and Mick Jones’s statuesque daughter Lauren on BVs provide grimy glamour, while the blokes all look like scrawny Minder villains. Their music is a stately, sepulchral rumble that recalls Loop and early Spiritualized. In some places, it’s a bit like one of those doomy Southern Lord bands discovering the smacked-out analogue disco of Dissident and Legowelt, or a (much) less frantic version of their comrades in Chrome Hoof. Crucially, they don’t try to do anything weird with the vocals, and there are no try-hard lyrics about pentagrams or suicide cults, that I can discern anyway. To me they sound like melancholy love songs with the sinister, transgressive undercurrent implied in the music’s inscrutable drone.
Promising stuff, then. History teaches us that any band accruing matter at such a rapid rate should be prepared for a messy explosion, but The Big Pink seem built to withstand the blast.
Also on the bill were House Anxiety’s other band Graffiti Island, although their vaguely surfy, Art Brut-ish clatter didn’t do much for me. For a pub venue, though, The Victoria is quite a find. A couple of mates, about to launch their own night, had been looking for a suitable place to host Chairlift’s first UK show and agreed to do it at The Victoria within minutes of walking through the door. So there you have it, Mile End is the new Dalston. At this rate we’ll be in Essex by Christmas.