Black Gold of the Sun, Phantom Dog Beneath the Moon & Oxo Foxo: The Washington

First up we have a young lady with bags of talent. It is an odd experience watching Oxo Foxo at work.  She reminds me of a mad scientist as she crouches over her mixer, and is a distractingly talented performer.

She is probably best known around these parts as the violist in Urgent Talk.  After a brief sabbatical by the sea, she is back with a solo act, which has evolved from playing pop songs in the bedroom to something rather special.

Tonight is all about her voice.  Her songs start quietly, slowly building up loops of vocal harmonies. Sometimes growing into a fully fletched disco sound, or diverging to a more abstract ghostly feel.  At times her music reminds me of a less electro Bell or a calmer Fever Ray. Her cover of ‘Baby I Love Your Way’, where she harmonises against her own looped vocals, went down particularly well.

Oxo Foxo is a very versatile artist, especially considering the parameters she works within.  I think we’ll be hearing a lot more about her in the near future.

Next up is a little treat from the Emerald Isle.  Phantom Dog Beneath the Moon are an Irish avant-folk/shoegaze band based in Sheffield.  They comprise of singer/songwriter Aaron Hurley and multi-instrumentalist/composer Scott McLaughlin.

The first thing you notice About Phantom Dog Beneath the Moon is the eerily haunting voice of Aaron Hurley.  It really is something else.  I’ve been racking my brains to think of who he reminds me of to no avail.  The duo performs intensely haunting music, with the cello merely adding to the feeling of magic in the air.  Songs such as ‘A Glimmer’ had the hairs on my neck standing up.  They ended on a surprisingly up-tempo finale which clearly went down well with the crowd.

Black Gold of the Sun is a psych-folk band comprising 5 members of dubious repute, who are based in Sheffield.  They begin tonight with the delicate ‘Winter Sun’ before tumbling on into ‘Will There Ever Be a Morning?’ They have a sound which is hard to place.  They have a very Roots feel to me.  You can almost imagine The Rocky Mountains, an open prairie or a rambling stream.   At times they also bring to mind a smoky saloon and remind me of the same feeling I have listening to Chris Isaak.

They follow a delicious cover of ‘Freight Train’ by Elizabeth Cotten up with my favourite song of theirs, ‘Santa Muerte’. It is a delicate and wonderful song, quiet yet deeply resonant. They end with a stirring finale.  It’s definitely the best I’ve seen them, and they really are a band who seem to grow with every performance.  The flute was much more prominent tonight, which adds an extra dimension to their sound.

A great night of live music, in a great atmosphere and all for free.

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