Music Notes from 2008

Kingsley HarrisThis year's been another bright year on the local live music scene, with some fantastic gigs by an increasingly promising array of home grown talents, and some of the brightest new stars on the national scene stopping off in the city. KINGSLEY HARRIS looks back at 2008.Kingsley Harris

This year's been another bright year on the local live music scene, with some fantastic gigs by an increasingly promising array of home grown talents, and some of the brightest new stars on the national scene stopping off in the city. KINGSLEY HARRIS looks back at 2008.

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I'll take it, that's everyone sorted for socks and stuff that doubles as mosquito repellent for another year?

Looking back over 2008 it has been another really good year for the local music scene, a scene that seems to have grown year on year since late 2003, so lets have a quick recap.

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Although I'm sure bigger success is round the corner, it must officially be christened year of THE KABEEDIES; two major festivals, lots of touring, a major tour support with CSS, a cluster of prominent releases and a diary Harvey Goldsmith would be proud of.

The fact that the band remains unsigned is just an indication of the trouble the record industry is in. Place the band in any previous decade and they would have a major behind them.

It's not easy to maintain this momentum without a major but the band is making it all count. 2009 will see the release of their as yet untitled debut album and possibly a few more gigs, I would say.

BEARSUIT have been a bit quiet on the release front but fear not the group's new single is now out. Pushover is available as a download through their website and Myspace (

The band had an active festival season and they finally managed to sneak into America after their disastrous deportation on the eve of playing the formidable Texas festival, SXSW.

Also on the international touring front sardonic trio VIOLET VIOLET made a real success of it. A full European tour in March saw the Violet sound hit Germany, Switzerland and Holland and a November excursion took them all the way to America supporting the late John Peel championed The Nightingales.

For me SENNEN were piped to the post for best local album of the year by the width of a hair. Where The Light Gets In on local label Hungry Audio is a great release but THE SARGASSO TRIO's Burnin Burnin Burnin is a real gem. It hits the spot in so many places and is not your average run of the mill band album; it's a Fleet Foxes for the latin samba crowd.

RORY MCVICAR has been relatively quiet in 2008 after his eponymous titled debut album hit the streets in 2007 but assures us in his Myspace blogs that he's preparing a second album for 2009.

THE BROWNIES have had an exciting year. More from a studio perspective than a live performance aspect, spending the latter part of the year recording with Grammy nominated producer Andy Gill and also Jon Gray of Big Life producers.

The tracks are to be featured on their debut album Ourknife Yourback available early next year. Recently they put the finishing touches to it at top Norfolk studio Leeders Farm, studio of Dan Hawkins previously of The Darkness, who by the way I managed to barge in on in the bedroom while looking for the dunny. Sorry Dan I have a weak bladder.

F**K DRESS caused a stir in Europe with their single Suburban Nietzsche Freak that resulted in a tour of Spain; a tongue in cheek tale having a slight dig at philosopher Frederick Nietzsche. One organisation suggested a ban, a scenario we were all praying for, as there's nothing like a bit of censorship to improve sales.

Promoters Wombatwombat finished the year with a food fight at their Christmas party (I can't believe people still think this is amusing). Wombat HQ brought us the amazing BLOOD RED SHOES and DYKO featuring Wolfgang Flur this year, among a host of local outfits to watch out for.

BURIED IN POMPEII and FEVER FEVER took the eye of Annie wombat as ones to watch.

BBC Introducing jogged past their one-year anniversary with ease. The show has quickly become an integral part of the local music scene. Using bands as guest presenters and providing a valuable outlet for the abundance of regional talent has brought a real community spirit to the city. It's hard to think what we did without them!

I can't contain my disappointment regards this year's Next Big Thing competition. The baton was passed to Future Radio, who managed to fall over every hurdle these competitions throw up, despite the help of the previous organisers. With only around 50 entries and a very weird attitude towards attempting fairness, I feel the competition was reduced to entry level with the best prize being getting to play the UEA. That said it should not detract from the fact that ED SHEERAN was a worthy winner with an incredible performance.

Success on the metal front, as THE BOY WILL DROWN signed to Digby Pearson's Earache Records. The heart of this band started out as Bloody Embrace and first performed at one of The Brickmaker's new talent nights. A real success story then for those putting their heart, soul and money into the music of the region, so congratulations boys and Charley and Pam.

Original Norwich Skiffle man ALBERT COOPER turned 75 years young. Albert was the cutting edge of contemporary music albeit back in 1956. He has entertained thousands of Norwich gig goers since then and brought us The Jaqurad Folk club to boot. Still performing his folk, jazz and blues, watch out for a new album of Jazz classics he is currently working on with son and Lost Level, Chris.

New bands I've enjoyed this year are VEGAS FAME INDEX, DUCKY VODKA, GIRL IN A THUNDERBOLT and BK & DAD. All travelling in different musical directions, I thought they all had something fresh about them, check them out as soon as you can.

Artrockers THE NEUTRINOS cemented their ties with Berlin, having played their many times the band recorded their third album over there. The Butcher Of Common Sense will be released next year and could be an early contender for local album of the year.

A new local festival was born, Hot City Sounds in brackets a celebration of local music was held at B2 and showcased the best of contemporary local artists. Organised by myself, it didn't all go to plan and the intended magazine was scrapped, so apologies to everyone on that. Maybe there is a lesson for me there somewhere that involves the words walking and running.

The 2009 version of the event though is in the planning, so maybe I can redeem myself at some point. However, among the local festivals I thought the most enjoyable was the Unlit festival held at Principal Johnson's house as part of the Orange sponsored tour. Perpetrated by Jonty, a sort of traveller roving the countryside looking for people to give up their house to a handful of strangers for a night of music. In the Norwich case it was THE LOYAL FEW, THE MIDDLE ONES, GALLEONS and THE LOST LEVELS providing the vibes and Mrs J cooked up a mean sausage.

Other notes to be made are The Trickbabies became Fever Fever, Monroes became BLIGHTERS and Rupert became COLD HANDS. We lost a venue then got it back again all in a week. Oh how we laughed!

I must admit it's getting harder and harder to keep up with it all. Bands are falling out of the woodwork like, well…like a plague of woodworm.

It's all good and not all good if you know what I mean. There has never been a better opportunity to get your music out into the world so make the most of it - see you at a gig in 2009.