Wild Mercury Sound

The Hold Steady live at Uncut, plus the morning after: Euros Childs and Beach House

John Mulvey

A morning for gentle music, this, after last night's Uncut birthday party where The Hold Steady played in our striking rooftop canteen. They were great, as you might imagine, barrelling through 30 minutes of songs (a fraught, euphoric "Stuck Between Stations" was my highlight) with all the gusto that, apparently, sent Glastonbury mad.

Plenty of the assembled music biz illuminati kept mentioning to me how they wished their bands had the same kind of work ethic as The Hold Steady. Here they were in their full-blooded pomp, before dashing off to headline Shepherd's Bush Empire straight after. They're one of the most inspiring bands I've seen in years, I think, and one of the reasons why is that they charge through their gigs with such gripping exuberance. For all their workingman's charm, they have this entirely mystical power of making the familiar seem fresh and dynamic. In Craig Finn's hands, all those corny old cliches about the redemptive power of rock'n'roll are brought alive.

I guess the celebration of our mag's tenth birthday is also a celebration of how music can have enduring significance in the lives of thousands of people. And consequently, we couldn't have wished for a better band to play our party.

But enough schmaltz. Feeling pretty good myself right now, but I'm protecting some fragile heads with a few quiet music selections this morning. The new album from Euros Childs has just finished. It's called "The Miracle Inn", and it's by some distance the best thing he's done since Gorky's Zygotic Mynci split up. Basically, he's stopped mucking about and gone back to the frail, elegant folk that he and Richard James specialised in the latter years of Gorkys' career. Very nice.

Now I've just put on, for the second time today, the first album by Baltimore's Beach House. A few of you may have picked this up when Uncut reviewed its American release last year, but it's now getting a proper UK push. Essentially, "Beach House" is this tiny, bejewelled-sounding trinket of dreampop, a bit like Mazzy Star if they dropped the goth drama and favoured kindergarten synths and drum machines. It's distinctly ethereal, unashamedly pretty, and no-one's telling me to turn it down. I'll save the Howlin' Rain album 'til after lunch, then.


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