CIEL + RALPH TV + HANYA – THE PRINCE ALBERT, BRIGHTON 10.8.21
Local promoters, JOY., have certainly lived up to their name this week by putting on another of their local bands showcase events at The Prince Albert, which is located at the top of Trafalgar Street in Brighton. This week it was the turn to highlight the talents of CIEL, RALPH TV, and Hanya.
This evening we hot-footed it up to the venue from Resident music in Kensington Gardens, where we had just witnessed an instore performance by the up-and-coming Drug Store Romeos. You can read our report HERE.
Tonight’s three showcase event wasn’t a boisterous affair, but when the night was opened by Brighton’s shoegaze dreampopsters Hanya, and continued in a similar vein, it was an evening of foot-tapping and shuffling to be had. Even the soundman got in on the act as he played Penelope Isles ‘Gnarebone’ at least twice over the PA.
The Brighton & Hove News Music Team have witnessed Hanya performing live in town on several other occasions. The first time was on 12th February 2018 (when they were just a duo) and then followed by 25th November 2018, 14th September 2019, 30th October 2019 and 17th January 2020. We have literally watched them grow during that period and we are not just talking about the band’s personnel, but their musical abilities too.
Making their ascent from Brighton’s thriving talent pool, indie upcomers Hanya were originally conceived above LazerZone in West Street (here in Brighton) and continue to show us they have a lot to offer. Named after the hannya mask traditionally worn in Noh theatre, the group was originally constructed by guitarist and vocalist Heather Sheret exploring the many faces of a female psyche; later the fully-formed collective emerged, recruiting three friends (Jack, Jorge and Ben) with impressive musical backgrounds to assemble the dream-pop quartet.
It all began on 27th October 2018, when they dropped their debut 5 track EP ‘I Used To Love You, Now I Don’t’. This was followed a year later by the track ‘Dream Wife’, which then became the lead track for their 4 tune ‘Sea Shoes’ EP. A year ago saw the arrival of ‘Texas’ and then on 17th November they released ‘Monochrome’, which I love so much that I played it for many hours on end! It sounded like the natural follow-up to The Sundays ‘Here’s Where The Story Ends’. It’s a truly fabulous work of art – It’s so good that it hurts! Listen to and/or purchase it HERE. Then this March they dropped ‘Lydia’, which you can listen to HERE. Their next instalment in their post covid lockdown chapter is imminent, as they will be dropping a track entitled ‘Fortunes’ on 2nd September. Keep your eyes peeled for that one!
At 8:28pm Hayna took to the stage, but “oh dear”, Spanish guitarist Jorge Bela Jimenez had his arm in a sling! How is he going to be able to play tonight for us? Off came the sling and that was immediately forgotten. In fact, Jorge is also one-third of headliners CIEL, and so he would be giving his arm and wrist some loosening up this evening. Now that’s dedication. I guess he had to be on form as there was a sizable Spanish contingent in attendance this evening, so he couldn’t let his amigas and amigos down!
Hooray! The Prince Albert band lighting isn’t stuck on red all night again, we had a choice of four colours across the eight lights in a green, blue, pink, red red, pink, blue green formation for the full room to enjoy!
First up is ‘Dream Wife’ from Hanya’s 2020 ‘Sea Shoes’ EP. Immediately I noted the clarity of Heather’s vocals as well as Jack Watkins drums and Alesis drum pads, as the jangly guitar pop tune builds and builds. Heather informs the respectful audience that tonight is their first concert back after covid and that they would be debuting new material for the very first time, in preparation of their forthcoming appearance at the popular Green Man festival in Wales.
Their March single ‘Lydia’ was up next and it’s here that you really get the inkling that Heather’s voice is more powerful than ever. Two newbies followed, ‘Swimming In My Sleep’, which saw Heather take to the Keylab 49 which combined a professional-grade MIDI keyboard with powerful Analog Lab software; and ‘Logan’s Run’ which was inspired by a recent watching of the film of the same name for the first time. She loves sci-fi as I always have!
Next up was my fave track of the whole night, last year’s ‘Monochrome’ single. The penultimate tune was ‘Fortunes’ with its great guitar break. This is set for release on 2nd September. The finale was the rocky ‘Everyone’s Tired’ and at 8:58pm, they were done!
‘Dream Wife’ (found on February 2020 ‘Sea Shoes’ EP)
‘Lydia’ (found on March 2021 ‘Lydia’ single)
‘Swimming In My Sleep’ (unreleased)
‘Logan’s Run’ (unreleased)
‘Monochrome’ (found on November 2020 ‘Monochrome’ single)
‘Fortunes’ (currently unreleased but coming out 2nd September)
‘Everyone’s Tired’ (found on February 2020 ‘Sea Shoes’ EP)
It was now the turn of RALPH TV to also perform a seven track set. This was my first encounter with this Brighton based quartet which comprises Will Osborne (vocals/bass), Benjamin Brown (guitar/synth/vocals) and brothers Isaac Vopser (drums/vocals) and Luke Vopser (lead guitar/vocals).
They unleashed their debut self-titled EP back on 12th January 2018. The EP contains 5 tracks that are singular and catchy. Mixing futuristic R’n’B with a lo-fi aesthetic, they create a soothing combination of pop music and the avant-garde. This was a much-welcomed follow up to the cozy, warm, tones of single ‘Homebody’. Listen to/order the EP HERE.
Their new single ‘4U’ was dropped on 23rd February 2021 and has the uplifting feel of summer on the horizon and sounds not too distant to Prefab Sprout meets Japanese band The Fin. Vocalist and bassist Will explains: “This track is one where we’ve tried to encompass all of our elements into one. The funky side and the dreamy side working in tandem with each other.” He adds: “Even though we still record all of our tracks DIY style we have also consciously tried to make this one sound a bit more polished by focusing on developing our techniques and songwriting.” Check it out HERE.
‘4U’ followed on from their debut album ‘Cabin Fever Dreams’ last year. They have also been known as Ralph’s World or RALPHSWRLD in the past but now RALPH TV is firmly in place.
It was 9:23pm and time for The Prince Albert crowd to get their dancing shoes on for RALPH TV. They opened with the aforementioned February 2021 single ‘4 U’. I was positioned at the front right (stage left) and couldn’t help noticing that on the floor in front of me were enough pedals to fly as a spaceship, but would the guitarist be using them all during their uplifting set?
The funky guys work in harmony with all four members being on vocals and backing vocals at certain times during their performance. I spied a laptop on the far side of the stage with the other guitarist and so obviously not all of their sound could be created by just four people in a live situation. This is common practice these days!
Their melodic retro pop sound continued through ‘Making Movements’ and ‘Maybe That’s Why’ and onto ‘Loverboy’, with its groovin’ shuffling beat which reminded me of the keyboard work and sound of Japanese band The Fin.
‘Strung’ from last year’s ‘Cabin Fever Dreams’ was next and their penultimate number was the popular ‘Taxi Boy’ which had a shared vocal experience. They finished their set with the latest single ‘Superfood’, which reminded me of China Crisis.
RALPH TV setlist:
‘4 U’ (found on February 2021 ‘4 U’ single)
‘Making Movements’ (found on March 2020 ‘Cabin Fever Dreams’ album)
‘Maybe That’s Why’ (found on ‘Nice Guys Love You (Volume 3)’ compilation album)
‘Loverboy’ (found on March 2020 ‘Cabin Fever Dreams’ album)
‘Strung’ (found on March 2020 ‘Cabin Fever Dreams’ album)
‘Taxi Boy’ (found on January 2018 ‘Ralph TV’ EP)
‘Superfood’ (found on June 2021 ‘Superfood’ single)
Check out RALPH TV’s music on their Soundcloud page HERE.
The time was now 10:15pm and that meant that it was the turn of CIEL (pronounced ‘She-Elle’) to entertain us punters!
CIEL produce shoegaze style mellow dream-pop and the Brighton & Hove News Music Team have seen them perform live six times so far:19th December 2018, 23rd February 2019, 9th June 2019, 9th September 2019, 11th December 2019 and 17th January 2020.
It’s fair to say that we have witnessed the evolution of the once solo project of svelte Michelle Hindriks from The Netherlands. Michelle attended the BIMM musical school a few years ago and Brighton called her back and so in 2018 she decided to come and live here.
When we initially saw her, (on 19th December 2018), it was the first time as a four-piece band, thus it was their debut gig and in fact was Michelle’s very first performance in the UK. With a few line-up changes here and there along the way, they are now settled as a trio as Hindriks joined forces with Spanish guitarist Jorge Bela Jimenez (seen earlier in Hanya) and drummer Tim Spencer. The three-piece have quickly earned kudos for their exquisite live show, having already supported the likes of Hatchie, Sasami and Penelope Isles.
There’s an intrinsic mystique to CIELs dreamy alt-pop gems, that convey a wistful and ethereal quality, juxtaposed with glazy guitar layers, driven basslines, and frontwoman Michelle Hindriks’ mesmeric vocals always standing out.
They have recently released ‘Pretty Face’, which was produced by Jack Wolter of Penelope Isles fame. Prior to that, they dropped ‘All My Life’ on 11th November 2020. Last year they also released their ‘Movement’ EP.
At a quarter past ten, CIEL launched into the toe tapping opener, which according to their setlist is called ‘Back To Feeling’. This was well received and led nicely into the sweet vocals and The Cure sounding ‘Days’ which is found on the April 2020 ‘Movement’ EP. Michelle informed us in her very eloquent English that it was their first return back to The Prince Albert since their debut concert there.
Track three was the recent ‘Never Alone Again’ single, which led into the quiet ‘It’s Not All The Same’ ballad, although her shakers couldn’t really be heard on this number, unlike future usage.
The nicely hypnotic ‘Awake’ certainly grabbed my interest as Michelle ditched her stringed instrument (bass) and the air was filled with a pumping beat and the drums kicked in like a slower version of ‘The Hanging Garden’. It was time for a new post covid track and that was the traditionally indie sounding ‘Baby Don’t U Know’.
Next up was a rocky little number (‘Fine Everything’) that chugged along nicely with it’s drumming led beat in a ‘Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)’ style. We were soon onto ‘The Shore’ which was sounding great. The final number is listed as ‘Far Away’ according to the setlist and that was it.
CIEL are going to be headlining up at The Hope & Ruin on Queens Road on Friday 1st October 2021 and they will be joined on the bill by Demonstrations and SAD DADS. Well this means that Brighton gig goers first Friday night out in October is nicely sorted! Purchase your tickets for that event HERE.
‘Back To Feeling’ (unreleased?)
‘Days’ (found on April 2020 ‘Movement’ EP)
‘Never Alone Again’ (found on May 2021 ‘Never Alone Again’ single)
‘It’s Not All The Same’ (found on April 2020 ‘Movement’ EP)
‘Not In The Sun’ (unreleased?)
‘Awake’ (found on September 2017 ‘Anxiety’ EP)
‘Baby Don’t U Know’ (unreleased)
‘Fine Everything’ (unreleased?)
‘The Shore’ (found on April 2020 ‘Movement’ EP)
‘Far Away’ (unreleased?)
Check out CIEL on their Bandcamp page HERE.
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