The Subway Sects
Further evidence of just how many foreign bands are visiting America this week came on the subway ride into Manhattan from Brooklyn Tuesday morning. Writing up The Bats review on my laptop – yes, NYC is so safe these days that I was one of three people using a Mac in my carriage alone! – I could hardly fail to notice a group of scruffy young men who got on at the first Manhattan stop and stood in front of me, enthusing about aspects of “last night’s gig.” When one of them, wearing a beany cap and a scrawny beard – looking for all the world like a young Woodstock hippy – sat next to me and carried on talking about the concert, I determined to play the friendly Englishman in New York and ask him his band. He turned out to be Brummy-born Fyfe Dangerfield, singer with The Guillemots, clearly still buzzing, as all Brit groups do, from his first ever American show, which had finished at the Mercury Lounge about ten hours earlier.
I had to confess that I didn’t know his group. I do now, though – having just listened to some endearingly eccentric, Gomez-influenced MP3s on their website. Further research reveals that The Guillemots just came fifth in a BBC News Sounds of 2006 Poll (a Tips For The Top survey of industry insiders). The accompanying article says, with the hyperbole so beloved of British media, “they’re a safe bet for this year’s Mercury Music Prize.” The Guillemots release a mini-album, From the Cliffs, this month.