CMJ 2012, Night Three Recap: Gabriel Bruce and Dignan Porch Do London Proud
Night three of CMJ 2012 played out like a story, 'Two Tales of One City,' as Diffuser.fm caught a pair of wildly different London acts -- Gabriel Bruce and Dignan Porch -- touring the States for the first time.
The Anglo-centric evening kicked off at the Bowery Ballroom, where Bruce, a doomy synth-pop lothario signed to Mercury Records, took the stage with a laptop accompanist and two dancing showgirls. "You've got to rid yourselves of evil," he sang on opener 'Dark Lights Shine Loud,' coming on like a skeevy Southern preacher. Bruce has the voice of dour crypt-keeper -- comparisons to Cash, Cave and Cohen are obvious yet apt -- and while he'd make a badass piano balladeer, he sets his sepulchral bellow to blown-out '80s pop tracks.
Bruce is a showman -- by the second song, he'd shed his blazer and unbuttoned his yuppie-style button-down halfway to his navel -- and yet for all his slick posturing, he clearly gets off on this music. On highlight 'Honey Honey Honey,' whose rush of canned drums and guitars might have come straight from the Jesus and Mary Chain's 'Automatic' album, he twitched and lurched like Elvis with epilepsy. Elsewhere, he borrowed more from Iggy Pop, Billy Idol and 'China Girl'-era David Bowie, playing the role of hyper-virile New Wave loverman with almost ridiculous fervor. Next time, he should add a third girl and second disco ball and go really give us yanks something to talk about.
Ostensibly from the same city, schlubby Londoners Dignan Porch might as well live in another galaxy. Performing later on Thursday night at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, the indie fivesome kept the banter to a minimum and let the music speak for itself. Luckily, they've got the songs to justify such a non-strategy. Working from a foundation of jangling '60s pop, Dignan Porch frontman and mastermind Joe Walsh stacks New Order guitar lines and hints of Nirvana fuzz, creating songs that are intricate but never fussy.
"Blue Ribbons," Walsh said at one point, hoisting a cup of the hipster-approved swill Pabst Blue Ribbon. "That's pretty good. I haven't had it before."
He and Bruce should toast to their victories on the flight back to Blighty, plastic cup to champagne flute.