December 9: Goldie Lookin’ Chain @ OSLO
1A Amhurst Rd, E8 1LL
Like so many things from the turn of the millennium (the Y2K bug, the England football team, President Bush) Goldie Lookin’ Chain seem comparatively much better in retrospect. In the age of Honey G, and millions of Soundcloud rappers of dubious quality, the Newport crew almost come across as seasoned rap-game veterans. And to be honest, they’ve always had bangers in their locker – robot fantasy ‘Half Man Half Machine’ is genuinely funny (“He wants to buy ten fags, his destination is the shops / A tinfoil suit and a hat like Robocop”), and the Serge Gainsbourg-sampling ‘Your Missus Is A Nutter’ (it pilfers the wild guitar of the Frenchman’s 1970 track ‘Cannabis’) still hits hard. At Hackney Central’s OSLO, they’ll presumably play said hits, as well as tracks from 2016 album Pill Communication – released despite a promise that if they crowdfunded £50k they’d smash up every copy with hammers – and this year’s Fear Of A Welsh Planet.
December 13: Totally @ The Waiting Room
175 Stoke Newington High St, N16 0LH
Singer Jade Leonard, emboldened by praise for her melismatic, R’n’B-tinged voice during several karaoke outings at Finsbury Park’s Rowan’s bowling alley, formed Totally with fellow founder members Laurel, Fliss, Franny and Susan around the turn of 2016. They quickly earned plaudits upon the emergence of their first two lo-fi demos, one of which, ‘Falling Apart’, was released by Art Is Hard around this time last year (in eye-catching pin-badge / download code format), and the other, ‘Moonlit Memory’, appears on the A-side of their new single, to be launched at this Stoke Newington headline slot. Their music speaks frequently of being lovelorn, but the strong, Destiny’s Child-esque harmonies evoke the sense of a collective belief in the heart-soothing power of their indie-pop, which manages to embody garagey cool and fluttery folk all at once. They’ve had a few lineup changes recently (bass is now handled by new Totallyer, Anna) and are on the lookout for a new lead guitarist – maybe you could totally be what they’re looking for?
December 15: The Fish Police @ The Finsbury
336 Green Lanes, N4 1BY
The funky, technicolour permanent party that is The Fish Police rolls into town for The Finsbury pub’s birthday shindig. The Citizen reviewed their Café Oto gig in our April 2016 issue, which noted the band’s “nods to the quirky alternative hip-hop of De La Soul”, their “catchy and uplifting pop” and their “pure escapism from everyday drudgery”. Since then, singer Dean Rodney has been collaborating with electro-punk band Ravioli Me Away – the video for their new track ‘Dean TV Girls’, which casts the arty quartet as a futuristically attired Rodney’s backing band, will be released by the time this issue hits the streets. This video, like other Fish Police projects, was helped along by Deptford learning difficulties charity Heart n Soul – Rodney and guitarist Matt Howe have autism. The boundary-breaking nature of the band is thus often noted, but tracks like ‘Coco Butter’ and high-energy poultry tribute ‘Chicken Nuggets For Me’ don’t leave headspace for chin-stroking or pity – you’ll be too busy dancing. The gig is free, but funds raised on the night will go towards the victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
December 19: James Yorkston @ MOTH Club
Old Trades Hall, Valette St, E9 6NU
King Creosote’s record label Fence Records may now be kaput, but it had a huge impact on Scottish music in the period after Belle and Sebastian’s move to Rough Trade and ‘the big-time’. James Yorkston’s debut recordings, under the pseudonym J. Wright Presents, came out on Fence, and he was a regular at their famed, lunchtime-to-1am ‘Sunday Socials’ at various pubs in their spiritual home of Fife. He too soon moved on to Domino (Arctic Monkeys, The Magnetic Fields), and bigger things. The label has released a steady stream of his pastoral acoustic music since, and watched on as he worked his way into support slots with those legends of the hollow-body, Bert Jansch and John Martyn. He has also recorded two albums as the self-admitted non-virtuoso in the Yorkston / Thorne / Khan, which pairs his guitar with Jon Thorne’s bass and the South Asian sound of Suhail Yusuf Khan’s sarangi. Polymath Yorkston has also released a novel (2016’s 3 Craws) and a bestselling tour diary – who knows, maybe this intimate set at MOTH will kick off the sequel.
December 23: John Bennett Band – Christmas Special @ Vortex Jazz Club
11 Gillett Square, N16 8AZ
Between Now That’s What I Call A Collection Of Christmas Songs We Can Afford To License style pop classics and the traditional caroling standards, big band music might find it hard to get a look in in your holiday playlists. But John Bennett’s big band are looking to shake out the tinsel from their brass on this final weekend before the big day, at Dalston institution Vortex Jazz Club. Before forming his own band, Bennet played with legends Kenny Ball and Terry Lightfoot in the 50s and 60s – along with similar acts like Acker Bilk, they were regulars in the early hit parade. This current band have been called “the Rolls Royce of jazz”, although you’d be hard pressed to fit their 14 members, all Hackney jazz regulars, into a Phantom. Bennett teaches trombone at the local Morpeth School, and he’ll use this trusty tool to parp some seasonal cheer into the ears of the assembled this advent.