On Wednesday 7 August 2013 I went to the Bedford, for the preview of the Buzztones' Edinburgh show, supported by Jamie Lawson and Carrie Haber. Most nights at the Bedford the music is free, but this was a special event and cost £5. Though I do like acapella, all-male or otherwise, The Buzztones were a bit too smooth and mellow for my liking (and perhaps lacking in variety tonally, though at this distance it's hard to remember), though very accomplished. Jamie Lawson was an amiable singer songwriter who - he explained before he sang it - had had a surprise online hit in Ireland with his song I Wasn't Expecting That (which, whether or not it made him any money, obviously hadn't broken him through - although it looks like he is or has just been on tour supporting Ed Sheeran). Carrie Haber was another singer-songwriter, with keyboard rather than guitar, who I guess would like to be thought of as in the same line as - though doubtless resisting being compared to - Kate Bush and Tori Amos. As with the others, okay, but nothing to make me seek her out again (though perfectly aware of the subjectiveness of musical taste; plenty people would like Jamie and Carrie much more than I did, and if either of them became successful I would be pleased for them, and certainly not appalled). A pleasant evening out, though.
On the following Wednesday, 14 August, I went to the Bedford again, this time for a free night, under the umbrella Nothing Wrong With Pop. The lineup was Mila Falls, Victoria, Ellie Rose and The Future Kills. Mila Falls was a bit dancey, sang to a backing track, and performed as if she were on stage at a festival, which I do have respect for, when someone's really giving you the moves full-on as if you weren't a handful of people in a room behind a pub. Although I wasn't fussed about her material, and I thought she dressed younger than she was (could be wrong, might be younger than she looks), I thought she had a very good voice. (Google suggests she entered X Factor this year, but looks like she wasn't successful.) Victoria need a more Googleable name - I can't remember anything about them/her... ah, digging in, found them (interestingly, they and Jamie above both using Tumblr as a site for their home page, which seems odd to an oldie like me who doesn't get Tumblr), was right to think they were a band; the bits I'm seeing there remind me they were okay, and sang quite well (though, as is generally the case at evenings like this, not much in the way of good/memorable songs; songs are always much harder than technical competence/proficiency). Ellie Rose was another unremarkable singer-songwriter. The Future Kills, who were obviously the headliners and had a small following with them, were quite peculiar - a kind of rocky boyband, with a mishmash of visual styles, who were going for it a bit, but more self-consciously and awkwardly than Mila (internet suggests they were on Britain's Got Talent during that year before I saw them). I remember thinking they were awful; the clips I've listened to just now haven't changed my mind.
Both nights I had looked on Time Out for something to go out to and saw nothing better than those (looking at theatre and comedy as well as music), partly because things seem quieter here in the summer, especially during the Edinburgh festival.
I didn't regret either visit; but the thing which struck me this autumn after a couple of folk gigs (read about them a year from now!) was that the hit rate of hearing acts you really enjoy and are impressed with when you go to hear an act or line-up of acts that you've never heard of before is much higher with folk music than other genres, in my experience.