Alain Whyte At The Hi Hat With Jagged Baptist Club, United Ghosts, JUGGS, Friday December 20th 2019

Written by | December 22, 2019 4:21 am | No Comments

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Alain Whyte

Alain Whyte at the Hi Hat?

Creation Dream Machine, a Los Angeles live event series I was even not aware of, had a party last night at the Hi Hat, showcasing 4 bands for their last event of 2019. As the night included Alain Whyte, Morrissey’s longtime songwriting partner, it was one of these end-of-the-year events to check out.

Jagged Baptist Club are always on fire, this year, the young LA band has released a debut LP,  ‘Reptile Super Show’, and they have already received amazing comparisons from Primal Scream to Savages, Blur, And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead and The Birthday Party! Launching their set with the title song, a cold and plain strange track with the delivery of a mad preacher on a throbbing electro-buzz and guitar distortion peaks, the music got raw, culminating in intensity during their noise experimentation. There was a maniac abandon during the post-punk infectious rhythms of ‘In Sequence’ and the sort of Fidlar-inspired drunken anthem ‘Change Today (Start Feeling Good)’. The mad action continued with the propelling and furious ‘Running on Synthetic’, going from explosive cymbals to distortion and badass delivery, and, like last time, they redid their hardcore (and totally unrecognizable) version of Beck’s ‘Loser’ with great success, and they also brought a sexy sax in the middle of the epic battle that was ‘Tender Cactus’… JBC are always an abrasive and infectious experience, ready to convince anyone about the power of live music.

I hadn’t seen United Ghosts for a long time, probably because they were busy touring Europe, but I remembered seeing them before. Fronted by co-vocalists Sha Sabi and Axel Ray, the music oscillated between dream pop and psychedelic rock with boy-girl harmonies and plenty of hooky melodies. The result was very dynamic and lovely with a sort of vintage eye and an ever-expansive sound that could tame down for a more shoegazing-hypnotic style. The indie band has released a self-titled debut album in 2013 and their follow-up, ‘Saturn Day’, released in 2018 and co-produced by Axel Ray and Mark Rains (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Death Valley Girls) picked up some real radio play. The music was anchored in the ’70s and the ’80s with today’s preoccupations such as surveillance culture, the subject of one of their songs, but their compositions showed plenty of diversity with lush instrumentations and harmonies, and a touch that only UK influences could bring – Axel Ray lived in London for more than a decade before moving to the US.

Alain Whyte was the attraction of the night, and if his name is still not a house name for most people, he is known for his co-writing partnership with Morrissey between 1991 and 2007. Thus, it was a bit surreal to think that the guy who wrote more than 80 songs with Morrissey was playing at the small Highland park venue, but after writing material for other big stars like Madonna or Rihanna, Whyte has decided to go solo. He has self-produced two EPs this year, ‘The Experiment’ and ‘A Higher Power’, two collections of his own songs, and he intends to release even more of them. With the help of a friend on a second guitar, he played a few songs with his excellent guitar skills and a soaring voice, and the result wasn’t without reminding the Smiths’ best tracks and Morrissey’s own crown on a higher register. The songs, ‘The Experiment’, ‘Oblivion’, ‘A Higher Power’, ‘Take Down’ (‘a song about how tough love is’) were certainly cut in a typical British signature and executed with plenty of bravado and talent…. You are not Morrissey’s guitarist and songwriting partner for 15 years for nothing. With humor, a laid back attitude and hooky guitar riffs, Whyte was approaching existential ideas or complaining about the state of the music industry in the 21st century (‘The Death of Rock N’ Roll’), or ‘Social Media’, and his great guitar work was effortlessly following his powerful vocals with poignant moments. ‘Sunny Days’ was a more dreamy tune, sang on a melancholic tone departing from his fierce guitar playing, while ‘Crossroads’ was also a more delicate song with harmonica, maybe in the vein of his other inspirations (Bert Jansch, Nick Drake, and Paul Simon are cited in an interview). He couldn’t have played without covering one or two Morrissey songs, and we got ‘A Swallow on My Neck’, ‘Hold Onto Your Friends’, ending with the Smiths’ sad lullaby, ‘Back to the Old House’. It was a passionate acoustic set, truly coming from the heart, and Alain promised us he would be back with a full band next year… for a man who is the author of such a prestigious catalog, and who has played the biggest venues around the world, he looked like the most humble person you would ever meet.a

But the night was not over as a duo named JUGGS played more tunes, as they were joined by a few friends on stage. Brandon and Willem, two childhood friends, seemed to just have plenty of fun with a few computers and guitars, building contemporary beats for an electronic dance party with synth swirls and occasional lounge singing by Willem. It was a somewhat unexpected sound coming from the son of a rock icon since Willem is the son of William Broad, also known as Billy Idol, but he was certainly doing his own thing. During the first tracks, the ambiance was that of a nonchalant pool party with a trippy side and a laidback attitude. and the whole thing had the vibe of Soundcloud rapper in a weed haze (although it was not hip hop). However, when they brought the guitars, it became something else, closer to an atmospheric dub party… Then, the guitars changed everything again as they turned into a punkier theme, dissonant and morose with a deadpan delivery, a scream or two, even leaning to goth punk…a curious and weird mélange which certainly made people dance late in the evening.

Jagged Baptist Club

United Ghosts

Alain Whyte

JUGGS

Jagged Baptist Club

United Ghosts

Alain Whyte

JUGGS

Jagged Baptist Club

Alain Whyte at the Hi Hat

United Ghosts

Alain Whyte at the Hi Hat

Alain Whyte

Alain Whyte at the Hi Hat

JUGGS

Alain Whyte at the Hi Hat

Jagged Baptist Club

Alain Whyte at the Hi Hat

United Ghosts

Alain Whyte at the Hi Hat

Alain Whyte

Alain Whyte at the Hi Hat

JUGGS

Alain Whyte at the Hi Hat

Jagged Baptist Club

United Ghosts

Alain Whyte at the Hi Hat

Alain Whyte

JUGGS

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