Miracle Fortress/It Hugs Back

  • London
  • United Kingdom
  • Metro
  • 2007-12-12

Kevin Drew, de facto leader of Broken Social Scene, mentioned in a recent interview how a Canadian Government initiative has aided their cause and helped to support and nurture some of the recent excellent imports from Canada. The Canada Music Fund offers grants to fledgling bands, allowing them to live modestly, tour and make music with less industry pressure to create a mass-marketable product. BSS, Patrick Watson and Miracle Fortress have all benefited from this scheme and created distinct, interesting LPs; the latter’s Five Roses being the focal point of this short promo tour.

Before the transatlantic main event was some homegrown talent. Kent’s It Hugs Back are newly signed to Too Pure records, home of The Organ and Electrelane, and their quiet melancholia pulled in a sizable crowd for a support act. Their style is a combination of Stereolab’s organ-worrying swoon, Teenage Fanclub’s melodic rush and the warm, fuzzy fog of Joy Zipper. The slight but affecting dream-pop of “Early Evening” contrasted with the sparky indie-with-sharp-edges of “Lights In The Trees”. Promising.

It wouldn’t be fair to trouble them with the ‘new Arcade Fire’ tag just yet.

Miracle Fortress’ aforementioned debut album is a woozy mixture of Beach Boys harmonies, instrumental passages and indie-electronica, based around Graham Van Pelt and a roster of additional musicians. As a live act they are bolstered by two energetic drummer/percussionists who add a tribal, vibrant backbeat to the melodic ‘front three’ of guitar, bass and keyboards. This lineup adds a level of dynamism and a new focus to songs from Five Roses.

The driving bassline of opener “This Thing About You” appeared from crashing percussion and its recorded psyche-pop incarnation became a glammy stomp. “Maybe Lately” and “Have You Seen In Your Dreams” took on krautrock elements as they weaved their hypnotic spells. Away from the LP the set also included a motorik cover of John Cale’s “Hanky Panky Nohow” and a campfire singalong of a new song.

It was a short, sharp, happy shock of a gig that left smiles on the faces of those trooping back up onto Oxford Street from this basement venue. It wouldn’t be fair to trouble them with the ‘new Arcade Fire’ tag just yet, but as far as euphoric, idiosyncratic rock groups are concerned Miracle Fortress are sounding worthy of clumsy comparison by lazy journalists…

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