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Nite Jewel, Cargo 03.10.09

November 19, 2009

It pains me to admit it but like the most advanced form of musical snob, I can be particularly smug when I come across an amazing band that hasn’t really caught on with the masses. And for the last year or so, that band for me has been Nite Jewel.

I’ve been surrounded by pretty ridiculous air of self-satisfaction about the whole shebang; especially considering I discovered them through a free mp3 of their track ‘Surbubia’ distributed by rcrdlbl.com, a service subscribed to by umpteen thousand other people. But still I’ve been drenched in deluded smuggery about owning a copy of the Good Evening LP, long before it was given an official UK release at the end of August and having interviewed lead singer Ramona Gonzalez way before she was picked up by any of the mainstream press here or even in the US.

But by the time I reached Cargo for a long-awaited UK gig, I realised the reign of my own crate-digging ego was over. Nite Jewel had obviously caught on. The place was packed and the queue was extensive. And considering they were being released on and playing a No Pain In Pop event – the ear-feeding trend makers for all of London’s hipster faction from New Cross to Dalston and everywhere in between – well I was officially stubbing out the butt of my own precious (non)discovery that evening.

All that was left to do, was to throw my last strand of dignity out the window and sing along so obviously to every song that THEY would all know that I knew how brilliant Nite Jewel were long before THEY had even caught a whiff of their 8-tracked lushness. And I don’t even know the words – I should take pride in what a geek I can be sometimes…

In my defense, I do truly hold Nite Jewel close to my heart. Good Evening, with its lo-fi naivety and ethereal Italo-house affections is one of my most treasured possessions of the year. And I’d been waiting for them to make a London appearance for a long, long time (I mean super long, probably longer than a lot of others…oh I really need to stop.).

But it is as they say. Good things come to those who wait (a saying that could only have been thought up by the English, a nation of devout queuers). Sounding just as good as, if not better than their recordings, the album’s highlights poured off the stage, from the perverse ‘What Did He Say’ to the distinctly West Coast ‘Artificial Intelligence’ and even dousing us with ‘All Out of Order’ from the recent Italians Do It Better 12″.

Amazing sound usually seems to be the case at Cargo (so either I’m just lucky to be at the right gigs at the right time or their soundman practices a special kind of voodoo on the mixing desk) but mixed with the somnambular dream weaving flooding from the fingers and be-stockinged toes of Ramona and her compatriot Emily Jane plus the divinity of tracks like ‘Let’s Go (The Two Of Us Together)’, the only magic worth noting was theirs.

[Originally reviewed for Bearded Magazine]

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