Arbouretum @ Latest Music Bar, Brighton 01.05.12

What better band for Bearded than a band whose beards can't be bettered? (even if ZZ Top are rumoured to be making a new album...). But though they look like tough mountain men who stumbled from Deep South woods, Arbouretum's songs are lengthy essays in stoner sophistication, infused with psych and folk. Think Wooden Shjips jamming with Neil Young over a bottle of fine sippin' whiskey.

May 1st, 2012 at Latest Music Bar, Brighton / By Norman Miller
Arbouretum The evening begun in quite different style with Hush Arbors – aka San Francisco troubadour Keith Wood – essaying the slow-and-mournful schtick he's perfected with downbeat masters Six Organs of Admittance and Sunburned Hand of the Man. It's a mood deepened by Luke Roberts, whose trio of songs plumbs new depths of gruff miserablism.

So there's a sense of palpable release when Arbouretum amble on and crunch into ‘Run Honey Run’, lit up by the first of several superb guitar solos from David Heumann. There's a wonderful flow to proceedings as numbers segue into each other, shifting mood while still preserving the essential Arbouretum sound. The visceral brilliance and sharp hooks of ‘The White Bird’ frame more effortless soloing from Heumann, with a trippy finale from Matthew Pierce's synths, while there's a beautifully muscled-up folkiness to ‘Down By The Fall Line’ and the gorgeous ‘Mohammed's Hex & Bounty’.

‘Waxing Crescents’ kicks up the pace, skipping rhythms wrapped around another Heumann solo that unwinds brilliantly over several minutes, ended cleverly with Pierce joining Buck Carey for a bit of tight double drumming. Pierce gets back on the keys to add a fine break in the skittering psych-folk of ‘She Moved Through The Fair’, contrasted by a fiercely delivered ‘St Anthony's Fire’ from the Hush Arbor album collaboration Aureola, with Heumann spitting out the lyric before delivering a final long spiralling solo that is perhaps the best of the night.

The wretched 11pm curfew forces the band to draw matters to a close before we get a chance to here the planned encore – ‘Long As I Can See The Night’ Heumann tells us, as he returns to apologise to a small but enthusiastic crowd who'd happily have hung in there until midnight for a band who – like that fine sippin' whiskey - just get better and better with age.