Princess Chelsea / Tidal Wars / Hollow Bear @ Start The Bus, Bristol 16.05.12

Speaker-blowing heavy indie-rock from Tidal Wars, a young three piece from Weston-Super-Mare, kicks off tonight's proceedings. The music is fuzzy and scuzzy, but with the pop sensibilities of white noise merchants, Yuck, providing hooks galore. The droning feedback loops mask the scuffed-around-the-edges vocals but the standout factor comes in the form of pulverising drums, which shine through a murky swamp of guitars. A shoegaze twang hints at contemporaries Surfer Blood, a comparison I’m sure the trio are familiar with and not in the slightest bothered by. Throttling top buttons and a fashionable apathy loom on the surface of Tidal Wars, but with riotous rock gems coated in a layer of shoegazing FX, who cares?

May 16th, 2012 at Start the Bus, Bristol / By Larry Day
Princess Chelsea / Tidal Wars / Hollow Bear @ Start The Bus, Bristol 16.05.12 Next up is the gruff rock 'n' roll played by homegrown band Hollow Bear, their music smothered in chunky chords and a chaotic fusion of massive rock riffage and punk howls. Venomous guitar solos pierce the set, harking back to the swagtacular cock rock of thirty years past, but updated for a modern audience - gone are the odes to strippers, this brand of confident rock relies on tunes not gimmicks. Messy and raw, the Bristol lads are a joy to watch; grungey like Pearl Jam, the slower numbers feature bits reminiscent of post-rock heroes I Like Trains. These intelligent rockers serenade Start the Bus with their belligerent lullabies tonight as the tantalising scent of gourmet burgers lick the air. Though the band are still establishing themselves, this performance shows that they have buckets of promise.

Draped in her instruments (including a guiro), New Zealand native Princess Chelsea (pictured) - stage moniker of multi-instrumentalist Chelsea Nikkel - launches a torrent of sinister yet sweet songs about robot invasions, a motivational bongo drummer and smoking. Her quaint baroque-pop plays the soundtrack to a macabre cavalcade of wicked marionettes - there's a child like innocence to the set, but with the indication that something much darker is lurking around the corner.

Her virtuoso playing of piano and xylophone simultaneously is impressive, and it's clear that her Royal Highness holds a considerable amount of talent. With gossamer delicacy and yet an unfathomable hugeness, the crimson-lipped songstress navigates her way through a set list of choice cuts from her dreamy debut The Little Golden Book. Goth-pop ditty 'Ice Reign' features thunderstorms as an instrument, and smash hit 'The Cigarette Duet' brings up Jonathan Bree from bass duties to provide vocals. Princess Chelsea's voice is flawless, and she is just another example of the new wave of Australasian talent starting to leak into the foreground of the British music scene. The audience stand in open-mouthed silence, and although this is only a short spell in the UK, Princess Chelsea is sure to crop up again soon.