Three British bands were on the bill at Zanzabar Friday night -- headliners One Eskimo, supported by Hugo and Scars on 45. Scars on 45 just signed a major record deal with Atlantic/Chop Shop, and although their debut is not yet out, they've already had a song featured on an episode of CSI: NY. Down a couple of band members, in what is usually a six-piece, they delivered a short set of melodic pop with nice harmonies that reminded me a bit of British band Travis.
Stylish and charismatic, Hugo's set of blues-style rock veers into soul, country, and even hip-hop grooves on the Jay-Z cover "99 Problems." (He is signed to Jay-Z's label, Roc Nation and has lent a creative hand to Beyonce). I thought his sound was the most provocative and interesting of the three acts; his upcoming album, Old Tyme Religion, will be one to watch out for in the new year.
Kristian Leontiou's band One Eskimo took the stage in a haze of blue smoke, that I assume was the atmospheric backdrop for their mellow, jazzy blend of rock and pop (not so good for taking photos). They've had the most airplay with the success of the single, "Kandi," and the crowd seemed familiar enough with the tunes that they could sing along with Leontiou's vocals that range from a hushed tenor to a sweet falsetto. Mostly down-tempo, the mood is introspective, romantic, relaxed, but the music is produced in interesting ways.
Drummer Adam Falkner has an interesting set-up that includes the cajon (which I had to look up) -- the "box" that he sits on is actually a percussion instrument, played by striking the front of it -- he also has a bass drum, snares, and something, possibly of his own design, that is like a tambourine, played with his foot. Bassist Jaime Sefton also plays the flugelhorn, and he switches between them pretty seamlessly. Guitarist Pete Rinaldi doesn't seem to have any tricky equipment but he's very proficient on lead guitar. One Eskimo makes the most of their slightly idiosyncratic set-up and Leontiou's distinctive vocals for a sound that is unique, but definitely on the more subdued side of the rock spectrum.
Scars on 45 - Danny and Aimee on vocals
Hugo, who knows how to wear a hat -- and sing.
Lead guitarist Pete Rinaldi of One Eskimo
One Eskimo's Kristian Leontiou, bathed in blue.