Here’s a good example of a band that contain a broad-ranging collection of parts, having met at a junction – literally in half the band’s member’s case, underneath Waterloo bridge – but who’s composite parts’ progression will be rated by how fluent they can become when trying to tie together the various talents. They informed us that they are “fiercely ambitious“, so at the very least they’re motivation could drive them in the right direction. On the evidence so far, which includes a few initial gigs and demos, as well as the planned debut single, they may yet become greater than the sum of their parts.
Josh Bowyer seems to be the frontman, in the sense that it’s his vocals that lead Channel Cairo along whilst his exquisite piano dominates the bulk of most tunes. The London-based quintet talk of being an Anglo-French group, yet it seems that they’ve only one French member, Luke Saunders, who provides guitar. The cross-channel stance seems to extend beyond their moniker and the single continental partner, as they marry an English timelessness with a classy, mature French feel. The international story seems to earn a few twists once you ask them to explain the Cairo connection.
The PR brief explained a story of Josh getting kidnapped in Egypt at just 9 years old, a truly awful event that may well be true, but read other interviews they’ve completed elsewhere and the memories of the North African country are romantic and reflective, although he plainly mentions the Suez Canal being “fucking awesome“. They came to a decision about the band name when discussing “the British empire, things that were slightly old school, with a historic feeling“, yet that ex-pat, unintegrated feeling shuns the whole anglo-French blurring of borders.
They may well need to iron out of their story, but putting that to one side and focusing on the music you get a collection of widescreen romantic pop songs that have legs. They’ve been described as haunting, or even as pop noir, but they’re actually very removed from the band that invented the phrase, Mirrors. There’s no electronics here, as they replace those with traditional instruments, played with ability and skill. The lead single, Elephant Room, is a shinning example of their songsmithery, as the opening ivory bars are met with drifting vocal harmonies that will arrest any room they play to.
They’ve floated around the London gig circuits over the last year or so, finally getting snapped up by the excellent Laissez Faire Club, who launch their debut single on August 29th. It involves the piano in prominence, played in a rousing, climactic journey throughout the tune and will be a wonderful way to welcome the world to their broad, open space. It will remind you of a collection of artists, from Keane without the wall-climbing damp, to Death Cab For Cutie, without the cutie.
Josh’s talents go beyond the tinkering though as his voice feels unrestricted, bringing to mind the likes of Thomas Mars from Phoenix, minus the synthetics. Thankfully the other demos don’t drown out the remaining band member’s strengths, such the excellent meandering walk that is Dandelions, which has the three guitars winding inside of each other in a beautiful stream of music. Elsewhere, Underated Grace, has the Death Cab warmth once again and hits peaks like it’s the missing unplugged track off of Radiohead‘s The Bends, were Thom Yorke to replace the angst with a smile.
You can hear some of these below, as well as the fantastic remix of their song Twenty, by The Remix Artist Collective, who always earn attention with their fine productions. Rather surprisingly, by introducing a raised pace and a little electricity, the song loses any previous pedestrian lethargy, but whether this is something they’ll include as they evolve, can only be seen in time. For now, the sum of their parts is still equal to the mature songwriting on show and even at this early stage there’s still a sense that this band are in it for the long term, hopefully ensuring that this superior level of talent pushes on to achieve recognition. (MB)
CHANNEL CAIRO – ELEPHANT ROOM
CHANNEL CAIRO – DANDELIONS
CHANNEL CAIRO – TWENTY (RAC MAURY REMIX)