Page last updated at 08:59 GMT, Monday, 27 April 2009 09:59 UK

Today Camden, tomorrow the world?

By Ian Youngs
Music reporter, BBC News

Take 20,000 music fans and scores of the most talked-about new bands in the country, and let them loose in the pubs, clubs and concert halls of Camden, north London, for three days.

That is the idea behind the Camden Crawl, an annual urban festival that lets ticket-holders move between 16 venues, each with a packed music schedule, around the indie hotspot's one-mile main strip.

With the focus on the hottest new groups, it is a chance to catch some of the biggest buzz bands all in one place. Of the bands we managed to see, here are the five most impressive.

1. THE TEMPER TRAP @ Bullet, Friday

The Temper Trap

These Aussies have just relocated to London to try to make it. The signs are that they will succeed.

They turned one packed end of this cosy bar into a sweaty mob and became heroes of the first night of the Crawl.

It's epic indie at heart, with widescreen guitars - four of them at times, which get heavy when at full throttle.

Singer Dougy Mandagi draws every ounce of emotion from his lyrics, taking about four times as long as your average band to sing a single line.

He's a good, engaging frontman with an incredibly powerful, if slightly shrill, voice. If Prince covered Metallica, it might sound a bit like this.

2. THE KING BLUES @ Koko, Sunday

The King Blues

By the time singer Jonny "Itch" Fox had jumped into the crowd during the third song, there was a moshpit in motion, a few hundred new fans in the house and it was game over.

The crowd instantly responded to these six fairly annoyed young men playing passionate, politicised rock, tinged with dub, blues and folk.

Their sound is not overbearing, with a few very accessible singles. At their heart is a big blue acoustic guitar and Itch's tiny ukulele, which he swings around from time to time in a manner George Formby would not approve of.

It is The Levellers meets Rage Against the Machine. The King Blues, whose second album came out at the end of 2008, were crowned in Camden.

3. THE MACCABEES @ Roundhouse, Saturday

The Maccabees at Camden Crawl

This Brighton-based band mix enigmatic '80s guitars with heart-on-sleeve noughties indie. Echo and the Bunnymen meets The Arcade Fire.

They are also on their second album, produced by Coldplay cohort Marcus Dravs, and already had a sizeable following to bring to the largest Crawl venue.

Singer Orlando Weeks has an awkward croon that suggests a tortured soul - yearning, complicated, brainy, melancholy. It's a combination that a lot of fans will easily tap into.

4. THE CORDELIER CLUB @ The Enterprise, Friday

The Cordelier Club

Built around a girl-boy duo, The Cordelier Club were an unexpected find in a room above a pub, one of the smallest venues on the circuit.

They are part twee indie, armed with a toy keyboard and pink maracas, and part epic pop, with sweeping heartfelt lyrics and strained looks on their faces. Like Belle & Sebastian after going through Bono's bootcamp.

Alice Drusilla sings power ballads with the gusto of a Stevie Nicks or Elkie Brooks, and choruses with overblown lines like "Love's like a battlefield and it's raging above."

They might just be too uncool, but the gig was promoted by superhip record label Moshi Moshi and they have the songs to get noticed.

5. SKINT & DEMORALISED @ Jazz Cafe, Friday

Skint & Demoralised

Skint & Demoralised, aka Matt Abbott, arrives with a big bottle of vodka and an uncomplimentary poem about Blackpool.

The 20-year-old is a poet first and foremost, but has put his words to music, prompting echoes of Reverend and the Makers, and delivers them in a semi-spoken word style.

And he is a brilliant lyricist, coming across with with piercing honesty, fragile bravado and down-to-earth humour.

His show is best when the quality of the music matches the words. On his first single The Thrill of Thirty Seconds, he is the lost Arctic Monkey. On follow-up This Song Is Definitely Not About You, however, he is the northern McFly.

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Camden Crawl gets under way
25 Apr 09 |  Entertainment


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