Today is the equivalent of Christmas for record store frequenters and vinyl junkies, as during this Easter weekend its Record Store Day 2014. Now in its seventh annual jaunt, for one day a year, independent music stores and like-minded artists combine to release special vinyl and CD offerings while staging impromptu in-store gigs to celebrate all things music with the idea of keeping the DIY spirit alive.
Getting in on the act is Head Records in Leamington Spa and while stocking their shelves with limited edition releases from the likes of J Spaceman, Pixes, Django Django and much more wasn’t enough, they’ve snared in local darlings Coves for a celebratory 30 minute in-store performance just as they’ve dropped their stunning debut LP, ‘Soft Friday’ to widespread critical acclaim. Currently things are looking scintillating for the Warwickshire based duo, they’ve garnered feverous attention for their first musical offering, the likes of NME, DIY and Canadian music site Northern Transmissions have been early adopters and the duo have recently shared a stage with Band of Skulls. Plus, with Sharks’ sad demise from the Leamington Spa music landscape, there’s an absent branch at the top of the tree waiting to be filled; Coves can be this band with ease.
Kicking off their set at the rather un-rock ‘n’ roll time of 1:30pm, Coves have gathered in quite the baying crowd amongst the racks of CDs, DVDs and vinyl. Setting up shop in Head’s front window, the two piece, Beck Wood (vocals) and Jon Ridgard (guitar) – flanked by two session musicians on bass, drums and electronic gadgetry – make for the most animated mannequins with a deft knack at wheeling out hazy, groove-led rock ‘n’ roll in the mould of The Kills, Velvet Underground and, interestingly Death in Vegas during their ‘Scorpio Rising’ phase. Coves only have half an hour to offer up choice nuggets from ‘Soft Friday’ but in this time they approach each track with a smouldering gusto, even if the PA decides to throw a spanner in the works with a malfunctioning noise that’s attributed to a “naughty robot”. The likes of ‘Last Desire’, ‘Fall out of Love’ and the storming ‘Cast a Shadow’ already glisten with a timeless quality. Even a cheeky cover is dispensed with in the guise of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’. Suffice to say Coves’ hypnotic appeal is strong enough to stop passers-by in their tracks, resulting in worried shopping centre security assembling the most flimsy of crowd control at the front of the store – akin to the passive fabric barriers seen in your local branch of Natwest. Any stampedes were avoided in the end – good job security men!
Wood and Ridgard clearly have a special musical bond as they share effortless vocal harmonies one minute and then trade jokes and smiles the next. Equally, the award for the most exuberant out of the pair is an undisputable tie. You’ve got Ridgard’s guitar virtuosity, which sees 50% of Coves twitching with untold enthusiasm, playing his guitar with his teeth, yelping like a banshee or collapsing to his knees during the show’s finale. Wood, not to be outshone shimmers with magnetic cool, swaying and winding with the ubiquitous wash of kaleidoscopic, psyche-indebted rock currently mesmerising all in attendance.
It’s evident Coves have a strong local following as this afternoon’s mob lapped up the two piece’s enthralling sonic titbits – it’s surely only a matter of time before Coves transcend from local favourites to a global success story. Gotta love Record Store Day, it’s the gift that keeps on giving!
Live photography by Naomi Abbs