Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh, August 31 * * *

The last day of the Edge Festival brought a sold out crowd to the Cabaret Voltaire for Jeffrey Lewis and his intermittent backing band the Junkyard. Part of New York’s so-called ‘anti-folk” scene, the diminutive singer/songwriter showcased his quirky blend of lo-fi indie-folk during the course of an entertaining hour in the basement venue.
There was an endearingly shambolic air to his performance tonight. No doubt heightened by Lewis’ decision to forgo a soundcheck, it served to embellish rather than impede songs already skewed by a somewhat ragged edge.
As well as being a musician, Lewis is also an established cartoonist. On The Story Of The Mayflower and A Low Budget Detective Flick he married the two mediums, singing his quirky comedic lyrics while flipping through pages of illustrations. Both certainly provoked chuckles from the crowd but second time around it did feel slightly earnest. As did the gentler more folk-inflected tracks that interspersed tonight’s set.
However where Lewis did excel was on the more upbeat full band numbers. Garage rocker Slogans, Posters and Good Old Pig Gone To Avalon bustled with chaotic energy and urgency but overall it was the whimsical Mosquito Mass Murderer that truly stood out. Fusing rap and beatnik-isms it proved a delightfully quirky three minutes.

Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh, August 26 * *

Edinburgh’s got numerous unusual spaces that have been, for better and for worse, converted into music venues. The latest to join the ranks is Sneaky Pete’s, a fairly nondescript bar save for the massive pillar rising from the middle of the floor. Tonight with numbers struggling to reach fifty the obstruction was easily negotiated, sadly however the issue of sound was harder to ignore.
Ironically the sound was at its best behind the pillar – not an ideal vantage point from which to view headliners Dinosaur Pile Up. To actually see the trio ply their noisy trade you had to endure acoustics best described as atrocious.
Walls of distortion and overwhelming bass rendered singer/guitarist Matt Bigland’s vocals all but meaningless on most tracks. A couple almost survived unscathed, both Rock ‘N’ Roll and All Around The World showcasing the band’s post Nirvana style favourably thanks to the immediacy of the melody and their use of the quiet/loud/quiet dynamic.
However despite their passion and a broken snare drum, masterfully replaced without losing a beat by drummer Steve Wilson, there was a certain predictability to some songs, Melanin and Love Is A Boat the two main culprits.
After a thirty minute set it’s hard to tell what the future holds for the three-piece, but one thing’s for sure, they’ll never sound worse than they did tonight at one very Sneaky Pete’s.