WASHINGTON, September 12, 2012 –During the early ‘90s, Britpop was in full swing across the pond in England. Its influence was felt somewhat over the U.S. by a few of our major bands. But for the most part, Britpop was strictly a British thing that evolved into a music-centric movement. It eventually died out, but its essence started something almost intangible with British music that’s still strongly felt even today.
The main premise behind Britpop was that a number of musicians felt as though American influences were becoming too prominent within their own music scene. England has a wealth of great and individualistic talents when it comes to pop music, and Britpop aficionados felt it wasn’t necessarily right to ignore those homegrown influences. For that key reason, much of Britpop was all about becoming more independent as a distinct, UK musical culture in its own right.
This doesn’t seem to have much to do with Little Barrie on the surface. But it certainly held true thematically for both them and their show at DC9 Wednesday night.
Little Barrie’s sound is characterized by a style of blues-rock that incorporates distinctly British elements of soul and R&B. There have been a number of American bands that have attempted to appropriate this specific, distinctive sound. But while their efforts are technically proficient, they don’t necessarily carry the same weight or authenticity as when a British band pulls the style off well. For this reason, the spirit Little Barrie embodies during their live stage show is hard to reproduce by any band playing outside of England.
Of course that spirit of 1990s Britpop is also profoundly anchored in the 1970s, where the sound in which Little Barrie is proficient actually originated; or at least this band’s specific iteration of it. Almost instinctively, these are the kinds of connections the band tried to play up in their recent appearance. All three band members easily emanate that early ‘70s vibe even before they begin their set. This gives the audience an obvious cue as to what to expect when Little Barrie launches into its opening number.
It’s immediately clear that this band takes their cues from different era of music. This influence helps them generate a fairly laid-back groove they’re easily able to maintain during every song they perform. True, their music is suitably dense, as blues-rock tends to be. But this band is quick to avoid getting bogged down in endless riffing, something that can easily sink a lesser band when its members get too caught up in doing their own thing.
Even though Little Barrie puts out a relatively complex sound, they still somehow manage to create the impression of an easy going and breezy style in their distinctive sound. This texture extends to Barrie Cadogan’s vocals, which are light and airy, floating around the rest of the band’s sound but never particularly dominating it. This novel approach fits perfectly with this ensemble’s light-hearted approach to the blues-rock sound. Yet they still possess enough of an edge to retain the relatively grimy nature inherent in British blues-rock, which makes them a good fit when performing at a place like DC9.
If this seems like something of a contradiction, we still have to remember: it’s not necessarily something American bands of the same genre are able to pull off quite as well, likely as some of them are to take themselves a bit too seriously at times. Little Barrie, on the other hand, is able to straddle that line effortlessly, and giving them ample audience appeal plus a distinctive sound in the process.
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.