The Louisiana is one of the smallest venues in Bristol and also one of the cutest. Tucked just around the corner from the Waterfront, the ground floor is the main pub room, whilst on the upper floor is the teensy tiny room in which bands play. Back in the day, not long before I first started going there, it had played host to future megastars The White Stripes and, a few years later, the beautiful Regina Spektor. In short, not only is it a lovely venue to play at any stage of your career, but it could also be seen as a lucky charm to those just starting out.
It may indeed prove to be just this to Japanese indie pop group Taffy who played at the Louisiana on 25th October. A note to a photo on the group’s Facebook page stated: ‘people were getting drunk, dancing and everything. And it’s Thursday. AWESOME.’ Aside from describing this one night, these words also work as a description of The Louisiana Effect. TLE being the wave of sweet joy that being in the venue brings and the transformative effect it has in turning shoegazing killjoys into hip-wiggling Japanese pop fans.
Taffy, like the chewy sweet that shares their name, are pretty to look at, slightly addictive and reminiscent of a few decades ago. Composed of Iris, Koichin, Asano and Ken, the group played The Louisiana as part of their inaugural UK tour. Following some rather good press in The Guardian and NME, amongst others, and no major mishaps on this trip it looks likely that they will probably return again. My own wish being to hear them at a summer festival along with some slightly too sweet cider and dreams of Garbage in their glory days.
Much has been made of how Taffy sound like Brit pop cartoons (only a good version of that). However, the best comparison I can make is with Danish via America group The Raveonettes and their early 2000s album Pretty In Black. As with the lead singer of that band, Sharin Foo, Iris has a soft voice that should realistically be lost behind the guitars, but instead twitters on about ‘young girls and cherry pie’ in a way that offers enough of a suggestion of dryness and languor to counteract the saccharine. When she should, by right, sound prissy, she instead sounds like someone good to have a pint with, whilst the fringe of her muted orangey bob makes her resemble Little My from the Moomins.
Whether or not their visit to Bristol marks the beginnings of success for the band is yet to be determined. If, however, you grew up wanting to be Shirley Manson, I highly recommend a listen to their album Caramel Sunset.