Review: Xeno Fest 2009

Last Friday I went on a very exciting pop adventure. Thanks to my blogging pal Talia, I was able to attend the first annual Xenomania garden party at their mansion in Surrey! The whole thing was quite surreal and amazing – I just couldn’t believe I was actually at the place where so many great popstars and writers had been, and where some of my favourite songs of all time had been written and produced. The highlights of the day for me were meeting Miranda Cooper, arguably the best femal songwriter on the planet, and Jessie Malakouti, ex-member of Shut Up Stella, who complimented me on my socks and said that she reads this blog! So, hello Jessie if you’re reading!

The main point of the event was to showcase six of the acts signed to Xenomania Records, the new label set up by Brian Higgins. Three of the performers were female pop acts and three were less exciting male acts. Each did a few of their songs, and I enjoyed getting a taster of their upcoming releases. Here are my thoughts on their performances:

Mini Viva
I’d only heard the remixes that are on their MySpace before this, so I was hugely impressed with the proper songs. I hope they’ll put them up online soon so I can listen to them on repeat for a month! I can see this girl duo doing extremely well, and I Left My Heart In Tokyo is an excellent first single. Everyone was singing along when they played the studio version just after the performance, and most of us had only heard it once before.

Night Vision
A male electro-pop band who were compared by audience members to Veto Silver and Phixx, but everyone agreed that Night Vision weren’t as good as either of those bands. They easily got the least positive reaction of the night.

Page Boy (aka Brooke X)
After the initial confusion of Page Boy being a girl, I enjoyed the songs she performed and am looking forward to hearing more from Brooke. She’s different to the other artists Xenomania has worked with, more of a singer-songwriter who might appeal to fans of Feist or Regina Spektor, but of course she’s adding a Xenomania twist which will give her an edge over other similar acts.

I was surprised that they didn’t do their current single, which is doing quite well and has grown on me quite a lot. They made up for it with good hair, and I can see them being one of the more successful of the Xenomania acts, but I could also see them being a big flop. Only time will tell!

Jessie Malakouti
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t totally convinced by Jessie’s first solo songs (she released a few in America last year), but the new stuff is excellent and apparently she’s releasing a song through the Ministry of Sound label, which may be a good approach to take. She’s gone from a Britney sound to a one-girl Girls Aloud, and I’m fine with that. The more GA-style songs the merrier, in my opinion!

Alex Gardner
A very young Scottish singer who seems like he could make a good popstar and is apparently high priority at the record label, but I didn’t think any of his songs were especially good. I hope they’ll find him something better to release, or he’ll just be another in the track record of Scottish male popstars with disasterous careers.


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