Posts Tagged ‘90s alt-rock’

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s fitting that a band as wildly eclectic and sonically unpredictable as Bearfoot Beware should have a suitably varied and contrasting but complimentary lineup of bands on the bill for their album launch show. And it turns out that tonight is a night of energetic bassists.

Ganglions’ bassist is almost swamped by her instrument, but she kicks out some thumping basslines around which the Sheffield trio forge an unusual blend of grungy post-rock jazz with melody. It’s an unusual blend. Some moments border on the twee, a shade muso, even a touch indulgent in their noodliness, but their tightness carries the complexity of the songs’ structures and nagging, interloping guitar motifs which even incorporate currents of reggae and skiffliness. They’ve also got enough energy and drive – both the songs and the band themselves – to make it all pull together, making their set engaging and entertaining.

Ganglions

Ganglions

It’s quite the leap to go from a compact three-piece unit to the sprawling ten-legged groove machine that is ZoZo. RSI means that front man Tom has had to ditch the guitar and stick to vocals only. The two vocalists are set up in front of the small stage, and Fred really throws himself into the choppy, cutty guitar parts.

However, it’s the exuberant lunges of bassist Joe, who cranks out some driving bass noise, that provide the band’s most striking visual focal point, while sonically, it’s the big, raucous, sax sound that defines the band’s brand of art-rock. Their frenetic funk fusion calls to mind aspects of Gang of Four, Talking Heads, and Shriekback, but their more flamboyant inclinations and pop sensibility perhaps owes more to acts like The Associates, ABC, and Orange Juice. They’re as tight as they are lively, as well as being good fun.

ZoZo

ZoZo

Bearfoot Beware blur final soundchecking with the actual set, lurching headlong into scorching rendition of ‘Point Scorer.’ It’s a hell of a way to introduce the new album to the crowd, and they follow with a couple more newies before touching on the back catalogue. The songs twist, turn, lumber and lurch unpredictably, and as I watch them, I can’t help but wonder just how much they must rehearse to memorise the complex song structures and play every change with such precision. They don’t just play, either, but really perform. Again, it’s the bass player, Richard Vowden, who provides the axis around which the band spins, both as a physical and sonic presence. Energy emanates from him as he bounds and lurches around, legs going all over, a perpetual blur, his contortions almost literal interpretations of the musical compositions, while the chunky grooves hold down the spasmodic, fractured guitars.

Bearfoot Beware

Bearfoot Beware

Their Pavement meets Shellac meets No Age stylings make for an angular racket, but it this somehow suggests a band out of time and hung up on the US alternative scene of the 90s, its delivered with a twist that’s representative of the contemporary Leeds scene. It’s perhaps hardly surprising that a band whose members have established a rehearsal space and studio that lie at the heart of a DIY subscene all of its own should epitomise it.

I’ve digressed, and am no longer focusing on the set, but any launch event is only the beginning of a journey. Bearfoot Beware are here, and they’re now, and they’re kicking ass with Sea Magnolia. Tonight, they’ve thrown it out to Leeds, and tomorrow the world. It deserves to float.

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Babylon Pink – 23rd June 2017

James Wells

Ooh. This is actually quite nice. Heavy hints of Amplifier colour the album’s opener, ‘Salt in Our Veins’, but I’m equally reminded of subtly psych-tinged 90s alt rock merchants 8 Storey Window. Their sole album, produced by Terry Bickers of House of Love, stands as something of a lost classic.

It seems odd to be writing about 8 Storey Window and House of Love – both very much 90s bands – given that Nasher is the current musical project of Brian Nash, formerly of 80s giants Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

‘432-1 Open the Vein’ certainly pegs back the abrasion and aggression of Brian’s forebears. In fact, Nash’s provocative past is cast aside here, with the songs on Open the Vein ditching synths and dancefloor-friendly beats in favour of what one might describe as a more alt-rock / indie sound which is very much guitar-orientated.

There are so many easy but emotive melodies stashed away in the layers of ‘Open the Vein’, with the soft, supple acoustic-led ‘Whole’ calls to mind Oceansize’s softer moments, with its processed harmonies and subtle sense of the expansive.

‘Where Will the Kids Live’ is dark, claustrophobic and uncomfortable despite its melodic accessibility. ‘Prostitutes and Cocaine’ slips into Doves-y pop orientated territory, and ‘Just Sounds Like Noise’ is an accessible piece of 80s prog-pop that strums along easily in its acoustic-led way, with heavily processed, smoothed-out and massively layered vocals. It sounds less like noise than some lame, overproduced bollocks, but given that the majority of the album is strong and dynamic, I’ll let it pass.

Nasher – 432-1 Open the Vein