Posts Tagged ‘A Nation of Shopkeepers’

Sometimes, I just need a night off. And what better way to unwind than going to see a trio of noisy bands? It may be something of a busman’s holiday for a music critic, but a night-off gig means there’s no obligation to produce a review. Which means I can drink all the beer and not care about making notes, about remembering anything other than the atmosphere, the overall experience of whether the bands and the night were any good. Right? Only, I’ve gone and done it anyway. For posterity. Out of habit. And because it’s shows like this that provide the best entertainment, but rarely get the coverage -or attendance – they deserve.

Granted, it’s baking hot and it’s Wednesday night after the universities have split for summer. But it’s free entry, dammit! And the lineup features bands who’ve travelled from Hull! And bloody good bands at that!

Admittedly, I’m here for Cannibal Animal, a band who’ve consistently impressed, both live and recorded: their latest EP is an absolute banger.

Night Owls arrive with squalling feedback and noodling synths, with driving drumming and some melodic hooks. There’s much to like about their brand of sinewy, synthy, post-punk… and beyond ‘I am for real’ their singer hollers ad infinitum during their second song, and nothing in their edgy, angular set gives reason to doubt, although their style is so wide-ranging I do find myself wondering exactly how to position them. But then, it’s not about pigeonholing, but quality of material and performance. And these guys are good on both fronts.

Night Owls

Night Owls

Cannibal Animal’s latest offering marks a significant shift toward the more psych-influenced end of the post-punk spectrum, evoking the sort of surf-goth of obscuritants like The Volcanoes more than the overt rockabilly of, say The Cramps. ‘Ellipsisism’, the lead single from their snarling ‘A Decline in Morality’, which also reminds me of the mega-obscure ‘Genetic Disruption’ EP by Murder the Disturbed (released on Small Wonder, the same label which would release Bauhaus’ seminal ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’ 12” in the same year) EP is a clear standout, although it’s the EP’s closer ‘Ripe’ that’s lodged in my head on the train home.

The brittle, flanged, chorus-soaked guitars of the studio renderings are cranked up to the pain threshold and into a thick mess of distortion and shrieking treble, resulting in a set that slams from beginning to end like a sonic battering ram. It’s no criticism to observe that Luke Ellerington isn’t your conventionally appealing front man, but he’s charismatic and compelling and his presence is huge. It’s tense, loud, and thrilling, and I could go home happy after their set.

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Cannibal Animal

But then there’s Lumer, who’ve also made their way from Hull. Theirs is a set of angsty, aggressive post-punk with pummelling tom-driven drumming that’s tense and expansive.

I’ve had a few pints by now, since I’m not planning to review the show, and spend some time marvelling at their keyboardist’s dubious moustache and the fact the singer bears a passing resemblance to a young Kirk Brandon.

Lumer

Lumer

The one thing about gig drinking is that there’s always someone way drunker than you, and while I’m conscious of gaps in my notes, I’m more conscious of the fact there’s a really drunk guy who keeps falling over while moshing loosely. People keep picking him up and throwing him back upright, before he lurches toward the stage. But he’s happy and they’re cool with it, and as outstanding as the music, it’s the community spirit. It’s truly uplifting and a joy to witness.

I’m also conscious that the volume is so intense that the sound is mushy, especially standing as close to the speakers as I am… and it doesn’t matter. The energy that crackles from the band, and which is bounced back by the audience is immense.

If you want clean sound, stay home. If you want to get out of your skin, cut loose and live, go and watch live bands in small venues.

I need to take more nights off.

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Christopher Nosnibor

 

Fizzy Blood are either crazy, or they’ve got some serious chops. No, I’m not talking about having a single launch event on a Thursday night in a tiny venue next door to the O2 Academy on the same night Twenty One Pilots to a sell-out crowd; I’m talking about having Post War Glamour Girls as a support band, which is the reason I’m here. Not that Party Hardly are bad; they knock out some decent post-punk-tinged indie rock tunes, with some sinewy guitars, a few tidy minor chord sequences and a handful of grungey choruses, all driven along by a chunky bass sound. But no-one’s really here for them.

Post War Glamour Girls are a law unto themselves. Any other band who released a superlative second album in the last six months would be plugging the shit out of it at every opportunity, and touring it into the ground. But not this perverse bunch. They’re using the slot to premiere an entire set’s worth of new and unreleased material, and anything could happen.

Offstage, they’re as unassuming as you like. Onstage, they’re something special, with a chemistry that’s rare. James Anthony Smith is twitchy and tense, and keeps his coat on: it illustrates the point that he’s not stopping, with a 30-minute set lined up, and that’s yer lot, son. They look as cool as fuck, Smith’s tan shoes notwithstanding, and they sound even better.

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Post War Glamour Girls

Opening track ‘Guiding Light’ builds a heavy psychedelic drone in the vein of Black Angels, albeit crossed with The Fall, not least of all on account of Smith’s drawling vocals. At this point, my notes get a bit sketchy – but there’s a track called ‘Organ Donor’, which is ace. James Thorpe-James dominates the stage as he wields his guitar dangerously, while Alice Scott stays rooted to the spot while churning out relentlessly stonking basslines. Even though there are moments of the set where they seem a little uncoordinated, Post War Glamour Girls still piss on 95% of the bands you’re likely to see live, and the early indications are that album number three will be the best one yet.

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Post War Glamour Girls

Given the uphill struggle they’ve set themselves, Fizzy Blood do good. They may have a chubby front man with bad tats and a greasy quiff, an overtly narcissistic string bean of a guitarist, and a gnome-like bassist who pulls the worst guppy-faces I’ve seen in a long time, but they’ve got some songs and a real energy that makes them a worthwhile live act. Elements of grunge and stoner rock ride high in the mix and they crank out the riffs, sometimes with as many as three guitars hammering it out, there’s as much whiff of Pulled Apart by Horses as their in Nirvana to their guitar-driven set, and it’s fair to say they sound considerably better than they look.

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Fizzy Blood

The single they’re launching tonight, ‘Sweat and Sulphur’, is definitely a highlight during a powerhouse set that justifies the respectable turnout: it seems not everyone was here just for Post War Glamour Girls, and that Fizzy Blood have – deservedly – started building themselves a following in their own right. It would be nice to see this release kicking off some real momentum.

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Fizzy Blood