Posts Tagged ‘Hypnotic’

Christopher Nosnibor

This is by no means the first time I’ll have mentioned that sometimes, the best gigs are the ones you have to drag yourself to. The dragging here is no reflection on the bands, so much as the fact that when work and life are sapping your soul and you’re not feeling like doing anything ‘people’ orientated, the prospect of venturing out to be among people on a Tuesday night is not one that fires a burst of enthusiasm. You want to stay home. You want to hibernate. But the combination of beer and live music is so often the best therapy – and this proved to be one of those nights.

I have long lost count of the number of times I’ve seen or otherwise written about both Soma Crew and Percy, and while they both fit the bracket of ‘local’ bands, they’re both bands who bring great joy to see, and no-one dismisses London bands who only play a circuit of half a dozen small venues in London as ‘local’, do they? And you can’t watch ‘local’ bands in London with a decent hand-pulled pint in a proper glass for £4 a pint, either.

All three bands are playing on the floor in front of the stage, and The New Solar Drones have a lot of instruments spilling out, including a maraca, triangle, and timpani. It’s quite a sight to behold on entering, and the additional percussion goes a long way to giving the band a distinctive sound. Mellow country flavoured indie branches out in all kinds of directions. The rolling, thunderous drums lend a real sense of drama to the waves of noodling synths. The guitar workout on a song about Hollywood gets a bit Hotel California, but it’s well executed. The final track marks a shift from laid-back easy-going Americana into some kind of post-rock progressive folk that’s rather darker and lasts about ten minutes, complete with clarinet solo. They’ve got some rough edges to iron out, but the songs are solid and it’s an impressive debut.

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The New Solar Drones

With a new album around the corner, this is Percy’s first gig in seven months. Three quarters of the band are crowded to one side of the stage, while singer/guitarist Colin is on the other. Either it’s because he’s a grumpy sod, or perhaps just because his guitar amp is so bloody loud. ‘Going off on One’ kicks off the set energetically and sets the pace for a career-spanning selection that focuses on the more uptempo aspects of their catalogue. Bassist Andy’s post-lockdown look is J Mascis, but he charges around cranking out low end beef, and it’s the rhythm section that dominates, while Paula’s keyboards bring some melody and definition in contrast to the scratchy guitar sound.

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Percy

“Fray Bentos pie! With gravy!” The slower, synthier ‘Alice’ sounds more like Joy Division than their usual jagged post­punk grind and graft, but while most of the lyrics are indecipherable, the pie and gravy seem to be the focus. They really attack the snarling ‘Will of the People’, and its relevence seems to grow by the day. Colin comes on like Mark E Smith at his most vitriolic… and there, I failed in my attempt to review Percy without recourse The Fall. Seems it just can’t be done. They close with a brand new song, ‘Chunks’, about ‘chunks in gravy!’ Yep, definitely a theme, and if Percy are something of a meat and potatoes band, it’s in the way The Wedding Present are hardy perennials and brimming with northern grit.

A resonant throb gradually leaks from the PA, and from it emerges Soma Crew’s quintessential motorik pumping. Standing near the front, I reflect on the fact I could use a wide angle lens to get all of them in. They have a lot of guitars. The front man from The New Solar Drones is on keys and lap steel and, later guitar, and the lap steel accentuates the band’s overall drone and gives something of a Doorsy vibe.

They’re on serious form tonight, sounding solid and energetic. Shifting up to three guitars, they hit a swinging rock ‘n’ roll blues boogie groove.

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Soma Crew

While I find myself drifting on this tripped-out repetition, I consider the fact that less is more. Chords, that is, not instruments. Four guitars (if you count the bass) playing three chords in an endless cycle is better than two guitars, which in turn is better than one. The songs and structures are simple: the effect is all in the layering up and the reverb. Listening to bands that are overtly about the technical proficiency is often pretty dull. Passion and mood count for so much more. Volume helps, and with a brutal backline and sympathetic sound man, they hit that sweet spot where it hurts just a bit even with earplugs. Simon’s slightly atonal droning vocals are soporific, and everything just melts into an all-engulfing wash of sound. ‘Mirage’ kicks with volume and solid repetitive groove, while ‘Say You Believe’ is straight up early Ride/Chapterhouse, before ‘Propaganda Now’ is a blistering drive through a wall of Jesus and Mary Chain inspired feedback that brings the set to a shimmering, monster climax.

I stumble out, my ears buzzing, elated. Because everything came together to surpass expectations to make for an outstanding night.

2nd July 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Did I ever mention that I am absolutely fucking swamped, every single day, to the extent that while I’m working the dayjob, I’ll; see emails flowing via notifications on my phone, and by the time I actually get to check my emails on an evening, I just stare bewildered, wondering where to begin? And so often, I don’t even. It’s not a complaint, and the fact of the matter is, that while I barely even open 10% of my emails, the standard of music is such that daily, I’m probably missing out on at least half a dozen acts who could utterly blow me away.

It’s a good job I didn’t pass on Yammerer: I felt a certain urge to pass after a day of corporate backslapping being posted on the company’s Yammer community, but something drew me in. The words dystopian and existential in their write-up more than likely. That, and references to WIRE and The Dead Kennedys. It certainly makes for an intriguing cocktail, and despite it’s cumbersome title that hints at noodlesome post-rock, ‘Tell Me What the Ancient Astronaut Theorists Believe’ is a manic blast of energy, raucous and raw. It’s a giddy riot of off-key half sung, half spoken vocals amidst a blurred whirl of space rock guitars, a thunderous, strolling bass and relentless, motoric drums. It’s kinda chaotic, and reminds me of the swirling twelve-minute encore segues of ‘Ghostrider / Sister Ray’ the Sisters of Mercy used to kick out live circa 1984 – dark, murky, hypnotic, vaguely psychedelic, and utterly absorbing.

There is, however, one major shortcoming of this single: at three minutes and eleven seconds, it’s about twenty minutes too short.

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CONFIRMED TOUR DATES 2021

29/08 – Alexanders Live / Chester

11/09 – Futurama Festival / Liverpool

24/09 – Smithdown Road Festival / Liverpool

07/10 – Focus Wales / Wrexham

06/11 – Hot Box Live / Chelmsford

19/12 – The Castle Hotel / Manchester

Christopher Nosnibor

Soma Crew were an obvious and natural choice of support for cult psych at The Lucid Dream on their first visit to York in their nine-year career. I first heard The Lucid Dream back in 2010, when they set their stall out with a brace of impressive EPs. Since then, they’ve released two long-players, with a third out next week – hence the tour.

Soma Crew, playing their second set of the day, are on top form. They’re loud, and they’re in synch. In other words, they’re exactly as they need to be for an optimum performance, and they piledrive their way through a set which opens with the spiky, angular ‘Remote Control’ and culminates in a squall of feedback.

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Soma Crew

Call me prejudiced, but I had low expectations for Eugene Gorgeous. It’s a shocking name, for a start, never mind the fact the band members and the gaggle of mates they’ve brought along, who have little to no grasp of gig etiquette or what moshing is about, are barely old enough to drink but fuck me, they’ve got songs and, mannequin-like bassist notwithstanding, energy. Stylistically varied, there’s an alternative / punk edge to the bulk of an impressive set. And, credit to them and their fans, they don’t do the all-too-common thing of sodding off afterwards, and instead stick around for the headliners. It’s a wise choice.

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Eugene Gorgeous

The Lucid Dream ae stunning, and seem determined to make their first trip to the city is memorable one. They may look mundane, but musically, they’re sublime, and they sizzle their way through a set of kaleidoscopic songs which are densely layered and deeply melodic. It’s hazy, blurred, hypnotic shoegaze par excellence. With an early start to the set, it looked like being an early finish, but The Lucid Dream have slowly but surely built a following based on slow-burning epics, and when they announce that they’ve got three songs left and they’re quite long, they’re not kidding: the segued three-track finale sees them lock into a sustained crescendo that explodes for the best part of half an hour. With the set crashing to a climactic close, it makes for an exhilarating and convincing performance. If only they’d had copies of the new album on sale…

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The Lucid Dream