In a slightly irresponsible move We Three and the Death Rattle suggested I might like to review their eponymous first full album. This is dangerous because I’m not a music critic and am liable to use the opportunity for some kind of self vindication of cultural back story and would probably use the sort of snarky and convoluted turn of phrase a professional would never employ. Oh well……
WTATDR are a Leicester based trio of musicians who I’ve seen a couple of times. The first time supporting Josh T Pearson, the second time supporting Mike Watts Il Sogno Del Mariano project. They are an excellent live band. They are loud, committed, skilled and without overt pretence. The singer fills out the sound with maracas and a skill for Theremin teasing as the the others pound out primal bluesy, ripped up r’n’r without the hint of an affected accent. They prowl on their musical references avoiding pastiche and obvious reference. You might find the odd sign post in the lyrics – witchery, black cats, jackknife truck wrecks, swamp dwellers, playboy dolls suicide – more colour than narrative. The broken hearts seem grateful for being given a sense of purpose, alligators bite as it’s in their nature and bombs are built to explode – so lets get on and do this thing.
Playing the album a few times over the last week I’m convinced that there is some local Grebo DNA filtering through. That pounded out in local boozer back room sound, sticky on the floor Converse soles, tattoos and check print shirt styling (sans sleeves) & fuzzed up glam punk mid-west buzz cut reminds me off ancient Leicester band Gaye Bykers on Acid (and in turn Bomb Party & Crazy Head) all urban funsters building on their teen influences and scratching grooves in vinyl of their own. I still have a deep fondness for that period of music. The missing link between an mis-remembered antecedent and the next big thing that forgot to happen. Grebo was an industrial post-NWOBHM blip that was shouted down by Grunge. It was way to hardcore and poorly scrubbed for quiet/loud dynamics being occupied by anthemic hooks, glam zombies, broken glitter balls and fuzzed up noise.
This is Hey Detonator!
A couple of reviews I’ve found elsewhere suggest the song set doesn’t progress but there’s no need to look for that. Of the 11 tracks, four that I’m aware of have been single or EP lead songs. These are the most rounded songs with the deeper grooves (Alligators, InPatients, Hey Detonator, Split Lips) and have probably had the most studio time spent on them. There are distorted textures and layers in most of the other tracks that are worth the attention – a flute, an organ break, a particularly squally guitar, a almost utterly dog audible Theremin break, a percussive and jazzy drum fill- all well executed sketches which, give them a decent advance and bunch more studio time would fill out and and push up the pulse rate. The guitar sound is really knocking on the door of the classic Cramps – broken blues, sub-pop – and with more overdubs and Dinosaur Jr sized stacks might break out and fly even higher.
This is Alligators….
As mentioned at the beginning they are a really good live band. They look, act and sound the part & play with conviction. Give them some bigger PA, larger audiences and longer sets and they will most likely wail & growl even louder. Listen to the CD on 10, 11 if you have it, it’s r’n’r after all. And they have a Theremin which is a total win, so everything’s groovy baby. I’m looking forward to seeing them again.
01: Down Out And Deep Fried
02: Hot Neptune
03: Stitches And Winners
04: Split Lips
08: Double Or Quits
09: Hey Detonator!
10: You’re My Ammunition
11: Bitten By Dust
Released by http://www.pawpurrrecords.com
You can buy it here on Bandcamp which is way more Rock’n’Roll than iTunes http://pawpurr.bandcamp.com
Mike Watt, the Missingmen & the Hyphenated Man
The righteous and iconic Mike Watt came back to my locality recently. Last March we got Il Sogno Del Mariano and this time we got The Hyphenated Man. Watt is an iconic musician with a thumb print on last 30 years of indie/punk playing with the Minutemen, Firehose, Sonic Youth, the Stooges and J Mascis but he still pushes at the gates with his own projects. Lasts nights performance was pre-apologised with “thank you for joining us for this fucked up piece of music”. No apology needed. The Hyphenated Man is a 45 minute power opera made up of 30 related sections. There’s was barely time to draw breath between the sections. This so utterly committed three piece (Watt on bass, Tom Watson on guitar & Raul Morales on drums) blast through the piece with precision and heart.
The piece dates back to 2006 and is apparently based on characters in the paintings of Hieronymous Bosch. A quick scan of the track list makes this a little more evident;
The piece is described as a punk opera or the third opera following Contemplating The Engine Room & the Secondmans Middle Stand.
I can’t explain the narrative yet. I’ll have to get back to you on that. Watt has history with short punchy songs. The Minutemen almost invented the genre and have a solid history of juggling themes as they try to start broader conversations outside of the punk scene. You can hear the whole thing here.
My pictures are a little hit & miss. The Cookie in Leicester is a tiny cellar venue and whilst the gig wasn’t packed the surge to the front by bodies broader and taller than mine was enough to keep me on the narrow edge.
A quick mention for the support as we’ll.
Echolocation are a Leicester band of some note. A varying line up but Saturdays small crew did an interesting job. Reminded me in some ways of John Cooper Clarke stream of consciousness with jazz/post-punk soundtrack (like the Sir George Robey on a Sunday in 1992). The inclusion of trumpet really worked as well.
Lazarus Clamp were also original and engaging. I swear I know the singer/guitarist from somewhere which was distracting. A touch of Wire in there as well as a more contemporary folky Midlakey thing. A couple of big songs with some well placed sonic dynamics.
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Tagged as Cookie Club, Hieronymous Bosch, Hyphenated Man, Il Sogno Del Mariano, Leicester, Mike Watt, Minutemen, Missingmen, Olloclip, Raul Morales, Snapseed, Sonic Youth, Watt