Friday, 7 March 2014

What I got for Christmas


I got the gift of music for Christmas. John Lamb knows me well and therefore knows that the gift of online music tokens is always a winner. So, with £15 of iTunes voucher burning a hole in my pocket I set about deciding what to do with it. Would I use it to fill an obvious hole in my collection by purchasing back-catalogue copies of obscure 80s synth-pop? Would I blow it all on two new albums? No, instead I decided to savour the moment and decided that I would use it to purchase singles and EPs of promising bands I'd seen live that took my fancy. Well, I thought it would last much longer than it did, but the Winter months have thrown up some fantastic pairings in God's own County.

First up was Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds, supported by Joanna Gruesome. After a late start caused by some issue on the doors, Joanna Gruesome launched into a fuzz-pop tirade for the assembled crowd. Reminiscent of Call the Doctor with a fuzzbox, the singer (I don't think Joanna is her real name) screamed over very danceable guitars. They're like the Veronica Falls that it's OK for grunge kids to like. Anyway, immediately afterwards, my first 79p of electronic currency was spent on purchasing 'Sugarcrush'...



January bit hard up North and only the hardiest of souls ventured out to music venues. Nethertheless, my next outing was in mid-February to see an excellent line-up assembled by those masters of promotion 'Semi-detached'. Those clever guys had arranged for Cheatahs to visit the Harley in Sheffield, dragging along Menace Beach and Shinies along in their wake.

Shinies are a Manchester band with very listenable tracks, There weren't many in the Harley during their early set, but those present were treated to classic guitar-based indie jangle, with a bit of shoegazing thrown in. Tracking down the band on the internet post-gig I was dismayed to find that their song 'Taste' had been used on a 'Made in Chelsea' soundtrack, but then I decided not to be snobby (after all, even those people can still like good music) and shelled out for the EP. After you've listened to 'Taste', try 'Plasticine'...



Immediately after Shinies came Menace Beach. Hailing from Leeds, the band barely fitted on the small Harley stage, but proceeded to fill the venue with sounds that were part-psychedelic, part-shoegazing, part-thrash. The perfect warm up to the excellent Cheatahs.


I would have guessed that Cheatahs hailed from somewhere in the US and had their moment of glory firmly in 1992. Their sound is all about shoegazing, alt-indie rock and they even look the part too. That is not necessarily a bad thing, as the whole genre seems to be having a bit of a revival at the moment, and the Cheatahs set was like taking a step down memory lane. I already had Cheatahs tracks in my collection, but decided to add to them by purchasing the 'Cut the Grass' single. I've posted 'The Swan' here, as that's the song that got me into the band...



A week later we were out again, this time to take in a free gig at Bungalows and Bears in Sheffield to see Younghusband support Cloud Control. Being free, we were slightly concerned that there might be an early clamour to get in so decided to get there woefully early, but were rewarded by being treated to second-support By the Sea. Hailing from the Wirral, the band seemed like young boys setting up for their first ever gig, even the sound engineer was treating them as if they were adolescent newbies ("can you hit your drum please, can you sing a bit of a song please, now you, the other one, you join in"), but after all that was out of the way we were treated to some very dreamy, garage indie, which washes over you but gently scrubs your face in doing so. Later, I found that the band were in their third year together and had released a few EPs and singles. 'Dream Waters' was, at the touch of a 'buy me' button, mine...


Immediately afterwards came the amazing Younghusband. If you like all that 'Horrors', 'Toy', genre and you weren't afraid of the shoegazing (Catherine Wheel, Swervedriver, Ride) movement of the early nineties then this band is for you. I was mesmerised from start to finish with the swirling melodies and the almost-Joy Division bass and drum. The album needed to be bought instantly, but wait! My credit was almost up, so to keep in line with my pledge at the beginning, I purchased new single 'Left of the Rocks'. Come payday, the album will be mine. Oh, yes, it will be mine.


I feel like I've got three good months of pleasure from my Christmas present. Thanks John (and family)!

1 comment:

John Lamb said...

Good write up Neil, all sound like good investments - I particularly like Shinies.