Thursday, 30 August 2012

Claw the Thin Ice / Pooch - The Bay Horse, Manchester

It's not often that you get home from a  gig and immediately feel compelled to put pen to paper (as it were), but tonight's performance by Claw the Thin Ice and Pooch simply had to be shared. I'm not going to mention headliners NASDAQ – not because they weren't excellent, for they were – because I've already written about them here and elsewhere at some length.

Anyway, so Claw the Thin Ice then. It's pretty much a given that anything Ian Breen (he of Well Wisher and Day for Airstrikes) goes near will end up being pretty good, but Claw the Thin Ice are probably the best thing he's currently involved with. Essentially a power-pop band drawing on the coolest modern punk around, they've added to this template a shoegaze sensibility and wall-of-sound attack. Consequently, although they have many of the trappings of a contemporary pop punk or US indie group, they actually sound more like Velocity Girl – the sort of band that Sub Pop was signing in the early 90s. A tight rhythm section and catchy, aggressive drum riffs recall My Vitriol, while washed out, earnest vocals with great, simple melodies round things off. They don't have any music recorded yet, so you'll have to catch them live if you want to hear.

Second up were Pooch – who were also sick. Wholly instrumental, I'm not sure exactly how to describe their sound; there's bits of bands like Don Caballero or Battles in there, and their bassist certainly knows how to play to the strengths of a three-piece setup. I'm not sure if a) I just want to talk about Rush or b) they actually sound a little Rush-like, but, well, Rush. Yeah, I went there. Like I said before, the fact their bass player isn't afraid of the higher frets frees up the guitar for greater and more expressive experimentation, and a focus on sharp melodies is welcome. Rounded off by another aggressive drummer and the occasional “whoa” vocal, there's a little bit of the hardcore early ...Trail of Dead in there too – and of course, that is no bad thing.

(I've got some photos of the show too, so I'll upload them when I get the chance)

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

First Thoughts on Bloc Party - Four

I doubt I'll get around to a full review, but given I've got some spare time while proofreading my friend Jake's novel I thought I'd stick on the stream of the new Bloc Party album (here, in case you didn't know) and scribble something, so here goes. 

Well, on Four it's so obvious that Russell has been playing with Ash for two years and listening to Weezer, Smashing Pumpkins and Deftones all day for starters. There's also a heavier vibe in the rhythm section and some more mathy tendencies (think early Biffy or ATDI) - but then, Gordon being in Young Legionnaire will clearly have resulted in a lot of 'milo records being played... so probably that shouldn't be a surprise. 'V.A.L.I.S.' bears the hallmarks of their compromise between electronics and guitars that increasingly took over the band first time round, but it's very much the exception to the rule. Bottom line is that track aside the new album almost sounds like a different band!

That's about it really. 

For the record, I actually quite liked all of the random electronic stuff they did on Intimacy, but this genuinely is more of a break for them than anything they've done before - and dare I say it, I'm actually excited about this coming out. Shit, I might even pre-order it. Madness.