It’s been a hell of a year for Tribes. Since forming in 2010, the Camden band have played numerous festivals across the UK, supported bands such as The Kooks, Kaiser Chiefs and even their heroes Pixies, released an album to huge critical acclaim, and now they’re off on their own headline UK tour.
The 2nd date of the ‘Baby’ tour has arrived in Norwich, along with a few hundred eager fans, who are somewhat surprisingly all of mixed ages. First support of the night are The Brute Chorus, a London based band who sound like Scroobius Pip if he was backed by a band and let out the odd scream once in a while. Whilst not particularly going down with the crowd well, the band showed promise with well written literate lyrics and tight instrument playing. On top of this, they’re one of those rare support bands who perform like they actually mean it and want to be there. Set closer ‘My Testament' was an outstanding highlight, with a progressive build up of quiet/loud guitars and intelligent poetic lyrics being spurted out over the top, before all building up to a fit of distorted rage and an unexpected scream from the lead singer. Whilst I can’t see The Brute Chorus ‘making it’, I’m sure they’ll be one of those underground bands with a strong cult following.
Next support act Sharks have already built up a considerable fan-base, through releasing their debut album earlier in the year, having 3 EPs under their belts, and a heavy amount of touring. Sounding like the lovechild of The Clash, early Green Day and The King Blues, punk spirit is the order of the day here. Lead singer James Mattock stumbles about the stage, spitting out a mix of lyrics and vodka in equal measure at an alarming rate. Whilst having a few decent tunes, many songs sound oh so similar, and their ‘true punk’ ethos is somewhat questionable. Their best song of the set was without a doubt ‘Arcane Effigies’, with the catchy refrain of ‘HEY, RUDY RUDYYY’ echoing around the Norwich Arts Centre’s dusty church interior.
Of course, the sold-out venue wasn’t to stay dusty for long when a Hawaiian shirt clad Tribes finally appeared, coming fittingly on stage to ’London Calling’, which incited a massive sing-a-long complete with many hilarious drunken versions of Strummer’s legendary howl. Kicking off with the grunge-esque ‘Whenever’, it became clear that Tribes were a band who sounded as good, and if not better, than they do on record. The crowd were initially cautious to get involved, but of course this all changed when the intro riff of last summer’s brilliant single ‘Sappho' was played, creating a mosh-pit of reasonable proportions and a big grin on lead singer Johnny Lloyd's face. Johnny was slightly vocal through the night, and it's clear he's a well-spoken polite person, announcing that he's 'overwhelmed' by the reception his band has received and that he can't thank the fans enough.
It was the album tracks that were a particular highlight for me, such as ‘Nightdriving’, ‘Halfway Home' and 'Bad Apple’, with their highly relatable lyrics and brilliant melodies seemingly casting a spell over the visibly moved crowd, who shocked the band by passionately shouting the lyrics of these album tracks straight back at them. This all changed however when the last two songs of the set, ‘When My Day Comes' and 'We Were Children’, sparked havoc in the venue, with almost everyone singing the lyrics like their life depended on it or just going bat-shit crazy. The only encore song of the night was ‘Coming of Age’, but with a song of this calibre you only need one. It completely emotionally floored everyone, and I doubt anyone present can say they didn’t have goosebumps throughout the whole of the song. With the gig ending on a nostalgic note, the mood outside the venue was one of a peaceful quiet vibes, and I’m pretty sure I heard the words ‘How bloody amazing was that?!’ being uttered by at least 10 different people. An amazing gig.
Song of the Day #3: Jack White - ‘Sixteen Saltines’
The second single from upcoming solo album ‘Blunderbuss’, this song is the definition of Jack White. Bluesy, rocky, weird, and downright amazing. After the slower, baroque single of ‘Love Interruption’, this harks straight back to The White Stripes days, with full blown distortion soaked riffs and Jack’s trademark yelping voice immediately jumping straight at you.
‘Garbage in, garbage out, she’s getting what she wants' cries Jack with alarming intent; and alarming intent is what this song has bundles of, with every second sounding like a battle cry. Of course, no song written by Jack White is complete without a spine-tingling guitar solo, which is effortlessly provided nearer the end of the song. After hearing this, my anticipation for the album has gone up massively. 'Sixteen Saltines' is easily the best thing Jack's done since 2007's 'Icky Thump', and I can't wait to hear more.
Graham Coxon has finally embraced technology. And by technology, I mean strange bleep sounds conjured up on a synth. Don’t expect full scale electro pop though, his eighth solo album sticks to his usual formula of alternative anti-rock. And it’s up there with his best.
Always one for DIY punk style ways, Graham has seemingly recorded the album lo-fi, with every song sounding spontaneous, chaotic and raw. Graham has previously admitted he was going for a ‘cheap headachey’ sound on this album, and that’s exactly what he’s got. Opening track ‘Advice’ is a short scrappy punk song, with Graham spitting ‘I’m pretty much back where I started and it’s quite concerning me' over a repetitive but catchy riff, setting the tone for the album nicely. However, this is not another of Coxon's frenetic guitar led albums, with next song 'City Hall' featuring keyboards and synth. The blend of heavy insistent bass, repetitive synth and echoey repeated vocals create an almost hypnotic feel not too dissimilar from something Joy Division would write.
Current single ‘What’ll It Take’ is made up almost entirely of synth, with Coxon rather sulkily pleading ‘What’ll it take to make you people dance?’. It’s an extremely likeable song, and a good choice of single to ease people into the (kinda) new sound the album possesses. ‘Running for Your Life’ is the catchy, rockier song on the album, and demonstrates Coxon’s ability to come up with a killer riff, and anti guitar hero solo. It punctures the mellow tone the songs before it has created, and harks back to the heavier Blur days of ‘Song 2’. The album fittingly ends on a nostalgic note, with the country style ‘Ooh, Yeh Yeh’ merging all the sounds previously heard on the album before beautifully fading out.
It’s not quite up there with his best solo effort, 2004’s ‘Happiness In Magazines’, but it’s still a brilliantly solid album. Whilst Blur bandmate Damon Albarn is getting most of the attention with his array of projects, some good and others not so, Coxon is still consistently producing solid albums with an excess of charm, and continues to demonstrate why he is one of the best musicians in the country.
Tunes: ’Advice’, ‘What’ll It Take, ‘Running for Your Life’.
Song of the Day #2: The Enemy - ‘Saturday’
You know what to expect here. A big chorus, in-yer-face vocals, lyrics about getting pissed at the weekend… and of course, ‘Saturday’ contains them all.
The first single proper from The Enemy’s upcoming third album ‘Streets In the Sky’, it marks a welcome return to form after disappointing difficult second album ‘Music for the People’. Containing the refrain of ‘Saturday, saturday!' snarled by Tom Clarke, it sees the Coventry band stick to the tried and tested Punk Rock-esque guitar rock of 'We'll Live and Die In These Towns'. While there's nothing new on offer here, The Enemy's faithful audience aren't really after anything new, and this will no doubt appeal to those who have stuck by the band since the start. A definite new weekend anthem for all the lads out there.
Imagine a band with three drummers and three bassists, playing short and sweet rock ‘n’ roll. ‘Surely they’d be chaotic and all over the place?’ I possibly hear you think. Well, that’s exactly what Dingus Khan are, but in a very good way.
Hailing from Manningtree, which is widely known to be the smallest town in England, you would’ve thought that getting a talented band together would be quite hard. Clearly not however, with Dingus Khan consisting of no less than 8 (seemingly) talented musicians, all making a lovely lo-fi racket. Sounding like the love child of ‘Doolittle’ era Pixies and Indie Pop/Rock circa 2006, debut 7” single ‘Knifey Spoony’ was released last month on Fierce Panda Records. Featuring nonsensical lyrics such as 'I couldn't find a knife so I had to use a spoon, and I tell ya' that a spoon isn't the best thing to use', the single features heavy use of very catchy distorted riffs, surprisingly in-tune shouting, and above all, large amounts of fun.
A debut album is expected at some point this year, and with a string of summer festival dates already announced (Bestival, Camden Crawl, Playfest), 2012 looks set to be a fairly big year for Dingus Khan. Armed with an apparently stellar live show featuring mosh-pits, crowd-surfing, stage invasions and home-made merchandise (I’ll decide for myself when seeing them in June at Playfest), I can genuinely see Dingus Khan getting a dedicated cult following in the coming months. They have already recorded a 4-track session with Steve Lamacq for BBC 6Music (still avaliable online), and I can only hope they go up from here.
Need to Know:
Based: Manningtree, Essex.
For Fans Of: Pixies, Sonic Youth, Pavement.
Buy: Single ‘Knifey Spoony’ is out now. (Fierce Panda Records)
See Them Live: The Lock Tavern in London, 5th May.
Song of the Day #1: Fractures - ‘Brixton Animal’
Although only a demo, this is one of the most exciting things I’ve heard for a while. Straight away you realise that these guys have their foot firmly in the Britpop door, with the lead singer sounding almost identical to Brett Anderson of Suede in the ‘Coming Up’ era, and a chorus which bares a striking resemblance to ‘Animal Nitrate’. However, despite the obvious similarities, this song oozes a certain coolness and class that many bands fail to reach throughout their career. The lyrics appear to describe a woman living the stereotypical Brixton nightlife, before becoming broke and having to live on the dole. "She takes all her clothes off, for a man with a gold shot”. Classic songwriting for a new generation.
“I’m still in love with you" croons Max Bloom on ‘Georgia’, the 2nd single from the self-titled debut album ‘Yuck’, and that’s exactly how I felt for 90’s lo-fi Indie after this. Of course, 90’s revivals have been all the rave over the last few months (Viva Brother, I’m looking at you), however no band has revived a particular genre quite like Yuck. They’ve perfected that jangly, drenched in feedback, and yet oh-so distorted sound of Pavement, Dinosaur Jr, and Sonic Youth effortlessly.
Previously released single ‘Georgia’, with a guitar riff that sounds like it could break into a lo-fi version of The Cure’s ‘Friday I’m In Love’ at any second, is hardly original, but yet it feels so fresh with torrent of ‘Indie Electro/Dance’ that we’ve become over-inundated with in recent times. ‘Holing Out’ is another fine example of this, using every trick in the 90’s ‘DIY Indie Rock music journal’, but it’s lo-fi charm wins you over in seconds. Multi-layered, ringing guitars are the order of the day on this album, with almost every song (bar about one or two) featuring it. However, it’s a slower, acoustic led number that really stood out to me on first listen. ‘Suicide Policeman’ is without a doubt the best song on the album, showing a softer side to the band after 5 songs of pure Alt Rock. Beautiful melancholy lyrics are churned out over softly strummed chords, with the simplistic but straight to the point lyrics highlighting exactly what this band are good at; making top notch Alternative Pop songs, and Georgia is the best example of this. The innocent boy-girl vocals give it that dreamy, laid-back feeling that Pavement were renowned for.
In short, there isn’t a bad song on the album, and could easily be played all year without becoming boring. Sure, they borrow ideas of a lot of American 90’s bands, but in no way are they copying them to a tee, and I do hope that this album will lay the groundwork for a good 90’s lo-fi Indie revival. Brilliant debut.
Tunes: 'Georgia', 'Suicide Policeman', 'The Wall'.