You will not see a mosh pit at the Union Chapel. The preceding act on a chilly November night was “evening hymns” which indicates the true leanings of this wonderful gothic venue bang in the middle of Islington. Tones of reverence continued once Timber Timbre took the stage amidst hushed pews and bathed in a soft red light. Admirably they got straight down into it — and how I wish all acts would make an entrance like this — no sound checking, no fiddling and totally wordless. Read more
Sounding like they’ve plugged their guitars straight into a bunch of Marshall amps with nowt in between We Were Promised Jetpacks’ second album gets off to a rollicking start with Circles and Squares â€“ a plaintive ode to confronting inner demons. The no-frills approach endures throughout with the four-piece making up for an occasional lack of tunes with bags of energy and self-belief pouring out of every track.
Medicine â€“ rousing chorus and chuntering riffs â€“ is the first single but Human Error is the belter of the bunch â€“ strong musically and lyrically with soulful vocals and a juddering, bone crunching finale sure to go down a storm at festivals. I usually prefer vocals a bit higher in the mix but Adam Thompson’s gentle Edinburgh brogue â€“ never more evident than during the stop-time on album closer Pear Tree â€“ Â cuts through; a soothing counterpoint to the harder Weegie edge of other Jock Rockers out there.
Long time fans will be relieved to know lead singer Naoko’s English accent remains unchanged: just the right side of comprehensible but occasionally straying into that weird place where the hard Japanese consonants fade into vowels already mushier than a heartbroken Michael Bolton whereupon it all becomes a glorious balm for the ears. My copy of the CD booklet even contains the word ‘lSuxury’ and I’m not so sure it’s a misprint.
Subject matter is as wacky as ever: jellyfish, stationery and a lost guitar all feature as does a gem of a song about South American rodent beastie the Capybara: “roly-poly body shape/swimming very well”. Shonen Knife don’t do depth but they do literal like no other.
Shonen Knife are often said to be a cure for the blues and this album is no exception but they can do angry too. “Economic Crisis” is as close to venting spleen you’ll ever get from the Japanese. “Where’s the missing money?” cries Naoko in vain. Many will concur with the sentiment.
I always wondered what that guy who turned down the Beatles is doing now? Legend has it he scribbled down “Guitar bands aren’t where it’s at” before disappearing off into a career in Mickey Ds. Kraut-rock on acid blurring the lines between on-stage tune ups, occasional grunting and and any normal recognisable song start indicators aren’t where it’s atâ€ isn’t as snappy, but it certainly sprang to mind at the New to Q Sessions as soon as I set ears on Egyptian Hip Hop, Manchester’s freshest export that’s about as far from mono-browed dad-rock as you can get.
The following review appears in the latest edition of London’ premier music ‘zine, London Tour Dates
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