Sunday, 13 April 2008

Horowitz / Town Bike / Mai 68s - 20 March 2008, Betsey Trotwood

Hurrah! First Bank Holiday of the year coming up and to celebrate there’s a handy Spiral Scratch Pop Show being held in the perfect indie-pop venue!

At least two of The Mai 68s songs begin with ‘Be My Baby’ / ‘Just Like Honey’ (delete according to taste) drumbeats leading me to think that maybe all their songs are going to start like this. Such an affectation would, of course, be utterly stylish. Turns out some of the songs have different rhythms. Oh well. I enjoy The Mai 68s and the racket they make. I like their plundering of revolutionary iconography in true first year art student style – the band name, the sixties underground garb, the er, shout-outs to Ulrike Meinhof. They have a stand-up drummer playing in the ‘bom, bom, bish’ style (like Bobby G. in The Mary Chain, obvs.) They have a guitarist who spends most of the gig ‘tuning’ up and who has more pedals than he knows what to do with, including, joy! a Fuzzface! As a result there are some highly satisfactory levels of fuzz ‘n’ feedback. It’s hard to tell which bits of these are actually meant and which bits are bonus noises as The Mai 68s don’t seem that in control of proceedings. This is another reason I enjoy them.

I also like the girl singer in her beret ‘n’ scarf ‘n’ glass of house red who divides her time between hissing at her band mates and intoning from her Big Book of Lyrics. The first ‘song’ involves Beat-like poetry being recited from the Big Book of Lyrics, whilst feedback reigns supreme -‘Howl’ set against a howl. Another song involves ‘nicking words from Dylan Thomas. He won’t mind, he’s dead’. One song stands out. ‘Froth On The Daydream’ (hey these kids know their French avant-anarcho stuff!) turns out to be The Mai 68s single – released in an edition of 100. As it says on their web site the song is delicious ‘sugar-coated chaos’, although there seems to be more chaos than sugar-coating going on here. There’s time for one last track, ‘Shall we do a noisy one or a jangly one?’ they ponder. The audience wants jangly, so that’s what we get. Just about.

Town Bike hurtle in wearing matching bowling shirts, pulling wheelies, doing headstands on their handlebars and generally fizzing about in an attention-grabbing manner. They’re full of energy and enthusiasm and it would be rude not to enjoy their 50 million song collection of punk-pop buzzbombs. Like fellow Liverpudlians Zombina and The Skeletones (only without the, you know, zombie element) they play on that whole fifties (American) High School bubblegum schtick, as originally appropriated by The Ramones and not left alone since.

Their first song is the Town Bike theme song which introduces each member of the band and their particular foibles (the bass player can get you anything knock-off apparently). One song features ‘audience participation’ – time for the indie milk-sops to clap their hands. In encouragement, singer and live-wire Sarah, yells ‘Pretend you’re watching Stereophonics’. So we all throw things at the band (not really). After a nosebleed race through fistfuls of punkpop fun, Town Bike end with the ridiculously stick in your head-ish ‘Trouble Fuckin’ Rocks’ which I initially hear as ‘Trevor Fuckin’ Rocks’ and think is a nice tribute to everyone’s fave Lost Music popbloke.

'Hug Target’, ‘Super Snuggles’, ‘I Need A Blanket’ – you could be forgiven for doing a bit of a sick at the industrial strength ultra-tweeness of Horowitz’s song titles. Or you could find them adorable and do little shuffly popkid dances to the songs and revel in the buzzsaw guitar action provided by Ian (he of the Gwegowy Webster voice and ‘What’s under the hat?’ hat) and Pete. Horowitz is just these two playing infectious, endearing guitar lines, whilst behind them lurks a large, bemusing-looking (technical term coming up) ‘backing music machine’ (yes, one of those).

‘Popkids Of the World Unite’ indicates that Horowitz have clearly been time-travelling and listening to our conversations circa 1987, when we’d snigger at ‘the swirlies’ (non pop-kid types in perms and stilettos) and sing ‘Popkids of the world unite and…hang the swirlies, hang the swirlies, hang the swirlies’ (two Smiths songs for the price of one, see?). Not very nice now I come to think of it. Unlike Horowitz, "All I ever wanted was a happy, happy heart and your cutesy hand in my hand" they sing and that’s the song lodged in your head for, ooh, at least the rest of eternity. ‘Sweetness I Could Die In Your Arms’ is full of spangly guitar sparkling like raindrops over a comforting fuzz meadow. ‘Traceyanne’ ends in the time-honoured indie-pop fashion with lots of ba ba bas and fervently jangled guitars peaking with a pop squeal of joy. ‘Sister’ is extra fuzzy and buzzy and thus extra enjoyable. For, despite the hardcore tweeness going on here, Horowitz are kicking up quite a racket. The kind of racket that’s only achievable with the treble and the fuzz turned right up, so our ears get a right old battering as the sound bounces around the Betsey Trotwood’s brick cellar. But hey, that’s what indie-pop’s all about. Right pop-kids?

1 comment:

Marianthi said...

Could you please go to all the gigs and review them just as brilliantly for us? I love reading your accounts, you obviously pay attention. Brilliant!

Oh and thanks for coming to our popshow. Glad you enjoyed it. :)