Sunday, 29 November 2009

The Sexual Objects / The Tamborines / Still Corners / Standard Fare - Buffalo Bar, 27 November 2009

Bobby Gillespie is standing on the stairs (so no one can see him, hem hem), There are three Rockingbirds, a Dan Treacey and er, Pam Hogg lurking round the bar. Pourquoi? Because The Sexual Objects are playing and their singer is Davey Henderson one-time Fire Engine and thus legendary musical figure in select circles.

At school in the old days during an English lesson we once played that game where you have to think of a town, a flower, a book etc beginning with a certain letter (yes I had a rigorous edumacation). For the category ‘pop group’ I named The Fire Engines and was faced with the derision of my classmates who all thought I’d made the band up. What a bunch of squares, eh kids? I know I didn’t make them up ‘cos I’d heard them on John Peel’s show. And now I’m hearing bits of them live IN THE FLESH.

Davey Henderson, dressed in bright red shirt and spiffy rock ‘n’ roll boots (“I polished my boots, but I forgot to tune my guitar”) has a dry wit, a laconic drawl and a way with a tune. The Sexual Objects crank out jangly, croony, rollickingly ramshackle rock ‘n’ roll. On guitar and Beatles-esque backing vocals is that bloke out of Bricolage looking like the Lloyd Cole-faced cat that got the cream.

It’s a short but sweet set, with single 'Here Come The Rubber Cops' standing up proud and giving our ears a good rattling with its sheeny guitars and laid-back swing. The songs are peppered with bendy, glammy guitar sounds and plenty of gleeful sing-along ‘ooh la la las’. The snort-worthily titled ‘Midnight Boycow’ chugs and swaggers managing to suggest T. Rx, Bowie, The Rolling Stones and The Pastels all at once. Nice work.

Henderson gives a shout out to The Tamborines – huzzah! It’s true they’ve just played a magnificently eardrum-frying set; the perfect collision between ferocious fuzz and unshakeable tunes. Henrique cranks his guitar up high, hits the distortion and away they go, head to toe dressed in black, lighting reduced to tunnel vision white light flickering. It’s exhilarating, like facing into a hurricane. Set closer ‘Looking Glass House’ is particularly striking, a satisfying crash between The Stooges and NEU! with Lulu’s keyboard riff eerily twinkling against the roar. Fab.

The Tamborines are a rude awakening after the spookily lulling soundtracks of Still Corners. Still Corners are science-y in a Broadcast/Delia Derbyshire way and 60s noir soundtracky in a John Barry way. Icy blonde, cooly detached gossamer vocals and hoity tambourine shaking from singer Olivia are backed with keyboard and guitar skitterings. The music creates a compelling sense of unease, it’s remote but enthralling.

Standard Fare open this excellent evening of pop fun with gawky thrills of their own. The simple instrumentation (guitar, bass and drums rattle and swoon as appropriate) allows singer Emma’s appealing voice to shine out. There are moments that are slightly reminiscent of The Long Blondes’ pop glory - intelligent female singering with lyrics you want to listen to. ‘Dancing’, ‘15’, ‘Philadelphia’… they are bitter, they are sweet, they are damn catchy. Not really standard at all.

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