THE SNEAKY RUSSIANS
It’s a typically pluvial Summer’s night in Glasgow and I’m back at Pivo Pivo, Hellfire’s stomping ground; Pivo is the perfect place to piss-up and party while perusing a plentiful plethora of poetic, promising, pioneering, piquant, progressive, pivotal, pleasurable, performances, pooled together on one platform in one programme…and tonight is no exception – a band that have floated around my radar for quite some time who I’ve been dying to see, if not for the musical reputation then at least for the reference to one of my all-time favourite movies, ‘Snatch’, is The Sneaky Russians. Sonic Templars, who I’ve seen before and therefore, know just what to expect and am excited by the prospect of experiencing them again. Ligre, on the British leg of their tour, all the way from Mexico! And of course, the almighty Insectways, who we’ve already seen conquer King Tut’s and The Garage, like the Romans conquering Italy and then the Mediterranean, and you can read another review of them by me here http://www.newhellfireclub.co.uk/2014/06/a-whirlwind-tour-with-new-hellfire-club.html
Pivo stock my second favourite bourbon, Buffalo Trace, so I’m swimming in it by the time Sneaky Russians take to the stage and burst forth in a detonation of very hard-edged blues, ‘You Ain’t No Friend Of Mine’, and I’m immediately struck with an agreeably Clash, London Calling-era vibe to their music. This is definitely what I could only describe as prog-post-punk complete with the contemporary edge of the more popular indie-based bands of today, as well as a nice bit of the brilliant Black Keys’ blues-feeling somewhere in there. ‘I Can’t Hear You Singing Anymore’ is a wonderfully bitter-sweet ditty of dumping your bird (to put it in the vernacular) and a very catchy number that was stuck in my head all night afterwards. I immediately love this band; because of their affiliation with Boris the Blade, Budweiser beer and the blues! A bluesy-rootsy edge to the music is all too rare these days.
There’s not a huge turnout tonight, and that’s a shame, because when a band are on stage giving it as good as these guys, everybody who loves music should be witnessing it! But at least it means I can stand quietly at the back and absorb liquor, while absorbing the full impact of the band’s onstage presence, and it’s like being hit with a marshmallow sledgehammer! The lead singer is really showing his vocal range now, a song called, I think, if I heard right – ‘Tony’s Song’ – has a nice, Jimi Hendrix-style intro, and moving lyricism; the music can be as amazing as you want, but you need good lyrics, and they have it here. An unexpected and glorious change in direction, and I start to detect a very, very slightly ska-influence filtering gently through, as the guitarist is making that ‘ska’ noise with the pick. There is a definite heavy Joe Strummer-feel to the guitar. The Pivo sound guy is as good as always and the band sound as great as their playing dictates, with no real glitches.
Allow me to divulge for a second; too many frontmen on stage don’t pronounce the names of their songs properly enough for me to take a good note of the set-list (I should really start stealing set-lists!), I’m not singling out the Russians, everybody does it! But I manage to deduce from the chorus that this song is called ‘All The Little Things That You Said’ which is a poppier, but no less rocking, maybe even chart-acceptable tune, which means that these guys have the potential to be big! So hopefully, like the Russian they’re named after, they will be invincible, because they deserve to go a long way, and should be playing to audiences bigger than this, cosy though it is – I like a nice, small personal gig, but some of these bands are so good that they just deserve maximum exposure, if there was any justice Pivo, at least, would be packed wall-to-wall, so get out there and support your local music scene. Without up-and-coming new bands succeeding, or unsigned acts breaking through, what is there for the future of the music-scape? A very abiotic future indeed! Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen by ditching night clubs and ned-noisy bars for salubrious live music, atmosphere with affable people, it makes sense. Start with the Sneaky Russians, find their tour dates here https://www.facebook.com/thesneakyrussians?fref=ts
While I’m not looking Sonic Templars come in and start ripping the joint to shreds with their crashing sound and boomin’ fuckin’ basslines – the likes of which I haven’t heard since Jacques Burnel! Basslines to make the Beatles blush, dirty, growling, grinding f***ers, with a lovely mix of heavy rock and a melodic undertone, sorta’ like the Pistols. This blistering bass is set off by soaring guitar solos and superbly aggressive vocals, and even more aggressive backing vocals, that’s unusual! They’re playing a song I think they announced as ‘Trigger’. The drums are so heavy they might as well be playing on my eardrums; I get that warming, tingling sensation through my auricles that I always love at a loud rock concert. Drum solos and guitar solos abound and the perfect singing duet between the lead vocs and backing vocs is like a harmony in my head. I can feel this band destroying the miniscule hairs in the shells of my ears, costing me my hearing when I’m an octogenarian no doubt – just the way I like it! Every member of this group is a master of his weapon. The Sneaky Russians had a Clash-vibe to them, but so does the lead singer of the Sonic Templars, if he’s not a Strummer fan I’ll shave my Mohawk off!
Really, really hard-hitting rock reverberating from the stage now and the crowd are feeling it too, they’re bouncing to every bassline, dancing to every drumbeat and responding to every riff. ‘King of the Ocean’ is the next song and the guitarist has a malfunction, but is swiftly offered a replacement guitar from some altruistic musician in the crowd, a member of another band I suppose, but the group flawlessly cover up the momentary lapse with some onstage banter, and all is good as they launch back into their scintillating set. Sonic Templars are heavy, mixed up exquisitely with transcending melodies, dreamily-delivered, having a knack to know when to deliver nebulous nectar and when to knock it into the nether regions of your neocortex. Those impeccable harmonies with some spacy guitar-tricks will screw you to the spot, insisting attention from the hairs on your neck to the knocking of your knees. All this backed by some very, solid and skilled skin-playing produces a perfect panorama of hooks and peaks. Going from kick-ass down-your-throat-heavy-rock to extraordinary descants seamlessly, everything I have written in my notes of the set has at least a treble exclamation mark after it, and you know I was impressed when I go exclamation mark mad!
‘Death & Taxes’ is the next song and the guitarist has lost his capo, “Can anybody get up here and hold the fret for the song” the lead singer says jocularly, “Johnny ya’ fuckin’ liability”, the on-stage banter elicits a ripple of laughter and then someone presses the wrong button somewhere and a projector screen starts to descend on top of the drummer, which elicits an even bigger laugh – it’s all in good humour and entertaining, and they quickly manage to dive back into ‘Death & Taxes’. If this song can be described as pop-punk then it’s at least the best pop-punk I ever heard! Only three things are certain, death and taxes…and that…TEMPLARS FUCKING ROCK!!!
Their latest single is called ‘Lay Down Your Guns’ and that’s what they treat us to next. It is an ear-burstingly good track! The drummer is one of the best I’ve come across in a while; he is a tremendous tornado of tenaciousness. This could well be Scotland’s first decent pop-punk band! Not often you see proficient lead from the singer coupled with proficient vocs from the bassist and vice-versa, like it is within this group. Into my favourite Templars’ song now, and one I’ve played on my radio show a few times (KA Radio, Sundays, 4-6pm), ‘Human Connection’, but the guitarist’s string snaps (it’s really not his night!), but it’s not effecting anything, everyone’s still having a blast, the band included, a swift change of guitar again for Johnny… and… we’re on……once he tunes his instrument up…haha. Once the song kicks in, it instantly registers ‘hit song’ to my ears.
The Gods want me to get really drunk tonight because I find an extra twenty in my jeans and therefore get in another round of drinks for myself – and the band are playing something with a nice jerky, rhythmic bass to it, great for head-banging at the bar, drinking bourbons – and with an almost Pixies-like quality to it, complete with excellent metallic breakdowns. Sonic Templars end as abruptly as they erupted, and I’m stunned by their brilliance, truly… truly ………stunned. To be equally stunned follow their tour dates here https://www.facebook.com/sonictemplars?fref=ts
All the way from Mexico, Juarez, El Paso! And in an unexpected turn of events a couple of electronic-savant, whizz-kids, take to the stage! As they get going they seem really into it anyway, I wish I had someone more versed in electronic music here to offer a more accurate review; but this is ‘gonzo journalism’ and I’ve ventured out to this one on my oddy-knocky (later, later, no ‘Clockwork’ references yet, wait for it…) and I’ll have to rely on my own ear, which electronically, is only really tuned to dubstep, drum n’ bass, jungle and the greats of the nineties electro scene etc. but here we go…
…They definitely seem very advanced, avant-garde, to me – almost like a Mexican Daft Punk (Tonto Punk?) or a Hispanic Kraftwerk, if you could imagine such a thing! All their vocals are electronic, done through some sort of voice-synthesiser, but it sounds cool and unique, especially in this environment. I can’t tell you how good they are technically, but if we go by sound – very impressive! Tricks with vocals – and there seems to be a lot of intricate tweaking going on as the frontman is twiddling knobs and dials like Han Solo on collision course with the Death Star and he seems to be relying mostly on a laptop to keep his sounds balanced, very brave!
In among all this, there is also a dominant guitar, emitting all kinds of trippy, psychedelic digital effects, and some pretty nifty shit with transmogrified voice harmonies overlaying it. The frontman earns my respect because he is wearing a very faded Joy Division tee shirt. Whatever this is, synthetic-prog?? It’s awesome! With that unusual guitar influence – but they also seem to be juggling a lot of instruments at once – and it’s certainly a breakthrough from the norm, I like this strange and unique choice of act. It’s not often you get to see music like this at a rock gig – electronic buzz with an indie trace and enveloped in euphoric electro!
“Variety is the spice of life my darling” Says Cheryl Scott, who is sitting next to me, regarding L.I.G.R.E. The band are doing some really groovy almost 80’s-sounding beats now, a sort of Ultravox meets Jeff Wayne’s ‘War of the Worlds’ collision going on on stage. I could listen to L.I.G.R.E todos noiches, et todos dias, and it’s making me wanna’ dance like a ****end …so I do… (End of notes). To find out more, go here amigo https://www.facebook.com/ligremusic
(Clockwork Orange style!)
Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock, marks the entrance of Insectways to the stage, and as the band ignite, unite and infuse their mellifluous melodies into one glorious cacophony, front(wo)man Cheryl is sitting reading ‘Clockwork Orange’, and that gives me free-reign to attempt something never before attempted in the field of journalism; to write a review entirely in Clockwork Orange language – (to translate, you’ll need to read the Anthony Burgess book and learn the meanings, otherwise…you’re f**ked…*fingers-up-to-ya’*) – here goes;
Nachinat, appy polly loggies my droogies in the gruppa with the eemya Insectways, I was viddy too much on the dobby devotchka with the groodys in front – for don’t think that I didn’t viddy your interresovat music itty with it, I kopat you koshkas! The sound the backing banda generate is like a drencrom – dva riff-bezoomy bolshy guitarists bouncing off each other with britva-sharp hooks, spearheaded by this cheena with a creech like a collocoll. To crack this gruppa and crast the audience of this dama, would be a gloopy folly of mine – and all-the-while the ptitsa fillies and goolys with the droogs in the crowd, frivolously and flippantly. And as I peet my firegold, the lewdies in the domy, small though they are, are going flip to this tomtick, and to my glazz it is this goloss that is doing it. But that’s not to say the gromky chords and grahzny basslines aren’t contributing immensely, because they are! And I would never govorett, such a tight shaika of horrorshow musicians, packing powerchords that will knock yer’ gulliver off and sock ye’ in the gulliwuts with their jammiwamm, the drummer all the while breathing jeezny into the banda with nohz-edge licks to oobivat, to miss these skills would be prestoopnick! Insectways will definitely privodeet to cutter in the carman, yes there’s plenty of ding in their future, to prod such glorious tunes – it is inevitable.
The tunesmithery is enough to give you a pan-handle! Nobody okadeets while the combined force of Insectways are on the floor rocking the mesto minoota by minoota. They will blow your rassoodock and frazzle your mozg. Their choodessny album is called ‘Raz’ [‘Time’] and my review can be found here http://www.newhellfireclub.co.uk/2014/03/insectways-time-album-review-chris.html so kupet or sobirat a copy.
Now I might be pyahnitsa, but Insectways, as a collective, pack some razrez shoom that will break down the shest, skorry. Their warbles pack a zammechat zvook – and that might seem like a load of chepooka – but any other band is hen-korm in comparison to the compelling Insectways. What a nochy, my ookos were left tingling! Insectways osooshed the floor and tolchocked you like a pooshka filling you all-at-once with radosty! You were a nazz if you missed that odin – you’d have to viddy them to pony…viddy them here https://www.facebook.com/insectways?fref=ts to pony.
…Pivo Pivo is the shlaga to go to in Glasgow to sloosh bolshy bandas and peet all nochy, shvat it while you can.
Seeya’ in the pit my droogies!