ARX – She’s My Demon

Posted: 14/04/2014 in Album Review
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The words ‘punk’ combined with ‘blues’ have the overwhelming power to distort all objectivity and evoke horrors simply too gruesome to mention. Before we all run fingers in our ears back to mother lets have a little listen.

Brighton’s ARX – is that a research chemical? – take their muse from garage rock, which fittingly is kind of punky blues. They belt our ‘She’s My Demon’ in an appropriately rambunctious manner: all big fuck-off drums and shards of guitar. They have a no-so-secret weapon in the vocals of Hannah Pidduck. Powerful voices can substitute real emotion for histrionics. Not here. Hannah’s earthy diction is more akin to classic soul. Which is where ARX meet their USP – gospel garage rock.

The old testament lovelorn lyrics and compositional maturity belie their tender age. Much like the middle-aged teenager of pop, Adele. The “woahs” are a little cheeky, but if you are going to lift a backing vocal you aren’t going to better ‘Rolling In The Deep’

They’ve landed ground-running here. A few more songs down the line and some gadgets to fill the gaps and something rather special is going to happen.

Yeah, and try escaping from earworm “never been satisfied”. Which as a catchy hook, is quite ironic.

Don’t you think.


‘Grunge’ was a funny thing. More of a scene than a genre really, and not even much of that. A scramble by major labels to sign $$$ bands from a random city in the Pacific North West. Objectively Alice in Chains and The Screaming Trees are hugely dissimilar. There is a fairly unspoken of rift in that era between the bands that just wanted to be Led Zep/Neil Young and the ones who were more into the 80s hardcore or the Pixies thing.

Tigercub – very wisely – have chosen the latter path. That of The Sonic Youth, Mudhoney and of course that modestly successful Nirvana band. All big riffs, great melodies and emotional impact – remember when bands meant something and spoke from the heart? Us neither but they must have done at some point.

If you have even a faintest interest in the Brighton music scene you cannot fail to have noticed the impact Tigercub have had and that is just going to snowball into something greater.  They’ve been touring up and down the country payin’ their dues so now is the time for some pay-off.

New single Blue Blood is being launched on April 24th at Bermuda Triangle and might well be their best yet. A tension filled quiet/loud bite of perfect noise pop. Lairy but sensitive, harsh yet fragile. A tantalising taste of a debut album?

We do hope so. No support announced yet. Watch this space…

There was a bit of a debate going on tonight. Are Crime Scene, Yeah! Serious, is it an art-prank or is it just good old fashioned shits-and-giggles? With bated breath we shall wait and see.

torsTORS make for a fantastic visual treat. It’s most likely unintentional, but they’ve modelled themselves on different eras of modernist America: last of the old-timers, thirties docker, fifties housewife and sixties leisurewearer. Which doesn’t lend many clues to the music. They are mid-Atlantic in their style. A canvas of indie with inflections of folk, blues and post rock – at times like a less foreboding I Like Trains. They meander between sinister minimalism and soothing calm with the greatest of ease. A lovely beginning to the evening.

Which could never – ever – under any circumstances be said about Fallow Deer. A product of their upbringing, the deermen know Their Libertines and Arctic Monkeys, but why couldn’t those bands be more like The Stooges? Well why? There is energy to spare and every inch of the stage is used. The band sing at the absolute limits of being in tune and trade off each other skilfully. Too many bands take themselves far too seriously. Being a bit scruffy and having fun is the main agenda here. It’s not like anyone is actually on the road to fame anyway.

Crime Scene YeahAlthough Crime Scene, Yeah! Are investing every calorie in their bodies in the pursuit of rabid celebrity. In answer to the earlier question, they seem to be serious enough, songs don’t just appear out the ether you know, but they are definitely in on the joke. Whether it’s a prank or not is unclear. What is clear, is the am-dram aesthetic is pushed past eleven and we will submit to their campcore. The bamboozled looks in the audience suggest brilliance or absurdity. The whole thing seems a satire of hyper-hipster electro-rock Shoreditchers. And if they aren’t worth taking the piss out of then who is?

In the early 00s I didn’t know very much about jazz  but into Gang Starr. So I gave Guru’s Jazzmatazz a go.

‘Highly unimpressed’ would be a fair appraisal. Cheesy singing, pointless noodling and Guru’s rather one dimensional delivery do not comfortable bedfellows make.

I thought I’d give it another spin now I know a lot about jazz.  Still ‘highly unimpressed’, but for completely different reasons.

Decent jazz – i.e. early 50s to late 60s – is instrumental, which completely compromises the entire rap crossover concept of Jazzmatazz and makes the singing not only cheesy but culturally distorted. Hip-hop, the central muse here, is derived from funk. Jazz flirted with funk in the 70s but that was ‘fusion’. Miles Davis aside, fusion is widely considered a bad idea and again, not wholly jazz. The solos on Jazzmatazz still feel like noodling, which they don’t in actual jazz. You wouldn’t normally have an instrument soloing while there are vocals – twatty guitarists in rock notwithstanding. This doesn’t buck the trend. Guru still sounds monotonous and slightly uncomfortable. Braggadocio is a key theme in hip-hip. Yes, it is tiring. Yes, it ruins a lot of tracks, but it is also necessary to create a natural flow.

Now I do understand it is “an experimental fusion of hip-hop and jazz”, it just doesn’t work. That is a terrifically pretentious thing to do. Which is fine, why not get a bit pretentious? You just need a bit of intellectual weight to back it up.

Later volumes include Craig David, Courtney Pine and Wynton Marsalis, god rest our weary souls.

Also, given how socially conscious Guru was, why was his band called “Gang Starr”?

Abattoir Blues

Abattoir Blues

It’s worms. The all singing, all dancing positive vibes Saturday alldayer at Green Door Store. The word ‘pop’ – as in indiepop – is being remorselessly banded about. In reality the bands are more on the indie-rock/shoegaze/alt-rock spectrum. There is a 20 minute set rule. Which er… rules! There’s no time for flab. Get on, get off, rock the fuck out etc.

I will admit. Yes, I missed Dog Legs. It honestly wasn’t my fault, mum. By all accounts they were a highlight of the day. Listening to their Bandcamp reveals that in fact are very indiepop, contradicting my above estimation… They are also rather good. Go on, ‘like’ them on Facebook and stuff.

King of Cats

King of Cats

‘Woozy’, that’s all you need to know about Bayy. They are stunningly accomplished considering how young they are. It’s a tightly run ship. Every section in every song has something interesting to offer. Giving super MBV worship a good name. Keep up the good work chaps.

Abattoir Blues come across slightly thuggish in comparison. Clearly an audience favourite they inspire great sing-alongs and somehow make the room feel a lot drunker than five in the afternoon. Partly down to their curiously magnetic Pollard-ish frontman. The girl from Bayy gets up to do a duet at the end. It’s like Sonny & Cher are still alive.

Playing as a full band tonight Trust Fund don’t fail to impress. Lots of nice little songwriting flourishes like just bass and vocals playing – take note kids, you need good bass. There is some fiendish lead guitar too.

Joey Four

Joey Four

King of Cats are on particular form at the moment. Probably the most remarkable moment of the day is when frontman Max stands in the audience playing solo harmonium just screaming his little heart out. See kids, that’s where emo should have gone in 00s. On an unrelated note. I was thinking, who would be in arch-supergroup King of Cunts??? Liam Gallagher on vocals, that’s a no-brainer. A stout rhythm section of Lars Ulrich and Gene Simmons for that belligerent capitalist flavor. Bafflingly grumpy old Lou Reed and pampered overgrown child Courtney Love on guitars. Then Chris Brown for misogynist raps and Alice Cooper doing interviews. Indeed a fine collection of absolute cunts.

Joey Four stick out like a sore-thumb tonight. Getting all post-artycore . All kerayzee effects and iterant basslines. And you cannot beat the Eighties aerobics cocaine mafia hipster slob look. Ten out of ten for getting Gareth Campesinos on drum loops too.

Tyrannosaurus Dead

Tyrannosaurus Dead

It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to call Tyrannosaurus Dead ‘local heroes’. Apparently they haven’t played any of tonight’s set before? You would never know. The band seem at home and fully deploy their brilliant male/female vocal dynamic.

Magic Gang are probably the most forthright nineties alt rock today. Yet oddly ladish? Veering close to Weezer with a season ticket, they have some great three point non-harmonies. Also, playing your songs too slowly is a gutsy art and they pull it off. They do somewhat ruin it with the Arctic Monkeys-ish last song which creates a noticeable schism in the audience.

Spook School

Spook School

What the hell is going on with Edinburgh’s Spook School? Up front you have three feisty androgynous indie replicants giving it some proper energy. Their drummer and between song spokesperson however, is a bizarre, slightly creepy working mens club act ranting about urine, sweat and seagulls. Their sheer brilliance overrides all though, and they are the only band to do actual Heavenly style girl/boy call and response. They are also the only band today whose members noticeably ‘go mental’. They are very polite these pop kids.Much has been said about Playlounge throughout the day. Can they live up to the hype? Of course. Bolstered by a double-take inducing guitar sound and stormtrooper drumming the two-piece highly entertain. The lack of bass is an acquired taste though. If they fixed that they’d sound like the end of the world.



And rounding off the day are Sheffield’s Best friends. You detect a lot of animosity between them. There’s a palpable tension on stage and they nearly break up at one point after two of them start a fisticuffs.

Of course none of this is true, sadly. BF are the weakest band of the day. They could have benefitted from just a 20 minute slot rather than a headliners 30 minute one. A little more variety in their songs and particularly in the vocal delivery they’d be great. There is also a slight hint of 00s NME indie going on that feels at odds with the rest of the day.

So that was Worms. Incredible value for four quid. Everyone walked off happy having seen some great bands and many bought rare vinyl from the distro. Props to all the people at Reeks of effort, Be Nothing and You Trip Me Up. Another one soon perhaps?

Straight in at number one, this weeks curiously titled filler article goes to the NME’s ‘30 Irrationally Short Tracks That Should Be Way Longer.’

The whole article is completely compromised by the fact that hardly any songs are ‘too short’. None of the songs on the list have that problem. In fact, about half of them are punk/new wave. Why on gods green earth would The Pixies brilliant ‘Broken Face’ benefit from being longer?

This is transparently someone in editorial who needs to fill space cheaply and quickly, “run your iTunes in ascending order of time and choose the typical 30 bands and write tepid copy about them.”

I know this should upset me but it’s just unnecessarily poor.

Even the ‘way’ in the title is makes me sad…

It’s only natural to pigeonhole things. This goes in here, that goes in there, keep it familiar, keep it safe, isn’t life simple? The problem… is that that would completely exclude Brighton’s improbably fresh faced psyche portent Hypnotized.

Even ‘psyche’ feels limiting in the Hypnotized camp. What we get is trap beats, 80s drum triggers, amorphous vocals and indistinct instruments. There is no particular anchoring in any era or genre. It has the capacity to draw in people of any musical background or taste – or completely alienate them, but that seems unlikely with tunes this infectious.

The band aren’t giving anything too specific away either. The eclectic bricolage outfits reveal a sympathy for ‘world’ culture and a curious anonymity. Are the masks and makeup a ploy to remove the band from the music, or are they covering up something far more esoteric? ‘Drummer’ Paul is quite a skilled tarot reader as it happens.

There are hints of the minds behind ‘Ghost Walk’ throughout. This is a band that grew up on hip-hop culture and they’ve definitely got an Animal Collective CD kicking about. The dearly missed Cocteau Twins gat a passing nod and it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume Syd Barrett is a familiar face.

There is a quality about ‘Ghost Walk’ that is very rare – it’s not long enough. Never mind. With it’s ambiguous woozy transcendental character, you can just listen to it again, and again, and again∞

King of catsLast time this reviewer saw King of Cats was in the corner of a living room. Somehow, the cordial vibe and close proximity of the audience gives Sticky Mikes that feel this evening. There is something immediately likable about KoC. Whether it’s the militant anti-fashion, the rough-around-the-edges performance or the idiosyncratic between song banter. They completely stretch the quiet/loud idiom to its logical brittle bone fragile/astonishingly anguished conclusion. Frontman Max’s screaming belongs in primal scream therapy than rather than any musical context, and pushes them far past healthy indie-rock behaviour. Their debut album is coming out “god knows when… soon”. Watch this space.

ShoppingThere are great bands out there whose influence is disproportionate to their accolade. Vanguard punk-funk monolith ESG are just that. Shopping of course, are far too naturally brilliant to be just a clone of any band, but it would seem unlikely they’d exist without them. ‘Tight’, and dare we say it ‘angular’, are adjectives every band wants lavished upon them. If you were to take those away from Shopping there would be precious little left. So all encompassing is their machine-like elegance. There are many ‘haircuts’ on stage and a cowbell. There is a worry it’s all about to get a bit hip, but the bands sheer exuberance overrides any pretentions of coolness. Bizarrely, their uncommon speed-ups and slow-downs have a country kind of twinge. Do you think they know?

PAWSPAWS are from Glasgow, Scotland. A country possibly on the brink of independence. They don’t need independence though. They are indie enough… INDIE ROCK*

A power-trio in the traditional sense. There’s no flab and no meandering in PAWS. It’s only natural to expect a band to be heavier live but this is ridiculous. Are the songs usually this fast? The drummer actually goes and lies down after the set. We get some welcome tracks from 2012s Cokefloat – seriously, how is ice cream floating in Coke a good idea? – but it’s the new tracks that really hit the mark tonight. The new material traverses pretty acoustic-ish numbers and low-slung churning sludge rock. There is a palpably excited reaction.  The album comes out on May. The band swear blind they are touring straight after. Wisdom would suggest not missing them.


So it’s now an etched in stone tradition, the Riots Not Diets valentines day ball. Like valentines day, it’s once a year, has huge potential for fun and is a perfect excuse to get wasted. Unlike valentines day, it isn’t a colossal stress, expense and unnecessary – you can, and should, be romantic all the time. And you can come here on your own.

Remember riot grrrl? That’s because it never went away. It simply never got as big as it could have. But it could. It could happen tonight? In this bizarre school disco community hall. Take it away grrrls…

Humousexual are not the prettiest ladies you’ve ever seen. They lack even the vaguest of feminine characteristics. I’m not one to judge though. It’s Brighton and you can act express yourself however you like, that’s why I live here. Humousexual – fantastic name – are what happens if you take C86 and replace the rhythm section with a hummingbird playing Neu. ALL THE TIME. Formula gets a bad rap. If it ain’t broken don’t fix it. The er… ‘guys’ in the band know what they are doing, the audience loves it, stick to what you know best. Even if it’s more stripped down than an army inspection.

Big JoanieFrom the get go Big Joanie are a total indie punk charm offensive. Far too out there to pique Phil Spector’s incarcerated interests. We need to wormhole them back to the 60s to fuck shit up. More bands should act like superheroes. The set is well padded out with covers tonight but the highlight is the two chord droneathon calisthenics of TLC’s R&B classic ‘No Scrubs’. There is no conceivable way that should work. Yet it does. It encompasses everything a good cover should be. Everyone is thoroughly impressed.

Not RightFor all intents and purposes Not Right have a total car crash set tonight. Their guitarist cancelled last minute, the drums keep falling apart, surreptitious feedback and the pedals don’t work.  None of this matters a jot.  What makes their set so exhilarating to watch is the pared back rawness of it all sans the guitar and the on-going commentary by uberfemsch Ruth Pearce. Attacking every riot grrrl trope from written lipstick polemic over her torso to hyper LGB-eTc. soapboxing and a cards-down acknowledgement of middle-class guilt. There’s even a call-and-response “we’ll shout tory, you shout SCUM”. Trans-Socialist utopia beckons.


Raviolli Me AwayRavioli Me Away are a much more refined spectacle. They didn’t have spiky new wave in the heyday of the Ottoman Empire, but if they did – they might have? – it would have sounded like this. With the best up-right drumming since Mo Tucker, charity shop keyboards and that microsurgery ’81 bass sound you cannot really go wrong.  And they don’t. We get a celebration of all things femme-rock from new wave to now. They even lightly drug us all in incense. It’s all in the details people. And they are far too cool and aware to start belly-dancing, thank god.

Mans on Road was visibly one of 2013s profound musical inclusions. It considered the most compelling social commentary regarding the nature of community, expenditure and infrastructure. If anything, the stark awareness of its locus manifests in the oversight of its own objective.

It is alluded to that the primary purpose of the campaign is to retrieve an outstanding quantity of money. Usury rules appear neglected in favor of an explicit methodology. The opportunity of conflict although unmentioned is inferred. Therefore, “smoking the finest” will not correctly prepare the protagonist for the inevitable engagement.