Posts Tagged ‘King of Cats’

The newest and certainly the most exciting kids on the Brighton promoter block, Dictionary Pudding, are offering up some lo-fi for one and all. So why the fuck not?

You would be forgiven for thinking Men Oh Pause – great band name by the way – were indiepopqueeriotgrrrlQI etc. The visual tropes are there: matching caps, turn-ups, charity shop gear. But you’d be wrong. Completely wrong. They are in fact an incredibly covert sound art troupe. Ostensibly they write songs, but they’re crafted with minimal drums. And by minimal we are talking agonisingly sparse, with lashings of dread goliath bass and deranged keys. There are some meanderings through doompop but it’s high-art manoeuvring all the way. The poor Fitzherberts’ fish take a battering.

There can be very few individuals who can get away with a Daisy Rock guitar with football stickers on it, but King of Cats frontman Max Levy is part of that micro-elite. KoC are absolutely feral tonight. Noise-indie in its very most literal sense. The rock rhythm section has been swapped for a trashy cheapo drum machine and synths, and is all the better for it. The lighter moments recall Casiotone For the Painfully Alone but with sooooooo much more alone, and painful. Again, in a good way.

The Middle OnesI don’t have a big sister, but if I did I’d want her to be one someone who could comfortably join The Middle Ones. An absolute charm offensive from the first note. Bands who laugh a lot are usually hiding something, usually a lack of rehearsal. Not TMO though. They are just having a fantastic time and it is wildly infectious. Superb harmonies throughout. There is a palpable sense of euphoria in the room. Lets just hope the Bristol/Norwich duo are back again before long.

No one would be too offended if I were to suggest the main reason people are here this evening is to see one of Frozy’s rare live exposés; and of course they deliver in spades. It’s quite a long set but they keep the crowd in a state of entrancement all the way. A number of ‘superfans’ sing along and it’s a tremendous summing up to fantastic summer evening. There is a slight sense of melancholy though. In that apparently Frozy members live in Brighton, New York and Amsterdam. So, perhaps it’s going to be quite some time before we see them again?

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.

Playlounge

Playlounge

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?

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.

*Sorry.

“On the internet it is so easy to be boring”

This presents a ominous challenge, as it’s highly unlikely that you, the reader, is not on-line right now…

So goes the beginning of the interview with Max from King of Cats. Ostensibly a band, but it’s very much Max’s brainchild. KoC have been bubbling under the emo/indie radar for a while now. Touring the UK and America and releasing rare and very desirable 7”s. Their anonymity may well change soon with the release of their new album.

We begin by discussing the relative merits of internet promotion. Which can be wholly summed up with this:

Max: I’m addicted to Eminem’s Facebook updates, he’s such a committed Dad, what a guy.
CK: Does he not write songs about wanting to kill his kids’ mother?
Max: No, he writes songs about wanting to kill the mums of other peoples children.
CK: Is that the a sign of being a committed father?

Abruptly moving on… It can’t have escaped anyone’s attention that there has been a boom in people playing fuzzy guitars, dressing ‘slacker’ and generally aping the American sound of the 80s/early90s. KoC’s sound is unashamedly US. What does max thing about the revival? “It gets a bit boring to be honest. One good thing though is that a lot of the bands that were doing the purist 90s alt-rock thing have started so go down weird routes. A good example would be the band Something. Which feels like the natural progression for that kind of thing”. Interestingly for someone that comes from Oxford, “Oxford sucks loads” he uses many American idioms, “CDs are whack obviously, did I just use the word whack?” and is positively revolted by the word ‘gigs’ “it’s shows!” You wonder if it goes with the territory or if it’s a bad habit picked up by many British people, “a bit of both, I love the music so much it just becomes part of the culture”.

Talking about the KoC sound Max quips “I don’t mind being labelled emo”. Quick education folks: emo was a worthy and interesting genre in the 90s that had its name appropriated by bands in 00s that are too terrible to even put in print. Hardcore got boring and people wanted to express a softer side. One problem with playing vulnerable music, is the reaction you it can harbour in the – shall we say – less mannered public. “I used to play on my own all the time when I was younger and not invite any of my friends. Just to see the reaction I’d get. I was a lot more screamy then. I was touring with Ides and played this shit place in Bournemouth. There was about 20 stag parties there and I remember getting a really antagonistic response, people were getting aggressive, but I really liked it. I like the cathartic release and power of just screaming into a mic at people”

Max is also part of Reeks of Effort. A small DIY label and community filled with equally intrepid, under the radar bands. They have an all-dayer in Brighton coming up soon, that is so far shrouded in secrecy – we’ll keep you posted folks. A testament to just how DIY Reeks of Effort are is their reluctance to put on gigs even in venues. Pitching up in living rooms with cheap amps, audience cross-legged on the floor. A hat passed around to pay the bands travel. Really special gigs, everyone paying particular attention to the band, completely devoid of rockstar pretention. Amazingly, considering there was about 30 people at each of the last two shows (gigs), they were featured in Pitchforks end of year lists??? It should be said it was Owen from Joanna Gruesome that mentioned it in an interview and he is also the drummer in KoC. But it’s still brilliant, right. I ask Max if working the band around the busy schedule of Joanna Gruesome is a challenge? “not really, if you want to make something work, you always can”

With that in mind 2014 is shaping up to be busy. Having released various odds and sods, they are releasing their de facto debut record Working Out – on the ever-so-cool Art is Hard label. With recording just finishing as this goes to print; touring nationally and supporting the rather spiffing PAWS at Sticky Mikes (17/02).

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this. Not actually a secret gig (the Facebook invite was public) but you definitely had to know it was on to go. It was advertised as a ‘basement show’. For a seaside town Brighton has a baffling obsession with basement flats and some of them are spectacularly damp and dingy. Fortunately this was quite respectable and even had a ‘sea theme’ – bits of foam cut into strangely endearing fish and tentacled things.

First up was Trust Fund, who’d come all the way from Bristol to do a solo show. Which, given there was about 30 people there and it was free, shows incredible dedication to the scene. Effectively an acoustic show he chose a big noisy electric instead (the choice of all tonights acts) and made a marvellously early emo racket which somehow managed to be both wallowing and euphoric. It was claimed at the beginning he wrote the lyrics on the train but I’m not so sure. The delivery was just too well executed.

Ides (also of lo-fi heroes Joanna Gruesome) put in a completely unignorable performance and also managed to evoke completely opposing emotions, being both welcoming and alienating at the same time. She was confessional, fragile and aggressive, but with a nervous charm. A horribly obvious but apt comparison would be Moon Pix era Cat Power, sorry. She has a 7” coming out in August. Should be excellent.

Considering it was the launch night of King of Cats new cassette, it’s now a solo show and they tapes aren’t ready. Nevermind… What we get is an incredible, high-octane 30 minute performance from frontman Max. His voice half eager child and half screaming maniac that belies his amiable exterior. The songs are amusing tales of the un-cool filled with oblique pop culture references – Marilyn Manson, Dr Strangelove. I’d call it anti-folk but the sheer amount of distortion sees away with that. The rest of the band join in for the last 2 songs and the crowd sing along and it’s a rapturous end to lovely summer evening.