Call me Russ L

Party For Your Right To Swim

Posted in Music by Russ L on 30 April, 2007

It was another one of those ‘Shrub Rocketeer’ occasions. Saturday the 28th saw an afternoon/early evening gig (I approve) held at The Medicine Bar (I disapprove), as a benefit for The Friends Of Moseley Road Baths (I approve). The line-up consisted of Pram (who I already liked and were the main draw for me), Poppy & The Jezebels (I’d heard the name and distantly remembered reading good things about them) and Paperweight Industry (never heard of them in my life). I hold each and every one of you responsible for not informing me that Paperweight Industry are young and that P&TJ are very young.

Rewind, pull it back, start at the beginning, a very good place to start. I got there slightly early with the intention of having a pint or two on Digbeth High Street, but (not being a football fan) didn’t realise that Blues were playing at home (if you read that and thought I was talking about Chelsea then do me a quick favour and punch yourself in the face, ta). Naturally, all the pubs were rammed and I found myself heading into The Custard Factory to pay way over the odds for some really quite incredibly crappy lager in The Kitchen.

I observed the soundchecks, and saw Poppy & The Jezebels being filmed for the BBC. Did anyone happen to catch whatever they were on? When Paperweight Industry finally began to play (dull modern emo-rock with a silly American accent, nothing interesting) I found myself the only sensibly-aged person in a room of teenagers-or-younger and their parents, and the recipient of a few strange looks. “Hmmm,” thought I. “They probably think I’m bringing some freight back from Ebbw Vale” (one person in the world will get that, and he won’t be reading this). I repaired across the road to The Old Crown (now much emptier, with the match actually going on by this point) before the lynch mob formed.

A couple of pints later and I return, finding a greater spread of crowd and Poppy And The Jezebels just beginning their set. A bit of research this morning has taught me that there’s a lot of hype around them, but I couldn’t find much to like about them myself. I almost feel like I’m picking on them for saying this, but it was unimaginative indie-pop with the occasional slightly punkier bit, the occasional slightly glammier bit, Poly Styrene-esque deliberate flat singing, and very little to excite. Time is on their side, of course, with them all being about ten years old or whatever they are. I’m sure they’ll develop into something a bit more interesting eventually. Would it be more or less patronising to suggest that they’re about as good as a band of that age are probably likely to be? Dunno. (EDIT: It later dawned on me that P&TJ were the 666th different band I’ve seen live. What a waste of that particular honour…)

Blessings to Pram, then, for rescuing the whole affair with some actual interesting music. They play loosely/broadly Warp-style wibbly electronics with a faint (and hard to pin down) retro/60s feel. As a description that sounds very similar to Broadcast, which they sort of are and sort of aren’t (helpful, I realise). They are equally difficult to describe, as you may be beginning to imagine. All that they do is beautifully textured, anyway, with an interesting variety of instruments combining to form a seamless sweep of sound. ‘Floaty’ is an adjective that comes inescapably to mind, but not in a way that implies a lack of substance. Gorgeous.

To sum up: A good cause supported, one out of three bands any good, and a lynch mob avoided. It could have been a lot worse.

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5 Responses

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  1. Somebody said, on 4 May, 2007 at 1:50 pm

    Good job knowone cares about your opinion then mate!

  2. A.R said, on 4 May, 2007 at 2:44 pm

    “…dull modern emo-rock with a silly American accent, nothing interesting”

    Emo-rock? American accent? Fair enough, you didn’t find it interesting but the above is just a complete mis-classification…i’d love to know any other “emo-rock” bands you know of, just to see where you’re coming from. Regards

  3. Russ L said, on 4 May, 2007 at 3:21 pm

    This does, of course, depend on the definition of ’emo’ that any given person is using. I wouldn’t say they/you were anything akin to the original definition of the word (i.e. mid-eighties melodic hardcore), but I’d definitely say they fit perfectly into the style that seems to have co-opted the term nowadays (i.e. starting most songs with a clean guitar part, stop-start riffing, the aformentioned accent, and what appears – without having analysed the lyrics – to be a strong sense of angst). I’d say Jimmy Eat World are the archetype for this sort of sound, although I suspect you may disagree.

    ‘Somebody’ – I’m perfectly well aware that no-one cares about my opinion and that’s fine by me. I write this primarily for my own amusement. Why these people who aren’t interested then proceed to bother to comment is nothing short of baffling.

  4. Rosy Gretch said, on 4 May, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    Oh god!
    perish the thought that anyone YOUNG should make rock n roll music!
    …I’m sure you must remember, perhaps back at gig 66 or so, seeng some act that also struck you as being a little ‘younger’…. perhaps.. the Sex Pistols or mayhap, the Stones… maybe Eddie Cochran… perhaps you dashed off a letter to the Times… The Slits were very average dont you know…
    You say that you write for your own amusement… but will possibly be delighted to know that we find you hilarious too! Poppy and The Jezebels did’nt waste your 666th gig.. they gave you something to tell your Grandchildren about… Tomorrow!! The fact that you actually know how many gigs you’ve been to does, think, probably, say it all!…
    and if you don’t realise that Poppy aand The Jezebels are the best thing to come from this town since the Move… well… punch yourself in the face!

  5. Russ L said, on 4 May, 2007 at 6:15 pm

    The idea that I disliked them because they were young is an obviously pathetic strawman argument, and so I won’t attempt to respond to that directly at any length. Nowhere have I stated that, either implicitly or explicitly.

    No-one will believe me when I say this (which is fair enough), but I really would have loved to have liked them. They’re going to get enough knee-jerk responses (of both praise and insult) as a result of their age as it is. I’d have loved to have said I thought their music was interesting and thus added to the stock of genuine praise they have, but sadly I didn’t and I’m absolutely not prepared to lie about it.

    They have, as I’ve said, all the time in the world to develop. Maybe I’ll like them more whenever my path crosses with theirs next (and I’m sure it will at some point, although I’m not likely to be going out of my way for them in the near future).


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