Thursday, June 22, 2006

Super grass


(Yes, this is long, long overdue...)

I'm not sure whether or not it still exists, but there used to be a club called Pieces in Nottingham. This inevitably led to hilarious exchanges about whether or not you were going to Pieces.

Well, it's along similar lines that I report I have now heard The Voices. That's Cardiff's The Voices, by the way, not this lot, who cite Coldplay and Oasis amongst their influences.

By contrast, Cardiff's The Voices might as well be from another planet as well as another country. Taking their cue from Spacemen 3, My Bloody Valentine and the sort of usual suspects that get me nodding my head, they fashion a dense, effects-laden and virtually vocal-less noise not a million miles from Spotlight Kid.

Comprising two male guitarists (one the spit of Jason Pierce) flanking a female keyboard player, they get through just four songs in the course of a half-hour set. The first, a long droning beast, is effortlessly impressive, as is the last, at the climax of which the keyboardist reverts to electronic drums. Another Cardiff band to write home about, then.

I first saw headliners Dead Meadow two years ago when they supported Mogwai on the second leg of the Happy Music For Happy People tour, and it's clear that a few things have changed for a band beloved of Super Furry Animals and Anton Newcombe of The Brian Jonestown Massacre (amongst others).

Firstly, though Cory Shane, the second guitarist whom I suspected then wasn't a full-time member of the band, played on their latest album, he's not here tonight so they're back to being a threesome, at least temporarily.

And secondly, they've evidently started to write some songs. I'm guessing that the shorter, more neatly constructed tracks aired tonight hail from their fourth LP Feathers. They're all fine and well, and certainly still at an interesting remove from their post-hardcore-obsessed Washington DC brethren - but what is actually most enjoyable tonight is the Black-Sabbath-pre-Ozzy's-hair-dye-and-coke-phase-meets-blues-meets-psychedelia of their earlier records.

Whereas appearing before Mogwai on Rock City's biggest stage they seemed a little lost and remote, in this intimate room packed full with an enthusiastic Friday night crowd, and on a stage shrouded in green smoke, they are instantly at home.

Jason Simon's lyrics are barely audible given the noise they kick out, but no-one's bothered as the trio kick into another twisting, grooving jam that has my guitar-playing companion drooling into his beer and the rest of us nodding in time like dazed but deliriously happy puppets. Behind the kit Stephen McCarty, who appears to have gone feral, gradually morphs into John Bonham as the set progresses, and bassist Steve Kille hops his strange hop in front of an audience lapping up what his band are feeding us.

A fine way for Kille to celebrate his birthday, and a fine way for us to spend a Friday night.

Now to order a copy of Shivering King And Others, methinks...


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