Thursday, December 21, 2006

Good to go

Hello, firstly. I'm Simon, and while my natural musical habitat is Sweeping The Nation I'll be posting every so often on here, for the most part gig reviews that I'd previously been storing away on the site's Myspace blog. Like this one:


In what is either a reflection of how slow news of breaking bands travels or of the Leicester public's cautiousness about going out on a Sunday night, Goodbooks - Columbia signings after an A&R chase of Blazing Saddles proportions, Zane Lowe and MTV2 supported, NME tips for '06 at the beginning of the year - played to what a quick headcount confirmed was twenty people. Not only the smallest audience of any gig I've been to in 2006, but actively disconcerting. Local support, briefly: Kyte melded Hope Of The States guitars and samples with melodic mid-range indie (my thought was Oxford contenders Fell City Girl) and may be worth keeping an eye on. White Star Magic have heard the first Kasabian album and think the electronic touches just got in the way.

Reviewing the Truck festival in July, possibly in some flu-induced stupor, I described Goodbooks as "one of the few new British guitar bands worth bothering about". Flu, incidentally, surely brought on by watching them during a heavy rainstorm. Under cover and close up they're no less eyecatching, not least for the interplay between purple hoodie-sporting Chris Porter's pulsing, raggedly melodic basslines and the jerky post-post-punk drums of Leo von Bulow-Quirk (still a name to conjure with), garnished with JP Duncan's synths - they're not as openly electro-influenced as many a reviewer would have you believe but the keyboards add atmosphere and edginess - and up front the implausibly youthful looking Max Cooke, casual of vocal, David Byrne-esque of guitar, thoughtful of lyric. The opening one-two of war-themed Passchendaele, still a contender for song of the year round here, and jerky free mp3 single Turn It Back deserve to get people moving. With this few self-conscious people there it obviously doesn't. If they're disappointed it doesn't show, although a partly inaudible keyboard and defective microphone nearly derails proceedings early on and it does seem a shortened set with little in the way of banter. They've got plenty of songs where those two came from, The Curse Of Saul's Hot Chip disco-funk rhythms standing out, but rarely are the hooks, secretly catchy choruses or gradual left turns found wanting. By closer and previous single Walk With Me, dispatched with both the minimum of fuss and nervous energy to spare, it's clear they won't be playing to this few people for much longer.


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