Self confessed gig whore, Steve Bridgeman has fired over his choices for the Top Ten Bands of the decade from Brum. If you’d like to have a shot at it yourself and vote for your favourite acts, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment in the box below.
I’ve only been in Birmingham for five years, so maybe my points should only count half? I think the local music scene is awesome, especially considering how fussy I am when it comes to music. I came over from Manchester, where there’s obviously a big indie scene; Birmingham is more about Rock, which suits me fine. I’m not sure that people who’ve grown up here really appreciate what a good thing they’ve got going on, maybe they take it for granted a little bit, but these bands’ gigs should be packed to capacity every time:
Punk-influenced and “loud enough to be heard from space”. I love the way these guys play and the music they make! ‘Japan’ is ninety-odd seconds of perfection (if they play it slow); ‘Battle’, ‘Medicine’, ‘Preacher Man’, all brilliant. Only an untimely injury derailed their burgeoning momentum a couple of years ago, otherwise I’m sure they’d have exploded onto the national scene. I’m a little scared that their current hiatus may actually be permanent, which in my opinion would be an utter tragedy.
Picking up the mantle of Birmingham’s hottest prospects, this band is in a Midas-touch boom of creativity where every new song they write is gold – ‘Gorpse’, ‘Barracudas’, ‘My Mouth Is Aching’, ‘If I Don’t Try’ and hopefully many more to come. I think they were only around 15/16 when I first saw them as Mayday, since the name change they have just got better and better and better, and added a couple of changes-of-pace to their usual frantic 200mph suicide-charge of a setlist. PS guys: bring back ‘The Choke’!
3. Lazy J
Funk rock with big slap bass, this was one of the very first bands I saw in Birmingham and still one of my faves – and Ugly Phil’s and Rachel New’s from Kerrang Radio too. As a rule, I don’t dance, on the rare occasion this happens it is likely to be at a Lazy J gig; if I’m standing still it’s probably cos I’m mesmerized by Dave’s guitar skills. They regularly play gigs at the Yardbird where they will do a more funky set, and a few terrific covers, but they have plenty of their own great material to stand on their own feet and do more of a rock set where appropriate – ‘Three State Mind‘ still stands up as one of their best, ‘Sinners & Liars’, ‘Half The Time’ and ‘Innercity Funktion’ are other personal favourites of mine. Their second album is out soon, and if it’s nearly as good as the first, 9-out-of-10 Chilli Peppers fans will love it.
With all due respect to all the other fantastic drummers (a common factor in all great bands IMHO, with only maybe a couple of exceptions), VTC have the best drummer in Birmingham. Absolutely brilliant. Which is not to say the rest of the band aren’t fantastic too. Vintage equipment, including a beast of a Hammond organ and some kind of rotating amp, and a retro, psychedelic blues-influenced look and sound. I think of them as a kind of British Black Crowes, which is intended as a very big compliment indeed. ‘Ballad of a Sea Shanty’ was the song that first suckered me in, ‘Firebrand Fever’ and ‘Jesus Saves’ rock my world too.
We’ve had punk-rock and funk-rock, I guess these guys are spunk-rock? They’ve definitely got a real sexual groove going on anyway. Tom Longworth is another guitar genius, despite his recent X-Factor appearances he is a rock god really. They’ve lost a keyboard player recently and I’m not sure if they should be looking to replace him? Looking forward to their Xmas gig, last year’s was stellar! But will Natalie Imbruglia be there?
So far away from my usual musical taste and yet I think they’re brilliant! Whimsical, thought-provoking lyrics, with a vocal delivery possibly reminsicent of the Divine Comedy? Comparisons to the Flaming Lips might be fair too? They’re certainly the most glamourous band on the list, with lovely ladies on keys, sax and trumpet, and an Erotic Volvo – whatever one of those is – on dancing duties. Dave Gorman loves them, and so do I.
7. Circus Town
Reborn this year with a new bass player and consequently a slightly different, cleaner sound, my first notes on this band put them somewhere inbetween the White Stripes and Kyuss/QOTSA. Some of their old tunes would definitely be worth resurrecting; I used to especially enjoy their cover of Johnny Cash’s ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ and I’m lucky enough to have a recording of it, which gets regular rotation. When they get famous, I’ll sell this on ebay for one meellion dollars.
8. Jazz Thrash Assassin (now Meatfeast)
As it says on the tin, these guys fuse jazz/lounge music with thrash metal. It’s bonkers and it’s brilliant! “Mike Patton would be proud”. I will never, ever forget their performance at the Barfly in the Surface Unsigned Musical a few years ago, as long as I live. A large crowd were loving every minute – though I’m not so sure that the Very Serious Metal band that were on before them did. It should however be mandatory for this band to always perform in costume and never in civvies. Recently rebranded as Meatfeast, I’m not sure if this also means a new sound or a new catalogue of songs, as I haven’t yet had the pleasure.
9. Dedicated to the other bands on my favourites list: Untitled Musical Project (fierce punk, –> Das Bastard), Augustine (synth-rock), The Ganders (blues-rock with THE most *entertaining* drummer ever), Monday Session (glamourous, groovalicious, soulful funk), Mr Derry (good-time party band, –> The Deadlights), Killer Yogi (a recent discovery and well worth checking out live)
10. Dedicated to all the great bands I haven’t seen yet, with my apologies and best wishes. Also to the promoters and venue staff who work hard to bring it all together. Thanks!