As The Blue Whale Blog’s Top Ten Brum Bands of the Decade draws to a close, Pete Stanley from The Plastic Ashtray has given us his own run down of his favourite acts since the beginning of the century.
Augustine are one of those bands when you saw them, you knew there was so much time spent practicing and arranging, even down to the sound of the guitar or keyboards. Always tight as hell, even watching Joe the singer play by himself on an acoustic guitar (a million miles from the chaotic electronica rock) was spell binding.
Rob has done so well with his band and achieved alot this year. There is an undeniable raw talent there when you watch him. He writes such perfect pop songs it’s well unfair! I can’t think of anything around at the moment that’s as catchy as ‘Tabasco Sole’.
My own band played a fair few gigs with Miss Halliwell, in fact I reviewed them way before this in my webzine (they later used my positive review and disregarded it, balls to you then!) They are one of those marmite bands. People just don’t get what they are doing I guess. I’m a big fan of the late 70’s bands like Mekons and The Fall and they kind of fit into this bracket of music. The recent added members have made them sound a much bigger and sharper band. They are the kind of band, love or hate you wouldn’t forget them.
I also met the Southern Cradle through gigs around Brum and the Black Country. I’m a massive fan of Get Up Kids and American bands like that, they just seemed to capture that sound perfectly without sounding crass or English copyists. Singer Nick has one of the best Indie rock voices I’ve heard. They have recently parted with their drummer. I hope they carry on making music!
I remember first seeing Arcane Parade at the Flapper. I was blown away at the tightness of the music and the fact Carl who’s like 10 feet tall or something was the front man but also their drummer. They are one of those bands where there’s nothing gone to waste. Everything is so stripped down, I don’t think Craig the guitarist even uses any effects pedals. The guitar sound is immense, I love how they strip it all down and it still sounds massive.
Kidnapper Bell are one of the best bands left in Birmingham at the moment. Every time I speak to singer Keith I find we have more in common musically, this comes across in their music and makes me as excited like a 28 year old toddler. They are a mix of American post hardcore/hardcore/indie rock and sharp, angular English song structuring (oh and chuck a delay pedal in with it). There’s a slickness to their music which doesn’t work with every band, but Kidnapper Bell just come off sounding shit hot.
The main thing I always enjoyed about Distophia was their caustic sounding guitars and energy. Shame the album never got released, although we all have it on our iPods thanks to the internet. I think they wrote pop songs, least they sounded poppy to me only you’d have to find them under the fuzz and crackle of the amps. Awesome live show as well. Calories seems to be following on nicely!
It’s hard not to get excited about Sunset Cinema Club, awesome musicianship, quirky, individualistic approach to their own music and remind me so so much of The Minutemen. I think great bands all have the same way at looking at music and playing gigs. I’ve never seen them play a bad show or not smile while they are playing. They must be the only band I’ve seen who don’t take themselves too seriously!
I always knew of 35 Seconds, due to the Stourbridge connection and the fact nearly everyone I knew, knew one of the band. It wasn’t until I was passed a copy of one of their earlier EP’s I realised what an incredible band they were. They’d done the Bloc Party sound about five years before it had become ‘in’ and by the time they disappeared they were mixing elements of grimey electronica with sharp angular song structures. It’s hard to put in words why some of these bands were great, but the old cliche “the music does the talking” fits perfectly here.
1. Mr Nobody
I always wondered why more people weren’t more enthusiastic about Mr Nobody. I remember the review of ‘Sweeting’ on DrownedInSound which was met by the scratching of heads down London way. They had reason to do so, Mr Nobody weren’t making post punk or wearing skinny jeans, they were making beautifully crafted pop music which was hidden under layers of twisting guitars, pianos and shrill vocals. For me they were worth paying the train fare to Birmingham every time they played a gig to watch something very unique and also inspirational going on.