Friday 28 January 2011

Your New Favourite Band - Sneaky Pete's Edinburgh 8 Jan 2011

Although Tam’s Railways (photo by Evan Wilson Photography) have played several shows since they lost their lead guitarist, Bainbridge’s 'Your New Favourite Band' marked their official relaunch as a three-piece, with new songs and reworkings of old songs to accommodate the power trio line-up.

Opening the night was Seneka, who have supported Biffy Clyro and the Bluetones with their confident widescreen rock sound. It is certainly difficult to doubt the ambitious four-piece's commitment to their songs- almost everything they played felt fully-formed and well-written, with three-part harmonies and big choruses all over the place. However, after a few numbers, the absence of a distinct, core sound started to become seriously apparent. Being a chameleon band can work (Primal Scream or Blur, for instance), but in Seneka's case it was slightly to the detriment of the songs themselves. At times aiming for Biffy Clyro aggression, at times an almost Wilco-like sensitivity, at others just aiming for flat-out Nickelback-sized rock, the result was a sound that fully attained none of these different goals. There were still many enjoyable songs in the set though, with ‘Humble & The Frauds’ and [what I think was called] ‘Salisbury Heights’ providing swooning, epic heights. Seneka aren't quite there yet, but some day they're going to be a very good rock band- check out their Myspace for some tracks.

Next up were Montrose-based blues rock duo Ghosts Of Progress, who were interviewed last year for Taking to the stage with a faintly intimidating quietness, they wasted no time in launching into a brutal ‘Bitch In Heat’, the opening track of their recent LP Exchange Your Problems For Dope And Whiskey, released on Motor Sound records. Vocalist Lew Palgrave's floor drum-kit instantly turned heads, as did his howling, brutal vocal performance on the electric ‘Free Dumb’. The band held together a violent, chaotic and yet mercilessly tight set, with minimal stage banter but maximum presence, pulling no punches in showing the crowd what makes them such a unique and blistering live act. Their album is thoroughly recommended.

The evening’s headliners proved worthy successors. Tam’s Railways’ cheeky playground-punk was augmented by the use of a new band uniform (black skinny jeans all round) and their abundance of stage presence. Bassist Gordon’s fingers hop-scotched across the fret-board with grace and ease, even while singing backing vocals. Save for a few salvaged fan favourites like ‘Stay Wise’ and set-opener ‘Man Up The Stairs’, the band have written an all new set. The new tunes incorporate the use of three-part vocals, a harmonica headset used by either Gordon or lead singer/guitarist Leigh, and in one song a highly technical approach to alternative solo sections – taping a kazoo to the side of the microphone. The new songs created mixed reactions from the audience, the highlight being smile-a-long jingle ‘Cream of the Crop’, with drummer Innes providing skilful and precise use of the kit, even with a microphone in his face. Unfortunately not all of the new tunes were quite as well-defined and listenable, and some of them fell a little flat. But the band have enough technical skill and originality to continue to write great songs until their set turns a nice golden brown.

Stewart McLachlan and Myke Hall

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