Polysics

Liverpool, Barfly.

Red forms flit across the stage-Afro, asymmetric and pigtails respectively. Just ‘HELLO!’ then bonkers juddering squealing beeping banging yelling, pink printed circuit boards on fire, infectious punk pop oomph. Pause for breath, amp fiddle, Asymmetric: ‘HELLO! WE ARE POLYSICS FROM TOKYO JAPAN’, he flexes a muscle, ‘GIVE ME FIRE! GIVE ME FIRE!’ and we give him fire, because we justfuckingwellhavetoo. Red flashes leave the stage, crouch in corner, and back: ‘OH YEAH, OH YEAH, BUY MERCHANDISE!’ Yes, we shall leader. Then ‘de de de de de My My My Sharona…’ Kichigai panku jun, methinks.

By Kenn Taylor

The Longcut

Liverpool, Academy

Much talked about Manchester trio The Longcut, enter without ceremony and fly straight into the first bars of their many-layered force.

They move little on stage, presence coming instead from their concentrated intensity. Frontman Stuart Ogilvie wails with eyes-shut passion, before doing his well-known switch to the drums. Hunched and fringe-hidden guitarist Lee treats his instrument as if it’s an animal he must contain, but is nonetheless impeccable in his janglescatrch fretwork, while bassist John just gets on with providing a brooding undercurrent.

Despite the ferocity of the sound, the audience remain largely still. We’re not sure if this is appreciation, confusion or indifference but The Fly and its associates in a minority moving to the music. Ogilvie jumps back to the front for the long rush of ‘A Tried and Tested Method’ and on ‘Gravity in Crisis’ adds nifty dancing to his abilities. Though he remains a better sticksman than singer, his passion and the way his vocals form an extension of the rhythm is powerful.

And The Longcut are all about the rhythm. It isn’t the kind of pulse that immediately compels you to grind you hips or bounce. Instead it slowly gets into your nervous system and when it’s burrowed deep enough, takes over without your knowledge, on the likes of mesmerizing Massive Attack-with-guitars of ‘The Kiss Off’ and the driving, expanding ‘Lonesome No More!’.

Their songs are loose in structure, taking speedy but long tours before they reach were they heading. In the wrong hands this sort of game can turn into plodding, shoegazing nonsense, but they have the knack to make it a nerve-tingling journey.

As they play the climbing, incessant ‘Spires’ the message seems to finally reach were it needs to in the crowd and led by a single enthusiastic female, the audience begin to shift their bodies. Closing on a blistering ‘A Quiet Life’, which merges an unapologetic dance groove, metallic guitar flicks and Ogilvie’s most clear shouts, finally convinces the majority to shake their booty.

The Longcut’s music is epic, but not ‘big’. Rather than climb mountains, it runs through dark caves lit by disco lights and while not immediately gripping, it is slowly captivating. There seems to remain however, something of a gap between them and the audience. Maybe they need to refine what they poses or maybe it’s up to us to adjust to their settings. They leave without an encore, likely to a bright future.

By Kenn Taylor

The Leftfield of Liverpool

The people behind organising the Left Field stage of the Glastonbury festival in Somerset have headed north, and, in conjunction with local promoters, assembled a quite excellent line up of some of Merseyside’s finest young bands for a gig with a good cause behind it.

The event will be headlined by giddy, surreal pop-purveyors Elle S’appelle, who’ve been causing minor stirs in the music press of late, and the gig at the Carling Academy also features jangly-but-driven Liverpool-based indie outfit Married to the Sea and Southport’s answer to The Libertines, The Daisy Riots. Meanwhile, coming from the Wirral will be The Rascal’s, formed from the ashes of popular local act The Little Flames, and the excellent prog-pop outfit The Seal Cub Clubbing Club.

The Left Field is an integral part of the Glastonbury Festival. Organised by trade unionists and activists, it is committed to combining music with political campaigning. The Liverpool gig is the first time The Left Field has held an event outside their base in Somerset, and, as part of a reciprocal agreement with the Culture Company, all of the bands playing at the Academy will also be featured in a special segment on The Left Field stage at Glastonbury itself this June.

As decreed by Glastonbury organiser Emily Eavis, all profits from the Liverpool event will go to Anti Slavery International. Founded in 1839, Anti Slavery International is the world’s oldest international human rights organisation and the only charity in the United Kingdom to work exclusively against slavery and related abuses worldwide.

By Kenn Taylor

Wednesday 14th May,

The Left Field in Liverpool,

Carling Academy,

11-13 Hotham Street,

Liverpool,

Doors: 7pm,

£7.50 adv.

http://www.leftfield.coop

Clinic

In Liverpool’s year of culture, it has been great to see the re-opening of that old arts institution, the Bluecoat. The centre has undergone a radical transformation in the three years it has been shut, and now boasts a purpose-built, multi-function performance space.

The space hosted its debut performance a few weeks ago with a brilliant set by The Steve Reid Ensemble. This week though, sees the Bluecoat turn its eyes to the local scene, by hosting a gig from Clinic. Around since 1997, Clinic have been one the most critically-acclaimed bands ever to come out of Liverpool. Their first release ‘I.P.C Subeditors Dictate Our Youth’ was trumpeted as NME’s Single of the Week, and since then they have released four albums and developed a cult following worldwide.

Noted for their use of vintage keyboards and organs, pounding rhythms, peculiar chord progressions and frontman Ade Blackburn’s intense, acidic vocals, the band have constantly pushed to find original sounds. Yet despite the fact that they have played with The Flaming Lips, Radiohead and Arcade Fire, received a Grammy nomination and appeared on the David Letterman show, they remain little known in their home city.

But perhaps this gig, which kicks off a world tour to promote new album ‘Do It’, might change this. In particular as the support act is of the most popular local bands of the moment, Hot Club De Paris, who’ve recently returned to the city having finished recording their second album in Chicago. This meeting of musical spheres is just what we need in 2008.

By Kenn Taylor

Wednesday 2nd April,

Clinic/Hot Club de Paris,

The Bluecoat,

School Lane,

Liverpool,

8:00pm-11pm,

£12

http://www.clinicvoot.org

Cansei De Ser Sexy

@ Korova, Liverpool

CSS have found themselves darlings of the hip music press over the last few months, but we can’t help wondering if they would get half the attention they do if instead of being largely comprised of sexy Brazilian art-school chicks, they were made up from, ooh lets say a bunch of chunky fellahs from Scunthorpe.

The futurist shoe box that is Korova is absolutely rammed with people and anticipation. So we wait. And wait. And wait. And again those pangs of HYPE sound in our mind. But then everything dims and all six of Cansei De Ser Sexy wander on and take up battle stations on the tiny stage. Frontwoman Luisa Lovefoxx announces that she “had to take a really big shit” and “you probably felt the ground shake.” We like them more already and they begin pumping out ‘CSS Suxx’ and immediately release all the pent up energy in the audience.

And CSS are just as up for it. The players concentrate on pushing their energy into the instruments, thrashing out their tightly controlled, beeping beat-pop, while Lovefoxx acts as the channel between audience and band, from the start engaging in broken-English banter and throwing herself with vigour around the stage.

The crowd respond by creating nothing less than a disco mosh-pit, clambering to touch Lovefoxx or just getting lost in the writhing mass. By the time of the absolutely class ‘Lets Make Love and Listen to Death From Above’ the energy being generated is likely visible from space and CSS announce for the umpteenth time “This is or last song” but the crown refuse to go so they plough on, chucking out a suitably messy and hell yeah, even sexy, version of ‘La Bamba’ before the lights go on.

CSS are not just glossy-mag hot-shit of the month stars. They are one of the best party bands around. Despite the attention they still do a show like a new band playing their mates house party. They mean it. They’re prepared to pay for it in sweat and so are we.

By Kenn Taylor

The Enemy

Carling Academy, Liverpool

6th February

“Let’s fucking ‘ave it!” shouts Tom Clarke, the short-arsed frontman of Coventry’s The Enemy. Looking like the bastard offspring of Liam Gallagher, Ian Brown and Paul Weller, Clarke is an exciting prospect and the gob that he employs in interviews is used to greater effect on stage. Tom is pissed off and determined to let it all out, but the audience are slow to take him up on his cries.

With ‘40 Days and 40 Nights’ however, they manage to light the blue touch paper and the crowd burst into pogoing frenzies. They move musically from the low and gutsy towards the melodic and anthemic and they’re so much better at it. On the likes of ‘Away From Here’ the sap rises with their riffs and both band and audience burn up the venue with enthusiasm.

It’s an exhilarating show. The Enemy have the attitude, the spunk and the stage skills of a great rock band, but ultimately, they lack the songs. They may be reflecting the angst of part of Britain, but they aint doing it with anything approaching the eloquence or brilliance of the bands they imitate. Once that frustration is ignited in an audience determined to have a good time, it simply requires the momentum be kept up and Clarke can lead a crowd with the best of them. But he isn’t leading anything exciting musically and attitude will only get you so far.

For all that Oasis relied on the mouth and persona of Liam, behind him there was the older, uglier, smarter Noel to write the songs that his younger brother lit up so well. Clarke has no such support. The Enemy are a band that feel the frustration of millions and occasionally set them free, but only occasionally. So far, they have just enough songs to sing along to, but none to cherish.

By Kenn Taylor

The Seal Cub Clubbing Club

Carling Academy / Liverpool

When the stage set up includes a cardboard cut-out of a large-breasted Deer in a fetching singlet, you know you’re in for something a bit different. Wirral’s The Seal Cub Clubbing Club are still relatively unknown, but have had an effect on all those who have heard.

The five smartly-dressed geeks that make up the band use relatively subtle and conventional instrumentation to surprisingly dramatic effect, using sounds to create not so much songs as moods. And though most of the time we’ve no idea what the fuck frontman Nik Glover is actually singing about, it is powerfully affecting. He uses his voice as an instrument in itself, shifting it with deft control from sustained wails to hip-hop spits, while the rest of the band work away vigorously with great skill and little ceremony to create a multi-dimensional musical drama. But not a po-faced, post-rock one, it’s a strangely fun and joyous experience and for all the prog there’s plenty of pop, perhaps best illustrated by recent single ‘World of Fashion’. As they shift from the bluesy weirdness to popping bleeps, there are undoubted elements of The Pixies and Radiohead buried in there, but they’ve already created many of their own layers over it.

From the first note to the last, the Seal Cubs sound is an uncanny and quite captivating force. It isn’t just a case of trickery or complexity, nor a catchy groove or sheer force of noise. Their music is quirky and experimental, yet at the same time an alarmingly simple collection of sounds and live, even if it doesn’t tickle your lugholes, it’s not something you can ignore. They are a band, a rare band that are making something different, and to these ears, something quite wonderful. To all those of you chasing your tails around East London looking for the next big thing, it might just end up coming from a scrap of land between Liverpool and Wales.

By Kenn Taylor