Bearded’s Guide To… Liverpool

Reportage from the port of Liverpool, as Richard Lewis hunts down the latest sounds emanating from the region

Posted on Sep 21st, 2011 in Features and Interviews / By Richard Lewis
Bearded’s Guide To… Liverpool August Bank Holiday, synonymous with traffic jams, disruption on the railways and the height of the Silly Season for the tabloids also marks the close of the festival calendar. Nationally Reading and Leeds is the most famous, while round these parts The Matthew St. Festival holds a similar position.

This year’s shindig in spite of the dire weather saw highest turnout of attendees yet. Across several city centre stages, The Wicked Whispers, Fly with Vampires, The Big House and Super-Cannes (more of whom later) all turned in well-received sets.

Elsewhere in town garage-glam trio The Loud launched their mini-album at a Stone Roses-esque warehouse gig on the edge of the city’s docklands.

Over at Parr St Studio 2, the location where The Smiths, Echo and the Bunnymen, The Zutons and The Coral all created classic albums, the complex is now a venue. Superlative electro-rock alchemists Fonetiks hit the ground running with their Chemistry Set night there, bolstered by predictably superb acoustics.

Assembling bills with the guiding principle of Live & Electronic, ie: electronica through to rock and everything in between, fellow electro-rock sorts Metamusic delivered an excellent set.

A stone’s throw away at The Kazimier, the venue hurtled patrons back to an era of plaid, coffee and MTV actually playing music. Celebrating the anniversary of Nirvana’s epochal Smells like Teen Spirit, a rammed to the rafters shindig was held twenty years to the day since the 45s release.

And now some bands for your delectation…

Super-Cannes’ (pictured) angsty noir-pop has been gradually building up a head of steam over the past few months. Strongly influenced by ground breaking sci-fi writer J.G. Ballad, whose 2000 novel of the same gave the band their name, the quartet have steadily honing their craft with scores of practice room sessions.

The Idée Fix EP released in May cemented the band’s reputation as literate art rockers and was launched with a sold out gig at The Shipping Forecast. Describing a dark, paranoid world not vastly removed from the one we presently inhabit and many say Ballard predicted, the band turned in three extremely well received sets at the aforementioned Matthew St. Festival.

Focusing on tales of city life gone sour, the band arguably reach their peak on the brilliant, claustrophobic ‘When People Die in Small Rooms’ which vaguely suggests Massive Attack supplanted from Bristol to Liverpool.

‘New York, London, Paris, Tokyo’ bristles with the same wiry energy of early Cure, while the lyrics ‘The Mystery of Golgotha’ shore up the band’s interest in esoteric literature. A band who gig sparingly, their forays on to the stages of the city’s venues are becoming events in their own right.

Changing tack entirely, The Thespians’ raucous indie rock n’ roll has seen the band winning fans at an exponential rate online. Hailing from Chester, a small orbiting satellite of Liverpool, the band will hopefully rectify the grim situation of Hollyoaks being the most famous thing associated with the market town by some.

Led by Paul Thespian, on a glued back together Fender Jaguar, (it lost an argument with a brick wall), the singer’s Casablancas’ esque vocals are harmonised by Jess Thespian who also shares guitar duties with the frontman. The surnames? Yep, Ramones references of course.

Highlighting a treasured influence in the leading lights of CBGBs, along with a dollop of Blondie’s pop suss, the quartet also act as a sonic digest of the best bits of the last decade. A now distant era when guitar bands troubled the singles chart, the four-piece deal in the same rhythmic guitar thrash and melodic surges The Strokes minted ten years ago.

Key track ‘Reason to Reason’ backed with a classic monochrome video has already racked up a colossal 37,000 views on YouTube, ridiculously high numbers for an unsigned band. ‘Love and Music’s’ stop-start interludes shows off their sure-footed dynamism, while the tense ‘Wave of Separation’ is similarly excellent, its insistent staccato bassline nagging away at the listener.

Playing sets that conversely seem to be both pleasingly ramshackle and somehow tight at the same time, the four-piece have a sterling live reputation. Debut EP TwentyThree/Four/Eleven assembles all of the aforementioned songs in one place and provides positive proof that in the right hands, leather jackets, scruffy denim and infectious tunes still equal a potent combination.