A busy night at Club Uncut, with Banjo Or Freakout, The Delta Spirit and Crystal Antlers, though annoyingly I managed to miss the first band (I was held up at a screening of Armando Iannucci’s Thick Of It movie, In The Loop, if that’s a good enough excuse). If anyone caught Banjo Or Freakout and fancies filing us a quick review at the bottom of this blog, that’d be great.
I did arrive in time for The Delta Spirit, a decent college rock band from Califonia with some mildly subversive uses for a dustbin lid and a bunch of beaty, nagging songs – notably “Trashcan”, their first single over here – that’ll do alright if, as I imagine, they get a ride on the festival circuit this summer. Worth checking out, perhaps, if stuff like The Spinto Band is your bag.
Stuff like Comets On Fire is much more my bag, of course, which makes Long Beach’s Crystal Antlers so alluring. I first wrote about this lot last autumn, when their debut EP reached us, and the anticipation for these first UK shows seems, this morning, to have been pretty justified.
Crystal Antlers don’t quite have the deranged, virtuoso brutality of the Comets at full tilt, though this is still pretty hairy and charged psychedelic punk. They do have, though, an arsenal of songs that repeatedly surge and lunge intricately, and a singer, Jonny Bell, whose hoarsely bellowed imprecations are directly comparable to the shredded larynx of Ethan Miller.
There’s a fair bit of prog-blues in all this, and a lineage stretching back to bands like Vanilla Fudge, thanks in part to the constant heavy organ swirl. First impressions of the album, “Tentacles”, which turned up yesterday, suggest that maybe the organ sometimes gets foregrounded at the expense of Andrew King’s frantic soloing, and that can be the case live, too. King is awesome, but he sometimes gets a bit lost in the clatter of percussion (there’s a drummer and a percussionist as well, who seems to be using his real name rather than calling himself Sexual Chocolate these days) and that overwhelming blanket of hum.
It’s a small whinge, though, when the overall effect, especially on the monolithic likes of “Until the Sun Dies (Part Two)”, is so impressive. Too short a set, perhaps, when you could get lost in these sci-fi freak-outs for days. But epics can wait ‘til next time, I guess.