03. Future Of The Left – The Plot Against Common Sense (Xtra Mile)
I wrote this back in June, for Narc magazine:
“You’ll get no objectivity from me when it comes to Future Of The Left, so thank god this is their best album yet (and a genuine album of the year contender). It roars out of the gate with the frantic single Sheena Is A T-Shirt Salesman and doesn’t let up for a second. FOTL are still very much a post-hardcore band – and thank fuck for that! – but there’s an ambition and invention here that most bands will never match. Alongside the brutal guitars and beefed up rhythm section, there’s shonky electronics, strange folky vocal passages, nods to the B52s and The Fall, and of course, Andy Falkous’ furious wit (Robocop 4 – Fuck Off Robocop for title of the year?). Practically perfect.
Turns out, with hindsight, the album is even better than all that. Just blinding from start to finish
Filed under: Bands, Videos | Tags: Failed Olympic Bid, Future Of The Left, Sebastian Coe
Filed under: Bands, Narc | Tags: Fever Fever, Future Of The Left, Guitar Wolf, Maximum Zeros, NoFX, Snuff
NoFX / Less Than Jake / Snuff – Newcastle Academy, June 13th
When people are crowdsurfing and throwing pints by 7.30, you know you picked the wrong time to go on the wagon. The Academy is HEAVING with every flavour of punker, the atmosphere is fantastic and here are Snuff, the loveable scooterboys of UK hardcore, kicking off with their version of The Likely Lad Theme (smart move, lads!) and rattling through a short and perfect 30 minutes of originals, covers (like crowd fave Soul Limbo), football gags and cockney bullshit. Wonderful.
I just don’t get Less Than Jake. They tick all the right boxes somehow, an almost exact midway point between Snuff and NoFX (appropriately enough) but it’s all so second hand and lacking in punch. The crowd loved them, I was bored rigid. So polished, so pointless.
And then NoFX. Never has an utter shambles of a show been so much fun. Hardcore as hell and as childishly, wonderfully funny as ever, a NoFX gig is 2 minute hardcore blasts punctuated by Fat Mike bitching and moaning. It’s brilliant and the crowd go batshit. However, things go awry when Mike – already pretty hammered – necks a pill thrown onstage and near the end of the set has to leave the stage to sort himself out. By the time the band reappear, they’ve run out of time and get turned off without an encore. So we’re faced with the utterly surreal spectacle of NoFX and various roadies doing a half-arsed dance routine to the Avenue Q song ‘Everyone’s A Little Bit Racist’ by way of consolation. Now that’s punk rock…
Guitar Wolf / The Maximum Zeroes – The Cluny, June 5th
I must have seen Brian Coyoteman in about 75 different bands during my 2 years on Tyneside, but Maximum Zeroes are the best. Imagine a high class bar band if the bar was CBGBs, or a furious blend of The Dictators and Dr Feelgood and you’ll get the idea – garage punk in touch with its R&B roots.
Oh, my – Guitar Wolf! The greatest cartoon band ever (Gorillaz included). They clearly think the Ramones were overcomplicating things and turn everything into a furious, cool as fuck, garage rock onslaught. You don’t come to see the Wolf for subtlety or melodies, you come to see three guys in leather and shades make an astonishing racket whilst never forgetting to strike none-more-iconic poses. Guitar Wolf (the singer / guitarist, not the band) has a rock’n'roll dictionary with 10 words in it, and 4 of those are ‘baby’. By the end of the gig, he’s being held aloft over the crowd (Iggy-style) by not one but two Narc writers while a fella called Rory from Stockton is onstage playing guitar and wondering what the fuck is happening. Even when the lights are on and crowd is leaving, ears ringing, the frontman runs back onstage to tell us how much he loves Newcastle whilst wrenching pure noise out of his guitar. The beautiful, dumb essence of rock’n'roll distilled.
Future Of The Left / Fever Fever – The Academy 2, June 10th
Fever Fever took a couple of songs to overcome some initial shyness but ended up coming on like a compelling blend of grunge low end and riot grrl righteousness, like Kathleen Hanna fronting The Melvins, raw and honest and forthright. Judging by the scrum at the merch stand, they won a lot of new fans, which is as it should be.
My first Future Of The Left gig was exactly as I hoped: furious, intense, funny and very loud. Falco manages to be both the angriest and most articulate man in rock, which – when married to their bludgeoning but melodic hardcore – leads to a perfect storm of belligerence and scorn. Now a four-piece, they sound like the best bits of Shellac but with more songs, the faster tunes leaving Falco and co-vocalist / guitarist Jimmy reduced to red-faced screaming while the bass and drums just don’t quit. And bassist Julie is simply drop dead cool. Future Of The Left have so many great songs there’s no need for them to play any Mclusky ones, but it was great to hear Lightsabre Cocking Blues and To Hell With Good Intentions anyway. The gig ends, as is traditional, with the ritual dismantling of the drumkit, mid-song, which makes for a fantastic climax and removes the need for the pantomime of encores.
Filed under: Bands, Narc, Uncategorized | Tags: Anywhere, Future Of The Left, Guitar Wolf, Liars
Future Of The Left – The Plot Against Common Sense (Xtra Mile)
You’ll get no objectivity from me when it comes to Future Of The Left, so thank god this is their best album yet (and a genuine album of the year contender). It roars out of the gate with the frantic single Sheena Is A T-Shirt Salesman and doesn’t let up for a second. FOTL are still very much a post-hardcore band – and thank fuck for that! – but there’s an ambition and invention here that most bands will never match. Alongside the brutal guitars and beefed up rhythm section, there’s shonky electronics, strange folky vocal passages, nods to the B52s and The Fall, and of course, Andy Falkous’ furious wit (Robocop 4 – Fuck Off Robocop for title of the year?). Practically perfect.
Liars – WIXIW (Mute Records)
While it’s almost traditional with each new Liars album to expect the unexpected, WIXIW might surprise even their most flexible fans. Moving swiftly past the daft title (it’s pronounced ‘wish you’, apparently, and comes freighted with all manner of superstition and palindromic nonsense), this is Liars’ electronic album – a phrase that could strike fear into the stoutest of hearts. But bugger me if they haven’t got away with it.
Some of the things you wouldn’t expect from a Liars album: squelchy, almost Mouse On Mars-style glitchy electro; tracks built from found sounds and clattering, sampled rhythms a la The Books; woozy, disorientating synths; narcotic, dreamy nu-gaze textures; and Angus Andrews really experimenting with his vocals – veering between sweet, bucolic folkiness, Sueisfine-style cough syrup haziness and distorted, insistent quasi-rapping. But they’re all here.
The band have talked about how out of their comfort zone they were with the album – largely eschewing electric guitars and live drums – and it’s telling that they brought in Mute boss and electronic guru Daniel Miller to co-produce: this is a man who knows his way round an analogue synth and it pays off. There really is nothing about this album that smacks of dilettantism. Some of the tracks are flat out lovely – His & Mine Sensations is virtually indie pop, a slightly skewed take on something like The Postal Service; lead single No.1 Against The Rush an understated electro treat. And even on the more abstract tracks – Flood To Flood, say, with its ominous rhythms and semi-chanted vocals – are accessible without being compromised or watered down. By Brats it’s all gone twisted indie-disco and you can only wonder at how WIXIW – which had the potential to be a mess – turns out to be an absolute gem.
Anywhere – Anywhere (ATP)
Everything about this project – the press release, the fact they formed at an art gallery, the attempts to marry a kind of post-hardcore sensibility to raga guitars and synth tablas – made me want to smash the CD. That Anywhere are fronted by the pompous bloke with the afro from Mars Volta and At The Drive In didn’t help. The reality is slightly – but only slightly – less irksome. There’s some serious talent here – even Mike Watt on bass (for shame) – but it reeks of some kind of 70s ‘getting it together in the country’ indulgence, of ‘musos’ showing off their ‘chops’ and dipping into the kind of faux-ethnic sounds Sun City Girls did much better and with a smile rather than a smug grin. File under Ethno-Prog-Wank.
Future Of The Left Preview
If you like your hardcore smart, melodic and witheringly sarcastic, you probably like Future Of The Left, the best band out of Wales since McLusky (which just happens to be frontman Andy Falkous’ previous, brilliant band). In which case the fact that they’re playing Newcastle soon will get you jumping up and down on the spot like an overexcited kid. They come to The Academy 2 on June 10th, promoting their new album The Plot Against Common Sense, out the following day. You only need to see the song titles (Failed Olympic Bid, Robocop 4 – Fuck Off Robocop, City of Exploded Children) to know that Falkous is still gleefully laying into mediocrity, sleb culture and the rest with the same venom as ever, something that current, utterly blistering single Sheena Is A Tshirt Salesman, confirms. The fact that FOTL have expanded to a 4-piece (including former Million Dead bassist Julia Ruzicka, probably relieved to not have to share a stage with that blathering folk-dullard Frank Turner any more) means they’re an even more relentless live act than ever, and with reliable rumours that the new album is their best yet, you’d be an arse to miss this one.
Guitar Wolf, The Cluny June 5th
The fact that Japanese garage heroes Guitar Wolf have their own movie, Wild Zero – in which they save the world from a zombie invasion – tells you a lot about their M.O.: cartoon rock’n’roll absurdity and a lot of leather. Louder than a jet plane, more lo-fi than a tin can telephone (you made those too, right?), Guitar Wolf have been laying down insanely loud, insanely basic garage rock for 25 years and show no sign of stopping, or varying the formula – and why would you want them to?
They haven’t played over here for a long time so the news they’re bringing their Alien Action tour to the UK – and more specifically, The Cluny – is a very, very good thing indeed. Known for punishing volume, frankly ridiculous stage sets and cheekbones you could grate cheese on, there’s nothing as truly, stupidly, fantastically in love with the idiot power of rock’n’roll music as a Guitar Wolf show. You know what to do.
Support from two great local bands – Fathoms and the newly-revitalised, utterly mint Maximum Zeros.
Newcastle The Cluny, June 5th
there were also previews in Narc or on kyeo for The Chapman Family with Stella Vine, Vamos 2012, The Old Cinema Launderette, Middlesbrough Literary Festival.. erm.. and some other stuff I forgot.