The Twang / The Motorettes / Viva Melodica

The Beat, Stirling on Mon 26th Feb 2007

Attached to the Meadowpark pub in Stirling, The Beat is your typical student club. Monday nights also serve the purpose of being a busy, boozed up affair in the typical student’s diary (along with most others ending with the word "day", admittedly). From the offset, this should stand the trio of tonight’s bands in good favour.

Stirling/Perth based four-piece, Vivamelodica were first to the stage with their straight-up guitar-led pop/rock. The band are a tight unit, with lead guitarist David Palmer, bassist Fiona Kirk, and drummer Barry Mop’s equally competent ability providing the perfect backdrop to lead vocalist/guitarist’s Kevin Harper’s simple yet sensitive lyrics. The highlight of the set came in the form of the delicate 'Valentine', a stripped down yet effective love song.

"it is difficult to get excited by a band with two grown men bouncing about a stage like a two-headed Bez (Happy Mondays), minus the maracas."
Next up were high energy three-piece, The Motorettes, specialising in short yet snappy pop/punk. They were also the only band of the night who fell foul to hecklers, in the form of one clever chap who felt the need to shout out the "oh, oh" section from 'The Hounds of Love' as covered by The Futureheads. Whilst admittedly, in sections of the band’s set, comparisons were not ultimately unfounded, The Motorettes deliver fast tempo songs with bags of vigour, whilst looking like they’re having bloody good fun. The frenetic "Go! Go! Gadget Girl" and stomping "I am Blisters, I Am" demonstrated that good melodies and catchy hooks often make for the most interesting of sounds.

In comparison to the support acts of the night, Birmingham five-piece The Twang served up an entirely different student-friendly sound; the band have struck it lucky with their mouthy mix of lairy lyrics and mediocre musicianship. Main vocalist Phil Etheridge has been quoted as saying that he has no desire to sing about rivers as he lives "by a canal and there’s bikes in it", which is all well and good if you build on that ethos and bring an originality to your music. It would seem, however, that not since Oasis burst out of Manchester in 1994 to bring us 'Definitely Maybe', has there been much to get over-excited about in this particular style of music.

The band (dual vocalists Phil Etheridge and Martin Saunders; bassist Jon Watkin; guitarist Stuart Hartland, and drummer Matty Clinton) approached the stage with the clichéd swagger of a band confident of their abilities, and started with the forgettable indie tones of 'Neighbour'. Much of the songs became lost in a hum-drum of 'heard-it-before' noise, only redeemed by the slowed down, and more melodic 'Either Way', which was, of course, dedicated to "the ladies".

There is somewhat of a hype surrounding the band at the moment (they are supporting the Kaiser Chiefs at a sold-out gig next month), with the NME hailing them as “Britain’s Best New Band”, however it is difficult to get excited by a band with two grown men bouncing about a stage like a two-headed Bez (Happy Mondays), minus the maracas.

It is in their favour, however, to say that they provided the perfect sound for those audience members who like their music to sound like the typical “lads band” sent to entertain you in your local student union.

Unfortunately for those of us who like to listen to something with a little more substance and a little less sleaze, bands such as The Twang may be around for a while yet.

article by: Lauren McConnell

published: 28/02/2007 22:38

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