SKY LARKIN / PULLED APART BY HORSES / WOLVES OF VIRGINIA, 28TH JANUARY 2009, OXFORD BULLINGDON ARMS
Seriously, what's with musicians' obsession and fascination with canis lupus? We've had Wolf Parade, Wolf Eyes, We Are Wolves, Wolves Of Greece, Steppenwolf and now Wolves Of Virginia. The latter are mere pups - so much so they don't even have a MySpace page and new singer Hannah reads her lyrics from crumpled sheets of A4 - but their reasonable approximation of Television playing quintessentially English indie and the frontman's natural stage manner are enough to hint at the emergence of another local pack on the prowl for attention.
Pulled Apart By Horses? That’ll probably be the fate in store for bassist Rob Lee (not that one, or that one) when he gets back to Leeds, if pictures get out of him sporting a T-shirt endorsing the work of Sheffield cock rock kings Def Leppard. His band may look like Kings Of Leon, but judging by the racket they make – a head-on collision of thrashy punk and Sabbath riffs that at times calls to mind Modey Lemon – they can only be the sons of a preacher man if the old fella spent his days spreading the word about the Church of Satan.
Having spent the last week squeezed together within the narrow confines of a van, it’s little wonder they set about their sub-half-hour slot like uncaged beasts. As charmingly named debut single ‘Meat Balloon’ gives way to ‘High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive’ and the on- and frequently offstage frenzy intensifies, guitarist James Brown (not that one)’s barnet mushrooms to epic Buzz-Osborne-esque proportions like some kind of hairy erection. Not to be outdone, frontman Tom Hudson ends ‘I Punched A Lion In The Throat’ rocking back and forth on the floor clutching his guitar in a disturbingly amatory fashion.
Which means their hometown pals Sky Larkin are quite a contrast. Not only have they shared a tour with the tweesters’ indie band du jour, Los Campesinos!, they now share a label (Wichita) and a producer (John Goodmanson). Pigtailed Katie Harkin (vocals, Korg, "tip toes guitar") also takes the time to thank us effusively for coming out to see them and "making our little hearts glow". Aww, bless. Well, Katie, all we can say is that the feeling is mutual.
Theirs is the confident performance of a band secure in the knowledge that they have a brace of great singles (‘Fossil, I’ and ‘Beeline’) behind them and a corking debut album (The Golden Spike) in the can. Particularly glow-inducing on the night is the slow-burning ‘Matador’, dedicated to PABH’s Rob in honour of his being so engrossed in a porn film that he was late for the soundcheck.
There’s nothing fashionable or self-consciously clever about what Sky Larkin do – early 90s college rock that could be described without any derogatory connotations as "classic" – but that’s all part of the charm. As an antidote to landfill indie and what is fast becoming its equally vapid, tedious and disposable opposite, sleazy electronica, The Golden Spike could prove to be an invaluable shot in the arm.