Wednesday, May 13, 2009

(More) Great Scots


My fourth gig of the year, and already my third visit to the Bullingdon. Spot-on sound, uncontrived grubbiness and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' 'Zero' between bands - it's fast becoming my second favourite behind the Cellar.

Me My Head have already been and gone by the time I arrive. Was allowing myself to be waylaid watching the England v Slovakia friendly in Abingdon Utd's clubhouse a mistake? A subsequent visit to their MySpace page and a brief dose of their very-much-sub Editors drivel rather suggests otherwise. Apparently Embrace guitarist Richard McNamara produced their album - one to avoid like the, er, swine flu, then.

While their between-song banter unmasks them as Brummies, the three members of Calories clearly look beyond our shores to the US of A for inspiration. Here a hint of Don Caballero, there a smidgen of post-hardcore, but with the abrasive edges largely buffed up to smooth and clean lines through the liberal application of punk-pop polish.

As much as they're obviously having a laugh on stage, they're not a band to fuck around - the current incarnation has been in existence for less than a year and they recorded their debut album Adventuring, released on Jetplane Landing's Smalltown America label, in the space of five days after just three shows. The title track is arguably their strongest, its chorus - "Adventuring is dangerous but danger can be fun" - a potent lyrical hook. So, a solid record under the belt, and, by the looks of it, they already have their very own Mel, too...

Such is Glasgow's musical heritage that I'm always open to whatever the city has to offer - even if the last band off the production line, Glasvegas, proved a big disappointment. Happily, with Dananananaykroyd - the name's helpfully spelled out on the bass drum - it's made amends for that blip.

It's a fairly safe bet that any article about or review of the sextet you come across will make mention of their self-classification as purveyors of "fight pop" - and, hey, this one is now no different. But what hasn't been much mentioned is that they belong to a pre-existing Glaswegian lineage, descendents of Urusei Yatsura even if the blood line has been mingled with early Idlewild, screamo and the odd blitz of heavy-duty riffage. It's also fascinating, personally speaking, to note the yelped and quickly traded vocals, handclaps, clicked fingers (in a song telling called 'Pink Sabbath') and youthful gang mentality and realise that Los Campesinos are starting to become an identifiable influence on and inspiration to others.

So what if Dananananaykroyd are unlikely to win any prizes for finesse or sensitive song-writing, or their music is too on-edge and frenetically intense to be suitable for many circumstances other than live performance? Live is evidently where they're at their best, and, after tours supporting local favourites Foals, Johnny Foreigner and, er, Kaiser Chiefs, they're clearly relishing the opportunity to top the bill.

This nationwide jaunt is to promote their as-yet unreleased full-length debut (they took a leaf out of Idlewild's book and released a mini-album, Sissy Hits, first), the title of which - Hey Everyone! - would serve well as their perfect rallying cry. Not only are they relentlessly in-your-face and attention-grabbing (having two drummers always helps), but there's an involving sense of community and inclusivity, not least when, during the final song, frontman Calum Gunn - lash-thin, with a Fucked Up T-shirt and messy sweep of blonde fringe that he keeps tugging on - makes his way through the crowd dispensing sweaty hugs as though to thank us all individually for coming out to see them.

Calories had it right, then: danger CAN be fun.

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