Thursday, January 07, 2010

Ringo Deathstarr ate my hamster*


Another You! Me! Dancing! night at the Jericho Tavern (the third of the month, after We Were Promised Jetpacks and Wavves), so that must mean ... wot, no Japandroids?!! Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion instead? Oh well, one of SWSL's Top 10 Albums Of The Year for another - so can't complain. (The full line-up to be revealed in due course...)

Sealings - who (presumably) take their moniker from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' contribution to the Spiderman 3 soundtrack - are two young chaps by the name of Michael and Liam accompanied by their trusty drum machine. It's telling that said drum machine is probably the most dynamic onstage presence - neither of its human companions faces the audience directly (indeed, one has his back to us almost throughout).

Judging by the number of awkward nodding going on around me, either late-forty-somethings in Oxford have a penchant for a poor broke man's Big Pink with what seems like the odd bizarre speed metal interlude, or there are a lot of parents and relatives present. My guess is the latter. Y!M!D! clearly like them, though - they've been booked to support Vivian Girls in January. But if I end up going to that one, I might just have that extra pint downstairs.

As preparations for taking to the stage go, being accosted by a drunk in the toilets asking you if you're over here in search of your Scottish roots probably doesn't rank that highly. Elliott Frazier affably shrugs it off, though: "I've got a cousin in Derby. But he's a police officer, so he's probably a dick..."

I can't quite remember when I first came across Frazier's band, the marvellously-named Ringo Deathstarr - it may well have been on the ever-excellent Sweeping The Nation - but it was some time in 2007. One nibble of 'Some Kind Of Sad' - a rambunctious tribute to The Jesus & Mary Chain that sounded like the Texans chainsaw massacring Psychocandy - and I was completely nobbled. Their self-titled EP soon arrived complete with a lovely handwritten postcard from Simon of Spoilt Victorian Child (the personal touch - can't beat it), and an absolute delight it proved to be too, only denied the SWSL Single Of The Year award on a technicality (it couldn't actually be classified as a single).

Two years later (during which they've been taken under the wing of those louche Lord Henry Wottons the Dandy Warhols), and here they are - finally on these shores, fresh from a gig with the similarly influenced but rather more restrained The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart at the ICA, and finally with new material to bulk out the set in the shape of September single and My Bloody Valentine homage 'In Love' and its woozily sensuous B-side 'Summertime' (dedicated tonight to "the Princess of Oxford", whoever she is).

As you may have surmised, Ringo Deathstarr won't be winning any prizes for originality any time soon. Indeed, there are times on the EP where they seem to flirt with parody - the title of 'Down On You' alone is suggestive of a humourless brothers Reid oblivious to double entendre, and as for 'Some Kind Of Sad's lyric "You taste like honeydew, just like honeydew"... But, for the majority of the reverb-fiends gathered here tonight, they're a raw delight. Frazier, incidentally, once claimed his dream gig would be "one where people are there to see us" - so he should be happy.

Winding up as hoped with 'Some Kind Of Sad', and Frazier lying his guitar on the floor in front of the stage and then lobbing it back into the drumkit (missing leggy bass siren Alex Gehring by a matter of inches), the set weighs in at just eight songs long - so you could hardly accuse them of outstaying their welcome. Even Wavves stuck around longer (just). But in this instance that old adage about leaving 'em wanting more couldn't be truer.

* Not really. Just thought it made quite a good title.

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