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DeathlineThe Dogbones

The Gaff, London
Tuesday April 13 2010


Riffs are churning under the strange banks of red LEDs that do duty as stage lighting at The Gaff. The riffs arrive courtesy of a possibly non-ironic Flying V, toted by 50% of Deathline. The other 50% of Deathline wallops a bass, while somewhere in the technology programmed beats thump and crack, electronics squirm and squiggle.

That's Deathline: a boy/girl duo with a neat line in chunky, blocky, riffs 'n' electronix. Their songs sound like they're made of musical Lego, stacked up and interlocked.

But Deathline don't deal in the primary colours you'll find in your Lego starter pack. They're ruthlessly monochrome in both vision and sound, shoving the songs inexorably forward on those ever-churning riffs, like a long-lost Velvet Underground demo tape brought to life. The vocals - shared out between the two Deathliners - are unadorned and laconic. In short, if it's rock'n' roll grandstanding you're after, look away now. But if implacable minimalism and a curiously compelling 'Here we stand, we can do no other' demeanour is your thing, I think Deathline will deliver. Still not sure about that Flying V, mind.

Talking of grandstanding and irony, here come The Dogbones, flailing and rampaging and falling over the furniture. They effortlessly conjure the authentic spirit of gung-ho rock 'n' roll, but this is the twenty-first century. You can't do that stuff without maintaining a metaphorical raised eyebrow. The Dogbones play their ripped-up rock fast and loud and always defiantly in your face, but they do it knowingly, with an unspoken acknowledgement that that they're the latest to kick around this long, loud tradition. But enough with the theorising. Let's just crank it and kick it, whaddaya say?

Did I say The Dogbones are in your face? Sometimes they're literally in your face. Vocalist Nomi Leonard - who tonight seems to have large chunks of The Dogbones' lyric book written on her in felt pen - attacks the songs, her fellow Dogbones, and members of the audience with equal abandon, spending almost as much time off stage as in it. Meanwhile guitarist Crispin essays a selection of quality set pieces from the book of rock 'n' roll pozin'. His 'scuse me while I comb my hair' moment is a particular favourite with me.

The DogbonesAnd here comes the key thing about The Dogbones: even as they court chaos and mock the rock, they're never less than a bang-on, bona-fide rock 'n' roll generator unit.

The reckless commotion of the band's live performance is underpinned by killer chops worn lightly (for all his shape-throwing, Crispin never puts a fretboard-finger wrong) and songs written with a canny instinct for the essentials: tension and resolution, riffs and rhythm, and always a hit-you-right-there chorus.

'Hey Chihuahua' is a infectious lope, pummelled along by those Glitter band drums; 'I Want Alcohol' might sound like an almost throwaway anthem to excess, but in the hands of The Dogbones it's firmly nailed to a big bad tune and thus becomes an instant classic of its kind.

This is the reason the band can push their live sets into the leering jaws of chaos, the reason they can take the show to the brink of apparent anarchy. Under all the wildness, they're masters of the dark art of rock, and anyway, they know the songs will save 'em every time.

The Dogbones: MySpace

Deathline: MySpace

For more photos from this gig, find The Dogbones by name here.

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