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Dice Club flyerElectricity In Our Homes
Wetdog
Romance

Dice Club @ Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, London
Sunday February 8 2009

 

 

 

 

   

Time once again to take the temperature of the new wave. It's a certain Sunday in the East End of London, and that means the Dice Club takes over the Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, that allegedly trendy watering hole on the bottom-left corner of Hoxton Square. Tonight it looks like we're in for a selection of angular rackets and even more angular hairstyles, so let's grit our teeth and buy a beer (at Hoxton prices, gritted teeth are essential to suppress wails of financial anguish), and pay some attention to the bands.

  Romance  

I suppose it was only a matter of time before the eighties-ish post-punk juice that soaks the twenty-first century musical underground coalesced into the form of a distinctly old-skool goth influenced band. While several bands from the present day post-punk zone have tiptoed delicately around first-wave goth influences, I don't think anyone has quite gone for the jugular in the way that Romance do.

Three intense gentlemen in the skinniest of strides conspire to construct a veritable tower of shimmering, shuddering guitar, built upon an implacably tribal rumble of bass and drums. It's first-album Banshees filtered through the melodramatics of UK Decay - the vocals are an impassioned yelp, the rythms never stop shoving the songs forward, and the guitar quivers mightily, as if the effects pedals are afflicted with the ague.

It's not quite an impenetrable wall of sound, though - somehow, Romance contrive to add a bit of vital space amid the sonic onslaught, and this keeps it all accessible. Somewhere in there, nifty pop songs lurk amid the howl of the vocals and the tribal sheet-metal noise.

WetdogIt seems practically everybody who writes about Wetdog (that's not a typo, the band really do run their name together like that) mentions The Slits or the Raincoats as becnchmark comparisons.

Well, insofar as Wetdog are an all-female band, making a scratchy, clanging, defiantly lo-fi racket, without any concessions to the assertive powerchording or shape-throwing you'd expect from your average bunch of Rock Blokes, yes, I suppose you could indeed make those connections.

But for me, the schlang, the clatter, and the blocky repetition of the band's sound recalls The Fall at their most unrepentant. Meanwhile, the vocalist's disarming grin reassures us that even when it all gets a bit spiky and jagged (and sometimes Wetdog get very spiky and jagged), we are under no obligation to frown worthily over the band's efforts to deconstruct pop music before our very eyes. When all's said and done, this stuff is fun.

The band members swap instruments, chopping and changing between drums, bass, keyboards, home-made guitar and stylophone (which, alas, resolutely refuses to generate so much as a squawk), and pop music is duly deconstructed and bolted back together to Wetdog's own specification. And I rather like it.

These days, when it seems that every third band in the underground is doing some sort of take on skewed, oddly-angled new-wavey stuff, Electricity In Our Homes probably count as the ancestors of angular.

An almost supernaturally neat and respectable-looking trio (the guitarist looks like a young Peter Mandelson, an image so un-rock 'n' roll it almost hurts), the band can't really claim to have written the book on skittering, tangental, elbows-and-angles guitar pop - but they've probably added a few new chapters to the manual.

Blattering along in a flurry of rhythm and bursts of guitar as choppy as the English Channel on a blustery day, Electricity In Our Homes don't so much play their songs as slice and dice them, like cucumbers being prepared for a cocktail party. It's easy to tease out the influences - there's a fragment of Delta Five, there's a bit - no, make that a lot - of early Gang Of Four. But somehow, the band scrabble to the top of their influence-stack, and emerge unruffled and triumphant.

Played with benign composure by three people who look like they've stepped out of an Enid Blyton book, the nervy jangling of the music collides head-on with the band's neat image and nonchalant stage presence, and maybe that's the selling point of Electricity In Our Homes right there.

Essential links:

Electricity In Our Homes: MySpace
Wetdog: MySpace
Romance: MySpace

Dice Club: MySpace

For more photos from this gig, find the bands by name here.

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