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Lillies And Remains
Cunt CrusherThe Dogbones
Reign Broke Better
Cunt Crusher
The Dethcats

Dublin Castle, London
Thursday May 13 2010

 

Early doors and an empty floor at the Dublin Castle. The Dethcats are undergoing the authentic opening band experience: playing to a near-empty room. There's a wide open space in front of the band, and only a smattering of cautious observers hanging back in the shadows.

Still, the band rattles out an undaunted set of sort-of rockabilly, the two female vocalists getting down from the stage and working the floor - literally, since there's a distinct absence of punters up front.

And yes, The Dethcats do seem to be chanelling the sounds of a high school hop, circa 1958, although the gentlemen musicians in the band are sporting the all-purpose image of any old scruffy indie outfit. It's a bit like watching the university Rock Soc band playing at a fifties theme night - they've got the amiably rockin' sound sorted, but c'mon, chaps, those hairstyles need work.

With a name like Cunt Crusher, there's no room for half measures. You've got to be good. Or bad. It could go either way, but you're going to have to go all the way. You can't call your band Cunt Crusher and then be merely, mildly, all right. Well, here comes the band, so let's see which way the swingometer points.

Minimalism is the key theme here, it seems. Cunt Crusher are a duo in which a besuited geezer schlangs at a guitar and kicks at a deconstructed drum kit. Minimalism very much in action. Meanwhile, one of the Dethcats' singers removes most of her clothes (minimalism in action again, there) and reincarnates herself as Cunt Crusher's singer. She drapes heself over the stage, the drumkit, and, occasionally, the guitarist, while delivering a sardonic snipe 'n' gripe of a vocal.

Every Cunt Crusher song seems to be a disdainful kvetch about life - sometimes from a rock 'n' roll perspective. The band have a song entitled 'Big Name Producers' in which they excoriate, erm, big name producers for snuffing out artistic integrity. Strange: that sentiment is usually directed at record labels. I've never heard a band put producers in the firing line before. Perhaps Bernard Butler turned them down, or something. At any rate, it would be a brave producer who took Cunt Crusher on, for their lo-fi thumping and grinding and that none-more-cynical bellyache of a vocal probably amount to something unproduceable. So, are they good or bad? Well, as it happens - I'm not sure. The band's peculiar collision of scornful gutter blues and studied sleaze either makes them brilliant nutters...or just nutters. I'll get back to you on this one, OK?

Reign Broke BetterI can't tell you anything about Reign Broke Better - except that they apparently arrived at their name by plucking random words from thin air. They're a bunch of gung-ho geezers who rollick up a storm like a pub rocky version of Jane's Addiction - and while the Jane's Addiction side of the equation is fine by me, I'm not so sure about the pub rock.

What saves the band - almost - from sliding a little too far in the direction of good-time boozer-rock is the vocalist, a feisty girl in white Doc Martens, who hollers and dances and conjures up a party more or less by sheer force of will. Without her, Reign Broke Better would indeed default to the lads-having-fun-down-the-drinker zone. With her they just about avoid that fate. Just about.

The DogbonesAnd now, The Dogbones, a band imprervious to the blandishments of the lumbering music industry, and certainly untouched by any big name producers. And that, it seems, is the way they like it.

The band celebrate their outsider status in song: in 'Never Going To Get Us' they jab a two-finger salute to the music biz. The song is all guitars and attitude and scathing wit. - The Dogbones in a nutshell, in fact - and neatly represents the band's refreshingly refusenik stance. Even now, when so many bands still willingly abase themselves before the monsters of the music industry in a frequently futile bid to get ahead, it's rare to find anyone who's prepared to tell 'em all to get stuffed.

Maybe The Dogbones' more robust approach is the result of their own previous trips around the block. Containing as they do members who've formerly been in the likes of Daisy Chainsaw and Queen Adreena - two bands which certainly ran the gamut of major labels and minor labels alike, and doubtless experienced the misic biz in all its disfunctionality - The Dogbones' ruthlessly unimpressed attitude has the ring of grim experience.

Well, the music industry's loss is our gain. The Dogbones brew a stew of roiling guitars and insistent, take-no-prisoners drums which, if it's comparison-geometry you want, positions the band bang in the middle of the triangle formed by Babes In Toyland, the New York Dolls, and, er, the Glitter Band. Probably. Don't quote me on that one, I may need to refine it a bit. Over the top of this fractiuous racket, shrieking and flailing, accosting the audience, and generally giving it the full-on rock 'n' roll rampage, vocalist Nomi Leonard rips it up like a gone-wrog diva on overdrive, and the end result is about as close to essence of rock 'n' roll as you can get without setting up a backyard still.

Lillies And RemainsOriginally billed as the opening band, but - apparently - generously awarded the top spot by the other bands on tonight's bill, Lillies And Remains are fresh in from Japan. They're on a fact-finding tour of small British music venues, and I suspect the principal fact they've found so far is how difficult it can be to gain an audience when you're a brand new band with no fanbase - at least, not in this hemisphere.

But kudos to the band for doing it. Travelling half way round the world just to try your luck on the UK toilet circuit is a brave move. I know bands based right here in old Blighty who'd fight shy of doing that, even though the gig circuit starts - by comparison - on their doorsteps. On the basis of gung-ho boldness alone, Lillies And Remains deserve the perk of a good slot.

They're also not bad as a band, handily enough. Their Bauhaus-derived name is a slight red herring, mind, because the Remains don't deal in glam-goth extravaganzas. They're far too stripped-to-the-essentials for any of that. They're dryly post-punky, economically indie. Their songs are laconic and purposeful bursts of churning guitar and brusque, pithy vocals. Occasionally one of the two guitars essays a bit of indie-jangle; throughout, the drums keep it all neatly nailed. If they were British they'd probably have an XFM session under their belts by now. Maybe that'll happen on the next go-around, eh, chaps?

 


Lillies And Remains: Website | MySpace

The Dogbones: MySpace

Reign Broke Better: MySpace

Cunt Crusher: MySpace

The Dethcats: MySpace

For more photos from this gig, find Lillies And Remains and The Dogbones by name here.

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