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BLAM June 2005

A word in your ear...

No blacks, whites, goddamn pinkoes, fascists, emos, skatepunx, metalheadz, men, ladies... in fact ... fuck off, the lot of yer - yer not coming in!

In a surprising move that will surprise many, Herr Ubergrubbenfuherer Max Von Sydownovertheregrabachairmakeyourselfcomfy announced surprising new dress restrictions for those seeking admission to The Forum. Starting immediately (or as soon as somebody can find some blu tac to put the notices up) The Forum has brought in an immediate ban on the following fashion items being worn or displayed by patrons in the immediate future:
1. Thick black hooded tops with the logos Rage Against the Machine, Cradle of Filth, Machine Head, Pearl Jam or any other band logos come to that, but especially Nirv-fucking-ana
2. Cheap checked shirts probably from Baldocks
3. Keys on ludicrously long chains tied to your belt that make you look like you forget to bring the dog out with you
4. Huge trousers that may or may not be shorts, it's difficult to tell as whoever made them has caused a cloth shortage in most of western Europe
5. Wacky hair dye - especially two colours at once, but anybody who looks like they went into a party shop and asked if they had any colours that closely resembled the type of vomit you get after a kids party
6. Fucking fairy wings and bloody stupid wands. especially on males! You're eighteen, not eight, get a fucking grip.
7. Skateboards. Not exactly the number one item you're going to need with you at a gig is it?
8. Slint t-shirts. And that includes those worn by really fucking anally retentive people trying to illustrate how fascinatingly post post post fucking ironic they are by implying that Slint are a sell out by (oh so amusingly) replacing the letter S with the $ sign. Call a doctor, my sides have ripped open with mirth. Have you considered a career in stand up comedy?
"Some people might say that this could potentially damage attendance at some of our shows" said The Glorious Leader "but we have done a market survey and we didn't really understand the results so we thought it would be nice to be in the papers for a bit, even if we have no idea why". It's understood that the ban was first considered to try and cut down anti-social behaviour at the venue, including dancing and laughing. "Some people" said a grim faced Ian 'DNA test or no beer' Carvell "are plainly coming down here with the intention of consuming alcohol, which is a well known stimulant to the stupid part of the brain that makes you enjoy yourself. And that's the last thing we want, which is why we have a bar here. Oh, hang on…….."
In another move intended to create more of a friendly atmosphere, the venue has also announced that it will be introducing a ban on swearing. "Speaking fucking personally, I think that some illiterate twat swearing his fucking head off is not only not fucking funny, it's also likely to put the arse bandits off coming down here with their felching, rimming and fisting, and frankly we need their fucking money. Pink pound? I'm no backgammon player, but for half a crown I'll put me Arabian Goggles on standby" said barmeister Marvey Jarvey.
Many other local businesses have now followed suit, with JB's Music Store banning Simon le Bon lookalikes, Laura Ashley outlawing floral prints and Kebabarama banning drunk people. Actually, and this is a serious question, if Bluewater have banned the wearing of baseball caps, how are they enforcing that against people who are shopping for baseball caps?
Customer: "Can I try this on?"
Shop assistant: "Certainly sir, I'll just call the Police and have them on standby to rough you up".

Blam is owned and produced by The Forum. We are poor starving musicians and artists who don't even have a garret so there is very little point in coming after us for money just because we accused you of being a donkey basher, but if you are really intent on litigation, then you sue us via
The Forum, Fonthill, The Common, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN4 8YU
But nine times out of ten I wouldn't bother because our lawyers, Shyster, Rippemhoff & Felch are the fastest legal minds in Cricklewood. It has come to our attention that some of the content of this magazine is plainly not suitable for miners, or indeed minors. Expressions such as baloney colonic, yakky dah, we'll keep a welcome in the valleys, baiting the hook, lollipop stop and raggedy android are occurring all too frequently in these pages, creating an inappropriate air of homo-eroticism. After complaints from some 'Legs La Rue', we will be taking steps to remove any further gay slang terms. The person responsible has been taken over the bridge to pimpleton and given some oyster stew. We apologise most sincerely to all the Veterans Benevolent Association members or Yosies reading and promise it won't happen again. (Fuckin' Hell, you've even lost me! - Lanky Fop)

Comedy Forum

Thursday 2nd

Tunbridge Wells' original AND best value for money comedy club is held the first Thursday of every month.


Valentine Flyguy . Rob Collins

Fans of Starsky & Hutch who saw the film version of the hapless, 70s detectives were shocked and stunned to find that their favourite character, VALENTINE FLYGUY had failed to make the transition from the small screen to celluloid. Perhaps the producers were not prepared to risk having a street-wise ''brother' telling it like it really is. Or perhaps VALENTINE FLYGUY was never really in the cardboard box-filled alleyways adventures of David 'I only gave my wife a gentle slap, Guv' Soul and Paul Michael Glaser in the first place! Which I imagine is really the case!
Hustlin', pimpin' jive talking, 70S dude, Valentine Flyguy is the creation of top stand-up ZERON GIBSON.
"The most infectious comic I've seen in a long time" Daily Telegraph
" set to rocket" The Stage
An amazingly versatile comedian, Zeron is perhaps best known and loved for his comic creation.As Mr Flyguy, Zeron has toured the world and become a regular highlight on the national and internationally comedy circuit.

"a fine OTT comic character.. outrageous.. hilarious." Chortle
"…we'll book the wise cracking Mr Flyguy next time he visits!" NYPD

After completing the Amused Moose stand-up comedy course, ROB COLLINS performed his first show in January 2002.Top comic, Adam Bloom said of Rob:"He's one of the most natural comedians I have ever seen."
Rob splits his stage time between stand-up comedy and compering. He is the resident M.C. at the 'House of Fun' comedy club in Covent Garden. ParamountComedy website said of Rob's compering talents:
"He's a man who knows how to get the party started…. He's a quality M.C." And quite frankly, judging by his photo on the left, who am I to disagree .... not to his face anyway!

Selfish Cu*t
Jason & the Astronauts
Friday 3rd

So named after the faulty neon display sign on frontman's Martin's, 'Shellfish Counter' whilst working at a whelk stall on Brighton Pier ..........hang on, that's not right. Let's try again.
It was In the early part of 2003 friends, Martin Tomlinson and Patrick Constable formed the brutal and provocatively named band Selfish Cunt. Martin was working in theatre, and Patrick was playing in an art rock band called Dirty Snow.
"We decided to do Selfish Cunt because although we're from really different practices, the connection is music," says Martin in his soft Lancashire lilt.
The motivation for such an offensive/thought provoking name was a mixture of arrogance of they'll do what the fuck they want, and it feeling right for the time.
"You need something with a real stab and attack. Selfish Cunt is quite grating, and I like that." says Martin. "With us, we only had one song, and we were already doing gigs. If you're a new band, and you're going to the circuit, then you're going to be at the bottom of the fucking barrel. Things happened quite quickly for us," admits Martin.
Armed with loud, nihilistic drum machine patterns, seething guitar riffs and a frontman (Martin) to terrify and thrill audiences with his erotically supercharged, in yer face perfomances, the duo are impossible to ignore. Their first single Britain Is Shit / Fuck The Poor required little explanation when it arrived on the scene. You either loved or loathed this sloganeering rant. Broadsheets and elements of the music press alike are already bemused and excited, in equal measures, by the prospect of these musical terrorists. Because of the ferociousness of the shows, rumours persist that early gigs were a case of Selfish Cunt hijacking other bands shows by invading the stage with their threadbare equipment and simply plugging in and playing. Live is where you need to experience Selfish Cunt if you are to begin to understand the attention they are receiving. Martin is the focal point. His theatre background and training is sonically mashed up by Patrick's offensive noise, translating into a performance that is passionate, and smashes down the barriers between artist and audience.

This is done in such an uncompromising style, that he constantly risks, and sometimes incites anger towards himself.
"We did a gig, and some guy was just infuriated," says Martin, "because I walk a fine line. I've got to take responsibility. I think that I did piss someone off, and he just insanely went for me.
Because I can go up close to people, he obviously didn't like it, you know. And that's alright because he doesn't have to.But even the idea of even going to a gig is like: What am I doing here? What are you doing here? How far can you come up to someone? Just that whole notion of like, can I sing to you? Can I talk to you? Can I lick you? Can I push you?
Obviously, some people don't like that, and he didn't."

Hanging on every violent spasm and leap from the stage into the audience are Selfish Cunt's lyrics. They may lack subtly (however lets be honest here: subtlety left the room soon after they chose the band name Selfish Cunt), but in the context of their performances they can provide the catalyst for greater debate or thought later.
So visually they are captivating. Or rather Tomlinson is captivating. Heavily mascara-ed, resembling a lithe Richey Edwards, he prowls the stage constantly gyrating, leaving it to stare manically into the eyes of those at the front, contorting his torso and limbs.
"I mean it's so infuriating that there is such little art or music around that is really singing about real issues of life or death, or the crux of existence. Or that the government is allowed to do what they do, and live above the law," says Martin who is only just getting revved-up in terms of what incites him to do what he does.
"What does that say about our time? That when so many young people are just so fucking complacent, and just don't give a fuck. They just want to get wrecked, or be famous, or be in magazines...for what reason?

Saturday 4th

Formed in Cheltenham in 1996, the band went through several line-up as well as name changes before they finally settled on '4ft Fingers'. Originally a Nirvana and Green Day covers band, the lads played locally for a couple of years, then Rob, Tom, Dougie and Dave met manager Darren in late 1999 and things began to improve. The band started to gig relentlessly, playing anywhere they possibly could.
In 2001 the quartet recorded their debut album 'At Your Convenience' with Martin Nicholls at Whitehouse Studios, which was released on Jamdown Records. This was followed by a year of non-stop touring (140 gigs in 2001), earning the band the reputation as one of the hardest working UK bands, which brought them to the attention of several record companies. In early 2002 4ft Fingers signed to Golf Records, home to the likes of The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Snuff and many more.
The second album 'From Hero To Zero', recorded with Dave Chang at Philia Studios, was released on Golf in September 2002 and supported by an impressive advertising campaign and a full 40-date co-headline UK tour under the title 'Golfing On The Moon' (2002).
2003 saw the band embark on a massive 47-date headline UK tour under the banner 'From Hero To Zero' which was followed by tour dates with Dead Kennedy's and The Damned. Busy, busy, busy indeed!

Wednesday 8th (confusing eh?)

Bolt your doors, seal the windows, and turn off your radio - it's a scary world out there, full of mindless zombies and equally mindless rockstars, self-righteously preaching and self-indulgently whining to the herd. But help is on the way, as Wednesday 13 stands ready to shock the rock status quo out of its brain-dead coma. Equal parts artist, horror and TV addict, and riveting frontman, Wednesday 13 refuses to be your typical messiah. "I don't like anyone preaching to me - that's why I've never gone to church." says Wednesday. "For me, music has always been an escape from real life. Whatever problems I had, I could always go home, put on a record and just escape all of that shit. So in my own music, the only thing I'm serious about is not being serious!"

Though best known for fronting the MURDERDOLLS, Wednesday is a rock veteran who's been playing in bands since he was 15-years old. He adopted his stage moniker in 1995, naming himself after Wednesday of The Addams Family and the address, 1313 Mockingbird Lane, of The Munsters. A year later he formed his now-deceased horror-core band Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13, named in the spirit of legendary B-movie director Ed Wood. The band put out four independent albums between 1996 and 2001, and played countless local shows. Frankenstein Drag Queens was Wednesday's baby, and he slaved away for his undead offspring- writing the songs, booking shows, working low-wage jobs (delivering everything from newspapers to furniture), and generally putting all his money and energy into the band.

In 2001, the 'Drag Queens independent releases and loyal underground following caught the attention of national artists, as Wednesday was asked by the (since departed) Murderdolls guitarist Tripp Eisen to join the band. Wednesday started in the bass slot, but his talent and showmanship quickly resulted in a move to the lead vocalist position. It was he and band founder Joey Jordison of Slipknot who collaborated on the writing of the band's debut album, Beyond the Valley of the Murderdolls. The Murderdolls quickly built a fiercely devoted following, through repeated world tours (including 30,000-person shows in Japan, opening slots for Iron Maiden throughout Europe, and other choice tours), and worldwide rock press acclaim and album sales followed. As 2003 came to an end, Beyond… had earned silver-status in the UK, sold over 100,000 units in the U.S. alone, and garnered accolades including Kerrang!'s Readers Choice Award "Best New Band and Album of 2002" and Metal Hammer's "Thank God They're Not Good Charlotte" award in 2003. Predictably, the success of the Murderdolls resulted in Wednesday disbanding his first band. But since the Frankenstein Drag Queens' demise, it has ironically won a worldwide cult following. Wednesday can't help but laugh: "In the beginning, the 'Drag Queens were inspired by Ed Wood. In the end, the band was like Ed Wood in that he wasn't popular until after he died either."

Murderdolls, meanwhile, was put on hold in 2003 as Jordison returned to the studio and the road with Slipknot. Wednesday returned home, immediately locked himself in his basement, and emerged with over 100 songs written. In June 2004, he began work on his first solo album, playing all but the drums himself. True to form, Wednesday has stitched together a morgue-full of influences - horror films, cartoons, punk and heavy metal - into a spook-tacular monster-mosh of an album, Transylvania 90210: Songs of Death, Dying and the Dead. Fans of White Zombie, Rob Zombie, AFI, Alkaline Trio the aforementioned 'Dolls, as well as metal, punk, and horror in general will find the record at once refreshing and outrageous.
With his sallow complexion and raven dreadlocks, Wednesday may look like a grim goth at first glance, but the singer/guitarist is more a throwback to the days of Alice Cooper and Twisted Sister, when rock music had no more pretentious aspirations than being over-the-top, escapist fun. (Rather than the up-their-own arse pretentiousness of Slipknot then? - Ed)

Eden Maine
Friday 10th

Blending the dark, distress of Dillinger Escape Plan and Converge with the crushing energy of Cave In and At The Drive-in, Eden Maine have endeavoured to find the perfect medium between melody and technical song writing. Since the release of their debut EP 'The Treachery Pact' - released in 02 - Eden Maine have always been a band that dared to be different and refused to be pigeon-holed. Putting their own twist on ferocious hardcore and punishing metal this St Albans quintet is a true tour de force.Their hard working ethic has ensured Eden Maine have spent most of their time on the road, playing as many shows as they can manage. Consequently they have toured the UK and Europe on many occasions - touring with everyone from Converge to Lostprophets to Sepultura to 5ive.

Useless ID
Saturday 11th

When the words "punk" and "Israel" are mentioned in the same sentence, people think one of two things: either it's a joke, or they could be the most political band since Anti-Flag. Neither is the case.
Useless I.D. is the exception to the rule. As a punk band raised on the unfairly-tough streets of Haifa, Israel, they reached out beyond the borders and found peace in the West Coast pop-punk sounds of MxPx, The Ataris, NOFX and others. Already gaining fans in Europe, the band was brought stateside to record their debut album by Kung Fu Records and Ataris front man Kris Roe, who would go on to produce their Kung Fu debut "Bad Story, Happy Ending."
As the tension of life in the Middle East grew heavier by the day, Useless I.D. found even more motivation to get out of Israel via touring. The peak of this escape came in 2002 as Useless I.D. was granted a spot on the entire length of the Warped Tour. Now younger fans finally got to witness what bands like The Vandals, The Ataris and Good Riddance knew all along: there is some goodness coming out of the Middle East, and it's in the form of a quality punk band who's sweet n' sincere lyrics and scathing melodies will attract all schools of punk rock.
"No Vacation From The World," the new album from Useless I.D., takes the patented So-Cal pop-punk sound, and brings in darker melodies, brighter harmonies, and even the occasional moog keyboard to lift the eyebrows of the jaded punker. Guitarist Ishay Berger explains: "I think the energy is the same as anything we did on our older records, but since we got bored with playing simple and catchy pop punk like we did for so many years, we kind of wanted to write a powerful heavy record and create different sounds that we wanted to hear more on punk records we like."

Useless I.D. also credits Tony Sly (No Use For A Name) for his contributions to the album. As tour mates on the 2002 Warped Tour, the band worked with Sly on the new songs. Sly helped with the arrangements of the songs, and even went as far as writing a new track for "No Vacation…."

As the future of Israel looks bleak, Useless I.D. will carry on against all odds, doing what they can in bringing a glimmer of good times to torn punkers around the globe. Produced by Angus Cooke (Nerf Herder, Bad Astronaut, The Ataris) at So-Cal recording haven Orange Whip Studios in Santa Barbara, "No Vacation From The World" shows that even in the face of terror, uplifting music can be found in places other than Celine Dion albums.

Howards Alias
Friday 17th

Howards Alias are a band for whom breaking conformity comes naturally. They exist to develop their unique sound outside of the boundries of the punk scene, and strive to create something new with every performance, song and recording. Based in Southampton, Howards Alias came together at the tail end of 1999, playing third wave ska-punk, with a bit of a darker edge. Howards Alias released their debut full length album "The Chameleon Script" in October 2002 on Good Clean Fun Records, to a very positive reaction but unfortunately the album tour had to be postponed to 2003, due to Jevon's (drums) appendix almost bursting on tour! However, once on the road again to the band played around 130 shows in that year alone. In January 2004, the recorded a split with US band DESA, and the 2 bands toured the UK together to promote it.
These days the Howards Alias sound has greatly evolved from the ska-punk beginnings, taking influences from a very diverse range of influences including The Police, Refused, The Mars Volta, AFI, Tool, Alkaline Trio and The Slackers. The band like to put forward a message of non-violence and anti-elitism, and like to consider themselves a group of musicians playing music, rather than a band that has to keep playing a certain type of music in order to conform to the punk rock cliche! The new Howards Alias album was recorded between February and April 2004, and it's been a very busy year already. With 16 new songs, the album is upbeat with a creative and dark lyrical perspective, melodic brass bursts and fast paced yet very emotive guitar lines, "The Answer is Never" has a theme of non-conformism, and free thinking, that there is a revolution coming... that art can be a real threat!

Sunday 19th

Five years, three albums, one TV appearance, a ban, and countless live shows in the U.K. and abroad are earning The BiG a reputation as the most innovative and lairy Ska band around. They live up to their name in all ways. With a BiG sound and a BiG show their live performance is not to be missed.
Holding their own with even BiGGer boys n' girls has never been a problem for The BiG. Several members have played with Bad Manners, Neville Staple formally of The Specials and the whole band have been invited to guest with The Beat live on stage. As well as supporting these 3 bands many times, The BiG have also supported The Selecter, the legendary Desmond Dekker and The Skatalites.
However the BiG are BiGGer than this. Their energetic blend of thumping trad Ska, driving 2-Tone and soulful Reggae appeals to all walks of Skadom. Fan's enjoyment is paramount, whether you're skankin', listening (or just watching!) people leave shows smiling with a tune in their head, always wanting more. Check out www.thebig.org

plus The Vertigo . Amanacer
Friday 24th

A fearsome-fivesome from Hull have come out of the maelstrom and into the fire with their debut double A-side single and chart hit: 21 and Some Old Girl are now returning with their already classic hooligan bruiser and forthcoming single of ‘Panic Attack'. Their debut album is being handled by Owen Morris, legendary producer of Oasis' Definitely Maybe.
From touring with the riotous Babyshambles, opening for Har Mar Superstar, to having Bez from the Happy Mondays doing his cosmic dance during a Death Disco set or just doing their own thing of frenetic tour-tour-tour in their now legendary white van - swamping the country in a plague of noise and early PIL basslines. THE PADDINGTONS want to do one thing. They are here to bring you the rock. No, not rock as in rock. BUT RAWK.
Their incendiary live shows have become stuff of legend. Alan McGee signed them straight after seeing them live. NME remarked in recent live review: "Lead singer, Tom Paddington is hypodermic-thin, his hair is over his face and he has a nasty sneer. It starts to feel claustophobic, then the drummer shouts, "123AREYOUGOINGTOBEMYGIRL" and the club explodes. These baby-faced speedfreaks leave you feeling like they've force-fed you all the anti-psychotics in your mother's cupboard and kicked you out of a car at five in the morning."
And in this day-and-age what is a poor rock'n'roll band to do? Some evil mothers will always be there, telling them that its all been done before(Yes, you, you lanky fop - Ed):
There is no heart ache, no tentative wandering steps down the history of year-zerosim, no neuroticism of punk pop idols wondering how to rock and when. You see, the Paddingtons, just do. They are rock'n'roll. And in their songs there is nothing but thousand-mile-high-thrash of fuzzed-out rock. They play like imitations of teenage christs; whether it be Joey Ramone, The Saints, Pete Doherty, Sex Pistols. With the Paddingtons, the kings are gone and not forgotten. They are eulogised with their songs.
Cranking up the adreneline and making the world their own for three minutes; The Paddingtons experience is a 1,000 mph riot of maxed out, sugar-coated electricity, delivered with wired intensity. Tom; vox, Grant; drums, Marv; guitarist, Josh; guitars and Lloyd; bassist welcome you to their world. The world of the Paddingtons.

Saturday 25th

Crashing out of a small town in East Anglia, England. Kings Lynn to be exact, come Vanilla Pod. A five piece punk band with a unique blend of US stylings, combined with the guts of classic UK punk which has seen them become one of the biggest underground punk acts in the country. Don’t call ‘em a skate punk band tho’, their music has too much depth & emotion to be lightly branded as such.
The band hail from the corn fields and ditches of deepest Norfolk. After getting bored of the farming lifestyle (cause it meant getting up too early) they decided that it would be an easy way out to form a punk rock band. In Feb 95 the monster was let loose, and so began the spreading of the carrot crunchin word. A 7"single "Rebound" was released by the mad fools of Offshoot Records in April 97 on a very smart yellow vinyl. Since then, after numerous line-up changes, the 'Pod, as we call 'em (Who's that exactly? - Ed) are now a finely tuned, fully functioning, turnip-heaving 21st century punk act.

This four piece kick ass melodic punk rock band hail from South London and their brand of Descendents meets Alkaline Trio style punk is currently wowing audiences around the capital. It all began when old friends Chris (vocals/ guitar) and Lee (vocals/ guitar) randomly bumped into each other again at the tail end of 1999. After a few months of hanging out again, and having played in bands with each other a few years before, it was a natural progression to end up in a tiny north London bedsit writing a couple of songs together. The tiny room soon became a rehearsal studio in west London, and having roped in their younger brothers as a rhythm section, the first incarnation of Fletcher was formed in the summer of 2000. This line up was not to last however, with the bright lights of taxpayer funded alchoholism luring the rhythm kids off to university. After an hour of panic, the remaining two members had drafted in Olly, a housemate of Lee's, and Andy, Chris' other brother, on bass and drums respectively, and a good few months were spent writing and rehearsing a set of original material. February 2001 saw Fletcher make the transition from a band giving it their all in a rehearsal room to a band giving it their all on stage.

Apparently, according to their website, "Route 215 started off the way a lot of British rock bands start – with the goal of having fun and partying every night, drinking, fighting, fucking... police arrests, It is this mentality that is causing the Route 215 following to grow day by day with every show being more exciting and energetic than the last – fans know that if they go to a Route 215 show they will ultimately have loads of fun as it’s more of an experience than just music, with guitars being furiously wielded around the stage and the band spending more time in the air than on the ground (unless they are lying in a pool of blood), don't got to close to them or they may smash you in the head... a lot of things tend to break at a 215 show so be careful, You are guaranteed to have seen and heard nothing like it before! see for yourself" ...Phew ...rock 'n' roll eh kids?

Mr. Mills' Monthly Moan

(whereby Moanin' Millsey gives his considered opinion on what's Hot and what's Rot)


The overwhelming impression of Dan Clews is that he's desperate for everyone to like him. Whether this is stage persona or just natural scattiness isn't clear, but his need to 'connect' is a strong one, as if making people smile is quintessential to enjoying his songs, which it isn't, even though it probably helps if you aren't sure. Such a need for approval could very easily make him appear a bit of a prat, but there's foppish charm in his bumbling eccentricity that enables him to carry it off, so if all the angsty moods elsewhere tonight are a bit tough on the soul, he's an affably dippy diversion.
No longer does Clews inflict the questionable bedsit folk of old. Even his leadership of Swedish malcontents The Stars Above, whose last album raised many eyebrows and ale glasses with the beardy brigade, has been laid aside temporarily and in its place tonight is a folksy duo with his sensuously voiced co-vocalist, Cellar Door's Charlotte Brereton, plucking inelegant but thoughtful pop tunes out of the air and making them taste familiarly sweet. Unoriginal certainly, but not unpleasant, rather like Freebird but with more scum under its nails. Think Joni. Think Donovan. Think early EBTG. Think gentle melancholia with treacly country harmonies tucked into every available crevice, while keeping the hooks scrumptiously effective, then just stop thinking because you'll only spoil it for yourself.
It's music that begs to be listened to while lying in long grass as the sun beats down, perhaps with a glass of chilled Pimms. "River Through" for example is a wistfully exquisite earworm that you'll hum for days after, and although Clews is occasionally a tad twee, threatening to become an acoustic cliché, if you're after inoffensive placidity that you can listen to with your loved one while holding hands in dewy meadows, he ticks all the requisite boxes and makes you yearn for summer to arrive.
In contrast, Fray are like being woken by someone setting fire to your pubes. Pounding, earthy, grungy filth, that spurts and grunts its ugly way across the stage, taking bits of Audioslave, Tool and Deftones and hammering them roughly into shape, this quartet make an awful lot of frankly fabulous racket. Seething, riff-laden, emo noise that's as greasy as a kebab shop floor.
New frontman Shem has made Fray a heck of lot harder to ignore, and you wouldn't want to in the first place. He's got a gritty enlivening roar and whatever germs of potential they may have had a year ago have multiplied like MRSA on a hospital ward. Fray haven't just improved, they've grown up, grown out and gone a bit peculiar in their adolescence. Still one of many post-whatsit grungey indie metal bands that make the place look untidy, certainly, but Fray aren't one of the crap ones. Magnificent anthems like "Dig" burn with a vivid energy and though Fray are unlikely to set the scene ablaze, they'll certainly make you sweat a bit, so check 'em out as they're worth the effort
By my reckoning, there's at least six bands called 'Cellar Door' knocking around at the moment, ranging from pub duos to gay art rock, so why this 5-piece didn't choose an original moniker to compliment an otherwise proficient band is a bit of a mystery. Unlike the melodious pleasantries of her earlier set with Dan Clews, frontlady Charlotte ditches the doleful dreaminess and opts instead for an intense urban sounding rock 'n' roll stance; the genteel hippydom replaced by urgent angsty yelping, not dissimilar to Patti Smith. Though occasionally wallowing in quiet moody waters while she gets all maudlin on us, for the most part, Cellar Door are surprisingly versatile, stepping into various different styles and being comfortably competent with whichever they choose.
The moody AOR of 'The Blues' contrasts sharply with the heavy gothic lament of 'Swept Away' and they still find time to swagger around with semi-rapped funk metal, all underpinned with huge hooks and pop melodies so rich, they could give you the squirts. That being said though, there's a tad too much posing with Cellar Door and they don't really seem to really mean it.

"Poppa Ray" for example, is good-time, dirty, 3-chord rock n roll, but its garage-rock by numbers, as if they were giving us their
schooled interpretation of what rollicking boogie should sound like, but without any genuine passion to make it truly come alive, so despite their ear for a good tune, Cellar Door are a smidgeon dull and unexciting. Rather like their name really.
Ever wondered why the Forum is such a safe welcoming space and other places just aren't? Everyone is dominated by specific drives, be it greed, ambition or whatever, but The Forum attracts creative misfits, and most productive souls are motivated by a desire to please. It's full of people seeking approval and acceptance from like minds, so naturally anyone with the guts to perform and be the focus of attention wants praise for their efforts, and we're usually happy to oblige. This is how back-slapping cliques begin, so subsequently, certain acts receive local support not via actual merit, but through reluctance to tell friends that they suck.
But being nice to each other can create false security. So many local bands are busy caressing each others' plums and trying to be interesting, that they forget little matters like proper songs and having people other than their friends at gigs, because when other local acts come along with tunes that took more than 10 minutes to write, and attract a crowd of people that seem genuinely thrilled by the music rather than social camaraderie, it's a bit of a culture shock. Enter CYRANO, and despite the respectably sized crowd, the quality gap compared to certain Stable acts that draw bigger ones, yawns open like a bottomless chasm.
I often sit and wonder what actually went through the minds of Cyrano last August, when Veldt handed their Man's Choice prize to them. Oh, to be a fly on the backstage wall. Were they disgruntled in not winning solely due to their own considerable merits, but by a combination of grace and default? You couldn't begrudge Cyrano if that was the case as the glory must have been somewhat tainted, but this is the release party of their 'Signs' EP, recorded as the fruit of that prize, and they fail to mention the Stable even once, so make of that what you will.
With minimal fuss, Cyrano just get on with it as 'Gathering the Dust" takes over and makes them sound heartbreakingly huge. Imagine Thirteen Senses writing with Embrace while Clearlake look on, crying into their beer. When Joe Ackerley's vocals aren't doing the high wire act, he roars with a fractured anguished dignity, somewhere between Thom Yorke and Chris Martin, but there's no girly piano in Cyrano's set up. Their mood develops from chiming guitars that in the space of a few drawn out chords can make you drop to your knees and be thankful that the world is so goddamn beautiful; soaring, swooping melodies, teetering on the brink between joyful abandonment and despair, pour from their amps, crash and ebb around your brain and trickle down your spine like cold sweat.
The newer material, such as "Signs" and "Discontinued" echo the Coldplay and Pearl Jam comparisons made frequently with this band, but intrinsically, they only share the same sense of power and ethereal sensuality, as the ideas are theirs alone. There's absolutely no filler with this band. It's one of the reasons that they only have about 10 songs after 3 years together, because each one is a perfectly crafted, impossibly sexy work of art in itself, honed and perfected over time. Their tunes build, grow, expand and explore, going exactly where you want them to and leaving you breathless with anticipation for the next one. "Surely", you say to yourself, "It can't get much better than this." Then it does.
Quite simply, Cyrano are just fucking stunning.



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Lifted (with permission) from the June edition of BLAM! - All queries regarding libel actions should be directed to them