When I used to live betwixt the bonny hills of Dundee, I could often be found sprawled out on the sofa watching Dundee’s very own local music station, “Channel 6 Dundee”. It was a bit like MTV, only it had music on and wasn’t awash with arbitrary arseholes whose musical ‘knowledge’ stretches no further than the autocue they stutter over. Anyway, occasionally Channel 6 Dundee would show videos of local bands. These videos were so freakishly amateur that they could only have been made by final year video production students at the local university. The videos would either be depressingly minimalistic (ie back room of a pub, band sat on stools, one camera on a tripod) or frighteningly futuristic and leaden with a type of pseudo-symbolism that Saussure himself would find baffling. In both cases, however, the musical territory was pretty much the same- heavy, sweaty sounds made by bunches of middle class white men who had listened to Nirvana just a tad too much yet who sought to embellish the pantheon of heavy rawk with their own indelible, unique contribution. Trouble is, they all sounded the same. There really are better things to do with three chords you know.
The first song on this demo, ‘Soma Riot Wave Machine’, reminded me of all the reasons I never attended ‘Student Night’ at Rock City, and why the particular part of Channel 6 Dundee given over to these local bands was always my least favourite part. It was all so depressingly ordinary; Young men with drums and guitars turned all the way up to eleven ‘rocking out’ as they say, yet making very little impact on these ears. It’s a genuine shame because the thumping drum introduction is actually rather good, and leads one to suspect that at the very least we might be in for something a little more interesting than your average student band worshipping at the inflated temple of Cobain. Sadly, as soon as the guitars kick in and the singer begins a Tim Burgessian warble, I want to turn off. The tragedy for me is that I’m nothing if not fair, so I have to listen to the rest of the song despite the fact that I know, after the first 30 seconds or so, the predictable formula that the song will take. If you are going to make music, at least try to be a little different.
The second song on the demo, ‘Time Against The Tower’, leaves me baffled. Is this the same band whose mundane noise I had forced myself, out of a sense of fair play, to listen to? It clearly is, but the difference, in terms of melody, structure, and sound, is tangible. Gone is the pubescent urge to rock to an ordinary beat. In it’s place we have a sense of melodic variation, an unusual, stuttering drum tempo, and a singer that proves he can actually sing: “In her heart of hearts, where her love should have been there was a blank” he croons, and that’s good enough for me. Moreover, the guitars, despite being much more understated, are paradoxically more effective and powerful than on the first track. If I may use a footballing analogy, it’s rather like placing the ball in the corner of the net with the most delicate of touches as opposed to blasting it hard from six yards out and hitting it over the bar.
‘The Bed’ could do wise than take heed of said analogy. Remember guys, you really don’t have to hit the ball hard to find the back of the net. And who would you rather be, Georgie Best or Chopper Harris?