'Happy Birthday to ya, Happy Biiiiiirrrttthday', so sang Sir Stephen Wonder in his tribute to 444 Club's first birthday, written over 30 years ago. Now that's what I call foresight. Yes, Kamikaze's weekly trawl through the best in local (and touring) talent is one year old. I've not been to every one of them but I must've made about 35 or so and every single one has thrown up something well worth listening to. That ain't a bad strike rate in my book. Enough of the history. Tonight, as most weeks, saw four bands again, kicking off with Danny's Last Dance...all the way from Lahndaaan...and even further down Saaaarf (leave it you slaaaag, he ain't worf it etc etc). Imagine Zappa forming a Disco Ska band with Hard-Fi (check out Simmer Down) and you've got a fair idea of their sound. Anyone with the balls to include the word 'sadomasochistic' in a lyric deserves a medal...or a nipple tweak...or maybe both. There's a glorious 80's vibe to quite a few tracks, Disco Bitch in particular reminded me of watching Top Of The Pops with Peter Powell dressed in gold lame (I should point out that Peter Powell was on TV wearing the gold lame, he wasn't with me...and I wasn't wearing the gold lame...I had a cute lime green waistcoat in the 80's but never had the chutzpah top try gold lame...pity really, I have the eyes for it). Anywho, I found Danny's Last Dance pretty irresistable. Their lead singer gave it 110% and the only improvement I could think of would be matching outfits for every single band member (maybe gold lame?).
Next up, Che's mates, The Cubans. They're a young band from Wolverhampton who seem, in a really short space of time, to have garnered some great press, coverage on BBC local radio and a record deal. Not bad eh? They've certainly got some good tunes and I get the sense that some solid gigging over the next few months will really add to their performance, sound and confidence. Musically there's shades of The Jam, Oasis and (in the shoutier bits) Sham 69 but they're also capable of more introspective material (a little Keane-ish). In fact lead Cuban (that'll be Fidel's brother then), Chris' vocals seem more suited to these tracks. Their last track 'Nice Guys Finish Last' (it says Lust on their website though...s0 maybe it's Lust...) was one of the highlights for me. Some nice keyboard action lifted it head and shoulders above a lot of other indie stuff and, although the mad rock out bit at the end seemed a little tacked on, they really let rip. Listening to that track again (and again) it's a real grower and, for what my opinion is worth (bugger all really) if I were the band I'd look to develop that more quiet/loud and harmony/noise approach even further.
Third up, and the crowd swelled visibly like Ron Jeremy's member at a fluffers party, Hot Monocles! Bringing a Coptor-ish ferver, head Monocle, Dan, twitched across the stage like a man possessed. I'll add some more s's there I think...posssesssssessssseeeddd. It seems (and I could be wrong here) that the band have been around for a while, doing a few gigs, recording a few tracks but not really giving it all the time their talent (and boy, they have talent) deserves. According to their Myspace page this is all changing...and I hope it does. They're already a groin thristingly good R & B combo (reminded me of a meatier version of The Bluetones in places too...) with potential to turn into something really special. The energy's there, the tune's are there, the technical ablity's there...they know what they need to do. Go get' em boys. (PS: Listen to Snobs - that's some good riffing - to get a feel for what they sound like now...a lot of their other tracks were recorded a while back and don't do them justice).
Finally, call the cops, it's The Crimes. They don't seem to have any tunes up at the moment (maybe they've been nicked?). Their myspace is as quiet as a the grave. So I'll have to rely on my memory of last night (oh dear...at my age...memory....what's that?). Only joking. I have the memory of one of those big grey things with a long nose and flappy ears. Anyway, The Crimes are that rare beast...the six piece. Even rarer they have two drummers! Well, one drummer and one bongo player. Frontman, Seb, has a great big belter of a voice (the clearest of the night), perfectly suited to their funk tinged rock sound (actually the band has a much wider mix of styles but I'll need to see 'em again to get more of a fix on everything that's going into the old melting pot). One or two cover versions (Lenny K's Are You Gonna Go My Way and The Police's Message In A Bottle...beat that for a combination!) were done brilliantly and, judging by the crowd's reaction (they went mental at the end), The Crimes could soon be packing out The Barfly, let alone the Rainbow. Formed in late 2007 (so less than a year old...aren't I clever?) they're already tight and capable of getting an audience whipped up, which is an impressive sign at this early stage. I'd like to see some tunes up on MySpace now though, ASAP.
That's that then. One year, over 200 bands, several litres of vodka and coke, one major hangover (and a couple of minor ones) and a few less braincells. Here's to the next 12 months...
Oh, before I drift off, a word about the DJ bit (that comes in between sets and at the end...up to 4am). Last night saw the first outing for Utopia. Housetastic. If you like your House, you'll love it. I didn't stay until 4am (cos' I'm 106) but the DJ seemed to be playing a, in the words of the kids 'bangin' set'. Girl I'll House you...(one for us old skoolers out there). Ciao.