Itâ€™s been a long time since Liverpool has really had a thriving music community, but in the last couple of years weâ€™ve seen the emergence of two contrasting scenes from that very city. The Bandwagon continues to produce madcap psychedelic guitar pop from the likes of The Coral and The Bandits, whilst Flamingo 50 and Zombina & The Skeletones remain at the forefront of the occasionally artier punk community. From somewhere in the middle of all this come Polydorâ€™s new signings The Open. Their debut single â€˜Never Enoughâ€™ is the sort of counter-baggy drivel the city pumped out in the early nineties with The Real People and Rain. It might have sounded good way back when, but ultimately this is all bluster and â€˜classicâ€™ influences, and frankly, with all Merseyside has on offer these days, whoâ€™s got the time for any of that any more? More tunes please.
And so itâ€™s from there to a much louder form of rockâ€™nâ€™roll. Great things have been said about Reuben but, on the strength of â€˜Stuck In My Throatâ€™, Christ only knows why. Aimless, forgettable and seemingly devoid of a chorus, this is one of the least interesting singles to feature this much sub-Deftones riffageâ€¦well, ever. Avoid. Like the motherfucking plague.
Of course, if itâ€™s a great riff youâ€™re after, you can always look straight to Wireâ€™s art-punk fave â€˜Three Girl Rhumbaâ€™ (just ask Justine Frischmann). Southern Fried popsters Klonhertz offer a dated-as-fuck Big Beat cover, and inevitably, itâ€™s not particularly good. For the best renditions of that â€˜DAH! DA-DAH! DAH!â€™ bit that we all love, pick up copies of â€˜Pink Flagâ€™ or â€˜Elasticaâ€™. Because choosing this version is kinda like choosing to snort talc over cocaine or sherbert.
Anyway, didnâ€™t anyone tell Klonhertz that punk packed up its bags and cried all the way home from college? According to one school of thought, at any rate, and proving that thereâ€™s still life in old-fashioned emo rock, The Holiday Planâ€™s debut EP is a mixture of chiming quiet/loud guitars and impassioned throaty shouting, like Hot Water Music in more reflective mood. Not exactly pushing the envelope, but neither is it a bad effort. The picture on the frontâ€™s quite nice too.
Harking back to an even older form of emotional hardcore are Glasgowâ€™s Stapleton. Just as their debut album was a reminder of the days when the genre meant carefully crafted, occasionally awkward, but usually rewarding indie rock, their new EP â€˜Chez Chef Plus Threeâ€™ is a delicious concoction of post-Sunny Day Real Estate instrumentation and lovelorn poetry. With Larry from Hundred Reasons on production duties, they even sound that little bit louder than they used to. Definitely worth investigating, especially while all this extremo business is starting to sound a little samey. Although it does seem a little odd that weâ€™re already seeing the first wave of retrospective emo kids.
The Open should really take a listen to fellow hometown boys 28 Costumes. Their debut release â€˜Hurricaneâ€™ is a fine slice of melodic indie-pop, veering from brooding, slightly sinister verses to a big â€œStop! Yeahâ€¦â€ bit, just like Rocket From The Crypt in â€˜Born In â€˜69â€™. The whole shebang finally climaxes in a big Ash-sized chorus, and is quite, quite marvellous. The best track here by a mile, however, is the B-side â€˜Fraudulentâ€™. Jagged Pavement-esque guitars and an insistently catchy chorus pin back an endearingly funny lyric about trying too hard to fit in, and with this much promise on their first outing, itâ€™s hard to imagine that theyâ€™re in it for anything other than the long haul.
Welsh trio Kentucky AFC demonstrate that the mid-nineties prominence of their countrymen SFA and Gorkyâ€™s was far from a fluke. For such a small country, it still produces more than its fair share of psychedelic mentalists, and Kentuckyâ€™s rockabilly stomp â€˜Outlawâ€™ (about literally â€œgetting away with murderâ€) is the sort of throwaway pop genius that the Furriesâ€™ used to produce on an almost-weekly basis. The Welsh scene may be more famous now for extremo rockers like Lostprophets and Funeral For A Friend, but this lot ably show us that thereâ€™s always room for a bit of nonsensical fun every now and again.
So thatâ€™s the issue of oddball rockâ€™nâ€™roll addressed, but itâ€™s fair to say that what the world probably doesnâ€™t need is another naff electroclash band. Roger is never going to be the name of anyoneâ€™s favourite band, and in accordance with that fact, the slightly lacklustre â€˜Give Me Love Or A Brand New Car EPâ€™ is never going to be anyoneâ€™s favourite record. Ever. Lead track â€˜Save Your Tearsâ€™ shimmers, bleeps and squelches, but never manages to sparkle. So bollocks to it. 'Try harder' is their lesson, as is 'CHANGE THAT BLOODY NAME'. Otherwise, the day job remains a better prospect.
Far more likely to have you moving your feet are Jarcrew. Despite having saddled themselves with one of the many terrible monikers currently doing the rounds, their unlikely hybrid of Hot Hot Heatâ€™s indie-punk-funk and Fugaziâ€™s twisting post-rock intricacies is bouncier than a space hopper and more fun to boot. â€˜Paris And The New Mathâ€™ probably wonâ€™t make it onto many â€˜single of the yearâ€™ lists, but could well make your day sometime soon.
Multinational balladeers The Crimea, meanwhile, are doing their best to convince us that theyâ€™re a bunch of emotionally-driven experimentalists, but new single â€˜Baby Boomâ€™ is dreary, uneventful indie rock without much going for it other than the admittedly fine line â€œI guess you can call me Fred Flintstoneâ€. Lyrically theyâ€™re on another level, but itâ€™s tunes that really make us rush out to buy records, and if you canâ€™t be bothered with those then whatâ€™s the point? Hey, isnâ€™t this where we came in?