Adrian KK Hicks

17:41 11th March 2005

Flipron do sound like nothing else. While managing to sound ridiculously familiar. This is a very clever trick, and I duly doff my imaginary cap to them. Imagine if you will a young-voiced Tom Waits trapped in a French café with Lord Bath’s menagerie, several skeletons, and nothing to eat or drink except has cakes and acid laced lemonade. Which is not to imply that the songs are full of drug references, for they aren’t. Instead we are offered a collection of morbidly obsessed poetry in the style of Lewis Carol, backed by the house band are a burlesque show sans the brass section. In their place we get accordion, harmonica, lap steel, Hammond, wah-keyboard and some excellent, textured drumming. There’s a bassist in there to, though he has the smallest floral wreath so we notice him less. The great feat of Flipron is to make such ordinary, everyday content sound so unusual; lyrics about drinking and pulling mingers, about not wanting to know how you are going to die – hardly ground breaking stuff, yet the phraseology, both lyrically and musically speaking, makes it so. The image that flashes to mind is that of the Adam’s Family, and there is something monstrous and gothic about this quartet and the way they twist front man Jesse’s lyrics out of their ordinary world origins into something otherworldly.

If Flipron are the distant cousins by marriage you tend to avoid at family gatherings, then Bucky are the class clowns you’d love to swap for your irritating older brother and proudly introduce to all your friends and family. Self-depreciating and hilarious, they hide the masterfully brilliant and wildly imaginative lyrics under a carefree careering set of two-chord skiffle pop anthems. Well almost. They join in the animal antics; Flipron gave us big baboons, Bucky give us dogs, “He’s a dog,/Lives with his owners,/ such a shame,/ His owner is a stoner,/ Gave his dog some LSD/ now his dog is unhappy,/ If you want a handy tip,/ Never give a dog a trip,/ Hi! Fido!” It’s a song that has two chords – C and F – as Simon handily demonstrates. The barking is inspired. However we are also treated to the genius that is ‘I am Dark’ – “I am serious, always mysterious, can I read you my thesis?” I’m laughing too hard to make notes, but luckily I got an advance copy of the forthcoming album so I know all the lyrics off by heart. Which is lucky as you are far too distracted by the interplay and banters between the mad cap drummer Joff and the faux-serious Simon. I;ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, if you haven’t seen Bucky live then there is a big hole in your life. They are the only reason The Beatles existed, as without them we wouldn’t have had Bucky. Altogether now: “one, two, fab, four!”

New Grand Smoking Palace’s animal song is a slightly classier affair: ‘Swansong’ begins with bassist Marky starting with a speak-sing intro before sultry lead Andrea kicks in with some dreamy eye-batting and come-to-bed whispers. “Just put on the breaks / And don’t do anything.” No, no!! “I love you, I love you / You’re beautiful, you’re beautiful.” That’s more like it. Why these guys aren’t rich and famous is beyond my comprehension. They’ve got the looks, the tunes, the moves, the tricks, and a gorgeous frontwoman who knows how to work both a mic and a crowd. Showman drums, dirty surf guitar licks and pelvic bass push along a dance-abilly blend of blues, art, and post-punk with mixed up lyrical conceits and sheer sass. “Springs! Sprockets!” chorus the front row on the cruelly seductive ‘I Little Bit’ while 'Cow' pays homage to Dire Straits in the lines “I want my TV stations.” Even though they didn’t seem to be firing on all cylinders, rather sticking on the cruise control, they quite simply rocked. The should be huge.

Photo by Adrian KK Hicks

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