Coming on stage to a near empty room at Liverpoolâ€™s student union is the sort of experience that forms the rites of passage for many a fledgling band. Not that it makes any difference to Edinburghâ€™s The Common Redstarts â€“ to Jordan Croan, this could well be a sell-out gig in Madison Square Gardens, as he leads his young comrades Strummer-like into ballsy opener â€˜Dance The Haze Inâ€™. It seems to be a musical rallying call as indie kids from adjoining rooms start pouring in, eager to see where this riotous rock and roll is coming from.
Forthcoming single â€˜Killing Streetâ€™ ram-raids its way into these curious ears, â€˜Too Drunk To Fightâ€™ swaggers with Sham 69-esque wrecklessness, while â€˜Break Upâ€™ is the sound of The Small Faces gone rockabilly. Not without their flaws (the rough-arse ska of â€˜McFlyâ€™ brings to mind Desmond and his barrow in the marketplace), TCR certainly land a heavy blow on the jaw of this now-bustling room. The likes of Kasabian and The Ordinary Boys (and, to a more dubious extent, Gary Glitter) have proved that gangs and rock â€˜nâ€™ roll go together like Stella Artois and broken noses, and TCR could well be the next in this illustrious line.
Australiaâ€™s Howling Bells couldnâ€™t come from a place further away than the support act, and weâ€™re not just talking in a geographical sense. The space they occupy lies between the sultriness of P.J. Harvey (â€˜Broken Bonesâ€™), the gentle melancholia of Mazzy Star (â€˜The Bell Hitâ€™) and the dark psychedelia of My Bloody Valentine (current single â€˜Wishing Stoneâ€™). And theyâ€™re annoyingly good looking to top it off, with singer Juanita clearly exciting some of the beered-up males in attendance.
Country seems to be the bedrock on which The Howling Bells build their weird and wonderful sound, especially so on â€˜A Ballad For The Bleeding Heartsâ€™, a lament whose rocking chair-on-the-porch miserabilism perfectly mirrors the moody magnificence of its title. Recording with Coldplay henchman Ken Nelson at the nearby Parr Street Studios, they dedicate closer â€˜Low Happeningâ€™ to â€˜everyone at Parr Streetâ€™ as well as to, intriguingly, one hit wonder and Celebrity Big Brother Ã¼ber-bitch Pete Burns. Yes; it would seem even Pete Burns - the man spent his January engaging in a one-man spite campaign before the eyes of the nation - has got time for The Howling Bells. Preston; take note.