The Camden Crawl-ing starts in typically busy fashion and queues are the order of the day. Apparently weâ€™re meant to be pretty good at it us Brits, but thereâ€™s always exceptions. One such amnesty are Howling Bells. Packed into the Oh! Bar their sultry desert rock deserves a stage much bigger than the one afforded to them tonight. Front woman Juanita Stein immediately strikes you like a porcelain doll with the poise of Debby Harry â€“ that her voice is a swirling luxurious purr just makes it all the more perfect. Tracks like â€˜Low Happeningâ€™ and â€˜Broken Bonesâ€™ could see the Oh! Bar reduced to an outback truck stop. This isnâ€™t just simple rock revivalism. Itâ€™s cool, self-possessed and what the Desert Sessions might sound like with a bit of polish.
Undertaking the kind of trek associated with camels and water, the fresh faced likeable pop of Good Books is worthy of such a walk. Max Cookeâ€™s poetic delivery and choirboy flourishes coupled with grinning bear like bassist Chris Porterâ€™s plodding lines make for an amiable show. Although lacking in presence and struggling in a battle against bar room chatter, the pensive, deliberate build up and chanting breakdown of â€˜Walk with Meâ€™ provides the highlight everyoneâ€™s waiting for.
The Fratelliâ€™s seem unfazed by the snaking queue outside. Their bare ballâ€™s to the wall punk rock flits between the lock in sing a longs and frantically double speed numbers. With all the psycho babble charm of their Liverpudlian counterparts (The Zutons et al) â€™Creepin up the Backstairsâ€™ practically falls down them head first.
Squirming off the Test Icicles germ slide Elle Milano come at you with similar intentions. From brash and tuneless to relentlessly feisty theyâ€™re inexplicably likeable. Rants about lad culture and the middle class scourge will have the Daily Mail scuttling to the safety of the suburbs in no time. See Optimist Club and Tigerforce for similarly noisy good things.
Rounding things up, The Futureheads are about as consummately polished a band as youâ€™re likely to see and return as sharp as ever. The new material is as punchy, spiky and vocally pitch perfect as the favourites which are received to delirium. â€˜Areaâ€™, â€˜Decent Days and Nightsâ€™ and â€˜Meantimeâ€™ sit with newbieâ€™s â€˜Back to the Seaâ€™, â€˜Copeâ€™ and â€˜Berserkerâ€™ like childhood friends. Despite a 10 minute power cut disrupting â€˜Decent Daysâ€¦â€™, they return â€œJust like magicâ€ according to bassist Jaff, to sweep all before them like the pack of tuneful dogs they are.
Photo by: Simon Leak