LIVE AT THE OLD HAIRDRESSERS
I ticked 2 new boxes last week.
I went to the Old Hairdressers for a gig for the first time (tick 1). That gig was by Dead Hope who were launching their debut album “Songs from the Second Floor” (tick 2).
I’d be promising Keith that I would go to see them every time they’ve played a gig. Unfortunately I had missed every one to date. Due to a prior engagement, I wasn’t sure if I’d make this one either. In the end, I got there in time to see the last few songs by support band, Curdle.
As I arrived the band were just finishing “Love Butt”. A song about loving Dave Gahan but thinking he’s a bit of a dick. With Sid Vicious (the My Way scene from The Great Rock ‘n Roll Swindle) being projected behind the band, it was a good start to the evening’s entertainment.
I hadn’t heard Curdle but on the basis of the few songs I saw/heard, I’ve added them to my list of bands to investigate further. They are a 4 piece all female band, with a slightly goth look.
Their sound resembles the likes of Babes in Toyland, Hole and Pink Kross. Songs like “Give me Yr Phone Number” and “Your Body, My Head”, with its beautiful vocal melodies over fuzzy guitars and sparse drums followed. Their final song (with theremin for added eeriness) sealed the deal for me making a mental note to catch them live again.
For anyone who is at a loose end and looking for a gig to go to, they are playing the 13th Note on Saturday 19th. The gig also features with Strega Pez, Anna Secret Poet, Bratakus and MISC.MEAT.
There was no between band pint for me as I had the car. I took the opportunity just to enjoy some of the between band music including PiL and Fire Engines. A good soundtrack to enjoy before the headliners.
As the band took to the stage Keith kept the Sid theme going with his Sid n Nancy t-shirt. Behind the band the movie “Gummo” was projected on the wall. A dystopian film following a group of nihilistic youths trying to fill their seemingly meaningless lives in a town devastated by a tornado. It made me reflect on where the link was with Dead Hope. (The band have used images from the movie on previous gig posters and videos). Perhaps the use of film is a reflection on the band’s name?
The band consists of Scott McCluskey on vocals and guitar, Andy Crone on bass and Keith Martin on drums/percussion. They are “influenced by Crass, Raymond Carver and Orson Welles”
For a 3 piece they create a great noise. Andy & Keith are a tight unit and play a powerful, melodic rhythm. This is overlaid by Scott with an array of aggressive, angular, distorted and fuzzy guitars, helped by a selection of fx pedals. His vocals are both at times melodic and aggressive sometimes within the same songs (Hate Both Sides). I knew a couple of the songs from tunes the band had released. Specifically Truth Be Told & Swordz, but the whole gig made me feel that I had known the band and songs forever. I found I was sucked in and lost in the music at times.
They have a timeless sound easily standing side by side with classic Sonic Youth and The Fall. Albeit with a more tuneful singer! At times they reminded me of gigs I went to in the 90’s by the likes of Glasgow band Urusei Yatsura and their ilk.
In all, a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours. I left the sweatbox that The Old Hairdressers had become, with a copy of their album “Songs from the Second Floor” in my sticky mitt. As I walked to the car I hoped that I would have an opportunity to repeat the experience in the not too distant future.
“Songs from the Second Floor” album
I jumped into the car after the gig and popped the album straight onto the CD player. Where I should add it has been a permanent fixture since.
Much like the bands varied musical, film and literary influences mentioned above, the album title also has a cultural reference. This time to Swedish movie of the same name. A surreal series of unrelated bleak tales which point to the often futility and at times horror of modern life. On a lighter note, it also references the bands rehearsal space which is on the second floor.
The album art features a stark black and white image from acclaimed photographer Ed Kashi. It depicts a crowd of youths jumping over a pile of burning junk on wasteground.
This is a band that has clearly thought about what it wants to say. Not only in terms of the music but in the imagery it uses to link to the music. “The devil is in the detail” (Pigs)
It is hard for me to pick out highlights. The album delivers from start to finish and has plenty of great tunes, hooks and lyrics throughout.
From the opener Pigs kicking off with its driving bass and featuring the first line “Would it be alright, to burn you all alive”. All the way through to energetic closer Swordz I was drawn in. As that song closed, I pressed play again to start from the beginning.
The album never disappointed me. After Pigs comes Thieves and Vultures with its choppy guitar line and vocals delivered in almost staccato style. Truth Be Told, the most familiar track on the album for me, is a stand out. Not only on the album, but also stands head and shoulders above many other releases by established bands over the past few years. I particularly like the line “the pointless conversation became my inspiration for everything”. This speaks to me of not accepting the norm and doing something about it.
Freaks, where Scott spits out the lyrics with vitriol and I really believe him. Hate Both Sides which starts off melodic but the refrain is delivered with fury. By the time Name the Saints comes round, I’m disappointed that there are only 2 tracks left on the album.
Album closer Swordz includes the lines “So this is it, this is your final test” and “there’s no point to prove”.
In my humble opinion, Dead Hope have proved their point. They have passed the test with flying colours. “Hope” is certainly not “Dead” for this band. I hope to hear much more from them in the future.
That’s my opinion. Its time for you to make up your own mind. Have a listen to Truth Be Told and see what you think yourselves (link in the sidebar). I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Then buy the album!