Monday, 10 March 2014

The Year Of The Library Book. Live review of Yearbook and Brawlers in Dalston

Yearbook *****
Birthdays. (Shitty) Dalston. London. 7th March.

So it's Dalston. A shitty pretend place. A shitty dirty place. A Turkish restaurant-imbued shitty place. Just  a shitty place. But tonight, one of the UK's most original and exciting talents are in shittown to, well kick some shit.

And in honour of the self-styled shitty centre of our beloved Capital, I've decided to go all Guinness World of Records and see how many times I can use the word shit or shitty in this shitty review. The review being shit; not the band. Obviously. 

Before I kick off, I've got to apologise for being shit to the first two bands, The New Tusk and the excellent and definitely not at all shit Gunning For Tamar. Due to Dalston being so far away from anywhere non-shit, it's taken me hours to get to the shit bunker and because of shitty traffic I missed out on the starters.

Anyway, enough of shitty excuses. Onto the real shit.

A fairly packed subterranean corridor of beards, beanies and industry types awaits in insouciant anticipation of losing its shit (well, it had been a while since I got a shit in), to the Leeds lads, Alcopop signing and semi-super group who seem to be on everyone's lips at the moment.

And we're off. From the first blap-blap-bam, lead screamer, singer, shit-kicker, red beanie-wearing party starter Harry George Johns races into the pit and shakes shit up. Well, kind of.

Problem is, it's all shit we've kind of heard before. Not bad shit, don't get me wrong. Just not my sort of shit. Whereas Gnarwolves really are the shit in dirty, shitty pop punk with enormous riffs and grubby sing-a-longs, Brawlers, well, just seem to be a wee bit meh. I'm sure they're as honest as the day is long and piss and shit integrity, but on tonight's performance, they just fail to ignite.

Saying that, the rhythm section (glued together by stoner bong water drinking shit storm noise rockers Castrovalva's four string maestro Anthony Wright) is tighter than Captain Nemo's sphincter and the big riffs and chugs get the old ticker ticking and the shithouse doors shaking.

Overall, I'm just not too sure where Brawlers are going to fit in. Of course, there's always a snap-back wearing apetite  for pop punk and bands like Neck Deep are leading the charge in its resurgence (if indeed, it ever went away). There's certainly energy, vigour and edge to their shit and their new single I Am A worthless Piece of Shit is anything but worthless or a piece of shit, but the shit doesn't really stick tonight.

Not shit. But not the shit.

Yearbook *****
So onto the main event. After being doused in all manner of punky, noisy shit, it's time for some, well, odd shit. To celebrate the launch of their terrific EP Old Bones, the library lads play the whole of the record in order for the first time. And it's absolutely anything but shit.

Kicking off with the jangly shit and into big drop of the title track, it's clear from the off that they're not messing. So tight and delivering every demi-semi-quaver with passion, power and precision, the outrĂ© and quirky four piece are loving this shit. 

The harmonies and counterpoint throughout are mesmerising and enchanting in a weird nerdy, preppy and gauche kind of way but with a Lenman-like mischief. A bit like a hyper active puppy licking your face while holding a cut throat razor to your frenum. Told you it's odd shit.

There's a genuine and stunning originality to this lot. And while Andy Halloway's brilliantly and searingly delivered lyrics display an obsession with beds, there's a dynamic freshness and oblique wit and charm that sets them so far apart from most of the predictable down tuned clean/dirty alt, scene and lad rock shit  that's cluttering up the magazines, web and airwaves.

But it's not all liveliness and loveliness, there's definitely an edge to their oeuvre. This razor toting puppy dog's not all lick and playfulness, there's anger, bile and bite throughout. Genuine angst. Discontent. Even bitterness. And the crowd are lapping it up.

After the magnum opus is finished and the circular and hypnotic refrain of Sinker fades into the sweat-heavy shitty Dalston air, the bookish bastards turn it up even further by taking us on a re-vitalised and reworked journey through three or four older than old bones favourites including the irresistible 3s And 6s (blade-weilding puppy dogs 'n' all.)

A truly brilliant night at the altar of a truly brilliant young band who aren't afraid to be different and do things their own bonkers way. I still can't understand why this lot aren't well and truly on the bigger path to greatness. File alongside Hundred Reasons, Meet Me in St Louis, Hell Is for Heroes, Hold Your Horse Is, The Xcerts and the mighty Reuben as genuine British quirky, challenging genius. No shit.

Ok I didn't get the record. I only managed to clock up 45 shits and shitties. A bit shit.

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