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The Jane Bradfords, Documenta Drone Pop, War Hole

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ATL | 14:37 UK time, Thursday, 16 September 2010

The Menagerie, Belfast
Tuesday, 14th September, 2010

War Hole are a fair wee bit of craic, you know. They have that sort of raw, messy, garage band sound mostly associated with west coast American bands (think less poppy, looser and slightly dafter Weezer, perhaps?), but almost more fundamental to what they're about are their premier bantering skills and stage presence. That's not to say that they put on a panto-type show, but they have an easy assurance and sense of humour that manages to be both self-deprecating and self-aggrandizing at the same time.

Each song comes with a dedication, a shout out, or tales about the randomest of things (including stories of flatmates - who shall remain nameless - their dirty underwear and unflushed toilets. And other stories which were bound to secrecy). All of which makes them eminently watchable.

First impressions of Documenta Drone Pop are of a poppier Brian Jonestown Massacre. With boy-girl melodies reminiscent of the likes of Joy Zipper and pretty much all of the 90s Glasgow bands, it's easy to see where their influences lie. But despite some rather nifty and cool riffs, there's not a lot that's terribly contemporary or original about them.

That doesn't make them bad, but coupled with their lack of stage presence and charisma (although following War Hole didn't do them any favours in that regard), it does make them the least interesting and entertaining band on the line up. It may be unfair to malign them for lack of stage presence, but in a tiny venue like the Menagerie with an equally tiny crowd on a Tuesday night, it did add a slight awkwardness to proceedings.

And as for The Jane Bradfords - well, what remains to be said about these veterans of the local music scene? Half the songs on their debut album are cult classics here, and very deservedly so. Tracks like Ninety Nine and The Evening Angels Gather Here (without doubt one of the best songs to come out of Northern Ireland in recent years, if not ever) go down a storm. They also sound richer and fuller than a couple of years ago (and they were flipping good to start with), showing the progression and maturation that's gone on through their expanding line up and song-writing.

Upcoming single Judicial Duel (which, incidentally, was covered with much aplomb by War Hole earlier in the evening) is a classic in the making for sure. If this is how they progress from album #1 to album #2, then albums #3, 4 and 5 are surely going to blow our minds clean out our ears. Consider yourselves warned.

Orla Graham

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