Future of the Left
Ok, I (and the rest of the ATL massive) cannot keep raving on about LaFaro. Do yourselves a favour and get this band into your life (Jonny, I'll take that fiver now).
Beckoning us forward, reassuring that we won't be bitten (but did you bring your earplugs?), 'Leningrad' begins the assault. It's loud and demented, and feels strangely out of place in these surroundings, more of a sniper's rifle than the shotgun. Then comes what used to be the trump card, 'Tuppenny Nudger', shame for the card sharks they've now got a pocket full of aces. 'All Of These Things' swirls, circles and spirals into a welcome attack of squealing guitars. 'Great Conversations...' is as unsettling as ever, and 'Mr Heskey' is the orgasm of relief, before they kick us out of bed, feeling ashamed, used but happy.
Black Alley Screens have the unenviable task of being the light relief sandwiched between the twin assaults. Unfortunately, for the most part that's all they're providing. Despite being from Warrenpoint, ("although it's complicated"), it's your standard Anglo-boys-with-guitars, with a dash of The Enemy chucked into The Libertines sound-alike songs. It's jaunty London indie pop, and while there's nothing wrong with songs like 'Honest To Goodness (Time Away From You)', it's nothing we haven't heard before, and after the visceral opener act it's all a bit tame, and lacks that little bit of magic to lift it above the bland. A brief diversion into the artier-funkier end of contemporary guitars (from the Franz Ferdinand school), is an all too brief respite before returning to the Libertines template. 'Please Don't Turn On Me' hints at better things with a harder edge, and a Scouse Zutons-y feel in the faster tempo, and thankfully closing track 'Keep It To Yourself' is heavier still, a proper guitar tune going 6 different ways at once. More of that please lads, and remember, as Norman Cook said, "you're not from Brighton" (or London).
Restoring the loudness and dirt, and all those things authority doesn't like, are the malevolent Future Of The Left. Opening with big dumb fun track, 'Wrigley Scott', this undeniably catchy bit of nonsense ticks all your boxes - hooks, shouting, mad lyrics, and a bit bonkers. 'Plague Of Onces' is loud, choppy and frantic which is all the reason to love it, and 'Fingers Become Thumbs' is unsettling as an angry rattlesnake, just as evil, and just as compelling, with its big shouty chorus for us to get our teeth into. As twisted as their lyrics is their banter, and they dedicate 'Manchasm' to the namesake of the man named in it, but refuse to change the lyrics as it wouldn't scan, while 'F*** The Countryside Alliance' is big and bass heavy with a maddening insistent drumbeat that could be a torture device. "Moving from the Tories to a more insidious evil - women" is the intro for 'The Lord Hates A Coward', and it's raw and angry, all barely controlled and measured emotion, and the relatively light relief of the surf-punky 'My Gymnastic Past' still feels "like a dinosaur being f*****".
No matter, as the nasty grungy metally violation of 'adeadenemyalwayssmellsgood' is dedicated to those fools chatting away in the back corner. And then the chaos begins as their "four times as long as a normal song" last track degenerates into rampaging bassists, destructive front-man, guest crowd drummers and bassists, drink thievery, and the threats of sexual deviancy if we steal anything.
Essentially, I feel sorry for the Right if this is what the Left has coming through.