Cashier No.9, Jane Bradfords, John Shelly & The Creatures
Ah, Christmas. The time of year for rest, meeting with family and friends, and an excess of presents and food. But not for ATL, instead following shock treatment after 'Nam we are unable to sleep and our paranoia has scared away all our kith and kin and so we have no food or pressies. So to cope with the insomnia ATL spends it's time tracking down music with a maniacal unquenchable thirst (oh, alright make mine a pint). Tonight, it's easy, good bands lined up for our delectation in one of the traditional AA's Christmas gigs.
Up first are John Shelly & The Creatures - none of them are called John by the way, instead they are all creatures, although I suspect they may be human. Certainly their pleasant Scousebeat sound reminiscent of the Coral veers towards Homo Sapiens, with a touch of jaunty refracted skiffle, before heading off in catchy country-tinged unthreatening adult rock. Alternating between these twin styles, they inject a bit of humour by dropping the theme from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air into 'Can't Always Get Just What You Want' before returning to the European City of Culture for the beautiful 'I Will Go On' to close their set.
The JBs (unfortunately not in this case not the Jungle Brothers) are long-time favourites of this reviewer, and are the more urban looking filling in this country tinged sandwich. Opening with 'Hide From The Cold', it's all 1980s Manchester, the twin influences of the Smiths and New Order shining through in the style of the more contemporary (early) Killers and Bravery. 'Golden Ticket' is in the same vein with a gentle rhythm and an anxious vocal with the trick repeated on 'Headache Pills' that insinuates itself into your memory through subtlety rather than force. Wishing us a Happy 2009 before they bid us adieu with 'Strategy #2 (Fight Them All)' their bouncy bit of catchy distorted frivolity. It's all good, but New Year, new material, please lads.
And so we come to Cashier No 9, currently the second best band in the country according to the ATL collective, their catchy (and that's just Danny's attempts to contaminate the microphone) edgy take on modern country with woahs and rolling funky bits stands out from the ubiquitous indie boys, being something a little more raw and little bit harder. The highlights are of course recent single '42 West Avenue', a big throbbing monster with a friendly amount of edge to it, while 'This Ain't The Day' could be a lost Black Grape track - kitchen sink country funk turned up loud in the spirit of James Brown's proclamation that "country is the white mans' blues", as the old trick of subverting a style with influences from other genres is writ large in front of us. Closing with 'Goodbye Friend', aided by a possibly demonic choir, they take us tumbling madly over the cliff. Are they the second best act around? Well they're definitely better than 9, put it like that.