Girl's Names, Third Man Theme, Charles Hurts
The sound of young Belfast sounds a great deal like the 'Sound of Young Scotland', that elusive sound that emerged from the art schools of Glasgow at the tail end of the 70's. Awkward and earnest young men peeked from behind their bowl cuts and delivered music that owed as much to Motown and surf guitar as Mo Tucker and amphetamine sulphate.
There's nothing wrong with a bit of revivalism, but if you're going to do something that's been done a million times before, you really have to do it very, very well. There's a healthy crowd down early doors for Charles Hurts, the first band on the Postcard-tastic line-up in the Menagerie.
Charles Hurts have got the sound right, but there's a definite lack of anything new. The Cure, the Smiths, the Mary Chain all come to mind, but there's little new here. The vocals are buried so deep in distortion that there's nothing to identify with and the use of a laptop for the drums adds a certain degree of coldness to something that should be shambolically charming.
Third Man Theme up the game considerably. The last time ATL saw this band it was in the bright and airy surrounds of an in-store on a sunny Record Store Day. The move to a tiny stage in a packed and dark bar benefits them. It's music for the night and with the projections on the stage you could easily picture yourself in the Factory - Warhol or Wilson, take your pick.
There's all sorts of influences on display, from the Cramps to Nick Cave, pre-Geffen Sonic Youth and, oddly enough, forgotten 90's noise-poppers Bis, as well as a dark edge that recalls the implicit threat of the Jesus and Mary Chain.
Here's the news: Girls Names are not the saviours of the Belfast music scene. They are not the next big thing, and to be honest I don't think they want to be either. But on the basis of tonight's performance and the album being touted by Rough Trade [album of the week], they'll do well; there's a certain niche for this sort of stuff, twisted pop songs performed with verve and aplomb.
Unlike their imitators there's a certain heart and soul behind their work. The music is performed as a loving tribute to their influences, instead of seeing them as a bag of hooks to be ransacked for some sort of hipster cred.
Getting a cooler than thou audience like this moving is no mean feat, but Girls Names get a definite groove on at the front (believe me, at this sort of gig, this is the equivalent to a circle pit) and we'll put the lack of audience interaction down to an appropriate aloofness.
Graveyard, from the self-titled EP is the last song, before the band disappear in a cloud of ear-splitting feedback, sans encore, having said all they need to say - it's noisy, it's economical and hey, while it's nothing new, it's absolutely smashing fun. And isn't that what it's supposed to be all about?