After a very brief summer hiatus, the Scared To Dance residency at The Shacklewell Arms resumed with a bill that showcased the best of the current indie scene. This months assortment featured artists from brand new talent, in the shape of London quartet Suggested Friends, through to a rare performance from the near legendary Scots, The Just Joans.
First on the bill were the indie-pop supergroup, of sorts, Suggested Friends. They’re so new that there’s only seemingly one song of theirs anywhere on the internet, but featuring members of Wolf Girl, Actual Crimes and Chorusgirl, they’re already booking national tours, and provide a winningly slick performance. Recent single, I Can’t Roll My Eyes That Far (Back) stands out as their most accessible moment, but in their winning blend of pop hooks, punk thrash and confident stage presence they’re onto something special; singer Faith a particular star, with a strong voice and particularly impressive guitar work. They’re heading into the studio this weekend apparently, expect to be hearing a lot more about them in the near future.
Main support for the evening comes from well established indie-pop hitmaker The Understudies. Dab hands they’re wonderful company, frontman Brian half jokingly quietening down the crowd with the ease of a consummate pro. The Understudies sound is polished, articulate indie-pop, there’s nods in the direction of The Beautiful South or The Divine Comedy, and a healthy, not obsessive like some, touch of The Smiths. It’s been a while since any recorded material, so it was nice to hear a couple of new tracks, one track, introduced as,”our new single, so you’d better like it”, is a particular stand out, and bodes well for the bands next move.
There can be few more loved bands knocking about the indie-pop world than Motherwell’s The Just Joans, which is a good effort for a band who quite knowingly borrow a lot of their musical ideas from other songs, and hardly ever release anything or play live. They don’t even have any music on their merch stall, just bottle openers and T-shirts with a vaguely funny Transpotting pastiche. The fact that on paper they seem so entirely unpromising, is perhaps one of many reasons they’re such a fabulous live band. It’s almost as if they exist in a bubble outside of the music world, promo? releases? selling anything? Pah we’ll just get on with writing some of the most funny, moving and detailed songs about the unglamorous reality of life and sex, and leave all that industry stuff to someone else.
They throw in a number of not particularly new, new songs, (“I don’t know why you’re cheering they’re all rubbish”) and plenty of old classics. There’s Durex Puppy, a tail of energetic but seedy indie-boys, the disco-parody of I Won’t Survive and their riotously received Friday night anthem, If You Don’t Pull; each of them simultaneously daft and clever, funny and heartbreaking, and all wonderful. Best of all is the closing What Do We Do Now, a tale of ageing, moving out and always slightly wondering what’s going on back at home. Tonight it becomes a big drunken sing-along, crowd and band as one belting out it’s chorus, “what do we do now, now we’re ten years older, the bands we loved are dead, the bands we loved are dead, I’ll always think of you whenever I smell cider, but it won’t be the same, again.” Wonderful, life-afirming stuff, now where’s that new record?
Allo Darlin’ – Kiss Your Lips
Hefner – The Hymn For The Alcohol
The Wave Pictures – Lisbon
Belle & Sebastian – Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying
Squeeze – Up The Junction
The Cure – Just Like Heaven
The Just Joans