Monday, June 25, 2007

The Young Republic

There’s been plenty of speculation and conjecture over the years about who might be the new Belle and Sebastian. It’s been a matter of some interest to me for two particular reasons:
1/ Nobody – not even Stuart Murdoch himself – writes them like they used to. Belle and Sebastian have not seemed important – and never as vital – since This Is Just A Modern Rock Song stuck a knife in Britpop’s inflated back nine (NINE!) years ago.
2/ Indiepop/twee/C86/gurlie dickweed indie/call it what you will has never been so popular. This is largely because of Belle and Sebastian. The movement has, I think, achieved critical mass, thus is in a state of self-perpetuation, but it still needs a figurehead. And, no, The Pastels or the Television Personalities do not count. Nor do The Shins or The Magnetic Fields, thanks for asking.

For fairly obvious reasons, Camera Obscura took the early votes in the New B+S Campaign. They were the band for people who thought B+S weren’t indie enough after they’d committed the crime of selling plenty of records; or – fair enough – the much bigger crime of releasing The Boy With The Arab Strap.

The Scotland Yard Gospel Choir – crazy name, crazy guys – are neither a Police tribute band nor a church-based combo. They claim to be a “a chambery folky punky band” but their 2003 debut I Bet You Say That to All The Boys reveals a batch of songs heavily in debt to Tigermilk. No bad place to be, but I’m hoping for something a little more original when they get round to releasing new material (probably this year).

The Hidden Cameras, if the world was to be believed, were a “gay Canadian Belle and Sebastian”. It’s an angle, I suppose, and played up to indiepop’s detractors who thought Belle and Sebastian were “a gay Scottish indie band”, but the main problem was that the Hidden Cameras forgot to make any great records after Smell Of Our Own four years ago.

Butcher Boy have been much lauded in the indiepop world, but I can’t see it myself. On the basis of them live recently, two songs were both, um, “overly influenced” by A House Is Not A Motel; less acceptably, and very odd indeed, a whole two other songs sounded like tributes to Sultans Of Swing.

Of the other current contenders, Antarctica Takes It sound like they’re doing the business. I emailed them a few weeks ago and they said they had an album coming out on How Does It Feel in “a couple of weeks”, but there’s no mention of it on the HDIF site…still, keep your eyes on ‘em.

Better than them, though, and better than just about every band of any stripe at the moment, is The Young Republic. Their second UK single, Girl From The Northern States, outstrips the competition with crisp, jangling guitars and a rolling, soulful piano that announces quite clearly that – at last! – someone really is writing them like they used to.

Classic songs, all three of them on the ep, that like much of the very best music – and this is the very best music – has one eye on the past while moving forward. They play tonight at the Social, then
26 Jun 2007 20:00
Red Roaster, Brighton w/Thirty Pounds of Bone, Birdengine Brighton

27 Jun 2007 17:30
Resident Records Instore, Brighton

27 Jun 2007 22:00
JOHN KENNEDY XFM ACOUSTIC SESSION

28 Jun 2007 17:00
ROUGH TRADE INSTORE, NEALS YARD London

28 Jun 2007 20:00
The Enterprise, Camden w/AHAB London

30 Jun 2007 20:00
The Spitz London

2 comments:

nancy said...

I loved the Scotland Yard Gospel Choir LP, probably one of my favorite records from 2004--but they've lost one of their main songwriters, so it'll be interesting to hear what the next record sounds like. Thanks for the tip on The Young Republic, they're new to me (and quite good!).

FireEscape said...

It is a good album, isn't it? B-but it's just a little too close to Tigermilk at times for comfort. I'm fond of the Canasta album as well; they may be connected to the SYGC folks in some way (or I could just be confused. It's highly likely).