Sunday, 21 February 2016

976 THE SHUDDERS, Yves, Swindon The Castle, Saturday 20th February 2016

Well, finally, they’ve got around to doing it! Tim’s band, The Shudders, have finally recorded and released their sophomore album, “No Angels In The Slipstream”, a mere 7 years after their debut, and have scheduled a CD release party/ show at The Castle. So, up I go!

Full of Chinese chicken curry from a family gathering after footy this afternoon, I drove up and parked on the hill, exercising my poorly knees with a walk up and around to The Castle for 8.30. Met and chatted with Tim and entourage; after blowing me out sick for Thursday’s Shearwater gig, he’d rested up and tried to throw off his dose of the man-flu, so was as ready for tonight as possible! A fine turnout early doors then greeted young support Yves, on at 9; a trio of young indie types, they blasted through a 20 minute set of fast, frantic and frenetic upbeat amphetamine indie rock, with occasional modish overtones. Their third number in appropriated The Smiths’ “This Charming Man” drumbeat, and the drummer generally was an impressive clattering sonic focal point. After their short set, the singer quipped, “we’re going to play “Bohemian Rhapsody” to take up some time!” before playing their opening track again! Their enthusiasm and energy was laudable, although the material is currently a Work In Progress, but minus several gig protocol points for loading out their kit during The Shudders’ set. Sorry boys, that’s not done…

Bumped into old friend Lynn at the bar (out with some friends, not here for the gig!), then chatted with Tracey while The Shudders set up, and various band members went walkabout! Finally, all were rounded up, vocalist Danny announcing, “are we ready to proceed?” and easing into the intricate guitar work and Posies-like understated harmonies of opener “Sorry”, also the leadoff track on the new CD! The clattering rhythm and folky choral feel of oldie “Words Of A Fool” followed – I guess there are still a few copies of the first album to shift as well! – and it then struck me, during splendid new number “Starbright”, just how far the band have evolved since the simpler, knockabout “Pirate Folk” material of that debut. Shudders songs now fall into two distinct camps; firstly a more upbeat sound with Posies-ish powerpop dynamics and occasional Replacements like proto-blues rock licks, and secondly a more expansive, slower burn type with a laid-back, 70’s LA Laurel Canyon late night gathering mood, almost reminiscent of Buffalo Springfield or even The Eagles…! The sprawling “Sunrise” and countrified rock of “You Look Good” exemplified the latter, whilst I preferred the chiming chorus and raw rock rhythms of “Thought I Saw You” and the hard-edged and raw-boned metronomic rhythms of “Rooster”, fading in and out of noisy crescendos. But both elements (the two main influences on the band, according to Tim afterwards) represent for me a quantum jump forward in songwriting quality from that earlier stuff. More considered, more intelligent, more (dare I say it) mature!

Danny was on the scrounge throughout for drinks to whet his appetite in this hot little back room, and 3 were lined up suddenly for him, prompting him to comment, “beer is like buses!”. The widescreen, slightly reworked sea shanty ballad of “Mary’s Grace” closed out the set proper, before a couple of encores culminating in the jaunty Pogues-like Irish jiggery pokery of “Lost And Broke” rounded off a fine near-hour set from a nicely evolving band.

A bit of chit chat with the boys afterwards, getting my CD copy signed, before heading off, leaving The Shudders in fine fettle for their CD release push. A few regional gigs sorted out, Tim advised, along with a double header at The Cavern Club in Liverpool. Now there’s an iconic venue for the band bucket list!

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