Super Furry Animals’ Gruff Rhys applies his magic as riff royalty roll into town, Getintothis’ Jamie Bowman enjoys some Welsh wizardry, the art of storytelling and some meaty guitars on day one of Liverpool Sound City.
It’s always a bit special when you see a band who seem almost perfectly formed – even more so when it’s so unexpected.
Gengahr, who claim their from North Dakota but sound like their from Glasgow sometime in the late ’80s, are such an outfit. All paisley shirts and Breton stripes they make a sound that’s so studiedly indie it’s like hearing the Stone Roses‘ Sally Cinnamon for the first time.
A Johnny Marr wannabe on guitar trills crystalline riff after riff as the lead singer’s falsetto wraps its way around each gorgeous melody in a way that somehow recalls early Bee Gees if they signed to Postcard Records. Check out Fill My Gums With Blood if you think we’re lying. You won’t be disappointed.
Follow that the decent crowd at the Kazimier urge and to their credit, London’s Shy Nature are another band who make you remember why you love indie pop.
It’s impossible not to think of the Strokes at their thrilling early best as their urgent guitars and melodic nous flow from every song. Each tune hurtles along with a gleeful and nostalgic abandon summed up by the likes of Sinking Ship, Washout and a new number introduced as a song “about hanging out at school but back then and not now because that would be weird”. Hooks and handclaps tumble forth like stolen kisses and we can’t think of a new band we’ve seen recently who just sound so right.
Shy Nature performing live at The Kazimier
Another act still getting right even if it’s almost 20 years since he first captured our hearts is Super Furry Animal and all round entertainer Gruff Rhys.
The Welshman’s fourth solo album is something of a concept piece based around the extraordinary life of 18th century explorer John Evans who mapped the Missouri river in a fruitless search for a lost tribe of fellow Welsh-speakers.
You honestly couldn’t make it up bit as Gruff tells the story of this “revolutionary guy” using a slide show, voodoo doll and beautiful psychedelic folk songs, it’s impossible not to get drawn into the story of Evans and his adventures. Like a psychedelicised Jackanory, Gruff presents a hugely entertaining show with the mesmerising Lost Tribes a trance-inducing highlight. If Evans was a pioneer, Gruff (who believes he is related to him) is following right in his footsteps.
Every Sound City throws up a group on the cusp of stardom and this year’s most likely to could well be grunge rockers The Wytches whose unceasingly noisy take on garage rock turns Seel Street’s Factory into a heaving mosh pit of teenage abandon.
The Wytches live at Liverpool Sound City 2014
Singer Kristian Bell has a scream to rival Kurt Cobain and his band mates trawl the murky depths to summon up riff after riff of proto Black Sabbath sludge which belies the Wytches‘ reputation as Nuggets-style rockers and instead turns them into something far more interesting and yes, scary.
Think Blue Cheer jamming with Mudhoney and you’re getting close as were the moshers to our pint of lager.
Chichester three-piece Traams also trade in a riff laden sound but it’s to Germany rather than California that these noiseniks turn with a visceral set in the wonderful sweat bos that is the Shipping Forecast‘s basement. Relentless and rhythmic this band is tight and when they lock into a groove there feels like there is no way out of their motorik trap. Intense and focused there are even tunes in there somewhere if you close your eyes and surrender to the beat.
Tonight’s final offering – Antipodean hair metal duo DZ Deathrays – seem almost tame in comparison and are not helped by the sheer size of the Duke Street Garage dwarfing their valiant attempt at bludgeoning Megadeath style heaviosity. It’s dumb and no worse off for it but tonight’s riff royalties lay elsewhere.
Pictures by Getintothis’ Simon Lewis, Sakura and Matt Thomas.
Further reading on Getintothis:
Liverpool Sound City 2014: Top 10 Merseyside bands to watch
Liverpool Sound City 2014: Top 10 international bands to watch.
Liverpool Sound City 2014: Top 10 UK bands to watch.
Liverpool Sound City 2014: Getintothis‘ guide to the venues.
Liverpool Sound City 2013: Top 10 bands and review round up of the festival
Liverpool Sound City 2014: Getintothis presents Jon Hopkins and stellar Merseyside show at Nation.
Liverpool Sound City 2014: Fringe events and John Peel World Cup revealed.
Liverpool Sound City 2014 add The Kooks to festival bill.
Liverpool Sound City 2014: Jon Hopkins, Albert Hammond Jnr, Drenge and more for May festival.
Liverpool Sound City 2014 announce headliners Kodaline plus Gruff Rhys and Fuck Buttons for May festival
Liverpool Sound City 2014: John Cale and Thurston Moore head up Conference speakers
Liverpool Sound City 2014 reveal football, music and style themes