Cults + Fanzine + Hearts @ Hare & Hounds, 24th August 2011


A very brief three song opening set from boy/girl guitar/synths duo Hearts. Very much beat driven with desaturated, austere guitar and spacey jingling keyboards complimented by echo-soaked falsetto vocals. Shame it was so short but their accomplished musicianship was beyond question.


London based four piece Fanzine have an engaging take on middle American lyrical rock with flavours of C&W and pop/grunge. The songs are short, catchily melodic that, for the most part, occupy the mid-tempo beat, save ‘I Wanna Touch Your Hand’ that really lets rip with fists full of riffs and infectiously catchy simple verse/chorus and blister-chord bridges. Perhaps one or two more songs of thrashing abandonment like the former to provide a breadth of light and shade dynamic. A highly accessible, hard-working band. Put the word around.

Setlist: Roman Holiday, Susan, L.A., Houses Fall, I Wanna Touch Your Hand, Kissing, Rocket Fuel, My Stupid Brain (single release).


UK touring their eponymous debut album, New York film student/musicians, aka Cults, Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion (I know, bless!) celebrate an unashamedly remembrance of all things past nostalgia. Their soaring harmonies and fuzzy-heart felt melodies are graffiti-strewn across a Phil Spector wall of 60s retro-romantic sounds of Summers of Love. However, there’s a disconcerting film-noir surrealism prologue with the set opening to the ‘Twin Peaks’ theme tune and ongoing back-projection edits of ‘The Night Of The Hunter’ (1955, Dir. Charles Laughton). Its noir-thriller menacing use of forced-angular neo-German Expressionism set designs whilst the deranged man-in-black Robert Mitchum sets about murdering kids seems distinctly bizarre. These Art-House cinephiles, really! It’s all very Americana derivative with twangy loving spoonfuls of medicinal Acid Rock poptastic innocence resonating with Motown/Muscle Shoals influenced bass rhythms.


And wasn’t there a glockenspiel tingling reference to The Cascades’ ‘Listen To The Rhythm Of The Falling Rain’? Ms. Follin’s auburn, Janis Joplin swooping locks and epiphanic, archetypal 60s hi-voltage chic rock-chick vocals define their sound. Eclectic magpies ever, they don’t miss a trick to turn on, tune in and drop down some seriously groovy-beat sample archives. The songs are concise and reassuringly formulaic with a beguiling sense of almost, but never quite, outrageously climactic naive kitsch. But, there’s an edgy underscore to all this as the film backdrop insinuates its disturbing dynamic. Look-up their official video for ‘Go Outside’. Its seemingly wholesome, happy-clappy evangelic ambience has a darker, very much darker side.


It’s a must see and might just make you think twice about supping that festival cider currently being promoted to the same tune re-mixed by The 2 Bears. Their gravitas, together with an engaging rapport with the punter-packed Hare was, in no small way, down to the cataclysmic drumming from Marc Deriso in sonic mayhem tandem with bassist, Nathan Aguilar and Gabriel Rodriquez on keys/glock/guitar. No encore after a fairly brisk set but embracing thank yous/promises to return as the PA howled to a reverberating loop distortion. An outstanding night. Groovy, cool players with many, many layers. Catch them before they go nuclear. Thanks to Carlo at Birmingham Promoters and Greg, the sound-mix maestro and blue light provider.

Setlist: Addicted, The Curse, Never Heal Myself, Most Wanted, You Know What I Mean, Bumper, Never Saw The Point, Go Outside, Rave On, Oh My God.

Review – John Kennedy
Photos – Ian Dunn

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