Meat Wave + Cassels @ The Flapper, 25th April, 2017

Meat Wave + Cassels @ The Flapper, 25th April, 2017

meat wave

Another Tuesday night at the Flapper to see another couple of noisy bands and yet another surprise for me. In an era of done to death duo guitar and drum bands it takes something special to grab my attention but tonight Chipping Norton brothers, Jim and Loz Beck; the duo, Cassels, grab it from the off and hold it by the throat.

Like that other wordsmith duo, Sleaford Mods, they offer cleverly formed lyrics that twist and turn around the listener but with a more personal and cerebral spin. The difference being that whilst Sleaford Mods are a two bob binatone novelty act, Cassels not only have something to say but are also an appropriate vehicle in which to deliver it. That is to say that their sound veers from introverted quiet to in your face ear bleeding discord and is a perfect vessel for the introspective and sometimes amusing lyrics.

They range from a lo-fi version of Neds Atomic Dustbin to the aggressive alternative rock style Punk of Jesus Lizard whilst changes in pace and discordance throw in a little reminder of The Paper Chase.

An early track gives a nod to their home town, “…where Baseball was invented”, with it’s Jesus Lizard vocal build up to a shouty chorus and Dinosaur Jr fed back guitars.

Some tracks utilise changes in tempo and dynamics to great affect atop those introspective and thoughtful lyrics, “War is a really clever metaphor for divorce” and “Don’t let me breathe my last breath, I know it’s pretty bad but there’s no fate worse than death”. The very powerful “You, Us and They” with it’s autobiographical / biographical take on an abusive relationship has a similar sound to, and of a time when, post-punk / math-rock UK bands like Dugong, Bob Tilton and Spy Vs Spy threatened to break out and become huge. Twenty years ago these guys would have had that same chance. Don’t take that to mean that they are retro… they aren’t.

There is a bang on the money emphasis from the guitar and drums after quiet passages that snap us back from the lyrics to the reality of the fact that these guys are a very fine duo. At this young age (they look to be straight from sixth form) they have a mature sound that makes me wonder where they are going to be in a couple of years. I don’t know but I’m sure I’m going to following their progress.

Chicago’s Meat Wave take to the stage and within a couple of songs have made it obvious why their new album, “The Incessant” has been recorded with the musical genius and their home town boy, Steve Albini. Their sound matches the Albini and the loose Chicago hardcore / punk rock blueprint perfectly. A mix of Jesus Lizard and Big Black, they remind you why Chicago is such an important town in Punk and Alternative Rock.

You’ll need to bear with me here, I apologise for not knowing any of the songs bar a couple of the singles. What I do know though is that they play their set at breakneck speed and with a bounce to it that means days after, my leg is still bouncing along. The drums are a tribal sound that see the floor tom used in place of the hi-hat and drive the songs forever onwards. There is an insistent driving sound and an angry vocal delivery and the possible reason for this becomes apparent when you dig into the release they are here to plug. The album is a cathartic self medicating vehicle to solve the problems left by the end of a long term relationship suffered by lead vocalist and songwriter, Chris Sutter. In context, the sound and the angry propulsion through the set now make sense.

The songs come tumbling out of the band like marbles from an upturned bag, rolling and scattering from the stage. The short pauses between songs are enough only for the drummer to get his breath back. Man, that guys works that floor tom hard and fast whilst the up front duo bounce about stage with some energy!

Occasionally the song delivery reminds me of another angry band, Brakes, but these guys only let flashes of that out preferring a faster and more furious delivery for the most part. The set flies by and seems over before we know it.

Two cracking bands here tonight and another night where I feel lucky to have dropped on these bands, especially Cassels who impressed immensely.

So, this is the second time here within a few weeks to see bands that I’ve not really heard of and it’s the second time I’ve been blown away with the quality of interesting guitar drive bands playing in front of tiny audiences.. To quote Renton, “The world’s changing. Music’s changing”, and that leaves bands playing, like tonight, to small crowds whereas a few years ago the venue would be packed.

This promoter  is bringing interesting bands to visit Brum and should be thanked and lauded by us all.

Reviewer: Mark Veitch

Photo courtesy of PR.

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