UNDERGROUND YOUTH/ SHOTGUN SIX/ CIPHERS, Future Perfect, Cellar, 17/5/18
We say it again and again, turn up for the first acts on the bill. Not to “support the scene”, just to ensure you don’t miss a great band you’ve not heard of. Those who arrive early tonight get a real treat, an opportunity to tour Ciphers’ charred cathedral of dark-hearted pop. The first number moves from the brooding menace of Mezzanine-era Massive Attack to the melodic ire of Skunk Anansie, and the set blossoms like les fleurs du mal from thereon. The sound is vast, but there’s still space for intricately interlocking guitars and chunky unfunk bass a la 23 Skidoo. A new but deeply intriguing band.
“Just because a record has a groove, don’t make it in the groove”, sang Stevie Wonder, and how right he was (as well as presciently predicting a time when Truck Store would stock more vinyl than CDs). It’s not just funk and soul that ride on the mighty groove, though, many genres benefit from a deep rhythmic furrow, such as the stoner grunge of Shotgun Six. They make a huge, satisfying noise for a trio – though the giant gong should possibly count as a bandmember – seismic at the bottom end and psychedelically shimmering at the top. Our single criticism is that the set is back to front, starting with the two heaviest, most hypnotic tracks. Scrub that, they should have only played the first two tracks, for 15 minutes each. The groove abides.
At Nightshift, we don’t believe in style over substance we believe in honesty, quality, talent and – wait, Underground Youth look really cool. Black leather, floppy hair, stand-up drummer bashing out elemental Mo Tucker/Phil Spector beats, insouciant stares, the lot. The music is good, too, impassioned yet unruffled scuzz pop with an Andrew Eldritch baritone, that’s not far from Black Rebel Motorcycle Club doing Joy Division. Their songs start brilliantly, but do tend to stumble to an end when you want them to explode (or go on forever). The last two numbers, perfectly balanced and building to an inverse stage invasion crescendo, are so good you almost begin to suspect they were fumbling on purpose earlier to ensure a big finish. That’s a dangerous game, but, on this evidence, one they’re winning.