Saturday, 7 April 2012

The Shamefaced Sparrows/Y Niwl/Cut Your Hair

Surf rock is making a comeback in the most unlikely of places - Wales, Catalonia and London. It would be fanciful to suggest that Wales's Y Niwl, Catalonia's Cut Your Hair and London's Shamefaced Sparrows are a scene, but these are three very exciting new bands who sound like they have a higher regard for Link Wray and Duane Eddy than they do for Lou Reed and Joey Ramone.

These three bands are all very different in their own right, but all suggest that something new is happening. The Shamefaced Sparrows rattle like those old Girls In The Garage compilations with an Ike Turner rumble and that deliberately jarring post-punk awkwardness. If there's a stabbing scene in an old black and white film, their noise would really bring it to life.

These Sickly Flowers (Demo) by The Shamefaced Sparrows

Y Niwl - fantastic live, catch them if you can - probably couldn't even draw you a surfboard. They sound like they're simultaneously chasing fifteen brilliant ideas. All of their songs are enigmatic, psychedelic and pulse-quickening.

Cut Your Hair give a nod to Pavement in their band name - my guess is that naming themselves after a song by Pavement's heroes The Clean or David Kilgour might have been more accurate. I'm thinking of Alastair Galbraith’s passionate assessment of Kilgour in The Clean: "The sound of it! It was amazingly trebly. I never got over how wonderfully sharp it was, and how it seemed that two-thirds of the sound was just his guitar. You could hear the drums and you could hear the bass, but most of the sound was this beautifully simple tubey guitar sound, in clanging rolling, perfectly formed waves."

Nonetheless, Cut You Hair's debut single Utah In Pictures, out at the end of April, is terrific whatever way you look at it.

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