Analog Bombs Go Bang on a Friday Night in Clayton More
Written By Michael Wood Saturday, July 18th, 2009
Black Feathered Feet, Analog Bombs and Young Loves. Mermaid's Flannel at Fiddler's Three, Bradford
"Its rocking on The Fiddlers on a Friday night" the singer shouts.
Black Feathered Feet are pub rock pure n' simple and very simple they are too wailing between verses and noodling on guitars. It is rough and ready rock but that is no bad thing on a Friday night in a suburban pub a stones throw from the suburban house this writer grew up in Clayton - a typical suburb of Bradford.
The criterion for gigs in walking distance aside Black Feathered Feet do growling Chris Cornell style rock decently and are worth your attention if that is your bag. If it isn't your bag then take a look just to see how much the drummer looks like the one from Lost who was also a Hobbit.
Not at all like a Hobbit is Ben of Analog Bombs. Standing at least seven foot tall - perhaps - he is as striking as he is charming fronting the band with a warm, rambling presence. "Good evening we're the Analog Bombs", he says "We've had a drink."
Analog Bombs mix musical styles but are mostly indie ska - if such a genre exists, perhaps they just look indie and play ska - and are a a blast. Ben's lyrics are based in being a local of Bradford - in parts at least - and at times can be touching and have a ring of truth. His delivery is rare and enjoyable. He rapidly fires Yorkshireisms spinning the odd tale of being unlucky in love around the Wool City.
Charming, enjoyable, and probably the best band you will see on a Friday night in Clayton. Hancock - the song about long flattened club Tumblers - is worth the admission alone. It is indie disco as tragic love affair and nudges the Analog Bombs past The Pigeon Detectives Test as in "Why is one more popular than the other?"
Young Loves come on with an "hilarious" joke about knife crime and an opening number that sounds a bit too The Libertines for its own good.
As a band they are well regarded and five minutes into their set the five yards in front of the pub corner dubbed a stage is peopled with young things dancing but something about the band seems as like it has been seen before.
Perhaps it is the contrast to the innovate Analog Bombs or perhaps it is the fact that Young Loves come behind the likes of White Light Parade and The Swing Movement in Bradford's canon of bands making this kind of sound. Indeed they lack the drive of the former and the spark of the latter.
The kids love them though and they finish the night well.
The night - Mermaid's Flannel Presents - deserves applause too for the attempt to put on good music for the drinking crowd. More power to them.
The Nightflyers Dance Band, The Letter and The Analog Bombs May Day Mayhem - PCS Local Campaign at The Love Apple, Bradford
The evening kicked off in unusual style at the Love Apple with a 14 strong swing music band, The Nightflyers. With a generous 4 saxophone, 3 trombone and 3 trumpet brass sound enriched with a bass, percussion and organ, and occasional flute and clarinet, we were soon aurally transported back to a time when men were besuited cads and bounders and women in tea dresses were grateful for the silk stockings. Foot tapping away and eyes closed, it was easy to picture The Love Apple alive with twirling dresses and brylcreemed hair as people enthusiastically danced together to some of the classics of Swing played tonight.
The Nightflyers deftly worked though a range of material encompassing, but not exclusively, Rat Pack classics, Louis Prima, Glen Miller, Ella Fitzgerald and even Marvin Gaye. Each piece was announced and anecdoted on and this was appreciated by the audience who may not have been overly familiar with Swing music beyond the rehash of it by Westlife et al.
Their set passed quickly and the pleasure of the band performing together was apparent as they threw themselves fully into the music - most notably the trumpet trio - and none more during the penultimate piece, Mas Tequila. Finally, after about an hour, the nostalgic spell was broken and suddenly we back in the room, clad in denim and t-shirts, pints in hand.
After a rapid turn around of the stage area, The Letters arrived to provide a welcomed bridge between the swinging brass and a rather more raucous Analog Bombs later. This was about the fifth gig for the quartet, although singer Kelly admitted they were starting to lose count which I think shows how well they are into their stride, especially with their 8 track set which has become like meeting friends when heard by these reviewers now. They opened with the anthemically stirring Woke Up In The 80s which included Kelly purring names of 80s bands into the mic and giving a period Blondie a run for her money. She was ably abetted by her (mostly) ex-Green trio of men, livewire Rob - trademark beam in place - punishing the percussion, Kev nonchalantly working his black bass whilst Leon made well judged use of the various pedals at his disposal on lead guitar.
After an uplifting start to the set, things turned a little more melancholy as tracks Just Remember and Lemony lingered on weakness and misconceptions of people. Here Kelly’s voice showed it’s range from the more powerful 80s style of Blondie or perhaps Jane Wiedlin to the vulnerable and hurt which also rendered What Do I Do Now? with more despair and sadness than Louise Werner could ever had let herself show on the original version. On Barfly, What Do I Do Now? and These Thoughts, Kelly added some rhythm guitar to add extra depth to the sound yet without overcrowding the melody and vocals - frequently misjudged by many a band currently. It’s a rare commodity that The Letters possess to have confidence to keep things simple and understated and literally let the music speak for itself. No gimmicks, no grandiose arrangements, just versatile vocals over skilled instrumentation which shows the maturity both musically and personally of the collective. The set draws to a close with Flurry and then to lift the spirits and to mirror the opener, Drive is the final song to leave the audience humming as they head towards the bar.
So with Swing music from the 1940s and if The Letters are waking up in the 1980s, did this mean perhaps Analog Bombs might give us a glimpse of music from 2020s? Well if that was the case then, it’s all going to be back to as early as the 1960s through to the early 80s for post punk, 2 Tone and generally psychedelic inspired noises. Where The Letters may have a more experienced and professional sheen to their band that gives excellent cohesion, Analog Bombs are all about the entropy of alcohol and cobbling it together as it goes on stage.
They are the loveable rogues of the Bradford music scene and never less that totally entertaining as distinctive singer Ben lurched about with the mike stand on stage, Magners bottle a fixture in his hand, and nearly took out guitarist Lee and simultaneously quenched the thirst of a large amp with some Fosters. However, disaster was averted by the observations and snappy reflexes of the relative new comer to the band, bassist Rick. He has really come out of his shell since his debut and apart from ska-skipping as he played, he already seemed integral to the group as Ben pointed out at one stage, almost ruefully, that Rick knew the lyrics better than he. Into the third song, one of his bass strings went and Rick valiantly played on as a mate attempted a Formula 1 type string change.
That change took more work so, the rest of the band filled with a bass free interlude of a lighter track, and The Letters Kev lends his bass for another song until the problem was rectified. Analog Bombs ran through various songs that are well loved like Lola , Hancock and their ode to the infamous Tumblers and several people were up on their feet giving it some of the hoppy, skippy ska dancing and clearly loved this exuberant, scruffy and charismatically chaotic ending to an evening of music that crossed both genre and time.
Six Fingered Man, The Analog Bombs at The Manville Arms, Bradford
With The Head having finally seeped into the local lexicon tonight's venue is renamed The Manville Arms and in the low corner of the open floor of hosts the first gig of Bradford's The Analog Bombs since the last gig ended in a brawl between the Bassist and Ben.
One has some sympathy for the bassist as Ben - standing around six foot eight - seems the sort who could cause a riot in an empty room bristling at the front of his three band mates like Sean Bean playing Kurt Cobain having been stretched on a medieval rack.
His vocal stylings are raw as are his lyrics and they are pushed along by the Indie meets Ska tone of the rest of the band largely driven by Dean's organ playing and the new bassist Rick who enjoyed an impressive debut.
They are very much a local band and The Analog Bombs sing about Bradford in a knarlled kind of way. "What would I give/to spend one more night with you" is a refrain from a song about 1990s indie disco Tumblers. God I Wish I Was You is likably barbed and spat out in rough Yorkshire and they very much seem like a band with more ambition than talent but that is no bad thing.
Certainly not compared to Six Fingered Man who seem to lack the ambition to go beyond the remit of being a pub band. They are technically competent but lack anything approaching a spark to render them that interesting beyond talking about The Princess Bride - great film - and how they may or may not have given the band a name.