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THE BEST BAD INFLUENCE @ The Bungalow, Paisley – 3rd October 2019

Back in the day, and I mean a day a LONG time ago, I was, on more than one occasion, chased through the streets of Glasgow city centre by either Punks or Teds, depending on what clothes I was wearing that given day.

See, I didn’t affiliate with just the one tribe. My earlier musical preferences were heavily influenced by rock ‘n’roll, but then in 1976, I saw The Rezillos play one of the first punk gigs in Glasgow (before the local councilors banned such future events.) Punk music took over my record player for few years … until the second coming of Rockabilly at the end of the decade / early 80s.

Both genres have remained close to my heart since, though it has to be said that despite a vibrant and committed underground scene, Rockabilly has lacked the more mainstream exposure of punk and all its sub genres over the past years.

It’s fantastic therefore, to see young bands like Ayrshire’s The Best Bad Influence pick up the Rockabilly torch and not only run with it, but run like they’ve stolen it!

The Bungalow, in Paisley, was the latest stopping off point for this hard gigging band. They’ve been together for a couple of years, I believe, and they always seem to be playing shows or busking.

It’s certainly paying dividends.

Alexander (guitar / vocal) Mark (bass / vocal) and Nyal (drums / vocal / weird facial expressions) put on a tight, tight, high energy show that lasted about seventy-five minutes. Three guys of disparate appearance, but so similar in stage ethic – these lads are committed to putting on a show.

There’s crowd interaction, but just at the right level; there’s the hyperactive drumming from Niall and the undoubted guitar skills and typical rocker frontman antics of Alexander. And of course, central to any self respecting Rockabilly act, are the incessant, thumping bass lines provided by Mark.

It’s easy to see The Best Bad Influence have a great deal of fun on stage, and this is reflected by the crowd, many of whom were on their feet and bopping away right from the opening number.

The set itself was a high octane mix of rockabilly / rock ‘n’roll standards, plus many self penned tunes, of which ‘Miss Shaker‘ and ‘Polka Dot Cadillac‘ (below) were outstanding. I should also mention their cover of Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Bang Bang,’ which was really inventive.

This was my first live experience of The Best Bad Influence. It certainly won’t be my last.

(A wee word for any promoters out there maybe booking tours for more established touring Rockabilly / Psychobilly / Rock’n’Roll bands – these lads are the perfect warm-up / support acts. They most definitely merit some high profile genre-specific support slots. They hang out here. )

THE DARLING FIRE: ‘Dark Celebration.’

A band that boasts members who have played with, amongst others, Poison The Well, Dashboard Confidential and The Rocking Horse Winner are surely going to pique your interest , right?

To class The Darling Fire an Indie Supergroup would be all too easy, and cheezy, but they are most definitely a super group.
(That’s just so stereotypically ‘British,’ sounding isn’t it? And, when I think about, even more cheezy than Supergroup. But it’s done now.)

Dark Celebration‘ is just that. It’s “ …really a celebration of dark themes and experiences that have occurred in our lives both personally and distantly,” says guitar player Matthew Short.

“While we’ve each had some struggles in our lives, we wouldn’t be where we are at this moment if not for those dark times,” vocalist Jolie Lindholm adds.

Album opener ‘For The Loveless,’ is a solid, mid-tempo, driving rock song, as heavy on the drums as the fuzzy guitars.

‘Nevertwin‘ is possibly my favourite track of the eight. It’s of slower pace than the first song and while it has a sort of dreamy, ethereal feel to it, it’s still powerful and totally rocks!

Omaha,’ definitely starts out in a dark place. Mean and moody, the pace picks up for the choruses where it takes on a more expansive sound with some great guitar work. ‘Catatonia,’ raises the tempo somewhat and is classic indie rock, with pounding drums and a catchy chorus.

Silver Spider,’ is the song that convinced me of my (possibly wayward) initial thinking that Jolie’s vocal style is reminiscent of Liz Fraser from The Cocteau Twins. I know that probably sounds odd, and her voice is certainly deeper than Liz’s, but there’s definitely something there. Trust me.

The Constant,’ has a dreamy, relaxed feel to it that builds towards a more full-on climax. ‘Saints in Masquerade,’ is a total indie rocker, definitely vying with ‘Nevertwin‘ as my favourite. I must say too – what a brilliant video! Big props to director Ian Fursa.

The album closes with ‘In Twilight‘ – almost five and a half minutes of slow burning musings from Jolie that build in intensity and confirm my earlier vocal comparison. At least in my head.

Altogether this is one classy rock album. Thoughtful lyrics and concept delivered in a clean and uncluttered fashion. It’s melodic, but not sugar sweet , and best of all, it KICKS ASS!.

VITNE: ‘Encephalon.’

Vitne has been making music of the melodic rock / symphonic kind since 2013.

Incorporating influences such as 80s Glam, Power Metal and Japanese visual kei, his music appeals to to audiences across the planet and has been used as soundtrack to video games.

Vitne (which in his native language means ‘witness’) comes from Norway, a country better known perhaps, certainly in this household, for its Black Metal offerings. ‘Encephalon‘ couldn’t be further removed!

He’s been described as a cross between Billy Idol and X Japan, and this is understandable from listening to this single release, his first since last years ‘Vanquish the Night,

Catchy, fuzzy guitar riffs and sing-a-long choruses are the order of the day here, added to a vocal style that ranges from deep, dark, gothic to melodic and melodramatic. And of course, there’s the compulsory searing guitar solo around the mid-point.

Well – it would be rude not to, wouldn’t it?

WILMETTE: ‘Anxious Body.’

Well – that’s a relief! There I was, sweating over what suburban Chicago band Wilmette would think if I mentioned they sounded like a band born too late – and I then read on their Facebook biography that ‘ … they aim to bring back the 2010-esque angstiness and raw energy that made pop-punk what it is today.’

And that is indeed what they do with their ‘Anxious Body‘ EP, the band’s first release since signing a deal with the iconic Mutant League Records.

There’s something warm and reassuring about re-visiting the past. Not everything has to be ‘new’ or ‘experimental’ to be cool. Good tunes, well delivered with confidence and the right amount of attitude, does it for me.

The five tracks on Wilmette’sAnxious Body‘ EP blend power pop-punk chunky riffs, with screamo type shouts and irregular time signatures. There are also little snippets of pained emo vocals – and all along, they remain melodic and not too brash.

Sort of like the crazy, mixed-up progeny of a Four Year Strong and Neck Deep liaison.

Just as importantly too, I think, is that the band’s sense of humour and fun comes through in the video below. Yes – it’s all in there, folks.

And it works brilliantly!

PLUVIAM: ‘Searching.’

What began as a musical experiment some eighteen months ago has resulted in the blossoming of Pluviam – an exciting young band now making their mark in the underground music scene of Birmingham.

Eighteen months ago, singer James Riley and drummer Mike Tabone joined forces and dabbled with mixing their various personal musical influences which ranged from Indie-Pop to Metal to 20th Century Expressionism – whatever the hell that is.

James and Mike have subsequently been joined by Tom Boddison on guitar and Calvert Stephens on bass and only last week played to a sell-out crowd at Birmingham’s Sunflower Lounge.

Their debut single, ‘Searching‘ was released in mid-June. It’s a dramatic, three and a half minute opus combining the vocal style of Tom Yorke with a heavy, raucous Linkin Park inspired backing that kicks in for the final half.

Vocalist James explains the band’s sound: “I believe our style to be an amalgamation of all our influences. Where I am into composers such as John Cage, deriving his sound from experimenting with timbral qualities of the piano, and artists such as James Blake and Jordan Rakei, deriving their sound from Jazzy and RnB based roots, Mike is highly influenced by the likes of Metal acts such as Slipknot and also by pop acts such as Amy Winehouse. Therefore, we try to mix it all together in a magnificent blend of experimentation!”

Here’s a ‘teaser’ video, incorporating a snippet from the single, ‘

Could be worth keeping an eye (and ear) out for these guys.