Undertone, Ten Feet Tall
Sun 3 July
words: LLOYD GRIFFITHS
Perhaps this is written with a self-aggrandizing sense of foresight, but it seems that 2011, more than most years has been prey to the self-mastubatory kind of genre melding that journalists use when they find themselves too lazy to actually describe songs properly. Wordplay is all well and good, but when it’s used to crowbar artists into such non-genres as ‘Chillwave’ and ‘Shoe-Rave’ (*shudders*) then one can’t help but be reminded of the South Park joke that suggests that Manatee’s were responsible for picking the arbitrary celebrity + pop culture reference’s of Family Guy. Perhaps sea mammals will be to blame for the death of the critic yet.
Anyway, my point isn’t merely a dig at music criticism, but more that a disparate and wide varying amount of ‘cross-genre’ trends have emerged this year, often more quickly than writers have been able to disseminate them. Beneath the haze of hype, bands such as Yuck and Mount Kimbie have engendered slow burning appreciators who’ve seen depth rather than novelty at work. It’s with that we segue into Dancers performance at Undertone last Sunday. Self described as noise-pop, they could easily fit in with Yuck or Beach Fossils in the roster of bands who evoke a hazy feel to their rock, yet their first ever gig showed that there is plenty of intrigue in the band’s own music.
Opener Oh! Bicycle! is probably the most pleasantly catchy of all the set. It’s immediately reminiscient of Pavement, but less louche; it’s restless riff and hi-hatting driving it toward a chorus which is climactic without overwhelming the rest of the song. The claustrophobic basement that undertone is threatened to undermine the sound of headline band Evans The Death, with vocals getting lost in the mix, but everything being shoegazed that little bit more suits Dancers, allowing the hazy melancholy of Stay A While to break through the cloud of noise on its own terms.
Excuses?Excuses! is halfway between the restlessness and melancholy gone before, but with a more rousing chorus to boot. But what’s most clear is the weight that each of the songs carry, that you want to go back for more. The set is finished by Got Away With It, similarly cacophonous in sound, but underscored by intricate and melodic guitar work, which puts you in mind of Sufjan Stevens ‘John Wayne Gacy, Jr.’, transposed up tempo and less fatalistic in tone. As such, with all the songs, Dancers have a cathartic sound, one not easy to replicate, but whats most encouraging of all is that beyond the instant release, there’s also some fine music to explore.