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Sunday, 11 November 2012

This Town Needs Guns - This Town Needs Guns (2008)

When I first saw Oxford-based This Town Needs Guns play in Leeds, they were supporting the Neuromancer-referencing local band Wintermute in a venue called The Library. The Library is one of those It’s a Scream pubs that always seem to have horrible decor, generic beers, and wacky clientele who often go drinking dressed as zany fictional characters or wacky inanimate objects. Indeed, the pub’s name only adds to the wackiness: I can imagine students on the phone to their mothers sniggering as the explain that they are in The Library, when in actual fact they are in the pub – it’s funny, because they’re technically telling the truth – MeGaLoLz!!!

I seem to recall being invited to Wintermute’s ‘Fun With Wizard Stencils’ launch-party because of Art Fist magazine, and our deputy editor having a crush on one the band’s members. This Town Needs Guns set was excellent, and I felt sorry for Wintermute having to follow such a blistering set. I remember being in complete awe of the guitarist’s inhuman finger dexterity – it sounded as though three guitars where playing at once, with different fingers playing different rhythms. It was crazy and innovative, and although I though tthat the singer sounded a little bit whiney, I had to buy their self-titled mini-album.

The mini-album opens with ’26 is Dancier than 4’, an insanely technical piece of music that manages to sound effortless and melodic. When I saw them live, it was the guitarist who stood out as the star of the show, but here the vocalist and drummer are also given room to shine. It’s a song that if done by many other bands, it would quickly spin out of control, but through simple and interesting bass patterns, the song sounds elegant and graceful. ‘And I’ll Tell You for Why’ jerks melodically with layers of bell-like guitar tones and unusual time signatures, it forces you to listen carefully to everything that is going on and rewards you ten-fold for your efforts. ‘I’ll Forget About You Throwing That Rock ‘Cos That Dance Was Pretty Funny’ is much more sensitive than its zany title would suggest. It’s a beautiful acoustic number with gentle guitar work, subtle trumpets and light vocals. ‘1470 Man’ is much more urgent, with frenetic drums, stop-start guitar-riffs and a chaotic energy. This is one those songs where I can’t help but ask what on earth the guitarist is doing, the sweeping zig-zag of riffs seem to defy physical possibility without sounding like the self-indulgent guitar-wanker of other guitar virtuosos like Steve Vai or Joe Satriani. ‘Want to Come Back to My Room and Listen to Some Belle and Sebastian?’ would have made milk squirt out of my nose had I been drinking milk the first I read this title – I’m hoping that it was intended to be as funny as I found it. Tim Collis’s guitar-work is given fresh scope for manoeuvre by the inclusion of a warm piano which acts as the perfect counterpart to some of Collis’s bizarre melodies. ‘If I Sit Still, Maybe I Get Out of Here’ is a fragile piece of math-rock built around gentle spiralling guitar-work and beautiful yearning bass-riffs. It’s a song that speaks of innocence and nostalgia that makes you feel all warm and cosy. ‘Japanese Ultra-Violence in D-Minor (The Saddest Chord)’ builds around quiet violins and masterful acoustic guitar-picking that’ll see you lifting your jaw up from the floor by the time the song is through due to the sheer awe that this piece of music will engender. ‘It’s Not True Rufus, Don’t Listen To The Hat’ – another song that defies it’s daft title – is an inspiring piece of music, with its fanciful guitars, tricky drum patterns, and vocals that sound crisp and smooth – this is easily Stuart Smith’s best vocal performance on the album.

This Town Needs Guns is a mini-album that features incredibly innovative and complex instrumentation that manages to shy away from self-indulgent excess and instead sounds incredibly accessible and beautifully melodic. This is a great mini-album that I won’t be getting rid of in a hurry.

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Phill said...

How did you not mention Foals in that review! Like it though, never heard of them before...

JC said...

Too easy :)

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