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A VERY PECULIAR PARTY
:: Deadtapes :: Girl Peculiar ::
09 June 2010 / Kings Arms / Salford
By Cath Aubergine

There's nothing like the sight of grown men kicking a ball around to prompt the most unlikely of collaborations - remember professional miserablist Ian McCulloch teaming up with the Spice Girls in 1998? If you don't, trust us, you're not missing much. Shuttleworth, however, is one such collaboration which might just work. On the surface, the combination of professional even-more miserablist Mark E Smith (plus longtime on-off associate Ed Blaney) with the seemingly quite cheerful Jenny Shuttleworth from Girl Peculiar looks pretty odd - but they're both proud Salfordians and the result is certainly one of the better World Cup singles. And this is the launch night, and a scout around the room reveals various representatives of Salford's fiercely independent (from Manchester and from the commercial mainstream) music scene. The support band, meanwhile, have crossed the Irwell to be here but nobody's complaining.



Deatapes are angry, dark and very loud. Just the three of them, they echo the frustrated intensity of the better if less feted bands of the post-punk era such as The Chameleons and Magazine and Wire, and throw in some Pixies-like ferocity for good measure. This is a band for whom the phrase "power trio" could have been invented: drummer Dug McLeod is a one man hurricane terrorising the headliners' drum kit to the point where you almost feel sorry for it, Alex Redhead takes the Kim Deal approach to bass playing in that if the floor's not vibrating you're not playing hard enough whilst frontman Glaz plays his guitar mostly on the lower strings in the manner of several Fall guitarists over the years. And then offsets this black-hearted noise with a rather arch vocal style, even if his subject matter is far from light. So many bands operating in this musical area toss off vague lyrics about not much at all, a kind of one-size-fits-all gloom that's great when you're 15 because it feels like someone understands - but most of us aren't. Glaz is articulate and intelligent without falling into the opposite trap of specific polemic or clunking lectures. He introduces the seemingly oddly named "System Of City Tours" with an oblique suggestion to Google it later, which we do: you'll need the inverted commas and don't do it at work. "Microexpression" meanwhile, the track which first caught our attention on their demo earlier this year, references interrogation mindgames ("the Reid Technique") through repeated cries of "this constant white noise". Best track in the set however is "Drills": real death disco, in that there's a cymbal flecked metronomic beat going on somewhere under the noise, and we have no idea what this one's about but we're pretty sure it's quite unpleasant. Which makes it all the more surreal that there's a man in the middle of the crowd waltzing tenderly with a mannequin.

After which Girl Peculiar are - initially at least - something of a contrast. This is admittedly due to Jenny Shuttleworth's decision to play a couple of near-solo tunes to start with, just her and her guitar and a drummer - "the rest of the band are having a few cakes, nowt wrong with that", she explains. It's kind of stripped-down alt-pop a la Regina Spektor which tends to bring to mind the word "quirky", although I've never liked the vaguely sexist overtones implied by a word only ever used to describe female purveyors of such. Mind you, she is wearing something out of a fairytale. Technically it's a bizarre hybrid of ballgown and flag of St George, but with a couple of large playing-cards flanking the stage she's Lewis Carroll's Queen of Hearts, as if to say "I may look quite nice and girly but don't mess" which is echoed in her lyrics - "I'm not as blonde as I seem". When the boys finally finish their cakes and join her - including our former mannequin-partner on bass - the result is a harder, grittier sound laced with her offbeat humour which has seen them impress Fall crowds at recent support dates despite this being a task in which many have failed. She rhymes "bangers and mash" with "Johnny Cash" whilst providing more uninentional laughs trying to negotiate a stage full of equipment and pints in that dress and comes very close to equalling Mark E himself for awkwardness by not actually playing the single they're here to lauch, until the crowd demand it and one of her male bandmates takes the Smith role. You didn't actually expect him to turn up, did you? The odd thing being that if he had, his presence might have overshadowed events. We buy the single on the way out, and immediately regret this on the grounds that it won't count towards the charts. If you haven't bought it, and the very idea of Mark E Smith being all over daytime radio amuses you as much as it does us, you know what to do...



Resources:
Girl Peculiar
Deadtapes

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