Music: I'm Sure I Saw Them on A Poster...

a regular round-up of bands you won't have seen on `top of the pops'; PULLEY GARAGE, LONDON u MIKA BOMB BARFLY, LONDON u BELLATRIX BARFLY, LONDON
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The Independent Culture
SOMETIMES THERE'S nothing more invigorating than a dose of adolescent attitude, and the US underground act Pulley were brimming with it. They urged their fans to steal their new single to avoid getting ripped off and hardly batted an eyelid when a gaggle of crowd-surfers invaded the stage, leaving a trail of trampled mike stands and cymbals in their wake.

Their set consisted of turbulent three-minute tracks littered with power- punk chords, fierce vocals and furious drumming that echoed the ramraid hardcore of Biohazard, Downset and Dog Eat Dog. And despite the thin crowd, they appeared to be having the time of their lives as they giggled among themselves on stage and mercilessly ribbed the Identikit skateboarders at the front. Pulley's real strength lay in their exceedingly charismatic singer. He had clearly taken a leaf out of Henry Rollins's book: standing with his legs apart and his broad torso bent double so that his chin stroked the ground while he sang. And, in the vein of Rollins's inclement humour, he launched a tirade against the simpering groupies that had his fans gaping in dumb admiration and begging for more.

The all-girl Japanese outfit Mika Bomb managed to stun the audience into silence. They came across like a bunch of teenagers playing rock-star pranks at a girlie sleep-over. Listening to a girl with the voice of an eight-year-old singing about her underwear proved a deeply uncomfortable experience and sent most of the men in the audience scurrying to the bar in shame.

Judging by the turnout, the Icelandic five-piece Bellatrix are destined for great things. They embody all the components of a successful Nineties band, with tracks scrupulously designed to slot into every genre, from folk and psychedelia to retro-kitsch and house. They advocate rough-edged, post-Britpop fretwork, fleshing it out with plinky-plonky keyboards, house rhythms and spooky violins. What rescued them from the brink of corporate blandness was their kooky bottle-blonde singer whose vocals could rival Polly Harvey's in force and versatility. The fact that she is trained as an opera singer accounted for her impressive lung capacity, though her melodramatic poses and quirky dancing suggested a stint at drama school as well. A clutch of strong melodies and an alluring vocalist may well secure staying power for Bellatrix. But real musical credibility? Not until they have the confidence to create a more distinctive sound.

Fiona Sturges

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