An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump, Durrr @ The End, London
Vile Imbeciles, Brixton Windmill, London

An experiment in drop-dead venom

In times when everything seems sewn up, we need someone to tear it apart. In an age of smoothly sellable corporate indie, we need someone to take a knife to the façade. At the start of 2009, the band stepping up to that challenge is An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump.

Quite correctly one of the coolest and most talked-about new bands in London right now, this all-girl trio (their mouthful of a name is taken from an 18th-century painting by Joseph Wright of Derby) rip rock'n'roll back to its building blocks and start again from Ground Zero.

A photogenic jumble of mesh, chintz, leopard and Lycra, with perfect Purdey-from-New-Avengers fringes, Russ Meyer-esque curves and permanently unsmiling lipgloss, C-Bird, D-Bird and X-Bird swap instruments after almost every song, like Bowie and his band during the Lodger sessions – not to show off their versatile musicianship, but, if anything, to prove that you don't need musicianship to create a raw, sexy rock'n'roll racket.

Nevertheless, certain primary roles emerge. Lined up side-by-side, X-Bird is chiefly the stand-up drummer (stand-up drummers are always cooler), pummelling seven shades of hell out of a pair of floor toms; D-Bird is mostly the guitarist, and C-Bird is mainly on bass, as well as owning the band's most powerful singing voice, in a New York tough-girl, Patti Smith-meets-Karen O style.

Their ultra-primitive, ultra-minimal sound recalls Siouxsie and Budgie circa the first Creatures album; the Cramps, of Smell of Female or Off the Bone; We've Got a Fuzzbox and We're Gonna Use It; the Birthday Party and early Bow Wow Wow ... and it grabs you by the guts.

As well as their own songs, often barely a minute long (at 2:20, "Saints Don't Cry" is a comparative epic), Air Pump's repertoire includes a cover of Sonic Youth's classic "100%" which dispenses with the original chords in much the same way that the Slits reinvented "I Heard It Through the Grapevine", D-Bird snarling "I've been around the world a million times ... and all you men are slime" with drop-dead venom.

One mouthy git at the back of the club sarcastically applauds AEOABITAP (even their abbreviated form is unwieldy) for using the same drumbeat on successive songs, then snidely requests a C-chord. But he's completely missing the point of these fierce rock'n'roll Fauvists.

Also engaged in the deconstruction/ reconstruction of alternative rock – but an altogether looser proposition – are Vile Imbeciles. Formed by Andy Huxley, the stick-thin pretty boy with the wind-battered raven hair who used to play guitar with the mighty Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster (and has made an effortless transition to dashing frontman), Vile Imbeciles describe themselves as "death jazz", which is as decent a stab as any at pinning down their gleefully free-form freakouts.

At times, they remind me of the Make-Up (the testifying, funk-informed hardcore radicals formed by Nation of Ulysses' Ian Svenonius). There are even moments, for example on "Bad Ideas", when the Brighton quartet sound like someone trying to recreate hip hop by borrowing a garage rock band's instruments, rather than a rock band per se. At which point, it suddenly makes sense that they have Sly Stone as one of their top friends on MySpace.

These shows may only be two small victories in a long war, and there are many months to go, but, so far, 2009 feels like Scouting For Girls and the Hoosiers never happened.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face

books
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigour

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and Jena Malone in Mockinjay: Part 1

film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
Arts and Entertainment
Gay icons: Sesame Street's Bert (right) and Ernie

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton

music
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Caral Barat of The Libertines performs on stage at British Summer Time Festival at Hyde Park

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea perform on stage at the Billboard Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Zina Saro-Wiwa

art
Arts and Entertainment
All-new couples 'Come Dine With Me'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Black Sabbath's Ozzy Osbourne
musicReview: BST Hyde Park, London
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Gamble and Amy Hoggart star in Almost Royal burning bright productions
tvTV comedy following British ‘aristos’ is accused of mocking the trusting nature of Americans
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice