Sons and Daughters / The Archie Bronson Outfit, ICA, London

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The Independent Culture

The folk-rockers Sons and Daughters, fresh from supporting their fellow Glaswegians Franz Ferdinand in the US, and having just released their debut album, Love the Cup, presented themselves in the capital intent on seriously rattling some tambourines, shaking their hair and sauntering about at the ICA.

The folk-rockers Sons and Daughters, fresh from supporting their fellow Glaswegians Franz Ferdinand in the US, and having just released their debut album, Love the Cup, presented themselves in the capital intent on seriously rattling some tambourines, shaking their hair and sauntering about at the ICA. Their first headline gig in London, it had something of the air of a country dance about it.

Supporting this lively folk family were The Archie Bronson Outfit, a three-piece from the west of England about to hit the road with Clinic on their UK tour. None the less, they looked like they had come in from a woodcutters' convention - if such a thing exists - or some lost hut in the wilds of Minnesota. The deadeye stare of the bassist was enough to make any normal person run. More importantly, the music from their debut, Fur, was the source of this heavy disposition: it shuffled and pounded in as metal a manner as country can muster, the songs dark and wailing with discontent.

With Captain Beefheart as an acknowledged influence, their raucous, bluesy and tormented style is a breed of haunted rock akin to Nick Cave's Bad Seeds and sounds something like a drunken Hives at a lower, more growling register. The significance of the illuminated goose on stage was unclear - strange boys. Keep an eye on them.

Thankfully, Sons and Daughters take their name from the Bob Dylan song "The Times, They Are a-Changin'" and not the Australian soap that figures in the nightmares of many children of the Eighties. From the outset, the Scottish quartet, which includes former members of Arab Strap, oozed attitude: the vocalist Adele Bethel and the bassist/mandolin-player Ailidh Lennon were in Fifties strapless dresses and patent-leather heels; the vocalist and guitarist Scott Paterson sported a wide-eyed stare, not unlike that of Ricky Wilson of the B52s, venturing into snarls and mimed screams as the set jangled along.

Both American country and Scottish folk underlie the band's edgy, rhythm-based music, which gains a spatial quality through the intermittent omission of bass or guitar and the judicious use of mandolin and electric piano. Songs such as "Fight" and "Start to End", with doubled female and male vocals, along with call and answer, gave them their most distinctive sound. Bethel's sharp and satiny tones provided much of the verve, all the while offset by Paterson's Ian Curtis-like tones. But it was the ghost of Johnny Cash that seemed the one most summoned by ABO and Sons and Daughters, the latter naming a song after him.

The stifling temperature in the venue, muddy acoustics and the music's tendency toward an unvarying mid-tempo meant the gig lagged near the end. A purposeful beat is what you want for a shindig; sadly, the ears of London's live-music venues have become all but deaf to such extravert social habits. Though if the barely constrained movements of many audience members were anything to go by, the times just may be a-changin'.

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