Northern Ireland's Corrigan are a great little rock band. Two imaginative guitarists play off each other, the rhythm section is tight and the bassist even has a silver scratchplate on his black Fender, just like Phil Lynott (RIP). The problems start with the front man, Martin Corrigan. A showman in the classic "irritating" vein, he rarely sings, instead yelping out his aphorisms when not contorting himself into "artistic" shapes. Bluntly, he limits their chances of success, for ever condemning them to cult status at best. It's a pity, too, as tunes such as "Hope" are genuinely memorable. Can you really expect better from a man whose home village is called Boho? The rabid fan who matched Corrigan's every move should perhaps be invited on stage in future.
The endless search for a half-decent British band tonight reaches Shoreditch, east London, where the usual bunch of ageing Hoxto cubes gather, curious to see The Seen, recently signed by Death in Vegas's management. They're a grizzled bunch of old lags easily old enough to remember when ecstasy was an emotion rather than a drug, and include the keyboardist Dean Thatcher, once of the Thames Valley acid Teddy boys The Aloof.
Simon Abbott sings well, though, and their best songs are seemingly inspired by the same bunch of Stranglers records that Elastica owned. Thatcher's burbling sounds enliven some otherwise prosaic material, literally in the case of "Dover", an Estuary Arab Strap-esque moan about how a planned escape abroad leads to the same traps. I bet their day jobs pay better, but creditably they, too, feature a Lynott-style bass.
Dundee's Mercury Tilt Switch take the American alt.rock luminary Mike Watt's "tour econo" method to its logical limit, though this time around they're sleeping under metal (in their van) rather than under canvas (honestly). Such dedication deserves credit, and luckily the quintet deal in short, ornate songs that intrigue rather than bore. I've never heard a band who borrow from Sonic Youth and Pulp in the same tune before. Their excellent new single, "Radar Response", a hook-laden alternative to endless revivals of more traditional forms, is well worth seeking out.
Wigan's manic Moco are a lunatic cabaret act perhaps best suited to casting calls. Their drummer could easily appear on a poster reading, "Wanted! Drummer!", while the guitarist will appeal to the few who dream of seeing a man resembling Peter Kay in an Afro wig and a Banana Splits T-shirt bashing out Stooges riffs. (Come to think of it, they all look as though they are wearing wigs, though wigs don't sweat like that.) For a band a mere "Danger! High Voltage!" from fame, the next single, "Miss Manta Ray", is a definite step in the right direction. For a Lancashire combo, they're rather Sheffield, which is a very serious compliment.