When Will I Be Famous?
The Hiss / Mass Barfly, London
Winnebago Deal Underworld, London
The Rogers Sisters Trash @ The End, London
Friday 07 March 2003
Nearly a decade after the fact, the great party sounds of Oasis seem to have reached Atlanta, Georgia. What other explanation can there be for the existence of this pointlessly heavy-handed facsimile, totally lacking the charisma, the melodies and, yes, even the charm of their Mancunian avatars? As The Hiss pound through yet another semi-competent, sluggish thrash, perhaps taking rather more from American rock'n'roll models than Noel Gallagher ever did, the only certainty is that they're already signed, so you won't escape them. The fat lads barging through the otherwise unimpressed crowd with pints of lager in hand seemed to enjoy it, though, so yes, it really was a bit like watching Oasis.
The Londoners MASS may include some of Britpop's last stragglers, such as Dodgy's Andy Miller and the oft-signed, oft-dropped Jonny Green, but their rowdy, almost gruelling twist on punk-pop is a refreshing cut above the average British combo in these sterile times. Much loved by John Peel's listeners, their second single, "Live a Little", is well worth hearing, proving that not only the Yeah Yeah Yeahs understand Sonic Youth's pop side. The A-line skirt worn by the singer, Justine Berry, further blurs the line between rock'n'rollers and children's-TV presenters, and MASS have clearly regressed with age, which can be only a good thing.
Music played by two men from Oxford called Ben sounds like the sort of thing Tony Blair might pop on at a dinner party with his lawyer chums, but the glorious Winnebago Deal (right) are anything but tasteful. A two-man heavy-metal outfit (Ben drums while Ben screams and pounds his guitar), they are not a little scary yet have a curious way with catchy hooks, repeated so often that even teenagers will get them. Songs such as "Maximum Overdrive" and "Manhunt" are worthy of their titles, while the constraints of their line-up mean that any overfamiliar touches pass by before the listener catches quite what they're stealing. It's a thin line between clever and stupid, and the Deal obviously couldn't care less. Recommended.
Although, these days, if you're a New Yorker who can open a guitar case, you'll get yourself a paid trip to Britain, The Rogers Sisters, from Brooklyn, demonstrate the healthiest aspects of a scene built around low budgets and impromptu loft parties, in that their intention is as simple and honourable as persuading crowds to dance. The Rogers – Jennifer on guitar, and Laura on drums, abetted by the bassist and token bloke Miyuki Furtado – don't hide obvious influences such as The B-52s and ESG, but "I Dig a Hole", "Freddie" and a straightforward, relentless cover of Captain Beefheart's "Zigzag Wanderer" build up a deceptively fragile groove to great effect. They're so jet-lagged, they look ready to collapse by the set's end (Furtado almost falls off the stage), but a good night's sleep should sort them out.
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