With their lo-fi blankets of noise, scratchy production values and three- chord, booze-informed songs, tonight's gig from Dayton, Ohio's The Amps has all the feel of stumbling in on band practice in a suburban garage. Between swigs of beer and numerous false starts, they bang and crash through a perfunctory set taken from record-as-you-go album Pacer. An audience of unwashed adolescents shoulder-surf and pogo to a series of energetic tracks which barely hit the two-minute mark, egged on by the exaggerated grimaces of asexual anti-heroine Deal. The shambolic post-punkiness of Deal's latest project is in direct contrast to the clearer, cleaner sounds of the Breeders. But this, a sort of stop-gap measure until sister and Breeders' guitarist Kelly is released from bail for heroin trafficking, has a rawness deceptive in its simplicity. Where the mumbled vocals and churning guitar slabs of "Empty Glasses" ("This is a love song") descend into comic atonality, other songs - notably "She's a Girl", "Bragging Party" and "Dedicated" - showcase Deal's sugary voice and guitar playing to full effect. They might lack the polish of the Pixies and the punch of the Breeders, but the Amps' anything-goes sensibility fulfilled their intention. We left confused, disarmed, but charmed all the same.
As one of America's premiere rock figureheads, Kim Deal has been around long enough to permit a bit of self-indulgence. Having never made her penchant for drink and drugs a secret, she has managed to combine a punk aesthetic with quality rock values. Way before Courtney Love began to glamorise self-destruction, Deal decided simply to get on with it.