Hubble bubble buzz band trouble! Getintothis’ Will Fitzpatrick enters The Wytches cauldron and contrary to the requisite hype machine let down falls completely under their spell.
Remember one-man bands?
Nerdy-dressed, perma-hatted dudes with cymbals between their knees, bass drums on their backs and accordions propping up harmonicas?
Turns out there’s no need for such garish complication in the digital age. He may look like your average guy with a guitar, but Stevie Banks (super-sub for last-minute drop-outs The Shook-Ups) has an ace up his sleeve.
Or in his heels, to be exact, as he stomps on the floor to unleash kick’n’snare triggers – a spectacle that might prove distracting from his gregariously upbeat power-pop, if only the tunes weren’t so damn catchy.
Ok, these Jay Reatard-via-Weezer nuggets won’t set the world aflame, but they’re cheery enough, and it’s double funny when he performs spasmodic jigs to induce drum fills.
Stevie Banks – kick’n’snare triggers and tasty nuggets
Beach Skulls are up next, and judging by their name you’re probably thinking you already know exactly what they sound like.
You’re sorta right, but this super-fun duo avoid the trappings of your bog-standard post-millennial surf-pop – 60s beach party movies as soundtracked by jaded beer-drunk punks, fanning themselves with copies of Vice that they only read for Dos & Don’ts and the Johnny Ryan cartoons – in favour of a stoned, borderline-psychedelic approach.
They sound like an idyllic day at the seaside really feels: the woozy heat, the sunspots, the blissed-out glisten of the horizon… In between addictive, reverb-heavy shamblers like All Washed Up, they even find time for the odd nod to Link Wray. Not to be aligned with the legions of Wavves tribute act, basically. Seriously good fun.
Beach Skulls – seriously good fun at the Ship
The main attraction comes courtesy of latest buzz-band The Wytches – currently buzzing at a fairly low frequency, admittedly, but there’s good reason to think their buzz will soon be buzzing as loud as it’s feasibly possible to buzz in this buzziest of ages (sorry, got a bit lost in that trope there).
Anyway. They’re billed as a psych band, but their ragged riffery comes from the doomier side of that tradition – the type that begat goth, rather than the loved-up explorations of the self that, say, Kula Shaker accidentally parodied.
There are dizzying, off-kilter melodies that feel less like a squeegeeing of the third eye than those wobbly-cam scenes from a campy 60s detective show where the maverick hero suddenly realises he’s been drugged into unconsciousness.
The way this is fed into grunge-friendly hard rock rather smacks of the ol’ square peg/round hole interface, but luckily the two are forced together with such splintering ferocity that you barely notice the friction.
As frontman Kristian Bell peers out from beneath his immaculate, flowing locks to tease one final squall from his guitar, we muse on the dichotomy that a set of such unremitting downers can elicit such an excited response – is that just the buzz, or the sound of a band justifying their hype?
Let’s hope for the latter. Magic.
The Wytches – operating on a somewhat magical scale
Pictures by Getintothis’ Gaz Jones.