EXPOSURE COBRA STARSHIP
Essentially ‘punk kids’ in a very, very successful stateside power- pop band, bassist Alex Suarez of Cobra Starship (signed to Pete ‘Fall Out Boy’ Wentz’s Decaydance label) takes us back to the beginning. Gabe Saporta (singer) insists he got the band name after being bitten by a cobra in the desert – a sort of snake poison- fuelled epiphany. Do you believe him? He swears it’s true, but I believe him probably as much as you do. I tried to sneak into his bunk once on tour with a flashlight to look for bite marks on his neck but I couldn’t see anything. Maybe he got bitten somewhere else though.
When you were starting your first band, did you ever think you’d end up making music like Cobra Starship? I gotta be honest, definitely not. But I couldn’t be happier now; it’s such a blast. I feel like we are the outcasts of the pop world. It’s really awesome that we get to be a part of it, but we’re still different, we’re still a bunch of punk kids at heart.
You’ve released a single with a Gossip Girl and played with a Pussycat Doll. Ever get star struck? Nicole [Scherzinger] and Leighton [Meester] are really amazing and very talented – but I’d be more star struck if I saw Belle & Sebastian walking around in Glasgow. They were one of my idol bands when I was growing up and I don’t really have all of the Pussycat Doll records . . . Do you think Belle & Sebastian would like your music? [Laughs] They might think it was really fun. I hope they’d get a kick out of it. (Rebecca Moore) ■ Cobra Starship play ABC, Glasgow, Sun 7 Feb.
REVIEW FOLK TRIBUTE WAY TO BLUE: THE SONGS OF NICK DRAKE Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow, Wed 20 Jan ●●●●●
Nick Drake’s popularity has only grown in the years following his death in 1976, and this concert, curated by Drake’s producer Joe Boyd, was one of the most anticipated of the Celtic Connections programme.
The main draw was hearing Drake’s stunning melodies, and collaborator Robert Kirby’s string arrangements, played live in a spirit very close to the original. Drake’s original bassist, Danny Thompson, played while well- chosen contributors including Vashti Bunyan, Green Gartside (of Scritti Politti) and Stuart Murdoch did justice to the folk legend’s mellow vocals. Lisa Hannigan’s stomping ‘Black
Eyed Dog’, and American chanteuse Krystle Warren’s soulful ‘Time Has Told Me’, were evidently audience favourites. But for Drake purists, ‘Day Is Done’, performed by Scott Matthews (pictured, below) and Teddy Thompson’s ‘River Man’ were the real treats. A few too many personnel changes
and a touch of over-sentimentality stunted the flow of an otherwise magical evening, but in the company of Drake’s brilliant songwriting, perfection felt very close by. (Jonny Ensall)
REVIEW FOLK TRIO THE THREE CRAWS The Caves, Fri 22 Jan ●●●●●
The Three Craws should – to those more given to overblown rhetoric – perhaps be termed a supergroup: the three lynchpins of the Fife-based Fence Collective – Kenny Anderson, alias King Creosote, Johnny Lynch, aka The Pictish Trail, and James Yorkston – playing together in a trio of lightly strummed guitars, bobbing knees and tapping feet.
They’d probably never call it that, but super they most certainly are: this is a masterclass in melting vocal harmony, the three voices together bringing out their distinct qualities, from Anderson’s melodious gruffness via Yorkston’s seething tenor and Lynch’s plaintive choirboy tones, his mouth curling around the words as if trying to catch the meaning in his mouth and swallow it whole.
With a simple set-up of three
guitars, one drum and occasional electronic wizardry from Lynch, they take a rapt audience through their own material and that of others – from Withered Hand to The Associates. A rousing sing-a-long of weegie ballad ‘Cod Liver Oil and the Orange Juice’ provides a convivial end to what’s been a spellbinding show of casual, unadorned virtuosity. (Laura Ennor)
REVIEW HARDCORE GLASSJAW QMU, Glasgow, Tue 26 Jan ●●●●● After several false starts Glasgow got a chance to experience Glassjaw (the band cancelled a slew of gigs in 2003 due to frontman Daryl Palumbo’s Crohn’s Disease, then went on ‘indefinite hiatus’ from 2004 to pursue other projects). They have a surprisingly loyal fanbase, particularly for a band that hasn’t released an album since 2002’s Worship & Tribute (bar a few snippets on the internet). Following a slightly shambolic intro, they launch into ‘Tip Your Bartender’, unleashing a searing volley of complex guitar work, funk bass and Palumbo’s unique voice. He’s the definite star of the show, displaying an astounding versatility – from screamed, hardcore fury to emotive, crooned rock vocals. Stripped down to a four-piece it’s a fairly static performance apart from Palumbo thrashing around the sparse stage, upping his game in the final third, even previewing a few much anticipated new tracks (including ‘Jesus Glue’ and ‘(You Think You’re) John Fucking Lennon’. With nods to Fugazi and Faith No More, it’s the depth and power of fan favourites, such as the multi-layered ‘Cosmopolitan Blood Loss’, that ensure their enduring reputation lives on. (Henry Northmore)
REVIEW PENSIVE POP REAL ESTATE Captain’s Rest, Glasgow, Thu 28 Jan ●●●●● ‘What you want is just outside your reach,’ runs the first line of Real Estate’s best song, ‘Beach Comber’. The crowd may skip along to its cantering beat, but the pensive guitar and Martin Courtney’s lyrics pull the song towards melancholy. In their New Jersey inversion of sunny Californian surf-pop, the beach and summer are precious, but fragile, memories, slipping away as youth goes to waste in dead-end suburbia. Courtney and Matthew Mondanile, also of hypnagogic pop favourites Ducktails, colour the songs with a washed-out psychedelic guitar shimmer, perfectly capturing that sense of wistful reverie. Songs like ‘Fake Blues’ take on a more driving edge live, but the fuller sound can threaten to overwhelm the quieter material. ‘Pool Swimmers’ and ‘Suburban Dogs’ are almost gorgeous, the guitars woozy with phase and reverb, but with the vocals half-buried, the melodies drift just out of reach. Perhaps a busy club is not the best place to experience Real Estate. Far better to see them by the sea, a beach fire sending sparks into the night sky. We can but dream. (Stewart Smith)
64 THE LIST 4–18 Feb 2010