Oh Well, Goodbye

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  • Echo Beach
  • Songs For Walter
  • The AV Society
Hail Hail Records @ Maguire's Pizza Bar

Entering the back room of DIY wellspring Maguire’s, we are greeted by a large screen to the rear of the stage area announcing the live debut of THE AV SOCIETY. A one-man mission piloted by Sam from indie stalwarts Married To The Sea, the Soundtrack In Real Time project sees the guitarist supplying music to accompanying visuals. That the film in question at first glance looks like a cinema release until it becomes apparent it was created specially to accompany the set speaks volumes for its production quality. An impressive opening salvo, the performance finishes with Movement For Plastic Axe Normally Used For Guitar Hero, my invented title for the last cut, played on said device.

Mancunian quartet SONGS FOR WALTER revisit the plaintive pop that was the stock in trade of the indie scene in the early-to-mid 1980s, defined by the NME’s landmark C86 compilation. Using said cassette as a yardstick, the four-piece are thankfully nearer to Scottish twee-pop outfit The Pastels than the likes of, say, Bogshed (whaddaya mean, who?). The boy-girl vocals call Veronica Falls to mind, the bass-less quartet’s short-story lyrics exemplars of The Smiths’ strain of literate indie pop, the reverbed lead vocals lending the tracks an extra layer of spaciousness.  The penultimate track provides the highlight, a series of rolling arpeggios backed by a rolling drumbeat that took ‘years’ to track down.

Alternating between post-rock instrumental passages evocative of Low (just don’t call ‘em slowcore, the Minnesotans hate that) and something akin to latter day alt. pop (don’t call it dream pop, people usually complain), ECHO BEACH are at times reminiscent of Wild Nothing. The band have their surf ‘n’ shoegaze formula nailed down: two parts shimmering guitars, one part diversions into synth-powered introspection. Understandably rough around the edges, with tracks occasionally sounding like the group have collectively lurched over a speedbump, jolting the members forwards, for the most part they’re very promising.

Headliners OH WELL, GOODBYE announce themselves with a bracing intro, tearing into a faster, more febrile version of Clandestine from Swoon, the most recent of the band’s ongoing series of EP releases. Wielding a tougher, more abrasive sound live than on record, group leader Phil Rourke’s initial conception of the group as a grunge band makes more sense on stage as the quartet parachute in somewhere close to Seattle territory, albeit armed with a bullet-belt full of chorus effects pedals. Bassist Sam Banks leads the rough-edged, heavily reverbed sound with teeth-rattlingly resonant lines backed by sticksman Andy Fernihough’s foundation work, while Pete Seddon – on loan from People//Talk – supplies the fuzzed-up rhythm guitar parts.

Intriguingly stood sideways-on to the crowd, Rourke’s vocals evoke the resigned sigh of post-punk denizens Barney Sumner and Robert Smith, the Cold War gloom of the early 80s relocated to the present day. Powering through August Eyes and their best song to date, This City To Yours, an extended take on Vessels supplies the evening’s finale. With the next two EP instalments due soon, the chance to see what they unveil next will fortunately be here before 2016 is out.

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