17th October 2014 ∏
The Amazing Snakeheads at The Musician
By Keith Jobey
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… OK I stole that line from Star Wars but in my defence, the history of Ex Comets, playing their debut gig tonight, has as many episodes as the blockbuster movie, and there are lots of space references.
So let’s start with the line up. We have all three members of We Three And The Death Rattle, Amy Cooper, Jon Bennett and Andy Bennett. Then we have Codex Leicester members Scott West and David Fellows (Scott West occasionally appeared with WTATDR live) and then Fraser West who is associated with design and production company WeTheConspirators who were involved with Codex Leicester and WTATDR. The links go further back since the Bennett brothers and David Fellows were in Pacific Ocean Fire and no doubt the sextet arrived in Leicester from a distant galaxy via the Millennium Falcon a long time ago.
Within this galactic collision I’d say the new cosmic mass is musically more akin to WTATDR than Codex, with those catchy guitar riffs that stick in your head still prevalent. But now Amy’s vocals are shared more with Jon, and her theremin [a type of electronic musical instrument] is exchanged for keys, and of course a bass guitar is now in the mix courtesy of David, there are more guitars from Scott and extra keys from Fraser. Obviously it’s a much fuller sound than the often minimal WTATDR, more Codex in that respect, and the additional backing vocals are Codex through and through. I can foresee many discussions as to which band they sound more like and which line up were the best, but ultimately they’re one band now… Ex Comets.
All songs are new with little to no remnants from the previous ventures (guitar riffs aside). Opening with Death Star 69 and closing with Deep Space (Deep in the Forest) and with Lost Cosmonauts mid set they certainly have a space vibe going on, the beeps and clicks of Black Helicopters reminiscent of the early electronic music of that era. Then there is the very limited handmade CDs, festooned with space race stamps and a drawing of a spaceman’s helmet. If you weren’t lucky enough to get one you can find Lost Cosmonauts and Old Cool Red via Robot Needs Home or their bandcamp page. And if you want to see them live they are playing at the Cookie on Saturday 25th October as part of the What Became Of Us weekender.
Glaswegian garage rock trio Amazing Snakeheads were the headline act. Their debut album Amphetamine Ballads came out in April, but by June the bassist and drummer left, leaving singer/guitarist Dale Barclay by himself. A new drummer and bassist were recruited in time to play the summer festivals and come on this tour. Regardless of this they are a superb live band, dominated by the presence of Dale Barclay, stripped to the waist, eyeballing the crowd with one of the best hard glares I’ve seen in a long time. Rhythm is the key to their sound, the bass and drums holding it all together and supplying the groove while the vocals and guitars take turns, occasionally combining in a fury of noise, a fury that infected the crowd and one which Barclay was happy to contaminate himself with, regularly wandering through them. I can see why Magic Teapot promotions have been trying to bring them to Leicester for some time. Thankfully he succeeded and we got to enjoy them.