Nately's Whore's Kid Sister - Ribs

by Mark Hammond Rating:9 Release Date:2012-01-02

Nately's Whore's Kid Sister was something of a by-line in Joseph Heller's 'polymesmeric' novel of 1961, Catch 22. It's telling that this band has adopted the moniker of no more than a bit player in such a tangential story. Heller left no stone unturned in his writing, exploring love, hate, psychosis, paranoia, sadness, satire and even comedy in his narrative about a bombardier unit in the Second World War. The axis of these all-encompassing themes is the binding undercurrent of darkness. This is where the appropriation of the name Nately's Whore's Kid Sister by the band is most significant.

NWKS' members form the constituents of established North-East England outfit Grandfather Birds. Self-styled purveyors of 'autumnal' rock, Grandfather Birds write anthemic indie of Arcade Fire ilk, which has caught the attention of such radio luminaries as Huw Stephens. If theirs is the portentous sound of leaves falling, pre-empting the end of another year, then NWKS is the eventual death knell of the bleakest winter. Not that the two could so easily be ascribed chronological positions; indeed, there are no clues from Grandfather Birds that they had something so grotesque in them. However hard it is to reconcile, NWKS should be regarded in their own right rather than a twisted alter-ego. The arousal of intrigue is hard to deny though. Like history's most celebrated monsters, the duality is an arresting challenge - to what you're accustomed to and to your own fears of what lurks within.

Opening track 'Just Below the Ribs' starts off in a fairly painless manner. A lone guitar chimes with the same melodic kink as Jeff Buckley's 'What Will You Say?' but a sharp shift in mood is presaged by walls of tense feedback. These moments build incrementally only to be curtly suppressed, which acts as a deft device in hinting toward a sleeping giant. Then the geyser irrupts with the arrival of three demonically abrasive guitars and you are unceremoniously sucked into the nightmare. Those small hours where your guard is at its thinnest; where everything, even the otherwise innocent takes on a distorted, sinister edge - that's where NWKS abide.

Further dalliance with the unconscious mind is present in 'Man Outside Cumberland Arms, Byker, 11/07/11', a Mephistophelean soliloquy from an unknown, who has long since submitted his consciousness to God-knows-what. "Don't anyone, ever, tell me - especially when I'm having a baby - that I am a bad man!" he spits in a gravelly rasp that would put the shits up Vincent Price. The band crawls around the margins until they eventually form a fetid grapevine surrounding the absurd expositions. Rather than falling victim to surrealism for the sake of it, the track takes on an eerie, malformed personality thanks to the awareness of the accompaniment, which draws a great pathos from the perverted raconteur. Just like the dichotomy of NWKS/Grandfather Birds, the monster has more than one dimension.

It is difficult to draw comparisons with Ribs. Allusions to Thom Yorke would not be entirely unfounded but it is perhaps in frontman John Edgar's voice alone where this association begins and ends. Some have already likened the band to 'doom', but NWKS are too cerebral to sit inside such a myopic sub-genre no matter how heavy they get, particularly with closer 'Regards, Bison.' The imagery that Edgar paints with lines like "Somewhere in the city/ there's an answer-phone that takes all my calls," imbues the EP with a certain disquieting feel, not dissimilar to Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures.

Although stylistically NWKS are of a heavier mien (at least in terms of guitar sound), they too somehow evoke the dystopian dread of JG Ballard through their music. There is also a carefully constructed ambience that creeps within the recesses of each song. What sounds like sonar pulse twitches augment the simplistic bass line of 'Babies', calling to mind the manoeuvres of Joy Division producer Martin Hannett. 'Man Outside Cumberland...' is a sober use of field recording, something that Hannett pioneered.

"Just below the ribs/ there's a hole where something once was," is the terse line which welcomes you into the shadows. Like the character from whom the band take their name, Nately's Whore's Kid Sister will, after first introduction, resurface again and again to get you. Just like the odd frisson of a nightmare that lingers well after you've awoken.

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