Crocodiles - The Ruby Lounge, Manchester - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Crocodiles - The Ruby Lounge, Manchester

by Steve Rhodes Rating:8 Release Date:2012-10-29

Ah the Ruby Lounge, with your wildly varying distortion and sound levels, usually set uncomfortably close to 11, we meet again. With an impending barrage of pop noise awaiting us, thankfully tonight the volume seems just right and in perfect tone with the bands and the need for emergency earplugs are not required.

First up, and a little bit out of place with the remaining bill, are Enemies Eyes. The three-piece initially fail to impress with their blunt and fairly heavy rock numbers, with any intricacies drowned out by the well-played but ultimately overbearing drumming and rather mundane, shouty vocals, coming across like a coherent Fall, without the charm, or Future of the Left, minus the tight musicianship and clever lyricism. However, the band improve greatly over the course of the set, with more depth and melody, if not exactly memorable songs, peaking on the rare occasions when they drift into The House of Love-style melancholy.

Even before the main support act Kult Country emerge, there is feverish expectation from the audience for their arrival and they certainly don't disappoint with a tremendous performance. Barely a year old and led by singer and guitarist Yousif Al-Karaghouli, channelling the looks and style of a youthful Terry Bickers, the band entrance the crowd with a noisy, hook-laden, blissful set. Like the abrasive end of early 90s shoegazing, such as Levitation, 'Gravity Grave'-era The Verve and The Telescopes, the band fit right in with the current drift towards contemporary psychedelia, but pursue their own, unique path.

While the drone-heavy Loop and Spiritualized-influenced numbers, with a crunchy and rolling bass and dirty, discordant guitars, delight, it is the more restrained, but still driving tracks which especially shine. Such as 'Feel', with Yousif's consistent vocal a perfect accompaniment to the chiming and forceful guitars, swirling keys and frenetic drumming. The highlight, though, is debut single 'Slowburn', with its playful, extended intro, greeted with a huge reception by the audience. It's a building, shimmering song with a bassline to die for, and a more direct and far more melodic counterpart to TOY and fellow Mancunian nocturnal dreamers Money.

One of the best support sets I've heard in a very long time, Kult Country are a genuinely exciting prospect and a band I intend on seeing again many times over. If they can regularly come close to this performance, there's no reason why they shouldn't be a household name in the future.
Well, Crocodiles how do you follow that? To be fair, they have a decent attempt at it, though perhaps understandably they take their time to truly get going, with the normally joyous and sun-drenched 'Sunday' seeming strangely muted. Thankfully, the set picks up with the 60s-influenced, organ-drenched 'Hearts of Love', especially in its triumphant chorus.

The Cramps-meets-Jesus & Mary Chain 'Cockroach' finally awakens the audience out of their stupor as does the nice rumbling bass which leads the Echo and the Bunnymen-influenced 'Soft Skull'. Rattling through their fuzz-drenched pop songs at a prolific rate, like a muscular The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and recalling the urgency of Yo La Tengo, the band are energetic on stage and very much in tune with the crowd, especially guitarist Charles Rowell, whose non-stop movement and enthusiasm catches the eye with regular occasion.

The highlights of the set are the wildly contrasting 'Me and My Machine Gun' and 'Refuse Angels', which appear in sequence partway-through. The former is a more desolate number with a great spacious guitar riff at its heart, while the latter is harder-edged, delivered with a pace and punch that could fit easily on a Dead Kennedys album, both are which are played impeccably tonight. Golden oldie 'Sleep Forever', though, gets the biggest response of the night, with its sleazy and slithering bass and drums propelling the song to rapturous applause.


Comments (4)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Great list! I definitely have some of these in my Top 10 too. Broken Arm are a great live band, not actually heard the album though, will have to give it a spin

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Cheers Andy. Look forward to seeing your list

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My fave album of the year is Casual Strangers' debut.

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Having listened to Space Blues on the site, I want to hear more.

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