Cymbals Eat Guitars - The Cockpit, Leeds - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Cymbals Eat Guitars - The Cockpit, Leeds

by Pete Sykes Rating: Release Date:

Cymbals Eat Guitars/This Many Boyfriends @ The Cockpit, Leeds, Monday 22/02/10

Hotly tipped New York four piece Cymbals Eat Guitars set out on their first European tour earlier this month, and now they have pitched up in Leeds. The band's big break came when their debut album Why There Are Mountains received a coveted 'Best New Music' tip, and an 8.3 rating, from tastemaking music website Pitchfork Media - maker and breaker of American alternative bands - six full months before it was released by a label. A small (Yeasayer are playing the larger Academy up the road tonight) but enthusiastic crowd has braved a wintry Monday night and gathered at The Cockpit to see what all the fuss is about.

Soundblab arrives at 8.30, only to find that the support act, up-and-coming Leeds-based quintet This Many Boyfriends, have already started their set. They don't mess around here at The Cockpit. Leeds Music Scene convention dictates that I can't talk about TMB without using the word 'twee' - indeed, they're named after a song by twee-pop progenitors Beat Happening, and are palpably influenced by bands like The Pastels and Belle & Sebastian - but that would be doing the band a disservice. Their riff-laden jangle-pop is rich, bittersweet and charmingly shambolic, and their lyrics, courtesy of conveniently named frontman Richard Boyfriend, are witty ("Don't listen to Kylie & Jason/Mummy taught you better than that") and occasionally tinged with melancholy. They also boast the catchiest tune of the night, in set closer 'That's What Diaries Are For'. It's thoroughly entertaining - a band to watch, for sure.

After the briefest of intervals (Soundblab has just enough time to get a drink and go to the toilet) Cymbals Eat Guitars take to the stage, to much whooping, and immediately ensure that everyone is paying attention by being very loud indeed, all screaming guitars and frantically pounding drums. Lead singer Joseph Ferocious (Joseph D'Agostino to his parents) is an intriguing spectacle: he screams his lungs out on the loud parts, spraying saliva into the air and contorting himself into some very strange positions. He also has a curious (nervous?) habit of constantly tuning and re-tuning his guitar, between and often during songs; perhaps it's this that causes a string to break halfway through the set, enforcing a brief interlude while This Many Boyfriends guitarist Jamie fetches a replacement. Musically, CEG bring to mind classic American grunge pop of the Dinosaur Jr./Built To Spill school, though on a few occasions they sound a bit like Jimmy Eat World (Good thing? Bad thing? Discuss. I'm in the former camp). It's heady, melodic stuff, and the dynamics are excellent, the band switching from soft and gentle to loud and brash with aplomb. The songs work best, though, when they have swing as well as power, and a few numbers (including excellent single '…And The Hazy Sea') reveal a firm grasp of pop. By the time they close, with a cover of Elliot Smith's 'Ballad of Big Nothing', Joseph Ferocious is covered in sweat, and the audience are exhilarated, having been thoroughly entertained by a band for whom the hype might just be justified.

Pete Sykes

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