Friday, 18 May 2007

Commander Keen, Dumb Instrument and Mouse Eat Mouse @ The 13th Note, Is This Music? Night

Commander Keen, eh? 4 syllables and a smattering of alliteration. Afraid that's all I can tell you about them though, as I stayed upstairs attempting to formulate a plan for world domination during their set. Sorry!

Really glad I made it down in time to see Dumb Instrument, as they were AMAZING. A stripped-down trio with piano and no drums would not normally be my cup of chai. These guys did not attempt the boring balladry initial impressions might have suggested, instead making an interesting bass-driven jazz noise with some truly beautiful singing from their hirsute frontman. This on its own would have been pretty unusual within the confines of the 13th Note, but their lyrics were absolutely stunning too. Like a more playful and poetic Aidan Moffat, Tom Murray's words seemed to be describing the most tortured depths of his own soul, I noticed him wiping tears away at the end of a few songs. They were given added poignance by the casual sprinkling of Glasgow vernacular to describe the tragedy of roadside flower tributes or the demise of friends...indeed, their album on Hackpen Records is entitled 'Songs Ya Bass', which is neddy shorthand for 'Songs for Illegitimate Children' in case you didn't know.

So aye, Dumb Instrument. Check them out, I'll definitely go and see them next time they come to Glasgow.

That was the surprise of the night; the genius that is Mouse Eat Mouse was already well known in the Smith household, their debut album 'Mair Licht' having been on constant rotation since its release a few months back. For the uninitiated, MEM are that rare thing - a truly original band who make terrific music. I have tried to describe them to folk before and it's pretty difficult. The best thing to do is just go and see them next time they play, I promise you wil not regret it.

As the band take to the stage you can tell right away that they are going to do something a bit different. The lank-haired drummer with specs pushed down to the end of his nose, a flowery Frances de la Tour lookalike on cello, a dapper cravat-wearing saxophonist, the manic hoarse man of the Apocalypse C D shade fronting the outfit, a shy-looking guitarist (when did you last see one of those?) and lynchpin Johnny Mouse on bass stage-right.

MEM overcome the sound problems that dog their first 2 songs to play an absolute stormer. C D's lyrics are auld Scots poetry, tackling fairly Socialist themes with a wry sense of humour which allays any accusations of pompousness. His delivery is awesome, and the band pound away with an energy I have not heard from them before. The new material sounded great too, and I can't wait for their next release. The first time i ever saw Mouse Eat Mouse play was back in 1997 - it is criminal that a band this good are still languishing in relative obscurity while dross like The Fratellis gets so much success. 'Hush Nou' is worth a million la-la-la choruses.

But then who ever said that life was meant to be fair?

As we stumble outside into the rain, I am still buzzing. Both of us feel that we were witness to something special last night. It's nights like these that make living in Glasgow worthwhile. The music is out there - all you have to do it look for it.

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