Protohero - Tu Madre

Protohero’s self-produced debut EP, Tu Madre, shows real promise. Eschewing the current trend for angular art-pop, these kids are steeped in the sounds of nineties grunge and punk. Drawing heavily on Nirvana, Pearl Jam and the Smashing Pumpkins, Protohero are a welcome change from the army of Gang Of Four fans currently grabbing guitars.

First track ‘Convection’ opens with a thundering breakbeat reminiscent of the Chemical Brothers and quickly jumps into a grunge-pop sing-a-long that sounds like it could have come straight off Siamese Dream. Stumbling very close to Fightstar territory, it has enough of Billy Corgan in the vocals to hold itself together. A punchy, shouty anthem, ‘Convection’ could become a classic.

Next up is ’Good Question’, a track that draws so heavily on Bleach-era Nirvana it is in danger of slipping into pastiche, but some dirty lead guitar pulls it back from the brink. Over long and meandering, it’s crying out for a tighter arrangement and more focussed approach.

Track three is the jewel in Protohero’s grunge-revivalist crown. ‘Great Cock Fights Of The Fifteenth Century’ has one of the best titles I’ve heard in years. Bolting a blazing Dead Kennedy’s chorus onto a verse full of White Album guitars, this is Protohero at their best. The double lead vocals sound like Kurt and Dave Grohl singing Holiday In Cambodia. It has potential hit written all over it if it made its way into a quality studio.

‘Space Monkey Kill Pigeon’ continues the trend of great names and a barely shrouded fondness for the Foo Fighters. Unfortunately, it has more in common with Grohl’s lacklustre current LP than the Foo’s best work and is equally forgettable.

The EP ends with ‘Sexy Sick’, another case of grunge by numbers saved by Will’s unexpected Noel Gallagher-esque guitar solo. Definitely the weakest song of the set, it would probably be best saved for a future B-side.

While Protohero may be too obvious about their influences, their passion and energy shines through. With a gift for melody, great hooks and excellent musicianship, they need to concentrate on finding their own distinctive voice. ‘Convection’, ‘Good Question’ and ‘Cock Fights’ show signs of talented songwriting and real potential. They could become Nine Black Alps greatest rivals. They’re already the best ever band from Bishop Auckland.

Toby Rogers

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