Let's Twist Again…

Holl(i)y reviews some twisted autumnal sounds

Zombina and the Skeletones - Staci Stasis

Ladies and gentlemen, humour in rock'n'roll is not dead - and nor did quality songsmithery have to be sacrificed to allow it to rise again. Zombina and the Skeletones are a band who have very good jokes indeed, and, importantly, who can't be dismissed as nothing but a Joke Band, having as they do fine tunes aplenty to back up their jests. Quite simply, they rule; and their latest single goes some way towards evidencing this statement.

Staci Stasis, then, is a synth-heavy intergalactic pop slab with harmonies which sound like a sixties girl group on a sugar high. Fuzzed, chaotic and almost supernaturally lively, it tells of the perils of falling in love with someone in suspended animation in deep space, and of the pain of the gradual realisation that your love will never be requited. Not yer typical romantic ditty, then - but what do you expect from a band who're frequently seen sporting full zombie regalia? If a band so dedicated to the uncanny as Zombina… had offered us a roses and chocolates ballad, I for one would have been extremely disappointed…

The Black Tulips - The Black Tulips EP

The Black Tulips are from Brighton and they have come to steal your soul, make you fall in love and then destroy you. It is, after all, quite clear that anyone professing any kind of allegiance to their sound will be ostracised from polite society by default. The Black Tulips flaunt soaring, sneering, reluctantly tuneful vocals, and they back 'em with angry, vicious, nasty guitars. The kind of guitars which give the impression that they really, really resent being stuck within the confines of a CD when they could be live in some sweaty pub back room doing some serious damage. They sound like chainsaws would if they could swarm. In short, they aren't pissing about.

This is a two wheeled rubber-burning screech round the darkest corners of rock'n'roll's back alleys. Admittedly you could sing along to it, but only if you didn't mind being arrested for gross public indecency. It's filthy and twisted and out of control and… well… thoroughly unpleasant. And, therefore, inherently glorious.

Y'know, it's loving music like this which makes me fear for the state of my immortal soul.

Tommy Twist and The Jive - Don't Want You To Go / Without The Rain

Live, Tommy Twist and the Jive are an exuberant sixties pop rock-out combo who take the twist and jive aspects of their name very literally indeed. They cast pretensions to originality aside in favour of playing something which they love and which sounds like a fun night out, and they succeed very well. Watching 'em live, it's nigh-on impossible not to cave in to the power of the beat and start shaking your hips, just because it's all done so well and with such dedicated charm.

On record, the sixties references still stand but the compulsive foot-tapping qualities sadly appear to have been lost in the process. Some particularly nice vocal harmonies aside, this results in a couple of tunes which're perfectly harmless but which don't come close to translating the live show onto CD. TT&TJ need a recording method which can capture that feeling of coloured spotlights and shimmying crowd, which lets the life through as well as the technical ability - which, in short, does justice to their live show and its unavoidable exhortations to Move Your Feet. Until then, I'd exhort those who're tempted by the idea of clean cut sixties pop experience to first and foremost see 'em live…


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