Constantines/Yourcodenameis:Milo – Joseph’s Well, Leeds/Metro, London, 24-25 February
The Constantines are a Toronto, Can-based all-male quintet airing their Shine A Light album on Sub Pop. Support came from Yourcodenameis:Milo, a Newcastle, UK-based quintet recently signed to Polydor and with a mini-album produced by the venerable Steve Albini, due out in May. In Leeds, only the latter were liked. A day later, I caught only the former.
The former make an elusive post-grunge sound that peaks and troughs and whose rugged riffery/choppy stabs are augmented by basic keyboard lines and dubby drums. The Guardian’s reviewer compared vocalist Bryan Webb with Springsteen, others the general sound to Fugazi; our Leeds reviewer would know more about that… They are mostly very earnest, Webb generally getting more intense as the show goes on and his lyrics further elude clarity. But every now and then they will offer up a drum break or a bit of drama/showmanship, like the whole band holding aloft their hands, or the bassist coming down from his perch to duet with the guitarist, keyboardist swapping places with Webb, or, as on the encore, drummer handing out tambourines and maracas to grateful punters. All of which points to the redemptive power of their sincere rock sound, they hope. Shine A Light itself seems to illustrate best what the ‘Stantines do in incorporating multiple contrasting passages to each song; but sometimes you want the noisy bits to be more intense to highlight the restrained moments even more. Other highlights were Young Lions and that encore, an extended take on Reed’s Temporary Thing.
Ten minutes after I had made it down Metro’s multiple staircases our Leeds reviewer would have been walking out of the Constantines’ show. This is a clumsy, indeed impossible attempt at contextual synchronity: “Yourcodenameis:Milo crank out a three-pronged guitar assault reminiscent of At The Drive In at their best. The use of three guitarists may seem a little excessive but underpinned by thumping drums and rhythmic bass and complemented by distorted vocals they help produce an intensity of sound that propels the songs along and provokes a positive reaction from a small but enthusiastic crowd. The two rhythm guitarists occasionally duplicate each other’s playing but when they go off in different directions they produce an angular, dynamic sound which could help lift Milo above the lumpen mass of guitar bands that are currently swamping the UK. This could be their year.”
Shout to Stickboy in Leeds