No Guts are propelled by two of the best, most loveable oddballs in Leeds, on brain-corterising bass and prowling, drunken vocals respectively. They are supplemented by a Frenchman no one knew could drum so well, and a man who wrangles slices of messy cover song guitar in the wrong key. It all makes a healthy, creepy, beast-ball that gathers momentum right from the initial rumblings about doing shit jobs.
Go listen to the How To Beat Former Bullies digital mixtapes and note how seamlessly their own recent classics sit alongside the finest tunes from their collections. I'm certain I've wittered on about it before, but they sing actual two-part harmonies where the drummer and guitarist sing different notes, as opposed to the much easier, far more commonplace unison. They play quieter than most to let the beauty of their arrangements be appreciated, and are simply master hit-composers.
Downdime are appreciated for possessing one totally killer smash. They've long been due a Sic Alps slot as their members toured together in other bands decades ago.
Father Murphy are utterly dreadful. Sorry. Actually, not sorry. I watched as much as I could, and when it became apparent that the frontman’s unorthodox array of singing (honking? bellowing?) faces were as good as it got, I waited until the humour wore off and made haste to the exit.
This allowed some time to savour the imminent arrival of Sic Alps. Now a four piece rock juggernaut, following the removal of long-term multi-instrumental powerhouse Matt Hartman (refreshingly due to 'personal' rather than the oft-cited 'musical' differences). Having acknowledged that the band wouldn't have got anywhere like where they now find themselves without the ex-Henry's Dress man, the band had to cut loose and push on. Some two-piece action followed some one-man shows, and Ty Segall briefly chipped in again, although not present here. Noel von Harmonson of Comets On Fire, however, is, supplying ridiculously loud lead guitar to compliment/drown out principal songsmith Mike Donovan's more subtly amplified acoustic. It's a good job that lad can play, as at that overwhelming level bum notes would have killed the set. The introduction of two Hartman-replacements means that there is zero instrument interchanging, leading to a more focused, accomplished performance, reliant on concise album and single tracks to build a conventional Best Of set.
Knowing the Sic Alps that played the Royal Park Cellars three years ago, this could have been a disappointment. Indeed, I tremendously enjoyed the more fluid, feedback and cacophony approach, but this lineup seems to reveal what a solid gold set of songs they have amassed and revel in it, without hiding under the noise, layers and textures that colour the albums and their past.