review archive

Jim Reid / The Capes / Rothko The Spitz 26th April 2003

The lovely Penny Black folks, commanders of an awe-inspiring site chock full of delicious rekkids for you to buy, buy, buy have invited us to their shindig at The Spitz to celebrate the splendidness of music in general, or something. Seeing as how long-time Kitten hero Jim Reid is on the bill, we trip along joyfully.

First up are Rothko, three people who manage to sound like the horde that make up Godspeed! You Black Emperor. It’s melancholic, portentous, ominous. You know how everyone goes on about The White Stripes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs not having bass-players? Well, Rothko have nicked ‘em all. They make up for four strings prejudice by all playing bass. At once. Between them they manage to build tricksily textured doomscapes of splendour. tricksily textured doomscapes of splendour
Sometimes Rothko lady (sorry don’t know her name) swaps her bass for a violin, its pale sound creeping and skittering mournfully over the top of the remaining duo-bassed rumble. There are extra sounds bleaching in and out, the first song has a choppy startled blackbird sound, unless there actually is a startled blackbird flapping round outside. The last song full of scratchy rain-sounds has the basses piling over each other, resonant, pulsating. Ear-ringing.
I’ve never even heard of The Capes, but they turn out to be ace, cheers Penny Black for this musical surprise. Chock-full of odd pop and cheery quirkology, they power through a hamper of skittish songs with added sunshine lala harmonies. This is dreamy, friendly pop with a cheeky stomping bassline here, squidgey keyboards there, occasional space-rockery and falsetto warbling in sticky corners. One song has a squeaky, scratchy, squawky guitar riff over an itchy, tumbling, roughed-up pop-hearted tune. There are big thumpy drums and a scrabbly guitar solo with added tambourine, yes, it’s Freddy and the Dreamers meets Pixies.
a good thing to behold
Then there’s the capricious instrumental in which the Violent Femmes hang out with Dinosaur Jnr before running off to be Pavement. We get some slow ‘n’ moody stuff, a stadium slowburner of loveliness and synthy sounds and one where singer Kris gets to show off his excellent voice against the swirley keys, cocking a snook (good phrase, cheers) in his jaunty cap and ‘Family Affair 91’ tee-shirt. It’s a veritable whirlwind of whimsy and oddballery. Their ‘I Write The Wrongs’ ep has an excellent picture of a be-caped, moustachioed musketeer too, always a good thing to behold.
Look! It’s Jim Reid. He’s so close you could ruffle his hair, now becalmed with age, back into an explosion of follicular rebellion like what it was in its Jesus And Mary Chain days. For the second time in as many weeks, Kitten-joy is unbounded at being so close to her hero. So, anyway, Jim is playing solo with extra guitar back up from Phil King (ex Lush man) on the complicated chords. Perched on a chair, peering through his specs at a sheaf of lyrics propped on a music stand, Mr Reid is a long way from the tantrumming hair-tugging dervish of yesteryear, although he still manages to get some swearing in, scrabbling on the floor for stray lyric sheets. We get eight songs, starting with Freeheat’s ‘Back On The Water’ shaved down to its basic loping strum. Pulling back the blankets of electricity, we get to hear the songs shivering and naked in the gloom. And they’re perfect little things, like ‘Song For A Secret’ all pink toes and big sad eyes. The Reid brothers always had a gift for knocking out these deceptively simple, bittersweet tunes, whether they were smothered in layers of spitting sound or wearily sighing from abused acoustics.
Jim gets some swearing in

‘The Band Broke Down’ goes ’Really want to make it/Maybe we can make it/But the band broke down’, hmm, what could that possibly be about? Back on final JAMC LP ‘Munki’ the world was introduced to (horrors!) a third Reid sibling, ‘wee sister’ Linda, aka Sister Vanilla crooning her way through ‘Mo Tucker’. In a touching scene of brotherly/sisterlyness, Linda now joins Jim onstage to chirp out the song, giggling as they both try to crane their necks to share the mic. There’s more Freeheating with ‘Fucked Up Lover’ and ‘Keith Moon’ plus genuinely great sounding newstuff. The final song (possibly called ‘Ways Of something or other‘) is fur-standing-on-end fantastic, guitars chiming, Jim’s familiar whispery/whiney voice curling out ‘oww, oww’s. This is still something special.

Last up for our sock-rocking pleasure are Magoo, but sadly we are contractually obliged to leave the building at this point to scamper up the road to the only traditional East End boozer left in Shoreditch for a late night of disco-frolics ‘n’ fighting. The culture shock gives us nosebleeds.
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