American college indie rock is a well-explored genre in the States, but the barrage of t-shirt and jeans bands rarely seem to bleep on our radar. Two such examples are Spoon, who hit their stride in the mid-naughties, and White Rabbits, more recent scenesters.
White Rabbits’ light rock guitar songs are made especially eerie and dancey as their six-piece line-up includes a percussionist as well as a drummer, who thundered drums and cymbals alike in spite of a rather nasty-looking cast on his arm. The band’s broken-beat Dirty Projectors-style harmonies, subtle use of piano and gritted-teeth lead vocals can be used to create either strange little pop oddities or off-kilter post-rock epics. Add their warm booming basslines and you’ll be following White Rabbits into Wonderland.
Spoon are much more rough around the edges, with some spiky guitar clashes, staccato piano and laid-back but agitated vocals. The Texan four-piece’s songs are often made up of minimalist riffs and uncluttered drum parts, allowing the instruments to stay well-separated, creating a sort of hollow space in the middle range for you to listen to the song from. Lyrically, they float between odd and sometimes unreadable metaphors, and sentiments that ultimately convey a general discomfort with the world they inhabit.
Describing the music as “indie” by British definition is way off. There is little to nothing in common with Britpop or art-rock or the Madchester scene or any of the other things we class as indie in this country. This is music that will make most sense at 1AM to tired students going over their revision notes for the hundredth time. Interesting, then, that it cast a similar spell from the darkness of the King Tut’s stage. Highlights of the set included new single ‘Written in Reverse’ and the sombre but dramatic ‘The Beast and Dragon, Adored’.
Photos by Shannon Rollins
Spoon – ‘Written In Reverse’