It appears that the angular school of art rock that has spawned the likes of Franz Ferdinand, The Futureheads and Bloc Party over the last year and a half is set to see a new graduate any time soon – they’re a four piece from Bristol called New Rhodes, and have been making their very own taut guitar sounds and catchy hooks since their inception way back in 2001.
Line up alterations, name changes and record company politics has meant that it’s only now, in mid 2005, that things are starting to pick up for them. Ardent followers will already know that they’ve released two fantastic singles on Moshi Moshi records over the course of the last 12 months, and their third offering, From The Beginning, is set for release in August.
A debut album is slated for release later this year, or failing that, in early 2006. Whatever the case, it’s a safe bet to say that this band are set for big things – they have the boyish good looks in abundance and certainly enough quality songs under their collective belt to reach the top. That’s not to mention their sound, which has drawn favourable comparisons to The Strokes and The Smiths, with lead singer James Williams’ vocals often sounding like a cheerier and more optimistic Morrissey.
So on paper there’s very little to dislike. The main question was whether they could pull it off live tonight at the 100 Club, which despite its rather venerable history as being the host to early performances from The Rolling Stones and The Sex Pistols, is a bizarre venue, almost wholly unsuited to the performing band and the audience.
The stage is incredibly wide, meaning it was difficult to see the whole band at once, and the sound was hardly anything to write home about, with the vocals tonight sounding particularly muddy. But despite these slight glitches, the band weren’t phased in the slightest – they played with great composure and flair, and their 50 minute set passed without fault.
The songs that appeared all went down well with the small crowd (Although officially sold out, the majority of tickets went to those associated with support band Kubb, who had since dispersed), with almost every number eliciting enthusiastic cheers of approval. Indeed, this had the feel of a fan only affair, which made the experience all the more intimate and enjoyable.
Highlights included the magnificent One Of These Days, which arrived early on and set the high standard for the rest of the evening, as well as There’s A Chance That I Missed, which displayed that they’re equally at home with more up tempo, rockier tracks. From The Beginning appeared mid set, and like most of their material, is built around a seemingly never ending sequence of hooks – with any luck, this is the song that should serve to alert people of their prodigious talent.
So all in all tonight was a success, and hopefully a watershed. By the next time they headline the capital, they should be playing a bigger venue to a bigger audience. It seems that this is a fate that most of their contemporaries have been blessed with, and with a strong debut album, there’s nothing to suggest that New Rhodes won’t be everywhere in 2006. Here’s hoping anyway.