Live Music + Gig Reviews

Brendan Benson + The Sirens + Jacob Golden @ Barfly, London

13 June 2002

Brendan Benson

Brendan Benson

I’ve just walked into a sit-in. Literally. Everyone’s on the floor watching an anaemic looking Jacob Golden, who’s holding court in the Monarch in Camden to a rapturous crowd of… about 20 people. It looks like a hippy reunion. The scene would be better suited to an outdoor party in Haight Ashbury circa 1969.

I don’t usually like this kind of music but it is hauntingly pretty. One girl, one boy making music to watch angels by. A tiny keyboard on top of the Casio gives us wonderful bird noises and terrifically dreamlike backdrops of plaintive nondescript sounds. Much of it’s like the instrumental to Led Zeppelin‘s Whole Lotta Love which, if you haven’t heard it, is a myriad soundscape that lends itself to random acts of beauty. With Super Furry Animals psychedelica and the unlikely twist of Tori Amos vocals it shouldn’t work – but it does, wonderfully. Most bands these days are derivative. It’s hard not be. We are what has come before us and always will be, as long as media saturation continues to barrage us. But sometimes I’m glad it did.

You won’t be able to categorise The Sirens because there’s no place to put them. They span everything from Supergrass to AC/DC, Weezer to Circle Jerks, frequently within one song. The band themselves look like a Woolworths pick’n’mix. The lead singer has a Gallagher-esque sneer and a Liam haircut. The bassist just stepped out of top movie Gummo. Lead guitar is a young, white Cheech Marin and is funny as hell. Lastly, the drummer is from Pop Idol. These people scare me.

Lastly (and I’m afraid, leastly) is Brendan Benson. I’m not saying he’s not good, it’s just that he’s not amazingly original in anything he’s got to give. The band is tight, he’s got an excellent voice and plays with it accordingly but I’ve heard a lot of this type of music before. He is as good as the rest but not the best. If he’d come to my ears a little sooner, his rendition of folk-pop would have sounded pretty good. But Starsailor and Weezer have trodden this path before. If you like them, you will like this band. It’s just, well… okay, he’s arrogant. That’s the only reason I don’t like him. “I’ve got a lead-in that sounds like a champ.” UH? Fuck off.

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