Live Reviews

Brendan Benson + The Sirens + Jacob Golden @ Barfly

13 June 2002

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

I don’t usually like this kind of music but it is hauntingly pretty. Onegirl, one boy making music to watch angels by.

A tiny keyboard on top of the Casio gives us wonderful bird noises andterrifically dreamlike backdrops of plaintive nondescript sounds. Much ofit’s like the instrumental to Led Zeppelin‘s Whole Lotta Love which, ifyou haven’t heard it, is a myriad soundscape that lends itself to randomacts of beauty. With Super Furry Animals psychedelica and the unlikely twistof 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 hascome before us and always will be, as long as media saturation continues tobarrage us. But sometimes I’m glad it did.

You won’t be able to categorise The Sirens because there’s no place toput them. They span everything from Supergrass to AC/DC, Weezer to CircleJerks, frequently within one song.

The band themselves look like a Woolworths pick’n’mix. The lead singer has aGallagheresque sneer and a Liam haircut. The bassist just stepped out of top movieGummo. 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 notgood, it’s just that he’s not amazingly original in anything he’s got togive. The band is tight, he’s got an excellent voice and plays with itaccordingly but I’ve heard a lot of this type of music before. He is as goodas the rest but not the best. If he’d come to my ears a little sooner, hisrendition of folk-pop would have sounded pretty good. But Starsailor andWeezer have trodden this path before. If you like them, you will like thisband. It’s just, well… okay, he’s arrogant. That’s the only reason I don’tlike him. “I’ve got a lead-in that sounds like a champ.” UH? Fuck off.

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