Thursday, 3 November 2011

Review: The James Cleaver Quintet - That Was Then, This is Now

 Wether you know it or not, you're quite likely to have seen The James Cleaver Quintet playing before. And it pretty much defines the idea of a band making a bad first impression. In August, energy drink company Lucozade, released onto our television screens a horrendous piece of advertising featuring a bunch of "quirky" (i.e. twatty) looking indie rockers swiftly rolling down a hill on skateboards, go-karts and bicycles whilst covering Feeder's Buck Rogers displaying themselves as a weak, sloppy sounding, and pathetic rock band. But I felt secure watching it at the time, realizing that no band could actually sound that pathetic and willingly ruin such a catchy song, so it was clearly just a bunch of actors hired by Lucozade who didn't know the first thing about playing rock music. Guess what? I was wrong. The band from the awful Lucozade advert is actually real, and have just released their debut album, That Was Then, This is Now.
 Entering this album as a cynic is fun, because opener Golfing Pros, Bitches and Hoes shows that the actual music of The James Cleaver Quintet is the kind of music that will never be used on mainstream TV. The frantic hardcore assault shows a rush of pure energy and awesomeness.
 This kind of musical atmosphere goes on to define That Was Then, This is Now. It is a collection of off-the-wall, edge-of-your-seat hardcore punk songs that can have a poppier edge, but not to the extent that they can be considered pop-punk. It's seen in the catchiness that the rhythm section produce in the chorus of Trading Water as guitarist Maud E Licious produces a bouncy hook that will sound fitting at the party to end all parties. Of course, this isn't really the main sound the band create. For the most part, they're delivering a mad sounding energetic punk riot. The furious screaming of Jack Udon paired with Licious displaying his speedier picking on tracks like Don't Just Stare At It, EAT IT! and The JCWho which also pack a fair share of brutal breakdowns make these songs pretty much moshpit gold.
 The band seem pretty keen to distance themselves from the image that the TV advert portrayed them to be in because they make much of the music as weird as they possibly can. Be it in the complex, stuttering structure of Snakes or the odd-yet-atmospheric digital effects from At The Quark-In (I used to think the stage-names for Avenged Sevenfold were weird.) seen best in Chicken Shit (For the Soul). They're in full support of being thought of in such a regard. On their Facebook, they name their genre as being "Weird-Core", a genre that has been around for quite a while under other guises but will hopefully rise to the masses with this album.
 It can just take one song to change your opinion of a band, and a whole album for them to change completely from being lame to awesome, and The James Cleaver Quintet show this pretty effectively on this album. Along with Exit Ten, it seems quite likely that this band has the potential to become future leaders of a generation of British hard rock.

 The James Cleaver Quintet's That Was Then, This is Now is out now via Hassle Records. The band will tour the UK from the 6th-26th November with Turbowolf and Hawk Eyes.

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