“Do you know where I can find Kraak?” I ask a passerby “W…What?” .Yes, thanks to the oddly named multi-purpose venue that is the response you will receive if you’re unaware of its location. To avoid looking like you need to score; it’s in Stevenson Square behind the wonderful Hula Bar, down a dark narrow alley (bear with me) and it’s the dimly lit door on the right. There, I had to get that bit out the way.
Inside we go to what I can only describe as being like a stereotypical horror film setting. No, there’s no Michael Myers lurking around but it’s creepy and strange, grimy, dark, narrow and has creaky stairs. Previously a derelict textile cutting room and despite still holding that essence, it’s now a temple in the underground art scene.
Thankfully, upstairs is intimate; dimly lit with red lights, low comfy seats, leaves on the ceiling and a tractor beam for chaps with moustaches, beards, bobble hats and reindeer woolly jumpers; a proper indie hub.
Although I barely see any of their faces, the first band Butchers are very impressive. Accept their slightly slurry but pleasant vocals for their ability to produce a tight, non stopping array of tunes. They managed to cleverly construct their slightly shoe gazing sound with drone and alternative odd noises which was vaguely reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine. Although there were slight nudges towards The Horrors, they sound refreshingly new and yet old at the same time. In fact, they were pretty fascinating, their songs went from euphoric, heavenly sounding, romantic tunes such as ‘The Clouds Were Too High (but not as high as us)’ to dark, poetic, amusing ones such as ‘Hatred’ which involves the line “Hatred is the most splendid word”. They constantly impressed with being able to easily flow from ear popping guitar screeches and instrumental crescendos to psychedelic, Captain Beefheart sounding noise. I’ve almost killed off ‘Rain Drop Improv’ by listening to it on a daily basis, and I recommend ‘I Don’t Believe’ especially if you’re having a bad day. They’re weird, but good weird and importantly, they have their scratchy distorted guitar sound to an absolute T. Check out their album Watch your Back or else.
Next up was Weird Era, who created a wave of super loud noise and gave hazy shoegaze grunge perfection (picture dark haired lads bent over practically having sex with their guitars at knee level). They’re mysterious, candy for the eye and secretive (they released two albums before their first unadvertised gig a year later).They’re music is messy and distorted but compact, poppy and aphotic, lo-fi indie and garage rock. I especially like their tracks ‘Toy Tombstone’, ‘Summer Heights’ and ‘Green Party (Shy Guy)’; it’s hearty, dreamy, emotive, gothic and doom music. They hold elements of The Cure, early Echo and the Bunnymen, Faust, Sonic Youth and Panda Bear. I heart them.
So, Milk Maid, I’d heard little about them but I’m a big fan of discovering bands. I know they’re Manc music makers (brownie point) and that songwriter, Martin Cohen is a previous bassist for Nine Black Alps (two brownie points) also that their appearance at Sessions at the BBC with Mark Riley and their album “Yucca” released last year, shot them up the attention poll (three brownie points).
I’ll take on their approach and get right to the point; this band was awesome. It was a band I would have seen fourteen years ago if I hadn’t of been into my pop bands at the time. Their speedy and precise guitar playing sounds reminiscent of Dinosaur junior and despite not being able to work out all their lyrics their vocals are indie perfection. The bands ‘sound’ is sensory overload but consummately formed and composed.
They’re annoyingly effortlessly creative and cool and incredibly entertaining to watch; their out of control guitar playing is the cats pyjamas and their songs are cleverly produced and sound like a mixture of sixties psychedelic and early lo-fi 90’s American. They’re across between The Byrds, Pavement, Jesus Mary Chain, Yo La Tengo and the Ramones, phew! Their tunes would fit nicely on a Juno or Scott Pilgrim style soundtrack too.
As well as visually intriguing to watch they’re talented gents; able to combine sunny, pop melodies with macabre visualization and the occasional self-loathing lyrics. Their sound is twisted but tight, fuzzy and well balanced. I like. I want to put them in the John Peel tent at Glastonbury and pimp out their awesomeness to thousands.