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 The Guardian - Band of the Day

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Common Grounds
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Join date : 2010-10-24

PostSubject: The Guardian - Band of the Day   Sun Oct 24, 2010 9:30 am

Sharks (No 892)

Straight outta Leamington Spa, these Clash-inspired punk rockers sing fanfares for the fabled common man

Paul Lester guardian.co.uk, Thursday 21 October 2010 11.16 BST

Good old-fashioned rabble-rousing ... Sharks

Hometown: Leamington Spa.

The lineup: James Mattock (vocals, guitar), Andrew Bayliss (guitar), Cris O'Reilly (bass), Sam Lister (drums).

The background: The revival of the four-square rock band continues apace. There's Mona, Brother, the Vaccines, and now Sharks, who are as revivalist as they come. Unlike Brother, though, who are more into bringing back the lad spirit of Britpop, Sharks want to embody the noble tradition of the honest and true blue-collar working man as identified by Messrs Springsteen and Strummer in the late 70s. Now, whether the working man as mythologised in Clash and Springsteen songs a) exists, or b) wants to be identified as such is moot, because Sharks are going to do it anyway. And "honest and true" will be their chosen method of communication, even though it has long since been proven that honesty and truthfulness are as much artificial constructs as anything else.

Still, here they come, straight outta Leamington Spa, that hotbed of radical prole action, with their punk-inspired rock'n'roll, singing their anthems of rebellion and resistance – although against and to what remains unclear. But these are mere details because Sharks intend to "speak their mind, keep to their roots and never try to compromise", according to a press release. They're all about gritty determination, to the extent that they saved up and self-released their 2009 debut EP themselves. And they've won not just an army of supporters with their relentless gigging and festival appearances, but a small legion of celebrity admirers, including Mick Jones of the Clash, who invited them to get involved in the Strummerville charity project, Brian McFallon of the Gaslight Anthem, who brought them on tour as support, Spencer Pollard of California grindcore merchants Trash Talk, who for some reason decided to strip off naked to join them in the studio and perform a spoken-word piece for their new EP, and David Gedge of the Wedding Present, who brought them down to the At the Edge of the Sea festival but mercifully kept his clothes on.

And they've all been wowed by Sharks' fanfares for the fabled common man. There's It All Relates with its sweaty fervour and Mick Jones-ish woah-oh-ohs. Fallen On Deaf Ears bears the passion and commitment of a band who you'd swear were lampooning the idea of passionate and committed rock if you didn't know better. Yours to Fear opens with a chanty pub singalong chorus, then shifts back a decade (from punk), adding Be-My-Baby drums – you can imagine it with a Glasvegas-style retro-Wall of Sound production.

You can also totally see its appeal even as you loathe it with every fibre of your being. Common Grounds is so Clash it's not true, and it seems churlish to point out that even the Clash weren't the Clash for long – by album two they were a metal band, and by album three they were playing blues, reggae, rockabilly; everything but punk. But Sharks are into preserving the purity of first-album Clash. They're also into giving the contemporary music scene a good old slap in the face, to wake it out of its current torpor. Well, after 892 New Bands of the Day, most of them favourable, we're not sure the music scene needs waking up, but thanks for thinking of us, boys.

The buzz: "Sharks are a punk rock group with absolute heart and hardcore DIY ethics."

The truth: They're being touted as a British Hold Steady, only we don't detect much brisk, nuanced narrative story-telling here, just good old-fashioned rabble-rousing.

Most likely to: Be in love with Mick Jones.

Least likely to: Be in love with Janie Jones.

What to buy: Their second EP, Show of Hands, was released this week by Best Before Records.

File next to: Mona, the Clash, the Hold Steady, the Alarm.

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