New Model Army

Anarchy in the UK

New Model Army

Despite what may have gushed on you via the UK music press (Q magazine: "British music will conquer the world in 2005"), this isn't 1994 all over again. Brit pop's as dead as Dickens' doorknob (thanks, Robbie Williams), and far worse, so is John Peel.

Still, there's something in the air, and not just Steve Lamacq's BBC 1 show, either. Glaswegians Franz Ferdinand's SXSW 04 success has kick-started another wave of new UK acts. Out of the 95 UK acts scheduled for this year's Music Festival, here's a skimming through the cream of the crop – the usual suspects, raw recruits, the good, badass, and the downright odd. And Fatboy Slim. Remember him?

The Old Guard

Wales-by-way-of-London's Alarm last had a hit on these shores in 1983 when IRS Records was the hippest label in the land. Mike Peters brought his version of the band to Austin two years ago, but never made it to La Zona Rosa once he learned his wife was in labor. Here's hoping that family isn't expanding again come the third week of March.

Last year saw the release of Ash's Meltdown, a louder disc than what we're used to from Tim Wheeler's tuneful Britrock quartet. They're also co-founding members of ZombAid, the UK group deadicated to giving useful occupations to the newly-reanimated layabouts of Shaun of the Dead. Ash Fun Facts Nos. 1 and 2: Stunningly lovely and talented Ash guitarist Charlotte Hatherley just released her superb solo debut Grey Will Fade and is currently snogging Shaun director Edgar Wright. Manchester's Doves may well be the best band in Britain these days, new CD Some Cities and new single "Black and White Town" being an insanely catchy collection of guitar-and-drum-driven monster grooves that positively screams for stateside success.

Graham Coxon, meanwhile, used to be in Blur, but don't hold that against him. His post-Blur debut, Happiness in Magazines, is a minor, lo-fi Britrock masterpiece, and single "Freakin' Out" rivals anything coming out of the UK this year with the possible exception of Doves' new single.

Brothers Danny and Richard McNamara founded swaggering rock outfit Embrace in the late Eighties in West Yorkshire, recorded groundbreaking single "All You Good Good People" in 1997, and released new CD Out of Nothing in 2004, which entered the UK charts at No. 1. Rumor has it a superstadium is being built on the Isle of Wight in order to safely contain the band's gargantuan sound.

Wildly popular Brighton-based DJ/producer Fatboy Slim, aka Norman Cook, has come a long way, baby, and is the godfather of the Big Beat as well as a former Housemartin. His new CD Palookaville is good enough to make your ass drop off from all that shakin', so strong undergarments are advised. Longtime SXSWer Robyn Hitchcock's recent Spooked (Yep Roc) continues the singer-songwriter-storefronter's penchant for gorgeous melodies and obscurantist lyrics. It's his best in ages.

It's been said that Birmingham's reggaefied Musical Youth were neither, but that's not true: They really were young once. Brothers Michael and Kelvin Grant are still passing the dutchie around, although lefthander/singer Dennis Seaton is no longer along for the ride. Musical Youth Fun Fact No. 1: They were the first-ever black act on MTV!

The New Model Army was created by Parliament in 1645. Led by Oliver Cromwell, they beat the stuffing out of the Royalists at the Battle of Naseby that June. Much, much later a band bearing the same moniker cropped up. Marked by trenchant politicism and a gritty melodic panache, they remain a cornerstone of thinking-man's proletarian punk outfit 25 years on, despite the recent death of drummer Robert Heaton.

Songstress Beth Orton is the closest thing the UK will ever have to Lucinda Williams, thanks to the GATT treaty limiting the number of achingly gorgeous singer-songwriters allowed per monarchy. Similarly, Scout Niblett's loud/soft/loud acoustic methodology has found her compared in these pages to Cat Power, but truth be told she's actually a bit more like Kim Gordon minus the animalistic husbandry.

Can't stand the Rezillos? Tough shit, Mickey, Edinburgh's punk pioneers have been discharging the cream of the noisy crop since 1976 and have now reformed. Singers Fay Fife and Eugene Reynolds are Class of '77 royalty, although, as yet, they still haven't been offered a Peerage, dammit.

Obscurity is knocking: Scotland's beloved indie-poppers the Trashcan Sinatras have a new album, Weightlifting, which lifts enough lovelorn confessionals to make even the most jaded Smiths fan forget about the Mozzer, if only for a moment.

Almost Famous

Edinburgh's indiepop darlings Aberfeldy could well give Belle & Sebastian a run for their lucre. Thankfully, they're busy being musical geniuses. Their new Rough Trade-r, Young Forever, is, in a word, heavenly.

Adem is best known as the bassist for Fridge. His new solo disc, Homesongs, is a contemplatively low-key blend of guitar, harmonium, glockenspiel, and achingly beautiful sadness. Apache Indian, aka Steven Kapur, fuses Bhangra with hip-hop and more, to the point he's been nominated for the Mercury Music award. Single "Boomshackalak" is far too funky.

Nottingham's Nic Armstrong is The Greatest White Liar, according to his New West debut, but we think of him as the groovy reincarnation of sixties Britpop – pre-Beatles, post-Merseybeat, all soul. Bikini Atoll are labelmates with Austin's Explosions in the Sky, which tells you all you need to know. Bloc Party's "Banquet" single was the sound of London 2004 and new album Silent Alarm is a cacophonous blend of Joy Divisioned guitars leavened by stuttery funk beats and a healthy sense of how to make your bum shake.

Dogs Die in Hot Cars' ingratiating blend of insatiably poppy songcraft recalls the best of Squeeze if they'd been fronted by Paul Weller, while Welsh hip-hop jesters Goldie Lookin Chain are what happens when you run out of spliff in the midst of an Ali G bender. Scottrockers Idlewild's new single "Love Steals Us From Loneliness" is a mouthful certainly, but it rocks just fine.

M.I.A., aka Maya Arulpragasam, was recently profiled in The New Yorker even though the Sri Lankan-by-way-of-London rapper hasn't released a full album yet. Her blend of grime hip-hop and Sri Lankan patois via single "Galang" is the best thing off the streets since the Streets.

Aggressively melodic Britrockers Ordinary Boys nicked their name from a Morrissey song and never looked back. Their cover of the Specials' "Little Bitch" nearly tops the original. Speaking of aces all the way, the Kaiser Chiefs' single "Oh My God" has lodged itself so far in my brain I can no longer remember the dog's name. As for their SXSW gig? "I Predict a Riot." Relentlessly catchy post-New-Wave genius.

Do their passports read I Am Kloot? Likely not, but these Manchesters sound suspiciously like Robyn Hitchcock offspring, which is a very good thing. Mancunians the Longcut mix post-punk, keyboards, and furious pacing into an enveloping style that recalls everyone from Fugazi to the Mars Volta. Nine Black Alps' frenetic proto-punk is like sticking your head in a Cuisinart and ending up with a wicked new hairstyle. Frantically charging single "Cosmopolitan" will do nothing to ease your post-gig hangover.

Let's be blunt. In fact, let's be James Blunt because we're tired and we'd like to go Back to Bedlam, the title of Blunt's new album, which recalls Elliott Smith at his most not-dead-yet.

New Model Army
New Model Army

The Go! Team have the coolest name, and the coolest sound: film-referencing, horn-inflected, dance party boogie circa '64. Debut disc, Thunder, Lightning, Strike, sums up their infectious sound. Breed '77 are more like Seattle '92, making them the year's most atypical Britrock band, verging as they do on Alice in Chains-lite territory, albeit with fewer drugs and, presumably, more hugs. The friendly fire of 22-20s, on the other hand, is MC5 all the way, Woodstock-era traditionalists that they are. Flak jackets required.

The Departure are the NBT (Next Big Thing) according to the Britrock music press, but this time NME are onto something. Part Television-meets-Suede, part retro flashback, single "Crashing the Same Scene" almost makes you wish it were 1982 all over again. Almost. Fronted by laconic blonde IED Leila Moss, the Duke Spirit have exploded New Wave and bluesified Blondie, resulting in a driving groove that, especially in single "Dark Is Light Enough," can sterilize surgical instruments better than a platinum autoclave. CBGB's is calling.

Meet the New Boss

Yanks John Mark Lapham (a Texan, no less) and Brandon Carr formed the Earlies with a pair of UK lads to form this lo-fi, guitar-driven Britrock-by-way-of-Austin outfit that would do Townes Van Zandt proud.

We're all Sluts of Trust, but only the few, the proud, the slutty get to rock out this hard via electronica-enhanced punk squall and shouty, sweaty lyrics. Single "Piece o' You" should give Lemmy Kilmister a few more moles. Atlantic's the Glitterati recruited Guns n' Roses producer Mike Clink to oversee their sleaze-rock debut so these guys eat Poison for breakfast.

SXSW returners the Crimea's EP Lottery Winners on Acid verges on the painfully honest, with jangle-pop eclectics and some 30 releases in three years (!). Liverpool's the Black Velvets reconfigure the heavy monster sound of Sixties-era rock gods the Who: "Led Zeppelin with melodies by The Beatles."

Cinephile's sleek, serpentine "Urban Angel" single makes Massive Attack last year's news, if last year's news also included the Sneaker Pimps and Morcheeba. Sally Crewe & the Sudden Moves' "Good Morning, Aston Martin" is a slice of pure-pop deliciousness, off her CD Drive It Like You Stole It, featuring Spoonbenders Britt Daniel and Jim Eno.

British screamo? Seriously, you could use Hell Is for Heroes' Models for the Programme CD to strip the costumes off the Locust. Shriekery never sounded so, well, loud. Wales' Jarcrew "sound like some bastard electro-dancefloor-friendly post-hardcore elecroclash mashup, all sub-atomic keyboard basslines, handclaps, and staccato DFA punk-funk." With a name like Viking Skull, it's got to be cheesily addictive, and with songs like "Beer, Drugs, and Bitches" and "Rape, Pillage, and Burn," they are. Paging Dr. Oppenheimer: Punish the Atom do so with low-end fuzzbomb verve, part Dischord, part end-of-time guitar blitz. When they say they're "Destroying drudgery with mantra-like basslines," they aren't kidding.

Nominated for Favourite Single in this year's CMW Indie Awards, Boy's "Same Old Song" recalls the best of the Byrds meets the Dandy Warhols, tunefully retro Britrock as catchy as the clap, but far less painful. end story

United Kingdom @ SXSW

Adem (London); Thu., 8pm, Blender Bar @ the Ritz

AKO (Bristol); Thu., 8pm, Red Eyed Fly

Aqualung (London) Fri., TBA, Stubb's

Nic Armstrong (London); Sat., 9pm, Cedar Street Courtyard

Ash (London); Fri., 11pm, Eternal

Tom Baxter (London); Fri., 9pm, Buffalo Billiards

Bikini Atoll (London); Wed., 10pm, Friends

Biomechanical (London); Thu., 11pm, Back Room

Black Moses (London); Thu., 10pm, Flamingo Cantina

Bloc Party (London); Fri., TBA, Stubb's

The Blueskins (Yorkshire); Thu., 10pm, Blender Bar @ the Ritz

James Blunt (London); Fri., 10pm, Buffalo Billiards

Breed 77 (London); Fri., 11pm, Hard Rock Cafe


Meg Lee Chin (London); Wed., TBA, Elysium

Graham Coxon (London); Thu., 11:15pm, Stubb's

Cranebuilders (Liverpool); Sat., 10pm, Nuno's

Sally Crewe & the Sudden Moves (London); Sat., 11pm, Friends

The Cribs (Leeds); Sat., 1am, Pecan Street Ale House

The Crimea (London); Fri., 8pm, Exodus

The Dawn Parade (Cambridge); Fri., 9pm, Jackalope

Dogs (London) Sat., 9pm, Buffalo Billiards

Doves (Manchester); Thu., 1am, La Zona Rosa

The Duke Spirit (London); Wed., 1am, Nuno's

The Earlies (Manchester); Thu., 12:15am, Maggie Mae's

Embrace (Leeds); Fri., 1am, Buffalo Billiards

Evil Nine (London); Wed., TBA, Elysium

Fatboy Slim (Brighton); Thu., 12:30am, Stubb's

Fingathing (Manchester); Thu., 9:30pm, Zero Degrees

Rachel Fuller (London); Sat., 10pm, 18th Floor @ Crowne Plaza

The Futureheads (Sunderland); Thu., 11pm, La Zona Rosa

The Glitterati (Leeds); Wed., 10:30pm, Hard Rock Cafe

Goldie Lookin Chain (Newport); Fri., 12mid, Eternal


The Go! Team (Brighton); Fri., 11pm, Buffalo Billiards

The Great Lines (Gillingham) Thu., 8pm, Pecan Street Ale House

Ed Harcourt (London); Sat., 10:30pm, Antone's

Hell Is for Heroes (London); Wed,. 10pm, Sake on Sixth

Robyn Hitchcock (London); Wed., 8pm, Emo's Main Room

Robyn Hitchcock again (London); Thu., 10pm, Blender Balcony @ the Ritz

Robyn Hitchcock yet again (London); Fri., TBA, Cactus Cafe

Robyn Hitchcock one last time (London); Fri., 11:30pm, La `Zona Rosa

Hot Chip (London); Thu., 12mid, Elysium

I Am Kloot (Manchester); Thu., 1am, Habana Calle 6

Kaiser Chiefs (Leeds); Thu., 9pm, La Zona Rosa

Kasabian (London); Fri., TBA, Stubb's

The Kills (London) Fri., 10pm, Emo's Main

Large Number (London); Fri., 11:20pm, Latitude 30

Long-View (Manchester) Fri., 10pm, Co-Op Bar

The Longcut (Manchester); Fri., 9pm, Exodus

The Magic Numbers (London); Sat., 10pm, La Zona Rosa

Marlowe (Liverpool); Fri., 10pm, Habana Calle 6

The Martini Henry Rifles (Cardiff); Fri., 10pm, Blender Balcony @ the Ritz


Maximo Park (Newcastle) Sat., 12mid, Pecan Street Ale House

M.I.A. (London); Thu., 11pm, Elysium

The Music (Leeds); Sat., 1am, La Zona Rosa

New Model Army (Bradford); Fri., 10pm, Elysium

Nightingales (Birmingham); Sat., 12mid, Maggie Mae's

Nine Black Alps (Manchester); Sat., 11pm, La Zona Rosa

Nizlopi (Leamington Spa); Wed., 8pm, Buffalo Billiards

The Ordinary Boys (Worthing); Fri., 12mid, Exodus

Panic Cell (Kent); Thu., 9pm, Back Room

Paul the Girl (London); Wed., 12mid, Hideout

Polly Paulusma (London); Thu., 11pm, Nuno's

PDHM (London); Thu., 10pm, Back Room

People in Planes (Cardiff); Thu., 11pm, Co-Op Bar

Mike Peters/the Alarm MMV (Rhyl); Fri., 11pm, Elysium

Robert Plant & the Strange Sensation (Bath Somerset); Thu., 12:15am, Austin Music Hall

Punish the Atom (Nottingham); Fri., 8pm, Jackalope

Pure Reason Revolution (Reading); Sat., 11pm, Buffalo Billiards

Raging Speedhorn (Corby); Thu., 1am, Back Room

Selfish Cunt (London); Wed., 8pm, Club de Ville


Amy Smith (London); Fri., 8pm, Buffalo Billiards

S.Rock Levinson (London); Fri., 8pm, Blender Balcony @ the Ritz

Steel Pulse (Birmingham); Thu., 8pm, Auditorium Shores

22-20s (Lincoln); Thu., 8pm, Stubb's

Tom Vek (London); Sat., 8pm, La Zona Rosa

Viking Skull (Corby); Thu., 12mid, Back Room

Wreckless Eric (Norwich); Fri., 9pm, Elysium

Pete Wylie @ the Mighty Wah! (Liverpool); Sat., 10pm, B.D. Riley's

yourcodenameis:milo (Newcastle); Fri., 1am, Lava Lounge Patio


Aberfeldy (Edinburgh); Thu., 8pm, Nuno's

Biffy Clyro (Glasgow); Fri., 10pm, Exodus

Cinephile (Glasgow); Wed., 11pm, Hideout

Dawn of the Replicants (Edinburgh); Fri., 9pm, Habana Calle 6

Dogs Die in Hot Cars (Glasgow); Fri., 12mid, Buffalo Billiards

Hobotalk (Edinburgh); Sat., 11pm, Lounge

Idlewild (Edinburgh); Sat., 12mid, La Zona Rosa

Jupiter & Teardrop (Glasgow); Wed., 9pm, Nuno's

Rezillos (Edinburgh); Fri., 12mid, Elysium

Sluts of Trust (Glasgow); Sat., 10pm, Latitude 30

Trashcan Sinatras (Glasgow); Thu., 11pm, Exodus


The Amazing Pilots (Belfast NORTHERN IRELAND); Wed., 9pm, The Vibe
The Earlies
The Earlies

Iain Archer (Belfast NORTHERN IRELAND); Sat., 9pm, Pecan Street Ale House

Other Intls @ SXSW

Christof Dienz (Vienna AUSTRIA) Fri., 9pm, Copa

A Brand (Antwerp BELGIUM); Fri., 12mid, Jackalope

Maxon Blewitt (Antwerp BELGIUM); Thu., 9pm, Nuno's

Dr. Pepper Family (Gent BELGIUM); Sat., 10pm, Co-Op Bar

Hitch (Kortrijk BELGIUM); Sat., 9pm, Co-Op Bar

Andrea Echeverri (Bogota COLOMBIA); Thu., 12mid, Mambo Kings

Superlitio (Cali COLOMBIA); Sat., 1am, Mambo Kings

Sunshine (Prague CZECH REPUBLIC); Fri., 12mid, Lava Lounge Patio

Apocalyptica (Germany GERMANY); Sat., 9pm, Flamingo Cantina

Electrocute (Berlin GERMANY); Thu., 8pm, Elysium

Ulrich Schnauss (Berlin GERMANY); Thu., 9pm, Blender Bar @ the Ritz

127 (Tehran IRAN); Sat., 9pm, Tambaleo

Jennifer Gentle (Padova ITALY); Wed., 12mid, Emo's Main

Piccola Orchestra Avion Travel (Naples ITALY) Sat., 10pm, Tambaleo

Beangrowers (St. Julians MALTA); Thu., 11pm, Lava Lounge Patio

Seyi Solagbade & the Blackface Band (Lagos State NIGERIA); Thu., 8:45pm, Austin Music Hall

DJ Panko (Barcelona SPAIN); Thu., 8:45pm, Zero Degrees

Ojos De Brujo (Barcelona SPAIN); Sat., 1am, Caribbean Lights

C-Mon&Kypski (Utrecht NETHERLANDS); Sat., 10:40pm, Caribbean Lights

NRA (Amsterdam NETHERLANDS); Sat., 11pm, Beerland

The Spades (Eindhoven NETHERLANDS); Thu., 9pm, Red Eyed Fly

Voicst (Amsterdam NETHERLANDS); Fri., 11pm, Jackalope

zZz (Amsterdam NETHERLANDS); Thu., 11pm, Flamingo Cantina

Daara J (SENEGAL); Sat., 11:50pm, Caribbean Lights

Sharq (Tashkent UZBEKISTAN) Sat., TBA, Elephant Room

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More by Marc Savlov
Remembering James “Prince” Hughes, Atomic City Owner and Austin Punk Luminary
Remembering James “Prince” Hughes, Atomic City Owner and Austin Punk Luminary
The Prince is dead, long live the Prince

Aug. 7, 2022

Green Ghost and the Masters of the Stone
Texas-made luchadores-meets-wire fu playful adventure

April 29, 2022

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle