The Twang at Scala
Cast your minds back to the hedonistic days of “Madchester”, where baggy rock was all the rage, and bands like The Happy Mondays, The Charlatans and Primal Scream dominated the music scene. Now imagine a combination of all three of these bands mixed with The Streets and you’ll get something that sounds like The Twang.
Performing songs from their latest album 10:20, The Twang are something of an anomaly in modern music; a band whose history is fairly recent should not be pretending that it’s 1992. Rather than using their influences to create a distinctive sound, they have instead rehashed them to a startling degree. This is a shame, as they are clearly talented musicians, but their efforts are wasted by constantly repeating the same sound over and over again.
To add insult to injury, neither of the singers (Phil Etheridge and Martin Saunders) seem capable of carrying a note. Like his Birmingham counterpart Mike Skinner, Etheridge doesn’t so much as sing, but has the everyman voice of someone who mostly talks and shouts in his songs. This does at least give him the advantage of being able to relate to an audience, rather than alienating them. Unfortunately though, Etheridge often comes across as a struggling rapper.
It isn’t necessarily a bad thing not to be a gifted singer. Frontmen with poor vocal ability have often been a blessing in disguise; look at Mark E. Smith of The Fall, or The Pogues’ frontman Shane MacGowan for shining examples of this tradition.
But there is nothing redemptive here. It doesn’t particularly help matters when The Twang’s music sounds like something that should have died out twenty years ago.
To Etheridge’s credit, he clearly does have fun. He bounces around the stage with exuberance and energy, showing that he is a performer who cares about his music, and, more importantly, cares about entertaining his audience.
The Twang’s performance of 2007’s hit Wide Awake was met with uproarious applause and cheers, which shows that they do at least have a dedicated following and are able to generate a buzz of excitement amongst the fans. However, those who aren’t already acquainted with the band will probably find them hard to enjoy. The crowd feels more like a gathering of those who have been fans since the band’s conception, which indicates the band’s lack of motivation to want to reach out to any new converters.
Essentially a poor man’s Oasis, The Twang are a dull and very repetitive band. You might enjoy this if your tastes lie in anthem rock or songs that echo the 90s Baggy era, but for everyone else, there is little joy to be had.
Watch the video for Wide Awake here: