Cymbals Eat Guitars

Cymbals Eat Guitars


Cymbals Eat Guitars (CEG for brevity’s sake) are an odd band, and odd bands, as we well know, are the best. Frontman Joseph D’Agostino has a voice that can best be described as sounding like a guy with a brilliant voice but who is suffering from laryngitis – a kind of almost-death-metal throaty roar that weirdly holds a melody incredibly well. Your enjoyment of his vocals are probably key as to whether you’ll enjoy the band. They have so many touch points that it’s hard to pin them down: there’s grunge, shoegaze, 80s rock, 90s indie, US college rock…they are a veritable melting pot of a load of sounds and it makes for compelling listening. The band are in town tonight on the back of their late 2016 album Pretty Years, the follow up to the brilliant LOSE and pretty much its counterpoint; to me LOSE was about death, and Pretty Years is very much about being alive.

It’s those two albums that tonight’s set mainly draws from. The band come onto the stage in the basement of Manchester’s finest dingy venue the Soup Kitchen, and immediately crack into Pretty Years opener ‘Finally’, all bright guitars and that vocal front and centre, the drums being pummelled the hell out of (by a guy who we’re informed later on “has been puking all last night so he’s amazing for being here” – kudos to the dude as he smashed the shit out of them all night). The whole mix is a swampy, electrifying amalgamation of the touch points described above. In some ways it reminds me of The Horrors when they decided they’d be good by copying loads of great bands, but CEG remain resolutely individual – they actually don’t really sound like anyone you can definitively put your finger on. I mean ‘Wish’ kinda sounds like Weezer, with it’s chugging riff, but it also doesn’t sound anything like them – it’s quite the skill and I love them for it.

They know how to do massively widescreen too: ‘…And The Hazy Sea’ from their 2009 debut album is still epic as fuck, loud then quiet then REALLY LOUD again; it’s lost none of it’s wonder over the years. It’s the final run of three songs from LOSE that really cement the night though, as ‘Jackson’ gives way to the ridiculously brilliant, 8min-plus opus ’Laramie’: falsetto beginning, ‘ooo-oo’ sing alongs, massive guitar licks, Springsteen aping middle and all. D’Agostino returns on his own to give us the perfect parting shot of ‘Child Bride’, a gentle end to an engrossing performance, the crowd enraptured by the delicately plucked strings and his soaring sandpaper voice. Throughout the night D’Agostino repeatedly fires off a goofy grin in the direction of his bandmates, evidently enjoying himself, and with a performance this riveting and tight it’s no wonder the crowd are giving off the same expression on the way out.

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