10313370_10152407789253468_6438959342847635433_n– FIRST CHOP BREWING ARM, SALFORD –

Young British Artists – or YBAs as they now prefer to be known – have kept us waiting. I’ve been lucky to catch them low down the bill at the odd festival in the six years the Manchester foursome have been together, and whenever I try and Google them for news I’m more likely to be rewarded with a picture of Tracey Emin than one of their videos. Tonight though is the album launch party for debut A Change By Any Other Name, where the music can finally do the talking.

I sense anticipation in the air when I enter this oddly charming railway arch. Whether this giddiness is more reserved for the England game, to be screened following the gig, remains to be seen. HORRID take to the stage sporting brown sacks over their heads and attempt to spoil the party before it has begun, intimidating us with a cacophonous doom-laden 40 minute drone consisting of one solitary song. I’m not sure what statement they’re trying to make, but it’s definitely left a lasting impression on my eardrums. Proving that endurance brings rewards however are Weird Era, whose warm syrupy soundscapes fit like a glove with the current crop of bands looking to revive the early 90s shoegaze scene.

Leo Scott and Sebastian Mariner from YBAs are ferreting around buying drinks for their friends and family but the pleasantries soon give way to action of a different kind as the band’s raw, angular art-punk takes hold. The first two tracks of their new album ‘A New Language’ and ‘Salad Days’ start the pulses racing. Leo holds his bass like a weapon, and is full of energy as he convulses with every beat. The unnerving ‘Mirror Trail’ conjures up a surreal atmosphere much like mid-career Radiohead, before the tempo shifts upwards taking it to a satisfyingly rowdy climax. Recently re-released single and golden oldie ‘Lived-In Skin’ steals the limelight however, the spiky hook and military-style drums provoking furious head-nodding and involuntary jerks aplenty whilst Mariner is bent double in the corner eking out every last drop from his guitar.

Beautiful organ-led album centrepiece ‘Capsule’ follows, recalling The Walkmen at their most melancholic. The two-chord ‘Start A Colony’ finds Leo uttering the sarcastic refrain “You gotta raise your flag, to the lost, to the wretched”, before he announces that it is “Ten minutes to football time”. Shame!

Unlike England, YBAs have bags of potential to progress. Watching them mature was worth the wait.

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Michael Whitehead

I think nothing of dropping everything and going out on a wet Tuesday night to go and see a band give it their all in front of one man and his dog. Maybe that's why I'm on here! I try and keep up with the vast underbelly of indie/rock/alternative talent that is criminally ignored but I'm also partial to a bit of early 80s new-wave and 90s shoegaze - someone has to be.