Wednesday, 24 October 2012

They Came From Yorkshire: Flies On You - Nothing To Write Home About

There I was, musing on the extreme unlikelihood of every again finding an unashamedly punk-inspired band with something to say when this dropped into my inbox.  In the UK, that is.   Hungary's throwing them out at at a hell of a rate at the moment, as anyone hearing the products of the amazing Budapest scene in my show this year will already know.   But here in England, it's finally arrived and, fittingly, it came out of Yorkshire.

Flitting, as I've done for most of my life, between the two metropolises of Liverpool and Manchester, I've often risked getting my teeth rammed down my throat when asserting that neither city has ever consistently come up with the goods when it comes to injustice-fuelled rage.   Liverpool bands can certainly get the subject matter right, but the general tendency has been to do so by indirect means and underpin social comment with tuneful melodies redolent of their Merseybeat heritage.  Mancunians can spit bile as much as anyone, but the essence of their appeal is more likely to lie in idiosyncratic provocation rather than tup-thumping agitation, the excellent and under-rated Easterhouse excepted.   It's in the cities to the east that you've always been more likely to find innovative and enticing raging against the machine, in the music of, say, Gang Of Four, The Mekons, The Three Johns, Red Guitars and many others.   And from York it was The Redskins who got us tapping our feet to Socialist Worker manifestos while in Hull The Housemartins wrapped radical politics in pop like no one else ever has and perhaps ever will.

It's into this rich history that Flies On You fit with considerable assurance.  A duo from Leeds, their debut album Nothing To Write Home About is now upon us and it's a corker. Not only that, it manages to do achieve this without yielding to identi-punk mediocrity and with a breadth of vision that's well beyond other pretenders to a throne that's been so muddied by the uninspiring tosh peddled by so many it's almost lost all of its value.   Read what they say about themselves on their Soundcloud site and it goes some way towards explaining why.   Rather than finding a common interest in three chord bash and leaving it at that, Andy and Doug talk about their love for Big Youth, Yugoslav indie and Belgian synth-punk among other things and they eschew any temptation to fit themselves easily into a hole in favour of following their obsessions wherever they take them.

It's this that gives the album its eclectic power and brilliance.  While 'Slashing It Down' rides a Gang Of Four-like wave of rhythmic intensity overlaid with an understated, menacing vocal pitch and 'Spain' is a candidate for the best song ever to feature the repeated words 'fucking cow' - a much-coveted accolade indeed - 'Hum', as you may have heard when I played it in my September show, is disarmingly melodic, the threats simmering rather than boiling over, but no less bludgeoning in its impact.   If you catch my Dandelion Radio show in October during the next seven days - after which it will disappear forever, so you'd better be quick - you'll hear the threatening guitar brawl that is 'Shipmanesque', a slow burner that's now established itself as my favourite on the album and, indeed, one of the best things I've heard all year. 

Download the album here and anticipate more great things from Flies On You.   Music needs them and so do you.

Mark W

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