The Basement / The Hot Meltz / Whiskey Headshot / The Prelude
Liverpool Barfly – 07.07.06

Some keyboard infused rising rock that occasionally hits the post-rock watermark from The Wirral-ites The Hot Meltz, opens proceedings. They ignite intrigue early on for their Weezer skirting ways that occasionally bobs and weaves towards post/rock territory, before the odd hanging guitar riff gives time for reflection. Unfortunately, at the time when the quartet should be reflecting upon a set of promise that could be fine tuned in the rehearsal room, with a little attention to song building detail. They have to focus their energy on finding the bastard(s) who stole a good portion of their valuable musical equipment.

Whiskey Headshot serves as a reminder to those rebellions who think it is smart to bunk off your musical history and appreciation classes after The Beatles and Bob Dylan topics. Opener, ‘Curtains’ does serve as a catchy and psychedelic nod and wink at the latter artist, but the song and the style did appear to be the product of a didactic song writing process, as oppose to a dynamic one. Fortunately, for the lead singer, his shades probably prevent him from noticing the perplexed looks on faces in peering back him. An attempt to open out the set with some robust instrumental free-styling just appears a little too late, but it does give a hint that this band is capable of embracing broadness and freeing their music.

The Barfly venue is sometimes harsh on support acts, with its ensuite bar too temptingly close to the viewing area, it has often attracted more patrons than the stage area. A remedy for this discomfort is found by the sonorous and varied rockers The Prelude, whose shuddering volume and weighty Shane Mcgowan-esque vocal projection coupled with thrusting backing elements, at one point makes their focused folk/punk sound glaring enough to kid those patronising the bar into thinking that The Pogues are in the house, and they are as raw as ever. A 70s blues/rock meander of ‘I Lost My Phone’ adds heart and scything regret to a set of lyrical snap and wandering musical craft. ‘Leave Me On A Sunday’ continues the bluesy nature and instils a mood of mournful regret, projected straight from the heart. The Prelude is the most complete act so far and they plant a seed of intrigue in the mind through their earthy nature. This is enough to make you want to rummage through the shelves of Independent Record Stores, to test the band’s ability at transferring their mood swapping range and cohesive musical focus onto CD.
The inordinate amount of time that it has taken to release debut full length ponderings ‘Illicit Hugs and Playground Thugs’, of one of the UK’s more musingly rustic outfits, The Basement has indubitably worked in their favour.  Front man John Mullin has coated his vocal range and the band have been imbued by a sense of patience in their music, they have fleshed out the bones of their murky country/rock twanged leanings and hung an air of reflection and musical meandering over it. Aptly entitled opener ‘Movin On’ epitomises the band’s “never say die” spirit, while illuminating the instrumental bind and Mullin’s longing and coated vocal prowess. In ‘Summertime’, The Basement dig deep to add a rising folk element to their sincere and crafted base, drawing you into their reflective and slightly sentimental mindset. A treat for those who were with them in their early Dylan eulogising days is handed on a platter midway through, via the troubling, yet poignant ‘News Years Blue’. This sees the riffs stripped down to a flighty and resounding foundation.

The band are clearly relishing the fact that the preliminaries are behind them and a lengthy Irish tour has given them focus and understanding. ‘I Just Caught A Face’, featuring sprightly twanging riffs and trotting percussion, allows the nostalgic narrative vocals to tread along the top of it, projecting fateful submission. The non-album groove of ‘Tuscany’ adds a lyrically cosmopolitan feel and lifts proceedings up through a ranging accompaniment to get hips shaking like an England penalty taker. As the lid is placed on a spirited, yet reflective set it is hard to imagine that The Basement could easily have doubled the set time, with the bluesy roots tracks like that of ‘In The Rain’ and ‘Medicine Day’, still firmly in the locker for a rainy day.

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