The Rumble Strips / The Answering Machine - Carling Academy Liverpool - 26.10.07

Since they have expanded to a four piece and swapped the drum machine (proudly called Mustafa Beat) for the less programmed and more colourful touch of Ben. The Answering Machine have veered towards a psychedelic early The Pixies vibe, coated by a flowery brit-pop backdrop that Cast used to catchy or irritating effect, depending on your perspective.  Bassist, Gemma provides the steely foundation from which guitarist Patrick and singer/guitarist, Martin expands colourfully and boldly from, taking them close to the strides made by The Dead 60s. Twisted power pop and lyrically bemused ‘The Hold Up’ , highlights this approach.

The crowd take time to figure out where The Answering Machine lies, as they flit from raw and rocky to sturdy indie then to heart filled pop. The adventurous ‘Your Father’s Books’, neatly encapsulates all three musical styles and an eccentric megaphone haunt has the impact of Martin effectively heckling their own song. A winding blues filter gives forthcoming single ‘Lightbulbs’, a languid touch and Martin does a The Pigeon Detectives vocal impersonation to end proceeding on a yearningly catchy note. This has the effect of driving indie connoisseurs to scribble this Manchester troupe into their notebooks.

Having the ability to startle crowds at a showcase event or a festival earns you a badge of respect, but doing so at your own gig as well. That must put you on the New Year’s Honours list. This is the impact of Tavistock quintet, The Rumble Strips and the opening stages of their first tour since they released the adventurously bold ska and rockabilly merging debut, ‘Girls and Weather’.  Eerie, soulful cooing precedes the Dexy’s Midnight Runners backed uninvitingly and from afar by Th’ Lengendery Shack Shakers, delinquent flash of ‘Cowboy’. Country bumpkin clad singer, Charles Waller produces a bemused yet defiant vocal push, as the horns rampage and the guitars rock with rhythm, but the crowd remain a little dazed. This colourful outfit inclusive of handle bar moustachioed keyboard and horn player continues their beleaguered lyrical push, through the ska reviving ‘Hate Me You Do’.

True lyrical depth peers out of the veil of brazen horn led instrumental exuberance, waking up the thinkers in attendance, ‘Building A Boat’. It is through this thoughtful interlude that the subtle, stroking percussive touch of Mathew Wheeler (formerly with Action For Heroes) is noticeably crafted and adds an air of calmness. This low key touch then trickles into the falsetto reaching crowd favourite, ‘I Ain’t Got No Soul’ plus the blues bolstered ‘Oh, Croele’, as the full range of these Devon delinquents is explored.   When the brass element is discarded for a poetic Wordsworth admiring moment  ‘Clouds’, a completely different band emerges as does a radio friendly pop touch to rival Van Morrison.

This slightly wistful break gives the band and crowd a like the chance to preserve energy for the horn hounded big hitters, ‘Alarm Clock’ and the day-dream extolling ‘Motorcycle’. Before a striding indie inclusive encore, ‘Don’t Dumb Down’ takes the evening to its conclusion. A smaller than you would expect crowd makes their way out, slightly invigorated. It makes you wonder whether headlining the NME New Bands Tour, an honour that was bestowed on Da Strips earlier this year, is indeed a good thing. Wandering attention spans of modern attendances these days, probably rendered their efforts a little redundant, not tonight though, attention remained fixed.

David Adair

Click here to leave your comments on the Message Board
(NB: The message board opens in a new window so please disable your pop-up blocker to view)