Liverpool Barfly, 8/10/2007
Parts & Labor
In a pokey corner downstairs in Liverpool’s Barfly, The International are seriously threatening to cause sonic carnage to a PA system that’s already a bit worse for wear; popping and screeing with every new instrument that’s plugged in.
They’re a mass of curtains for hair, specs and a bassist who likes like Dom from Dick & Dom, scooping out layers of psych, drone and dirge most likely retrieved from the most desert-like regions of Josh Homme’s subconscious. Every splurge and songs that sound like medieval bands playing experimental doom rock are met with approving nods from Parts & Labor, cheesy grins, and grumpy WTF? faces. While somewhere in the ‘70s some pych-rockers with a time machine are saying, “Why didn’t we think of that?”
Hot Club de Paris are the main reason most people are here tonight, and they seem to have shrunk since last time we saw them (Perhaps as a result of the dysentery they had then). But today they’re “not playing by the rules”, instead showcasing new songs because they’ve “got to try them out on someone”.
They love for wordy song titles is still there, and instrumental opener ‘Jumping Jack Flash Gordon Is A Moron…’ is a promising start, until it turns out that most of the new stuff is wordless (Paul: “I should have done more work over the summer”). Sometimes it feels like they’re on autopilot, but the one that “sounds like ‘Tubular Bells’” (It doesn’t really) and a couple of the other newies - once they have lyrics - have the potential to be the best songs they’ve done. There is a rare outing for peculiarly pretty first album highlight ‘Hello, I Wrote A Song For You Called “Welcome To The Jungle”’, though, which just about saves the situation.
And then Parts & Labor come on with their phenomenal new drummer Joe Wong. He might look like a confused librarian (he’s probably wondering how the dodgy PA suddenly got so deafeningly loud) but you could watch him alone if it wasn’t for Warshaw’s wild-rabbi beard.
The music itself is strangely hypnotic and tribal (Or that might be the beard again); Wong’s Soviet beats, the berserker rock of ‘New Buildings’ and the odd euphoria of ‘The Gold We’re Digging’ making it through the sound problems. Some West Coast pop-punk harmonies are in there amongst the fuzz, FX and distortion, although Friel does sound a bit like Martin the Martian when he sings and one song is like The Mockturtles’ ‘Can You Dig It?’ before it’s becomes an ungentlemanly barrage of noise.
But underneath it all (And there’s a lot of it) there’s a party band in there some where. That’s why people are jerking and lurching back and forth like teenage grebos listening to Led Zeppelin to an encore that’s essentially aural GBH. Hot Club might have got people to pay their money, but P&L are a band to come back to when the soundsystem works.
Listen: www.myspace.com/dasinternational, www.myspace.com/hotclubdeparis, www.myspace.com/partsandlabor