London EC1 Aquarium

Depending on your levels of tolerance, [B]The Rocking Horses[/B]'ll either have you running for the hills or cooing in delight

The girl with the pigtails is singing about gnomes and pancakes. Her guitarist brother is murmuring sympathetically. They come from Milton Keynes, and they’re called The Rocking Horses. Aaarghhh!

Don’t worry, though, lurking under the cutesy surface (imagine a pre-synth [a]Bis[/a]) is a darker strain of early-’60s pop. Admittedly, you have to look bloody hard to find it. Which means, depending on your levels of tolerance, they’ll either have you running for the hills or cooing in delight.

Peterborough’s Velosonic deal in sneers and Jesus poses, suggesting they have fire in their bellies and earth-shattering ideas on their minds. Shame, then, that they are Mover‘s smudged shadow, Marion at their most feverishly deluded, and Shed Seven at their clod-hopping worst.

London’s Superbs, meanwhile, start all their songs with a brief trancey bit in an attempt to distract from the fact they’re essentially just a trad-guitar outfit. It doesn’t work. Instead they sound very antipodean, which sometimes means clean and crisp guitars, sometimes New-Manics bluster, but occasionally wholesome Midnight Oil eco-rock. Two of which are just about alright.

Incidentally, tonight was a showcase for Superior Quality Recordings. That’s turning out to be something of a misnomer.