The hype don’t count for nothing – this is why we’ve been drooling over The Twang

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The Twang: Club NME, KOKO, London; Friday, January 12


The Twang: Club NME, KOKO, London; Friday, January 12

The inherent flaw within the music industry remains the juxtaposition of the word ‘music’ and the word ‘industry’. From the moment rock’n’roll was used to sell cola to teenagers in the ’50s, the relationship has always been a crass marriage of convenience and commerce. Call us naïve, call us idealistic, call us punk rock’n’soul warriors, but there’s something about door-stopping the beautiful ‘music’ with the vulgar ‘industry’ that feels a bit like doing a big stinky shit on a new-born baby’s head.

It’s telling, then, that, as the most-talked-about new band in indie, the lion’s share of what we’ve heard about The Twang thus far consists of tales concerning the mega bucks they received after eventually signing with a record label and how many, many [hacks up phlegm and spits] units they’re going to sell as this year pans out. Anyone might think they’d entered an industrialist’s dream of Spinning Jennies and soot-specked chimneys rather than, you know, the stuff that makes hearts pound. So much has been said about The Twang, yet so far, so little has been said about the music.

The fact is, their three visits to the capital before tonight were mostly industry-sodden affairs – incendiary demonstrations of their edgy, agitated rock’n’roll for sure, but also ones which saw too many fluttering hearts muffled by the sound of flapping chequebooks. However, with the ink still drying on their deal with mega indie B-Unique, tonight’s Club NME show provides the first real opportunity for many to grasp why we at NME have been falling head-over-heels in love with this brilliant, ballsy band since the moment their three-song demo landed on the Radar desk in October 2006. Coming onstage at almost half-past-one in the morning – after synth-rockers and former NME coverstars The Cooper Temple Clause, no less – it takes precisely 30 seconds for the crowd to come round to our way of thinking.

Because, from the moment the five-piece strut onstage – all arrogance and belief and, above all, charm, they give us music that references every little bit of prole rock’n’roll that’s ever been worth one jot. That’s the Roses, Public Enemy, Oasis, the Pistols, Joy Division, The Verve, the Mondays… if not in sound, then in spirit and flair. Yearning first single ‘Wide Awake’ breaks NME’s heart into at least eight pieces by the time it’s through, while ‘Ice Cream’ sees the crowd dancing and surging towards the stage like KOKO is hosting the reformation of The Clash, rather than a scarcely heard indie band. Then, there’s their opening opus – the seven-minute pout of ‘Cloudy Room’, a song that basically suggests, via the medium of foggy guitar fuzz, edgy, serrated vocals and puff-chested pride that the Twang are indie rock’s equivalent of Batman – apt reward for anyone who’s been pining for a band to actually matter. Yet, it’s left to their crowning glory – the Streets-flecked swoon of ‘Either Way’ – to confirm the Birmingham band’s brilliance beyond question. What does it sound like? Oh, give it another month, and you’ll know. We look left. We look right. Everyone’s avin’ it.

The Twang have nothing to do with the music industry and everything to do with rock’n’roll. You’ve heard the talking, now it’s time to listen to the music – that’s the music of Britain’s best new band, by the way.

James Jam