10th October 2009
Reviewed by Reza Mills
The Mostly Hums are a five member group consisting of Chris Barlow (vocals/guitar), Paul Graves (lead guitar) and Andrew’Ash’ Ashworth (bass) from Rockitt 88, Drummer Trevor Wagstaff from The Convulsions, and finally Vicki Graham on Accordion/Keyboard. The outfit have been together for 10 years and tonight saw the launch party for their 4th album ‘Jump the Shark’.
The band kicked off the evening with an acoustic set to get everyone in the mood. The music was very much in the direction of alt-country with some nice folk touches. They did an acoustic version of ‘Gene Clark’ from the new album which was a tribute to the great man himself as well as to The Byrds, Gram Parsons and Johnny Cash, with Chris’ assertion that only 5% of country music is worth listening to. They also did a song called ‘Norman Baines’ with some beautiful lead vocals from drummer Trevor. The set was mesmerising and my attention was captured throughout, which is a rarity for me when seeing live Country/Folk music. I hope the band plays more acoustic sets in the future and expands this side of its’ repertoire.
Following the short intermission The ‘Hums came on in their electrified form and concentrated the majority of the show on tracks from the new album. The Mostly Hums are quite a different proposition from Rockitt 88. Whereas that band concentrated more or less on rockabilly, blues and smatterings of country, The Hums are more focused towards Alternative/Rock/Indie. The band takes their cues mainly from the likes of Yo La Tengo, The Violent Femmes and The Lemonheads. The accordion also adds a Pogues element to the dynamic. However such is the extent of their musical influences and styles that to limit their sound to purely ‘indie/rock’ would be to do the band a grave injustice. They were also hints of punk, new-wave and Ska.
The band works very well off of one another and as musicians they are pretty much faultless. To add to that drummer Trevor and Keyboardist Vicki have 2 of the best voices I have heard in the Lancaster scene so far. Chris Barlow is an engaging front man and a great personality up front where he exchanges banter between band members and audience. He has a charismatic presence and could be viewed as the unofficial ‘leader’ of the group. He is certainly the most outgoing of the 5.
The audience were rather tentative and reserved at first, but once the band hit their stride that soon changed and quickly all were dancing and grooving in front of the stage. It is fair to say that a lot of the audience appeared to be family and friends of the band who were there to show their support.
The new material previewed had something of a dare I say ‘slicker sound’. It would appear that the group are clearly gearing up for a more streamlined and professional approach as songs such as ‘Pachu Momma’ and ‘’Palomine’ demonstrated. Its’ apparent to me that the band have one eye on commercial aspirations of some sort, whilst this is understandable personally I feel that the bands’ true strengths lie in their rawer material with tracks such as ‘Sugar Time’ where the Violent Femmes quirky influence really begins to make itself apparent. They also perform some storming covers of Kraftwerk’s The Model which Chris calls ‘one of the best songs’ ever written’, and Enola Gay by OMD which has to be heard to be believed. The song segues into ‘Girls want to have fun’, ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’, ‘Anarchy in the UK’ and ‘Shadup your face’. ‘Hammerfest’ from the new album displayed a slight Ramones influence and shows that our heroes aren’t about to go quietly and settle down just yet. The band played an extended encore which left the audience breathless and thirsty for more.
My thanks have to go to Chris Barlow for the complimentary tickets and a copy of the new CD which I shall be reviewing at some point in the future.
You can catch The Mostly Hums at the John O’Gaunt on the 29th November. So get yourselves down there for a guaranteed good night out.