CLEAR AND REFRESHING
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Atarashii Hito / Drive To The Forest In A Japanese Car  venue: Heaven's Door  place: Sangenjaya date: March 15th (Tue)


T.V.I.V. are totally wasted on this audience of about four people. Not only are they the prettiest band tonight by a long shot, they also boast loud, dirty, aggressively deployed keyboards and a vocalist who sounds like he's being forced to sing while a South American paramilitary deathsquad holds his family at gunpoint. There's no guitarist in the band tonight (he's on a train somewhere near Narita Airport) but the resultant, sparser, sound, with the keyboards as the lead instrument gives the set a sharp, icy edge.

PALE29month is a band name that seems to be designed more to make an easy search on google than to actually mean anything in particular, but then who's to know? They have paid a lot of attention to their hair and sport a striking dandy-punk chic image, and, hey, they're pretty good. They clearly take their punk noise thing very seriously, but aren't afraid of making it all a bit ridiculous and operatic whenever needs must, which is always a lot of fun in a vaguely Ruins kind of way. Like their name, it all seems like a lot of pretentious nonsense, but it looks good and doesn't sound like anything else around so who cares?

Wet The Bed do a kind of mentalist metal punk thing with an upright bass and an effects pedal that makes it sound like The Chemical Brothers, a guitarist with a big greasy quiff, and a fat drummer with a moustache. The girl in the audience with the Iron Maiden t-shirt is jumping up and down and screaming, and even the most studiedly cool post-punker would have to admit that it's fucking good.

And so are Drive To The Forest In A Japanese Car, who, with the loss of their keyboard player this February, are moving steadily away from Contortions territory and into something that is equal parts Buzzcocks and The Clash. The transition is an awkward one, with the three members struggling to fill the gaps that have now appeared in the old songs, and with promising-sounding new songs expanding enticingly in a Simonon-does-dub direction but needing a fair bit of trimming before they can really be labelled "ready". Nevertheless, Drive To The Forest In A Japanese Car still sound sharp and aggresive, with enough of a pop tendency that they could be something really special once they tighten up.

Last band, Atarashii Hito seem to be very, very nice people, but they're also one of those bands where the audience sits still and appreciates them quietly, empathising gently from within their own fragile hearts. Maybe she's singing about a lost kitten, or maybe a telephone call where so much was left unsaid, and then it gets loud but its still boring. I should probably be using this gig to get in touch with my feminine side or as a therapeutic exorcism of some painful childhood memories, but my feet still want to dance and with music like this, they just can't. - Ian Martin, Apr.17.05.

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