The School / Moofish Catfish - Buffalo Bar, Cardiff
There’s a bad, bad storm in Cardiff tonight and I spent quite some time mulling over whether it might be wiser to stay at home in the dry and start work on that ever growing pile of “singles of the week”. It is a dilemma, I meanMoofish Catfish is not going to go down in history as one of the great band names but one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover - an all girl group from Sweden has to be worth checking out right? The Carry On… fan in me takes over and off I schlep into the storm. I may be some time I shout to the cat, but she’s not listening as she trawls the internet following a breaking news story. It can’t be important, I’ll catch up on news later.
So, what do you expect to get when you go to see a Swedish girl-band? Big hair, matching outfits and big shiny teeth? The pop sensibilities of Abba meets catwalk glamour? Moofish Catfish are here to shatter those illusions. The vocalist looks like a latterday Hank Marvin (complete with the enormous ‘should have gone to Specsavers specs’) wearing Kurt Cobain’s cast-offs while the bassist could be auditioning to replace Belinda Carlisle in the Go-Go’s. Musically they have more in common and treat the audience to some competent indie-rock which combines C86 innocence with Pixies style power pop. They are endearingly at odds with convention but the tunes are instantly forgettable.
The School are another female fronted band but there the comparisons end. The School are the embodiment of pop music. Proper pop-music mind, like they used to make back in the day. For a refreshing change I’m not talking about the bloody 1980s either, no, think ‘Wall of Noise’, or think Motown meets Leader of the Pack – actually, don’t think, just dance. For this is what The School really are, a proper, old-school (no pun intended) dance band and the driving 4/4 beat used from everyone from the Supremes to The Happy Mondays is employed to stunning effect. Hear me testify people, I saw grown men actually dancing to The School tonight and, I am not ashamed to admit, I broke the rules of music journalism and shuffled my feet a bit too. So, they sound great, they make effortlessly fabulous pop music and, in frontwoman Liz, they have the potential star quality – so why are they, well, a bit glum tonight? It seems that their guitarist walked out on the band only yesterday and the stand-in has only had a few hours to learn the tunes. They apologise and, yeah, it is a little rough at the edges at times but it shows immense potential and I’m looking forward to catching them when they are really firing on all cylinders in front of an up-for-it crowd.
Let it Slip (which can be bought here) is a slice of utter pop heaven, kinda like early SFA colliding with the Chiffons and promises great things of the forthcoming album. As they glide through the gentle beauty of Shoulder I’m aware of the storm outside worsening. Thunder shakes the building as lightning strikes over in the park and, as the band pack up we dash out, eager to get home. In the car I turn on the stereo and, yeah, the elements have been trailing the breaking news story – Michael Jackson is dead. Someone get word to Phil Spector’s jail cell quick before he loses all hope – all is not lost – The School are ready to lead us into a new golden age of proper pop music. Be prepared. Buy some dancing shoes.