LIVE REVIEW: Folly Group, Regressive Left, Crimewave @ Head of Steam, Newcastle (11.04.22) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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First up, Newcastle via Manchester solo artist Crimewave opened with a Tetris-inflected hybrid of shoegaze and electronica. His dub-soaked melody projected a neon wonderland across the tin-sized room.

It may have been a Monday night but two of the most enticing prospects in modern art rock had arrived in Newcastle for the first time.

Regressive Left will have been on any (post-Brexit) pop culture connoisseurs radar since the release of their debut single, Eternal Returns, back in October 2020. Originating in Luton and Bedford, this intriguing trio elegantly denounce the uber-neoliberalism that fuels the faux “culture war”, which has infested this floundering land. Described as “pulling politics onto the dance floor”, frontman Simon Tyrie’s melismatic vocals are (ironically) reminiscent of Morrissey and chock full of wry lyricism. There’s also shades of The B-52’s but this strain of angular art pop is very much their own, melding synth-singed guitar with peppered drumming, over looping electro beats. Venting about late capitalism has never sounded so irresistible.

It’s fascinating how a band can stand out alongside so many other contemporaries, yet Folly Group have achieved just that via their innovative, percussion-led soundscape. It’s equally remarkable how they’re so musically watertight, barely over a year since unveiling their debut single. The London quartet have already released two splendid EPs and can add being a formidable live act to their repertoire. Singer-drummer Sean Harper’s vocals are deep spoken, ranging from the discordant on Four Wheel Drive to New Romantic-esque on the shuddering Ripples. Louis Milburn’s twisting, ribbed guitar lines are anxiety-ridden, yet along with crunching bass, squeaking synths and cycling cowbell, contain feral danceability. Folly Group excel in jagged, stop-start rhythms and it’s clear they’re not afraid of diving headfirst into new territory; as shown on the droned-out, claustrophobia of new track The Tooth of February. Oozing with versatility, the collective are on an upward trajectory and you should be compelled to see what left-field turn they make next.

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