Bucket and Spade Escapade
The band have a knack and trend for rhyming, friends. But there is a lot more curiosity, when you dig deeper.
'Bucket and Spade Escapade'
is available at http://classicplastic.bandcamp.com/
It is, once more, back to the parable of the new band ...
only today, there is a minor twist. When summing up and over-viewing a new band, and the associative local scene, there is a lot of talk about the north. My recent focus, has taken me to the undervalued, and rather prodigious climbs of Leeds, Bradford; and perhaps more obvious hot-spots such as Manchester and Liverpool. As you may- or may not- be aware from my newer reviews, I have waxed lyrical and been quite tumescent when analysing the great north. From Abi and Marc, to Rose and the Howling North, through to Johnnythefirth, there is a teeming and seemingly unlimited potential and wealth of new talent, bursting at the overstuffed seems. Some of the great new hopefuls have originated from London, but not many to be fair. The problem we have with the media, and especially the more left-wing conservative press, is that they tend be narrow-minded and pedantic. They are either unaware that there are cities and towns outside of London, or bogged down in their middle-class, middle-England role; seemingly unwilling to acknowledge any area that could be considered working-class. In my unofficial role as a music reviewer, I have had to work hard to find some great acts. That said, those acts that I have had the pleasure to write about, are with few exceptions, based in the north of England, or Scotland. I myself live about 40 minutes from Brighton, and know for a fact that there has always been a fervent and diverse music scene down there. I have often wandered down The Lanes, and nearby venues; little doorways and fascinating pubs. Each one is awash with billboards and signs promoting local, and far-away talent, all eager to ply their trade to the southern folk. It is not an anomaly, either. If you travel down towards Dorset or Hampshire, again there is a huge amount of similarly wonderful talent. It is the sea air and the tranquility, you see. London is bustling and busy, no matter which district you reside in. Consequently, a great deal of- especially promoted- music, tends to be guitar bands, and a lot of uptempo music. Although the bands here do not exclusively write about the city street stress, their sound seems to be indicative and representative of a deep-seated anxiety, as a whole. The same is true of the big cities in the north-west. There is a modern and industrial speed, that dictates pace and enforces mood. Perhaps it is not surprising, if you follow the analogy, that the likes of Bradford play host to more acoustic acts. If you travel down the A23 from London, and go 'off the beaten track', as it were, you will be amazed at just what a shift there is, with regards to music. Sure, the south coast plays host to a great deal of indie, hard rock and metal bands, the same as anywhere else I guess. It just so happens, that proportionally, there is a higher percentage of bands and acts, who are less harried, and convey sounds that are at once mellifluous, as well as urgent. There is a more temporised strain beneath the bones, I guess. The fact that the local talent are in a, by and large, calmer environment, can be heard in their music. I mention all of this, because there needs to be a closer and more dedicated level of research and attention given to the musical folk south of London.
Brighton boys Classic Plastic, formed last year, arrive with a refreshing and intriguing style of sound, that has been compared to Britpop favourites Blur, whilst drawing in northern influences, The Smiths and The Beatles. The four lads hail from different parts of the country, yet were formed because of their mutual musical loves, and common ideologies. They have been touring relentless through Brighton, and London, even having their tunes spun by XFM and BBC 6 Music. In just a year they have gained a strong reputation and a loyal band of fans, through social media, and beyond. The lads are, singer/songwriter and guitarist Alex Hill; guitarist Cai Trefor; drummer Joshua Belcher, and bass player David Armstrong. Their sound is melodic, and combines modern and restless sounds, with a flavour of '60s pop and classic '90s Britpop. In spite of the growing number of guitar bands, many of whom say nothing different from the rest of their contemporaries. There are few fresh and vibrant bands on the scene at the moment, and Classic Plastic fill a demand that has been growing and growing for many years now.
The start of the intro has a invigorating and propulsive edge to it. I was reminded initially of Coffee + T.V. by Blur. There a similar rhythm and strum to it, and instantly your head is taken to the mid-late '90s; there is instant authority and quality to it. Unlike Coffee + T.V., Bucket and Spade Escapade is a slower jam, and has a slightly breezier, '60s edge. I can see and hear the influence of The Beatles, circa-Help!; a smattering of Johnny Marr's innovative guitar work lingers in the formative notes. When the drums enter the fray, there is an explosion of summer colours; it is tattooed splinters being blasted into the sunset, and infuses the track with additional energy and swing. The track checks up a notch, and provides a beautiful stepping stone for the vocal to begin on. When the vocal line does arrive there is no Damon Albarn/John Lennon-esque tribute or emulation; it is a modern-day and unique vocal performance. There is a distinct accent; to my ear, originating from either the west or south west of England. It is a bit of a change from the rather bland accentuation that many modern bands seem to posses, and when the words "You I knew it was real" are enunciated, there is a charm and conviction to it. Our front-man has a way of seemingly licking his lips with a sly wink when the words are delivered. He has a similar swagger and cheekiness to his tones as the likes of The Libertines boys Doherty and Barat. I could almost picture Doherty, in his pork pie hat, swinging around the microphone, smiling away. If anything, the refreshing and swaying drive to the song reminded me of a younger Suede perhaps; there is that sense of sexuality and youth to proceedings that, married with the Britpop/'60s backing, conjures up a tantalising and heady blend. When the words "You I knew it was real" return, the energy level sparks, and there is a familiar tone to the vocal, and amidst a flurry of seaside imagery: sandcastles, beaches and a tangible sense of summer heat. Through a whirlwind of curious scenes; speedboats, near-romance and simmering tension, there is a simultaneous child-like innocence, and lascivious intent. The band are consistent and tight through the track. The percussion, bass and guitar line remains structured and unwavering. It is a line that keeps the track balanced and compelling. In the same way the likes of Blur and The Smiths can keep you engaged with a taut and composed musical passage, the band do so, and tie it in with a compelling and memorable vocal too. When our hero talks about the fact that him and his lover never go home "'til we've had a swim"; you get the sense that there is double entendre and a sly nudge lurking within the sentiments. The vocals are an ever-changing monster; from The Clash-style punk punch, to cheeky little subdued laughs and effects, right through to modern-day London in the chorus edges. Although the soul and heart of the track, may be implanted with seeds from '90s Essex and '60s Liverpool, the bones of the song are rooted in the south, and by the sea. Although Brighton has a bone-breaking pebble beach, the mood is very much sun, sea, sand, and... yes, sex, too. In the way that debut and eponymous album Supergrass were fresh-faced and a gang of reckless abandon, Classic Plastic have a similar tongue-in-cheek-cum-innovative rock gods persona. One wonders whether the 'Bucket' refers to...well, you know, and the 'Spade' refers to, well... hmm; escapades a plenty, and it is quite pleasing to hear of a band whom have a loose sense of fun, as well as a genuine talent for hooks, strong and wonderful melody, and an intelligence with regards to keeping a song unpredictable and unflinching. It is a track that motions like a juggernaut, musically, counterpointed with a pioneering and adventurous vocal, that keeps its own style and voice strongly, whilst showing shades and colours of some past masters.
It is true that the best sounds of 2013 are a good 40 miles away from London. In the same way that the north has been showing how it should be done, it seems that the south are making waves, and grabbing focus too. I have been familiar with the Brighton music scene for a long while, and have been stunned by the range of styles and sounds that are present within the town. In a year where there are more new acts than ever bursting forward, it is not going to be hard for Classic Plastic to gain a huge following, and hear their fresh and stunning sound heard by a large audience. They have already been turning heads and winning over some of the largest and most influential radio stations in the U.K., and have been supporting some rather stellar talent too. They will not need my endorsement and patronage to win over a new legion of fans, but at the same time, I hope that my gold star can help draw in some disparate and unexpected avenues of listeners. In a time where it is simultaneously open-market and near-impossible to break to the surface and win a majoritive vote, the 4-piece Brighton band are in a really strong position to rule the airwaves, and a final message to any fickle and uneducated city media:
There may be more talent down south than you thought.