Phonotonal

The State Broadcasters
Live (Without Malice / Small Town Boredom / Once We Were)

On a lazy Monday in Glasgow sometimes the battle to sink or swim is the only thought worth occupying. The first working day of the week need offer little more than a comfy couch or a warm duvet to be a roaring success and such was the plan for this evening.

An evening of slothfulness all changed upon hearing that The State Broadcasters had hastily been added to the bill at Bloc, and would likely be on sharp, which offered the opportunity of seeing the band and obtaining an early night. Upon entering the venue at 9pm and seeing a time-table which had the band scheduled to play around 11pm, it’s no exaggeration to say that more than one person’s heart sank at the conflict between hanging around or nodding off.

Without Malice, a group of fresh faced youngsters from Fife (possibly all called Ken, to make the stereotypical joke) made every attempt to grab the attention and, to be honest, were far better than what could have been expected.

With the lead vocals pitching a high warbly sound, meshing with some taut and edgy backing music, the band marked themselves out as the type that would appeal to Muse fans. There was a sense of controlled aggression to Without Malice, an air of venom and anger spiked their tracks but there was no hint of an all-out assault on the listener, just a consistent level of big sounding songs.

There was a 1980’s feel to some of their set, as the big keyboard fills chugged along with power riffs creating a large sound that took over the venue. Definitely a band to keep an ear out for in the future.

Next up were Small Town Boredom, a duo from Paisley (although how anyone could be bored in Paisley frankly beggars belief) who opted for a quiet subdued approach with the lead singer virtually on the floor, crouched away from view. Initial signs were promising as the quietly picked guitars lay under the breathy vocals which croaked away like a Scottish Tom Waits or Leonard Cohen.

It wasn’t music to get the party started but it was sounding good. Sadly from here on in, the only sound was of an over-enthusiastic backer of the band who went from table to table trying to sell the bands CD. The entrepreneurial spirit should be encouraged but sadly it was to the detriment of the band whose delicate output struggled to compete with the sales pitch. Like the band before, Small Town Boredom warrant a further hearing, if only to determine if the early promise of their set was fulfilled.

Supposed headliners Once We Were followed on and the reasons for the reshuffle became clear. A Swedish act over on tour, the band carried the sonic arsenal to play as headliners but lack of word of mouth and awareness of the band prompted the late switch.

For whatever reason, it didn’t affect the band and once a few early sound problems were overcome, it was all go. That said, the sound problems did conjure up some magnificent squealing feedback which was immensely enjoyable to some listeners, although there were a few scurrying to cover their ears.

The three piece made a lot of sound and the terms ‘sonic landscape’ and ‘Mogwai-esque’ fitted the bill. With the melodica making an appearance, there was a lot going on in the short set and, if some songs possibly overstayed their welcome, there was always a brimming energy to what went on.

Finally, it was the turn of The State Broadcasters and keen readers of The-Mag may have noticed their name a few times recently. Featuring as part of The Wendy House Collective, the act have been building up a following and are being namedropped by a lot of Glasgow bands as one of the acts to check out.

With opener ‘Christophers Gone’ its immediately clear to see why, as their melodies filled the room and the song stepped briskly through. With the next track ‘Sketchbooks’, slowing proceedings down and splitting the vocals between Graeme Black and Gill Fleetwood, the set varied in tempo and style but retained a high quality.

With a pared back sound of keyboards, guitars and occasional xylophone and trombone, the set may have missed the harp or violins of previous nights but the night lacked little that would have improved it.

Importantly, the band seems to be enjoying their time on-stage. Be it in the biggest smile seen on a Glasgow stage in years or in the jovial and self-deprecating banter, there is an easy going, welcoming nature to The State Broadcasters that sits well with the music and sunshine they capture.

With ‘My Binoculars’, already a firm favourite in this reviewer’s play -list, it’s a track that could rank alongside some of Teenage Fanclub’s headier moment and indeed, evokes the spirit and wistfulness of ‘December’ from ‘Bandwagonesque’.

With an upbeat finish to the set, a quick look at the watch showed that it was nearly 00:30 on the Tuesday morning and the impending doom of how slow and long a day Tuesday was going to be still couldn’t take the gloss of an enjoyable night and another great set from a band with hopefully an impressive future.

Guest article from Andy R.

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