To the usual list of Strange News facts that buzz around Cardiff’s fleshpots – bassist namechecked in a Future Of The Left song! Onstage bass podium! Double denim! One of them works in a wool shop! – can we add that their singer does a mean Liam Lynch impression? That the vocals at the end of ‘Oh My God They’ve Given Me The Suburbs’ sound just like those at the end of ‘United States Of Whetever’? No? Okay.
Anyway, the debut Strange News EP – five songs, 10 inches, 12 minutes – does a pretty great job of cramming this Cardiff band’s notoriously bolshy live shows onto vinyl. It’s antsy, on-edge Man Rock, heavy on the downhill momentum and agitated vocals, and shot through with anti-bloke playfulness and lyrically oblique one liners. Side 1 opens with two short stabs; ‘Letter From The Queen’ and ‘Oh My God…’ both tight and urgent, Jimmy Watkins’ vox at the enjoyable end of alarmed. ‘I Started The War’ starts the EP loosening, alternating stomping attack with unnerving short moments of quiet. It’s the second side that shows off the biggest balls though: ‘There Goes My Ghost’ and ‘A Distance I Can’t Bear’ are weighty strutters, rolling and crunching with a loose professionalism that weirdly suggests Queens Of The Stone Age mashed with one of Estrus Records’ killer garage compilations. It’s music that springs from this killer lineage, generally and locally (ex-mclusky loon Jon Chapple is in the background of two tracks, yowling psychotically), and shakes and swings like a big mutant cock. Catchy too. I need to read an improving book now.