It’s hard for up-and-coming bands to make a lasting impact in the mercurial music scene of today. Toby Kidd, lead singer of Hatcham Social, agrees with me on this. After his show last Sunday night at Kendal Calling festival, he tells me that he thinks people no longer “get” his band’s debut album ‘You Dig the Tunnel, I’ll Hide the Soil’ which came amongst a wave of post-punk revival acts which swept over the UK in 2009. This neglect was reflected in the twenty-strong crowd scattered around the House Party tent for Hatcham Social’s set. This was the case not only because denim and distortion seem to be the recurring themes of 2011 when it comes to exciting, new bands, but also as their set had been delayed to clash with Blondie’s and as their names didn’t appear on the online line-up whatsoever. None of these things, however, seemed to phase the London band who played loudly and energetically and introduced their songs with charisma.
Their set included as many new songs as those from their debut as they made a clear attempt to adapt to become more relevant and to re-mould their sound to fit the template of successful bands in 2011. Whilst there was a clear distinction between old and new, the band was consistent and had a clear, individual, weird style throughout which they built up through their lyrics and stage presence. They appeared so weird, in fact, that a reading of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky didn’t seem at all out of place in their set. The older material that they played featured a thundering rhythm section that echoed the Bunnymen’s packed set on the main stage the night before intertwined with angular, discordant guitars that ring bells of Fire Engines and The Fall circa ‘This Nation’s Saving Grace’ to build up a dark yet lively soundscape. In the newer material, all of this was thrown out of the window and replaced with distortion-driven guitars that point strongly to the 90’s. Toby Kidd’s vocals, however, have not changed. They take their cue not from Ian Curtis or Mark E. Smith, as is the story for so many of said post-punk revivalists, nor are they lazy and out of tune, as is the case for so many of the recent 90’s revivalists but more like Morrissey. This works surprisingly well with both styles.
The sample single from their forthcoming album ‘Like an Animal’ contains a Sonic Youth-esque intro and solo amidst poppy arrangements and hooks. It can be heard below and compared to the epic 'Sidewalk' which unravels into a noisy, new-wave masterpeice and can be found on the band’s fantastic debut. Hatcham Social are a brilliant example of how a band can adapt to stay relevant in an ever-changing music scene. We have seen so many bands fade away on the release of their second album as the try to emulate their first, in both sound and success. It seems that those that do the best on their follow-up are those that are constantly re-inventing themselves and their sound. We've seen The Horrors maintain their huge cult status by doing so and with their recent shoegazy third album 'Skying', they continue to be as unpredictable as they are brilliant. Other examples of turning to the 90's for success recently include Alice Costelloe and KC Underwood, formerly of yet-to-break-through bands Pull In Emergency and Little Death respectively, who show great promise with their unique brand of stripped-down grunge as 'Big Deal' and Rory Attwell, formerly of Test Icicles and Kasms, who is set to surpass the achivements of both of these bands with the release of his one-man-band Warm Brains' debut 'Old Volcanoes' which consists of gloriously lazy lo-fi pop.
Let's hope that the same can be said for Hatcham Social who capture both sounds they’ve attempted perfectly. Hopefully as a result of acknowledging that people no longer “get” the post-punky, jangly and abrasive sound on their debut and subsequently changing to a 90’s sound which seems to be all the rage at the moment, they will produce another fresh and exciting album to launch them back into the limelight so that they’re no longer playing to rooms of twenty people.Like An Animal by hatchamsocial - --------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sidewalk by Hatcham Social- http://snd.sc/paezDH