Without Feathers / Public School Battalion Redhouse, Sheffield
Article written by
Matt H - Apr 28, 2013
Without Feathers - flocking great
Local music scenes have their drawbacks, but when their members try something new the good will they have can help make it something of an event. So it is that there’s a reasonable pubful of people on a Sunday night for Public School Battalion and Without Feathers, bands with a single gig between them in their current forms.
PSB are on their first gig drawing members we’ve seen before in Fury of the Headteachers, and [Heart] Yeah! Their drum machine-driven songs borrow some of the odd electronic experimentation of the latter but lashing it to (at its best) a more disciplined, repeating and circling guitar sound and long distance popmusik vocals. When they hit their stride together they created some impressive surges of sound along with a slightly surprisingly poppy edge to the songs. While tonight they were a little rough around the edges, that pop sound as much as anything makes them well worth keeping an eye on.
Without Feathers are Nat Johnson, Rory McVicar and Emma Kupa, late of Standard Fare. In Sheffield terms that’d be something of a supergroup. Except in this, their seond gig, they’re not quite a group yet. Even without them taking turns to lead it’d be obvious which one of them had written which song (except the Jonathan Richman cover...). So the effect is more like a local version of that Songwriter’s Circle that BBC2 used to do sometimes, with people taking turns to help out others with acoustic renditions of their songs. There are one or two stumbles as they adapt to each other’s distinct styles. But when the gears mesh, as they do quite often, the harmonies in particular are a thing of beauty. There’s more than enough right through the set to suggest the new songs, while carrying echoes of the past, are well up there with, and beyond, the best that Emma and Nat have written (Rory not yet having penned any newies). So far from using up any of their good will with this latest experiment, they’ve all three just bought themselves a little more.