THE BEGINNING

But it’s never been enough and thankfully a few still realise so

But it’s never been enough and thankfully a few still realise so

So said Radiohead. So it must be true. And it is. Despite what your friend who’s currently learning to play will have you believe at every house party foolish enough to not hide practise Strats and acoustics from budding Jeff Becks. “Yeah, there’s a nice sound to this,” they might say after a few courage-mustering beers, regurgitating what an ex-roadie said to them in a shop once, in order to flog them more than the bare essentials for a beginner. They’ll then rip into ‘Smoke On The Water’, of course nonchalantly gazing around as if it’s second nature. “Playing guitar? It’s like breathing to us ‘musicians’,” they’ll propose. Everyone else will be embarrassed.

Like 70s punk – y’know, real punk, as dads put it – bands today are seemingly formed and signed off the back of stringing together three hand-cramping chords and muddling through. Unlike 70s punk – or perhaps because the ultra-naff are simply unable to hide from the beaming spotlight of Myspace – few bands are truly original, charismatic or unavoidably exciting enough to make up for their lack of musical finesse. But while it’s easy (and dull) to blub on about how the kids have lost it these days, it’s not entirely true. In its most DIY state, now more than ever, alternative music may be over-saturated with Pigeon Detectives and Fratellis but sift through the shit and you shall find the good stuff.

Like anyone, Let’s Wrestle – three practice-shed-dwelling London teenagers – can play guitar. Not like Slash, nor even to Kurt Cobain’s standard (a man who – minus being a tortured genius – would openly confess to playing his instrument at a Pixies sub-standard), but they do so with the same unchallenged enthusiasm of their US 80s heroes H√ºsker D√º, fiercely strumming like a toddler that loves their kitten so much they’ve flattened it into the carpet. Barking about everything from the size of their wangs to getting girls, to the rare mental condition of Pica Syndrome (the eating of non-foods), they’re adored by Art Brut for good reason.

Angular Recordings, meanwhile, see Stolen Recording’s DIY finding of the above and raise them a guitar troupe that have invented a gigging experience. When Sheffield’s Navvy aren’t down-strumming to acute art-rock time signatures and boy/girl call-and-response yelps they’re coining the term ‘ping-pong gigs’, stopping and starting as they and another band take turns playing songs on facing stages. If nothing else it gives people a chance to digest their relentless Talking Heads punk, found on their limited debut EP, ‘4 Songs By Navvy’.

Which leaves White Denim: a band that caused such a stir at SxSW this year that Full Time Hobby raced to release their debut single over here, earlier this month. Chomping and peaking, the axes (c’mon, we had to get that term in here somewhere) of these Austin rangers punch together like a grit filled Bloc Party doing ‘Banquet’ to save their lives, in a run down sawmill.

Of course these bands can play guitar. But seek them out and you’ll find three groups that successfully walk the line between being so ‘punk’ they’re shit and so spoilt by guitar lessons they’re The Kooks.

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