Monday, June 23, 2008

School's Clout

The School/Flicklisten/The Puncture Repair Kit, Swiss Concrete @ The Bullingdon Arms, Oxford, Thursday June 19 2008, 8.45pm.

The Bullingdon Arms is a short taxi ride away from Oxford's main rail station, a smallish pub with friendly, fetching bar staff and a big backroom area where the bands play. Ben and your long-distance lurker meet up with a couple of the SWSLer's charming co-workers, and get waylaid watching Germany beat Portugal in the Euro2008 Q-F so only catch the last few songs from The Puncture Repair Kit. Their boisterous, slightly ramshackle take on indie-pop reminds your comparison-crazed correspondent of The Strange Death Of Liberal England, but we hope the rest of the set was less impressive because a) we hate to have missed out on anything and b) we'd just lurve to be able to say The Puncture Repair Kit flat-tyred to deceive.

Flicklisten is a guy who comes from Ohio but has lived in Oxford for four years, a singer/guitarist occasionally accompanied by a young lady who plays a violin shaped like a pair of scissors (a cut above the usual instrument, natch). He has a good voice, knows how to get a meaningful, sombre strum from his guitar, and has a droll line in tinder-dry banter, but his songs, on first listen anyway, are more interesting than truly memorable.

This last charge is certainly something you could never level at our learned friends The School, who've happily mastered the knack of catchy tunes addressing bold sentiments, embellished with 60s girl-pop stylings yet undertowed by savvy indie knowingness. They seem to be a Rosie and at least one Ryan short of the line-up when we last saw them, but Liz is in good, giggly form, describing Oxford as very pretty once you've found it, a reference to the maybe-Multimap-induced mayhem of their journey into the city. Of tonight's set, the songs from last week's Single Of The Week 'Let It Slip' ep prominently feature, there's a mystery cover version that no one gets, and the small matter of a dedication to their 'longest-travelling fan - Ken!' for their closing number 'All I Wanna Do'.

Your marathon-man mitherer hides his blushes for just long enough to grab a few words with Liz at the end of the show, as the band pack away their equipment in readiness for a trip to Spain for a festival performance. She insists the recent departures were amicable and not the result of a Mark E Smith-like hire-em-fire-em ethos, and reveals a new band member is forthcoming who will cover both instruments. Talking of covered instruments, we don't have to get our twelve-inch ruler out as Liz very kindly autographs our copy of the 'Let It Slip' ep before we wave her off to Spain. But not before she reveals an addition to The School timetable: a debut album due early next year!

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