These Harrow lads make music for terraces, in the yob-anthem vein of Sham 69 (with a little U2 guitar)
The lineup: Daniel Coburn (vocals), Jesse James (guitars), John Campbell (guitars), Leon Dee (bass), Andy Faulkner (drums).
The background: They headlined HMV’s Next Big Thing Festival and played on the Emerging Icons Festival Stage at last year’s Olympics. Gary Powell of the Libertines has been championing them, as has NME, describing them as “a proper, no-messing-about, rock’n’roll rock band.” Artrocker has hailed them as harbingers of a return to the glory days of indie anthemia while Alan McGee has called them “brilliant” and “post-everything”.
Reading between the lines there, you might be able to work out that IC1s, a new-ish five-piece from Harrow, hotbed of revolutionary rock action, are not a confounding hybrid of Aphex Twin and Abba. A recommendation by a Libertine, the phrase “no-messing-about”, a big-up from McGee, who as we recall said something similar about 3 Colours Red… Yes, we are in the terrain of the bog-standard rock band chasing last-gang-in-town status, with a gruff-voiced frontman harbouring delusions of soulfulness and the ambition of his mouthy ’90s forebears. In one pithy sentence he conflates footie and indie in a way that immediately recalls the Britpop lads. “The whole music scene is crying out for us,” says Daniel Coburn, adding: “I wanna be the biggest band in the world. If you’re gonna be a football team you wanna be Barcelona.”
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They’re not so much Lionel Messi as a bit messy. Their gigs are chaotic, all fist-punching fervour and stage-invading sweat, and they’re midway between the do-gooder activism of the defunct King Blues and the terrace-chant stomps of Oi! bands such as the Cockney Rejects and Angelic Upstarts. They’ve already titled their 2014 debut album Lowering The Tone – “because we’re all cheeky chappies, we do lower the tone” – which they’ve recorded with producer Barny (Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian) Barnicott. “It’s about a working class upbringing,” Coburn explains. “It’s about getting pissed with your mates in the park with a bottle of mad dog 20/20, and at the end of it it’s about looking back and wishing you could have done more. It’s hug-a-stranger, pint-in-the-air kind of stuff.”
Oh dear, yes, it probably is. Beautiful Ugly, which may be on the album, is music for people who think Stereophonics are a bit avant-garde, sung in a voice that some will describe as soulful, others as a bellowing signifier of wretched self-devotion. Levitate sounds like Dreaming by Blondie, only played by builders. Coburn appears to be projecting to a big audience and it would be disconcerting to see him singing in this way, backed by that sound, in a small venue – which you could have done last night had you caught them at Heaven in London, although it was some way from our conception of nirvana. Growing Up, Going Down – “a tale of small-town frustration” (what? Harrow’s only 20 minutes on the Met line from Baker Street) – will be, for some, pure surging insurrection and poetic anger on the streets. Not Perfect reminds us of bands like the Levellers, bands we would never want to hear, although there is a ringing, resonant quality to the guitar that suggests early U2. We must confess, we do have a soft spot for Whack Jack, a croaky Cockney knees-up worthy of Sham 69 whose chorus – “I’m a little bit kooky, a little bit mental, a little bit experimental” – would work in either soccer or playgrounds this Christmas. In fact, were it not a song about stalkers, it could conceivably headbutt the hit parade. But if we had to listen to any more than that one track we’d feel like doing the same to the wall.