About this time last year I saw Foals and Friendly Fires playing together at weekly Soho indie night White Heat and, flushed with two-quid vodka sodas and a weird kind of national pride, immediately hammered out a gushing piece for NME declaring them to be the two best new bands in the country. I’ve had to defer that declaration for a year since both groups have only just got around to releasing their proper debut singles, but I’m still confident that they’ll do me proud in 2008. I’m just a little bit disappointed that nobody’s stepped up to the plate in the meantime so I keep going down to White Heat to try to repeat the trick.
White Heat is a good concept: three new bands you probably wouldn’t trek to a squat in Stoke Newington to watch individually, giving you what often seems like a personal performance since most of the rich-kid indie scenesters that come down to pose to the DJ don’t turn up ‘til halfway through the headline set. Welcome to London.
Some people who know some people I know have been talking up this band Let’s Wrestle recently but their faith proved to be mightily displaced. Named after a book by oddball illustrator David Shrigley, they are basically an in-jokey school band elevated to a level way above their talent because people like Eddie Argos of Art Brut think they’re a laugh.
Bristol’s Munch Munch make more of an effort, although not sartorially since they couldn’t look much more like a stereotypical bunch of students if they came on stage eating pot noodles and quoting Withnail & I. Like Glasgow’s Make Model and Liverpool’s Elle S’appelle they are an endearing (verging on twee) mixed-sex ensemble who eschew macho guitar noise in favour of pummeling organs and lashings of junkshop percussion. Munch Munch songs never go quite where you expect so when they stumble across a soaring chorus it always comes as a pleasant surprise. They remind me a lot of Fiery Furnaces, so half an hour in their company is time agreeably spent. It’s hard to imagine them going anywhere from here, however. Foals and Friendly Fires for 2008 it remains.