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The Broken Family Band, Absentee, The Acutes

The Faversham on 15th October 2006
Reviewed by Dave on 17th October 2006

It was late last week when James, a mate from uni, messages me over MSN exclaiming "I have a band you should go review!" I am somewhat wary of this, because James and I don't have much common ground when it comes to music. He loves Lionel Ritchie and the Commodores, for instance. As such, I was frightfully expecting some crazy Lionel Ritchie cover band.

It turns out that the band he is talking about is The Broken Family Band, which his boss plays bass in. He points me in the direction of their website, and I'm impressed after hearing the first track, so I decide to go along and see what they are like.

The Acutes

The Acutes are a two piece consisting of a vocalist/guitarist and a drummer. I realise I could have just said "think White Stripes", but I didn't want to draw the comparison as the only thing they have in common is that there is two of them. The Acutes don't play the blues or mildly irritating indie-pop songs. Also, Matthew Shallcross can actually play the drums.

Their set seems short, but features the boys' new single, "When I Left Work Today", an odd-sounding song with its Travelling Wilburys-esque harmonies. Despite the oddness, it remains one of the best songs The Acutes play, along with fast-paced love song, "Set on You".

Rating: 7/10
Website: www.myspace.com/theacutes

Absentee

London based five piece Absentee are touring to promote their latest album 'Schmotime' and they are doing a good job as the crowd really gets behind their live performance. How could they not? Absentee present their own take on indie/country rock as a lively and fast paced half hour of music.

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Dan, the lead singer, has a voice that belongs to someone much older. Think Nick Cave or perhaps Leonard Cohen. It is this deep, soulful voice that set Absentee apart from their peers. On record Absentee sound slow and perhaps lacking in energy. When the band perform it is another story altogether. On stage they prove that they can play rushing, fast songs and that they have bundles of energy, an energy that they easily communicate and share with the crowd.

With songs about killing your girlfriend and gorgeous indie/folk riffs, Absentee presented a wonderful glimpse of what is happening on the London music scene at the minute; a revival of folk and country. This is a good thing. No, really. It is.

Rating: 9/10
Website: www.absenteemusic.co.uk

The Broken Family Band

As The Broken Family Band take to the stage to rapturous applause and loud whooping, I manage to push myself to the front. "Excellent," I think to myself, "this will be ace". I am not disappointed. From start to finish, The Broken Family Band are on top of their game, be it playing music or regaling the crowd with tales from previous gigs and telling jokes. Every part of the Family Band set is top notch stuff.

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The band play a few songs off their new album 'Balls', a title which the band use to get large crowds of people to shout "balls" at them. A few old songs are put into the set as well, and the band showcase some of their new material. At times they sound deliciously white trash, lacking only four mullets, a banjo, and a washboard to enter the realms of "southern fried country music". The guitarist, Jay, is insanely good. Without trying to sound pretentious, he is probably the best guitarist I have ever had the pleasure of seeing perform live. With his long and complex solos watching him play was entertaining on its own. Vocals from Steven come in the form of the aforementioned "white trash" country style for most of the songs.

As said above the band play a mixture of songs from 'Balls' like the excellent, fast and furious "You're Like a Woman" and the more sedate "It's All Over". Other songs from the night include the crowd favourite 'At the Back of the Chapel' and the gorgeous 'The Booze and the Drugs'. New songs like 'Love Your Man Love Your Woman' hint at more good things to come from the Cambridge-based foursome.

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Rating: 10/10
Website: www.thebrokenfamilyband.com

I came to the Faversham a casual Broken Family Band fan, but I left as a real fan. 'Balls' hasn't stopped playing on my iPod since Sunday night; I just can't get enough of this country music band.

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