Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Playwrights

The Playwrights

Maybe because Gang of Four has no particular place in my personal pantheon of rock gods, I've been less than excited by the recent surge of GOF influenced bands coming out of Britain. This past weekend, I listened again to the Maximo Park and Hard-Fi records. All I can say is, eh? But while I'd be lying if I didn't admit "Why We've Become Invisible" by The Playwrights reminds me a lot of "Natural's Not In It," I'm very excited about this interesting and challenging band.

I included a couple of their songs in a literary music mix back in June and have since learned a little more about them. For starters, they're from lovely Bristol, England (birthplace of trip hop and home to the Clifton Suspension Bridge--across which I once trekked as part of what will forever be known in my mind as the Bristol Death March), where the Playwrights' guitarist, Benjamin Shillabeer, also runs Sink and Stove Records. The band is set to release a mini-album in the UK in January titled English Self Storage. Usually I find the concept of mini-album questionable. Either cut a few tracks and release an EP or wait til you've got enough material to fill a long player. But English Self Storage is solid and satisfying, so I won't quibble this time.

When I originally posted some Playwrights tracks, I cited Mission of Burma as a corollary, and I'll stand by that. Other influences the band cops to that I'd probably second are XTC and The Fall and angular, improvisational-oriented American acts Fugazi, Les Savy Fav, The Sea and Cake and Tortoise. You'll also hear elements of musical theater in songs like "Movements Towards a Paperless Office," that remind me a little of the Futureheads.

Lyrically, the Playwrights are all English. It's impossible to miss the tension between sadness and anger for a disappearing England and frustration and boredom with what may seem like a relatively sleepy burg in songs like "Invisible" and "Fear of Open Spaces." The band also indulgences in the literary and historical in tunes like "21st Century Kaspar Hauser" and their earlier single "Guy Debord Is Really Dead." Here, they walk a fine line between intellectual engagement and pretension, but as long as the Playwrights don't go on to release an ode to say, Jean Baudrillard, I'll give em a pass.

From English Self Storage:

Why We've Become Invisible (mp3) - The Playwrights

Two earlier releases:

Guy Debord Is Really Dead (mp3) - The Playwrights

Welcome To The Middle Ages (mp3) - The Playwrights

The band plays several gigs in Britain in October, so check for dates.


Blogger Sam said...

Yes! Finally someone is taking notice of The Playwrights.
A sound that is abrasive yet melodic with their abstract, yet brutally honest lyrics, The Playwrights shame the transparent, insecure and phony and remind us that conviction will never go out of style. Maximo Park and Hard Fi are for kids, this gutsy, intelligent, artsy stuff is for the grown ups.
If you get the chance to see them live, hold on to your socks.

Oh and thanks for posting their new track!

10:56 PM  
Anonymous Michael Williams said...

If you like Bristol (which we all do, right?) and you like music (check), then you might also like to listen to The Inconsolable. He's from Bristol.

9:57 AM  

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