Who: Looking like three menacing Glasgow chancers that have they’ve lurched out of an Irvine Welsh novel, The Amazing Snakeheads’ snarling intensity and loungey, backroom sleaze make them an antidote to the more polite, Franz Ferdinand-endorsed art school acts that dominate the city’s scene. Dressed in big collared, 70s, silk shirts and lizard skin boots, they generate a noir mood of dingy alleyways and red-lit strip joints before exploding with agitated energy and violent psychobilly venom. Led by former postman Dale Barclay, they landed a deal with legendary indie label Domino Records last year and released debut album Amphetamine Ballads to a stack of jubilant reviews in April.
Sounds like: Skulking, rumbling bass lines and twanging Link Wray riffs build into screeching freak-outs that hit like a Glasgae kiss to the back of the skull. They look you in the eye with a Satanic glare and tear away in a rabid, primal rage that comes delivered with a gap-toothed grin and unnerving wink. Their prowling, creeping lust recalls Nick Cave at his horniest, Barclay’s growl is demonic, gravelly and frantic, and there’s pained, working class honesty that comes inspired by fellow weegies Glasvegas. By the end of the album though, black-souled malevolence gives way to bottom of the glass heartache and Every Guy Wants To Be Her Baby even turns from an eerie David Lynch waltz into a free-form jazz break-out with splattering horns and a wild, joyous cacophony that nods to Miles Davis and John Coltrane.
The Buzz: “It’s not the easiest listen in the world, but it’s not supposed to be: at a time when most of what passes for alternative rock sounds desiccated, Amphetamine Ballads feels raw and potent and alive.” Alex Petridis, The Guardian.
Why they matter: Because rock’n’roll should be dangerous and sexy, not dominated by cardigan wearing, vegan, computer programmers that you would be happy to take round your nan’s for a cup of tea – yes, I’m looking at you Slow Club, Los Campesinos and Coldplay. It’s about time a band came along and stirred things up a bit, and with their greaseball confrontation, last-gang-in-town mindset and sure-fire intent, Amazing Snakeheads might provide the glass to the face that the scene needs.
After a slot at T in the Park, next stop is the Reading/Leeds festivals before later in the year they head out on a their biggest set of headlining gigs to date and support Jack White on his UK tour – make sure you catch them.
For Fans of: The Cramps, The Horrors, The Gun Club, The Birthday Party, Glasvegas, Iggy and the Stooges, The Fall, John Spencer Blues Explosion, Jim Jones Revue, Uncle John and Whitelock – and all sleazy, scuzzy, backalley, garage rock.
Check out: Flatliner, Here It Come Again and Nighttime are among the high points of debut album Amphetamine Ballads, but also keep an ear out for B-side Bullfighter featuring Laura St. Jude on vocals for their more sensitive, slightly less terrifying side.