There were so many shite puns I nearly used for this title (PAWSome!, PAWS; the BAWS! and other abominations) but I showed some unusual restraint in the end, which will surprise some. It certainly surprised me.
This lot surprised me too, I have to confess. I’ve seen them on a few hipster-friendly bills around Edinburgh and perhaps because of that have showed a rather lazy lack of urgency about getting to see them play, despite hearing good things from reliable places.
They were second on the bill at Sneaky Pete’s as part of Wide Days‘ evening pub crawl through three of Edinburgh’s better known music venues, and fuck me they were absolutely brilliant. My friends Andy and Paddy from Gerry Loves Records more or less shoved me out of the way to get down the front, and while I smirked at them before taking up a position a couple of rows back, I was soon very much eating my words and admitting that they were wholeheartedly in the right on this one.
PAWS do all their recording themselves I believe, and the results are a little patchy. Sometimes they are brilliant, and sometimes they don’t quite capture the feral energy of the live show, but there’s no shame in that. There’s many a very experienced and very expensive sound engineer who has failed that particular test, and these guys don’t so much fail as they only manage to achieve sporadic success.
Live, on the other hand, there were no such caveats. These days I always try to be careful what I say when drunk and excited after a gig, but you can believe me that drunk and excited was very much what I was after seeing this lot. It’s not musical rocket science: a zeitgeist-pleasing mish-mash of early-nineties American indie rock. A kind of Pavement goes to Seattle in 1991 kind of a vibe, I suppose you could call it.
The difference is that while many of their contemporaries hide behind a barely-defined wall of guitar noise, this lot made sure that, in amongst the cacophony, there was always a cracking hook somewhere. If you can, as they can, generate this kind of distorted, furious noise with just enough pop to keep it hugely infectious then I think you are indubitably onto a winner.
This is perhaps where their recorded material and I find ourselves eyeballing one another warily. If they really push the dirty, overloaded, distorted aesthetic which is there in some of their demos and hugely prevalent in their live show, then they will create music which I certainly will be hopping up and down with excitement to hear. However, I also sort of think that if they want to make a lot of progress then perhaps cleaning it up a bit might be a more sensible approach.
These guys could create music so dirty and nasty I would probably wet my knickers over it, but in the long run I suppose any manager of theirs would have to soberly advise them not to, because pleasing me is one thing, but I think they have the capacity to have a lot broader appeal than that. For my part, I reckon this lot can get as raucous and as fuzzy and as reckless as they want. They were loud as fuck on Thursday, all buried vocals and walls of guitar racket, and it was just brilliant. More please!
Visit Song, by Toad for more from Matthew.
Cover art by Irana Douer (www.keepinmind.com.ar)