Hey Sholay - ((O))
There's a certain, noticeable sound shared between a lot of the up-and-coming bands who manage to make it big in Sheffield. There's a tendency for them to look a bit like the Arctic Monkeys, a tendency to sound a bit like the Arctic Monkeys - but brother, they ain't the Arctic Monkeys. In this stifling scene, Hey Sholay are like a breath of fresh air. They don't sound like the Arctic Monkeys. They sound like the Maccabees.
Okay, I'm being a little glib, and maybe that's a bit unfair; but it's not inaccurate, and it's certainly no insult. For one thing, half the band are from Leeds, which mixes things up a bit. For another, rather than stumbling around the indie landfill, seeing what cast-off haircuts and choppy guitar lines they can salvage, Hey Sholay instead twist the British guitar sound into weird shapes, from pseudo-psychedelic opener 'Wishbone (wish wish wish)', shoegaze with a beat behind it on 'My Blood' (key lyric: "I find it so frustrating / Watching the celebrating," to the album's undoubted masterpiece: the epic, multi-part 'i) Shut the Devil Out The Backdoor ii) A Day In The Country, Berlin', which is like the National covering an Isley Brothers song, finished off with a musical travelogue. It doesn't hurt either that the vocals are Orlando Weeks-ian - sometimes a little like Bombay Bicycle Club's Jack Steadman - albeit breezier, more anxious.
It's this variety that has seen this anything-but-loose collective of artists, musicians and filmmakers support everyone from (ready?) Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (they share that bedroom-pop sensibility) to Male Bonding (they share a healthy appreciation for the distortion pedal) to Slow Club (there's some classic, classy songwriting holding everything together here, too) to No Age to Los Campesinos! That said, the immediate influences on Hey Sholay don't... well, immediately come to mind. Difficult for me, because I'm meant to tell you what they sound like, but the truth is that they synthesised such a potent and unique sound for themselves, through a good few decades of guitar music, and it's entirely their own.
There are parts that falter - 'Go Easy Tiger' takes it's own advice a little too literally and is rather too slight, especially for a track exceeding four minutes, and recent single 'Burning' makes up in interesting instrumentation what it lacks in interesting lyrics - but, really, that's only compared to the rest of the record, which is an accomplished, interesting (in a good way), catchy and just flippin' well grand slice of South Yorkshire (and beyond).
Christ knows how you're meant to say that album (or, min-album - it's nine tracks long, but still longer than any album the Ramones made) title, though. Answers on a postcard.