PINS, The Shondes & Honeyblood – Live at Henry’s Cellar Bar, Edinburgh, Friday 12th October 2012

It was a cheerful racket of a gig at Henry’s last Friday – the perfect end to a week, in fact.  And whilst I may have slightly allowed my bonhomie to get the better of me by the end (well, it was either that or all the Stella I managed to pour down my gullet), I will still very much sober enough to take full enjoyment from a fine lineup.

Both headliners Pins and openers Honeyblood have been the subject of interesting label machinations recently, but when I asked Stina, front woman of the latter, about it afterwards all I got was an enigmatic smile and reassurance that it was good news, and that I would hear about it soon enough.

I’ve heard the band’s early recordings on Cath Records, but their newer stuff (see player below) is a lot less fuzzy and heavily distorted.  Equally with the live show, the performance is exuberant, but the actual sound is less aggressive than I had been expecting, and if new single Super Rat is anything to go by, these guys could go well beyond the underground tape labels with which I initially associated them.

Anyhow, before Pins came The Shondes, from New York, but to be honest they weren’t really my cup of tea.  Individually they came across as being really likeable on stage, but musically it wasn’t really my bag, frankly.

I am a little sheepish around headline band Pins these days, after coming out with some rather dubious heckles when I was really rather plastered at The Great Escape in May.  This time, apart from a brief chat, I tried to keep a discreet distance and my mouth firmly shut.

Tolerant as they were of my nonsense off it, to describe Pins onstage as a stylish band would be somewhat understating matters. They are four striking women, dressed up to the nines, and they play with a cocky swagger which more or less responds to any observation you might care to make about them with a sneered ‘Yeah? And so fucking what?’ As I said, they seem as nice as you could ask for offstage, but on it they play with an awesomely confrontational strut.

Pins and Honeyblood seem to have one thing in common though, in that despite some more aggressively noisy elements, they are neither of them too fuzzy to have a solid chance at making a wider impact.  Pins play with tom-heavy drum lines and a lead electric guitar which veers from surfy jangle to the more riffy Dinosaur Jr. or Sleater-Kinney, and at times the outright fuzz of The Jesus and Mary Chain.

They have fine pop songs, these bands, and they don’t insist on battering them into lo-fi submission to the extent that only a certain audience is likely to appreciate them.  Pins’ new EP is released in association with Bella Union, and when a band can be coy in the face of advances from a label of that stature, you can only assume they have the confidence that better things yet might be forthcoming.

Personally, as much as I enjoyed myself on Friday, I am still a fan of the extra fuzz though I have to confess. Despite the inherent career limitations it brings with it.

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