From Britpop to Gritpop: Introducing Brother & the Vaccines

Just when you thought one more twee, Paul Simon-worshipping beardie indie band might drive you to do something unseemly, a bit of revved up laddishness has returned to save us from rock & roll oblivion. On one side of the Atlantic, a rousing new Strokes record; on the other, the swaggering debut of Liam Gallagher’s preposterously-named but great new band, Beady Eye.

Following in the footsteps of those six-stringed glories is the emergence of another charmingly absurd (and deeply un-intellectualized) new Brit genre, this one known, tersely, as Gritpop (Soon to be followed by, er, Gritstep?). Slough’s own Brother, in fact, may actually be its only genuine proponents. But with their stroppy-public-school-boy chic (meticulously mussed haircuts, spiffy button-downs, snotty facial expressions) and Smiths/Blur producer Stephen Street at the controls of their eponymous debut EP (expect a full album in July), it’s hard not to be reminded of that band Damon Albarn used to front. First single “Darling Buds Of May” and the impossibly infectious “David” are everything British guitar pop should be: Shimmering and snarling, with sublime harmonies and singer Lee Newell sneering all the way through in his very best Mockney. Aces!

London’s The Vaccines (Pictured above), it must be noted, are more grit than pop, and are significantly lighter on guile–with such studied stylelessness they could almost be, well, American. In fact, one listen to their explosive debut, What Did You Expect From The Vaccines, and you could almost believe Britpop never actually happened. Rather, they tear through echoed-up rockabilly rippers–“If You Wanna” is the sure bet for raucous, top-down anthem of the summer–all couched in the sort of punk-gothic atmospherics that always made the Jesus & Mary Chain sound as if they were a second away from totally imploding (the clattery “Blow It Up” sounds just like its title). As unsettling as they are exuberant, The Vaccines are a bit like Glasvegas without all the depressing stuff.

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