Plastic Animals / Frog @ Wee Red Bar, 29 Jan
While the past fifteen years have seen the guitar/drums duo become as familiar a line-up as the standard rock quartet, most of the usual practitioners choose to fill the bassless chasm with brute force or blinding pace, leaving little room for subtlety. Frog are much cleverer than that, however; filling the space with soft keyboard chords (played by drummer Tom White’s spare hand) and some phenomenally deft guitar playing from frontman Dan Bateman – ornately melodic chords one moment, distinctly bluegrassy finger-picking the next.
It’s all framed in the familiar, wordy warmth of collegiate rock favourites like yer Pavements and yer Built To Spills, while the songs themselves are micro-symphonies that shift and change with no little skill. A real treat: hunt down debut album Kind Of Blah forthwith.
Edinburgh shoegazers Plastic Animals offer a thicker sound, and with this show providing a platform to launch their excellent debut album Pictures From the Blackout, it’s very definitely their night. The stage is littered with toys (some fake teeth here, a gorilla mask there) and the lights are kept low; a neat thematic diptych that juxtaposes knowing frivolity with… well, darkness.
It’s a perfect scene for their hazy, murky sound and sunnily somnambulant melodies, a blend which proves intoxicating as the set progresses. It’s arguable that they don’t bring anything particularly fresh to their chosen genre’s table, but that doesn’t seem to matter when their kraut-out drones set pulses racing, nor when their voluminous fragility nuzzles up to your sense of wonder and gives it a gentle kiss. Plastic Animals are, without a shadow of a doubt, ones to keep 'em peeled for.