St Jude's Infirmary - Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh May 20

American gothic via Fife

Article by Iain Radcliffe | 15 Jun 2006
My Tiny Robots' staccato brand of indie displays a far more inventive reworking of 70s influences than a great many contemporary bands, with Bryan Ferry-esque crooning alternating with a scuzzy Mod jangle on The Haircut Song. They close in menacing style with Dylan's moody baritone relieved by outbursts of instrumental noise.

I make the schoolboy error of taking Gummi Bako seriously during their opening song - a dark Johnny Cash ballad - until Alan Stewart's voice jumps an octave and sounds like he's been guzzling helium. From then on, it's a hoe-down rockabilly riot of cartoon voices, squeals and growls, Chet Atkins guitar licks and propulsive, skiffle drums from the sweat-drenched sticksman who is 1950s Americana incarnate – brown bowling shirt, greased hair and black rimmed specs.

From the yang of exuberant, gleefully insane alt-country, the yin comes with St Jude's Infirmary's melancholic reworking of Stateside musical forms into something that, despite Velvet Underground and Mazzy Star comparisons, is their very own. American gothic via Fife, if you like. Goodbye Jack Vettriano is a case in point - Mark Francis' low, rumbling vocals conjure a deep well of heartache while the emotional intensity gradually rises with the music, from simple guitar arpeggio to anguished, restrained gospel. Similarly, The Church of John Coltrane's acappella break prompts hushed reverence from those assembled. Throughout, Emma-Jane's gorgeous voice soothes and pleads, harmonising irresistibly with Ashley's, as on the upbeat Montreal. Elsewhere, cello, percussion and melodica are tastefully deployed, before Grant's flailing, possessed vocal ranting brings the set to a raucous end, as feedback is cranked up around him. [Iain Radcliffe]
Played as part of Tigerfest 2006.