Subject are relatively new to Barnsley’s live scene and are one of a number of bands still clinging onto indie of yesterday. I often hear folk say that there is no other town in the UK that have as many bands aping Arctic Monkeys, Oasis, Stone Roses etc, as Barnsley does.
Sounds of Steel said “Subject are a young three-piece band from Yorkshire bringing the 60s into the 2000s”. Lovely, however the 2000’s were a decade ago. I’ll admit from the off that I don’t go out of my way to seek out bands of this type. I’m far from a fan of jangly indie guitar bands, and indeed the title of their new single alone fills me with a little dread. ‘Come On’ could refer to The Verve’s song of the same title, or even Liam Gallagher’s battle cry. And then you have the live b-side ‘Mod Life’, recorded live at Sheffield’s O2. Having ‘Mod Life’ as a title certainly does nothing to get me excited, but for Subject, this is indeed a call to arms, and they wear that badge proudly.
I know, I know. It sounds like I’ve made my mind up already, right? Despite my own personal reservations, there are indeed a number local bookers and promoters that still toil away with bands of this type, and even better still, the fans go watch the gigs often. The thirst is still there for retro indie guitar music and in Barnsley it thrives. Subject’s audience awaits. But what of this single?
Well, Come On opens with beat and guitar motif that could have easily have been swiped from The Kinks or The Undetones’ text book. The vocals have a great layering effect that harks back to The Who. And those terrace chants of ‘Come On’ give you the feeling that this would go down well in a live setting, and although the guitar solo is a bit messy, it’s in keeping with the overall mod/punk feel, a la Libertines.
The live b-side opens in true Barnsley style, with the word ‘reight…’ and the rung out opening chord, reminiscent of The Stone Roses’ This Is The One. That chord though, is a red herring and the song storms straight into something that sounds like The Libertines doing I’m Not Your Stepping Stone. The lyrics are full of mod clichés as you’d expect and the vocal is your typical Brit Pop snarl, but the chorus is full of yeahs and yeah-heahs and this time we know this goes down well live, as what sounds like a big crowd seem to be lapping it up. Not bad at all.
Now there is always the element of Subject and similar bands preaching to the converted – the converted being quite a sizable crowd in Barnsley. And I’m still not converted. However, I’d be interested in checking them out at a local festival. Despite the clichés, there is an obvious knack for penning an upbeat anthemic number.
On a seperate note, the packaging for the single is a loving reproduction of a 7″ vinyl and paper sleave. Everything about Subject smacks of their love for the past, and while there is nothing wrong with that, I’ll look forward to seeing how they progress from the confines of the ‘mod life’.
I read their influences listed on their facebook page, and in amongst the obvious Oasis, Arctic Monkeys, Stone Roses, The Libertines, The Kinks, The Black Keys, Kasabian etc, there are magnificent oddities such as The Cure, The Doors, Talking Heads, Interpol, Rush and T-Rex. I hope that over time Subject can rein in some more of these musical ingredients and add something a little darker and spicier to those anthems. The best is yet to come for Subject. In the last few months they have got about a fair bit,playing a number of well known venues in Sheffield, and this week they have a big support slot with the Clone Roses and Ashby. It will be interesting to see where Subject go next – whether it be another single or an EP. And to see where they go, follow them at facebook.com/subjectuk