Year Of The Tiger, Lady Gaga and Showtime! (Jazz hands)

Whenever I see another of Lady Gaga‘s increasingly out-there stage shows or videos, two thoughts cut through the sick green fug in  my mind.

The first one is usually incredulity that the public at large have accepted a pop star who is just so determinedly outré; and secondly, I wonder just how hard Fischerspooner must be kicking themselves, having pioneered the same camp-electro/showtime/weirdness shtick about ten years ago.

Fischerspooner knew they were ahead of the game, and had the misfortune of watching paler imitations emerge (geddit!?!) and attain the kind of success they deserved as Electro became the Noughties’ generic muso-monster that ate the charts, insipid and stylised to death.

Electro, then, is my least favourite ‘cool’ genre right now, and has been ever since the Ting Tings ruined the radio waves. Year Of The Tiger might now be wondering how they made it as today’s new band.

Well, it’s simple. Electro bands have usually done the bare minimum to create music: take average keyboard pop, tighten the drums, turn the treble up to 11 and paper over the cracks with big hair and ironic T-shirts.

Year Of The Tiger have spotted the creaking, dusty hollow inside of all this and have responded with Heart of Steel, a song that takes the electro blueprint and actually does something with it.

Year Of The Tiger // Heart of Steel

Eschewing the usual hi-tempo, hi-hat, hi-ball electro-drudge in favour of a plodding, building, heavy song has created a pop song with a warped sound that flirts with the weirder bits of, er, My Bloody Valentine.

It sounds incongruous, but it works, and by mixing these two sounds, Year of The Tiger have managed to squeeze new life out of a genre I thought dead, which deserves several nods of appreciation, at least.

Oh, and like every other good band that isn’t from Scandinavia, they’re from Brooklyn. Natch.

Scary Mansion; Peter Hook and Multiple Uses Of The Word ‘Excellent’

Peter Hook has opened a new club in Manchester, FAC251. The opening night on Friday was summed up by friends that went as a resounding ‘Yeah – it’s OK. Nice lighting.’

Not many people, apart from some frighteningly vitriolic bloggers, could really begrudge Peter Hook another go at getting a nightclub right this time. But by trading heavily on the Factory Records days of Madchester, a broad selection of noses have been put out of joint and knives have been sharpened.

“Why do we need another monument to Manchester’s past?” they cry, “The whole city needs to move on!” And, you know, they’re right.

Gazing back obscures the genuinely exciting bands percolating through Manchester now, and even now, a lazy media continue to waste time rooting out tenuous links between the latest Bright Young Manc Band and Those Glorious Hacienda Days.

If I was Delphic and facing my thousandth question about New Order’s influence, I’d be pissed off too.

But there’s still a real need to celebrate that period. Factory is still a bona-fide example of how to upset the current order and – most importantly – do things differently.

And while music execs, in between casting worried glances at their bank accounts, are now falling over themselves to sign artists who play it safe whilst spinning PR-lies about creativity and newness, it’s worth reminding all and sundry that it’s still possible to take a different route.

So how do Scary Mansion fit into all this? They don’t really. Well, they do – a song as soft, accommodating and down-right beautiful as No Law would slide, welcome and slender, into any situation you care to mention.

Scary Mansion – No Law

No Law is as exhilarating as an unexpected, drunken kiss with a stranger in the centre of a nightclub. You’ll similarly mourn its passing, and feel the need to tell all your friends. The song rides, swift and fleet, on the froth its own breathless enthusiasm, skimming, reaching, alive and in love.

No, Scary Mansion do fit into all this: they have made a song that bucks the trend – overtly beautiful, endlessly uplifting and without any cynicism whatsoever. Now that’s how to be different. Excellent, excellent, excellent.

Photography by Victoria Jacob

>Coyote Eyes, and IKEA/ADHT/H1N1

Looking for new bands by wading through Myspace – which sometimes can resemble an endless, IKEA ball-pit playroom populated only by ADHT snot-nosed kids with Swine Flu and soundtracked by a million Coldplay-a-likes – can be a genuinely despairing experience, especially when one drab band after another is whelped into your lap.

Today, it took an uncommon amount of time before the abrasive buzz of Clumsy by Coyote Eyes served as a very welcome reminder that it was all worth it. Like a disproportionate number of sharp new things at the moment, Coyote Eyes summon from Brooklyn and make rugged, metallic, yelps from somewhere far beyond comfort.

Yellow Red is bloody and raw, searing and naive; juddering with sweet and sour vocals and guitars that slope and slide muddily. Out Of Mind is a slow gentle cry, bandaged, dabbed and dried, with a chorus drenched in mania – purposely built for fey Indie kids to sing along to.

Their songs are cleverly built and lackadaisically compiled – and this combination of spirit and slumber leaves them with a selection of songs that are uneasy but enthralling. Coyote Eyes prod at your worries but leave you strangely soothed.

Photography by Michael Seto for L Magazine // Northside Festival