The Xcerts - Live At King Tuts
Nick Lewis 18/08/2009
Recently I've noticed an awful lot more bands playing emo-inflected pop/rock. I don't know if this is because more bands are doing it or if I've just been wilfully unaware of it until now, but I thought everyone stopped doing this when The Strokes came out. Didn't they? Apparently not.
Fresh from a tour with Feeder and My Vitriol, Scotland's The Xcerts release a live album from their single launch at King Tuts. Doing a live album is tricky business, as when you're actually at a show you tend to be much more forgiving of any slip-ups/inadequacies than when you're listening to what is essentially a substandard mix on your very expensive hi-fi at home. What you do get though is a sense of the atmosphere. In this case, the sound lacks a certain immediacy that you get from a studio album, and it does reveal singer Murray Macleod's difficulty at reaching the higher notes, but you can tell that this group have a very loyal fan base. There are at least four sing-a-longs that I counted. And despite the shortcomings inherent in a live mix, the sound overall is pretty good, and mixer Dave Eringa has managed to tweak a truly stupendous snare sound out of it.
Enough of the snare though.
As soon as this set started with hitherto unreleased track Beige I was not predisposed towards this group. Emo-inflected pop/rock is one of my least favourite genres. As far as I'm concerned it displays next to no imagination, as every song sounds exactly the same and every band sounds exactly the same as all the other bands doing it. I understand the motivation for a guitar band to write catchy, heartfelt tunes but it's really boring and it's been done to death not least by Feeder. The Xcerts are indeed no different, and throughout the set continued to sound exactly as I thought they would. They do it very well, and the number of sing-a-longs is testament to that, but unfortunately once you start making emo-pop/rock there's little room for maneuver.
In the end, it being a live recording certainly helps The Xcerts case with me, as I found myself getting a little swept up in the atmosphere of the show. There's a real feeling of community with the fans, and the band clearly love what they're doing and genuinely appreciate the support of every single person that does so. This leaves me with a tremendous sense of goodwill towards them and although I don't particularly like their music, nor ever will if they keep treading this path, it's hard not to wish them and their fans all the best.
Really great snare sound too.
The Xcerts Myspace