Monday 15 December 2008

Kasms, JAR at The Lexington - 12 December 2008

JAR pic copyright Neil Anderson at

It’s only their second ever gig, but I’m already mesmerised.

It is said that some comedians have ‘funny bones’- that innate instinctive ability to make an audience laugh without apparently any effort at all. JAR have the musical equivalent, a built-in grasp of what sounds right and what works.

When they first wander onto the stage, they seem a bit uneasy. Linval, bravely accoutred in a West Ham shirt, looks at his drums as though unsure which part to hit. But once the band start up, he does splendidly in a ragged manner reminiscent of the first, faltering efforts of a kid who has just taken the stabilisers off their bike.

However, it is the guitar work of Joe and Lucy that really startles. Songs that initially sound simple soon develop unprecedented levels of complexity and fierceness. The musicians may look as though butter wouldn’t melt, but their instruments positively growl with malice.

On their website, the band invite comparisons with Sonic Youth and P J Harvey. A bold claim, but one that stands up, as those were the two names I had written down before reading about it later. However, those influences are mere echoes – JAR have a chemistry of their own.

It is very early days, but there is already a real assurance in this band, a tangible confidence in the strength of their material. I am bowled over by them, and they are now a new favourite.


...Rachel from Kasms has dyed her hair a bright red and is decked out in a slinky black leotardish dress combo. She eyes the room, spoiling for mischief. Sadly, she doesn’t find much.

Tonight, Rachel and the band seem slightly off their game, possibly because although their followers are enthusiastic (and dressed to kill), there are really very few people here and it is difficult for her to work herself up into the usual frenzy when confronted with so much empty space in front of the stage.

This subdued performance also has the effect of focussing the mind on the band’s music. Sure, ‘Siren Sister’ still sounds very good, and new single ‘Bone You’ is shaping up nicely, but many of the rest of their songs tonight seem rather formless and disjointed, a problem masked by the attention grabbing squeals and gymnastics of the singer.

However this is all relative, as Kasms are thoroughly entertaining even on a bit of an off day. Indeed, things end very well, as Rachel leaps from the stage, whirls a delighted girl around in circles and finishes the set sprawled within the drum kit. That’s much more like it.

A decent evening out and in JAR, a real new discovery. You’ll be hearing more of this lot.

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