O Children are at the centre of a punctuation crisis - O.Children? O-Children? Who knows? Who cares? - but that hasn't stopped them from attracting a fair amount of attention since their first shows in March, including a place in big letters on the poster for Offset Festival in August (this time as O'Children). The Puregroove EP and appearance proves that sometimes you should believe the hype: an indie Goliath of a singer switches vocally between Elvis Presley and Ian Curtis at the drop of a mic stand, and a ragtag trio of musicians combine melody with aggression to post-punk perfection. Their EP track 'Ace Breasts' is rock 'n' roll gone wrong in the best possible way, with unsettling treble guitar lines and voyeuristic lyrics from that voice contributing to a tour de force of eerie indie.
It's a worthy debut, backed up by an even better live performance: those who've heard the band's MySpace demos are urged to catch them live, since their sound opens right out on the live stage - they exude a vivid energy and a great stage presence even in a striplit record shop at twenty to seven in the evening. There were tears wept over the split of Bono Must Die, but if this is what its disparate members have come up with next then we're happy.
S.C.U.M should be familiar to many after being tipped as 'ones to watch' by NME at least three times in the past few months, and the growing attendance as their Puregroove stage time approaches is a testament to that exposure. Their EP track is called 'Smile', so it might be seen as a kind of antidote to Lily Allen: a lurching three-time bass rhythm catapults the listener into the band's own personal aural hell, with gunshot drumbeats and cold vocals echoing from side to side.
The band play up their visual style onstage so the absence of their normal strobe setup leaves them looking a little naked at Puregroove, but the spaces are thoroughly filled with electronic noise and the gyrations of the group's stalking frontman Tom, who provides the obligatory set-climbing photo opportunity on the shop's fragile-looking shelves. It's an unusual S.C.U.M set then - they don't even wreck the drum kit - but, with a growing instrumental unity and some excellent new material, it's both satisfying for now and indicative of greater things to come.
The split EP is available from Puregroove in Smithfield now on CD, and comes highly recommended. Play it loud and frequently.