The Ordinary Boys, Dogs Die In Hot Cars

Clive Drew 14/06/2004

It's probably not the best idea to spend the evening of the hottest day of the year crammed into a tiny, airless nightclub in Oxford's student district, but it's probably one of the last chances to see two (well three if you include the Kaiser Chefs, but we missed their set after engaging in a half an hour debate about the sanctity of life with a born-again Christian preacher) of the most promising prospects of post-New Rock Revolution British Indie strutting their stuff in this kind of intimate setting.

Scottish weirdy-rockers Dogs Die In Hot Cars already have a sure contender for single of the year with the truly irrepressible Godhopping. It's hard to define their sound, Dexy's Midnight Runners being the most obvious influence, but there are also aspects of the psychedelic quirkiness of the Cosmic Scouse scene as well as the light-heartedness of Madness. Forthcoming single Love You Cause I Have To, already championed by Jo Whiley amongst others will doubtlessly be their biggest hit, and set-closer Lounger gets a reception usually reserved for a headliner.

“But they look like the school geeks” observed one of the less-informed members of the audience as the four-piece currently being touted as the revivalists of 'quintessential Englishness' take to the Zodiac stage. Having said this as they launch into Week In Week Out the band now seem much more together as a unit, perhaps due to newly-uniformed-haircuts sported by guitarist Will and drummer Charles, meaning that they now look less like crusties/punks and more like third generation mods. Certainly, bedecked in their Fred Perry shirts, tight drainpipe jeans and brogues the influence of Weller, The Action et al is clear to see. It's hard to believe that these guys began life as a hardcore outfit.

Led, by enigmatic frontman Preston (he adopted his surname as his first name), the Ordinary Boys' passion for playing live is obvious, stomping and thrashing around the stage as if they were playing a venue ten times the size. Although the intro to new single Talk Talk Talk doesn't sound dissimilar to Green Day's Basket Case, it can be forgiven as the track soon erupts into a punky ode to dreariness of a meaningless nine to five job. Maybe Someday harks back to the frenetic energy and angst of The Jam, whilst the stop-start rhythm of In Awe of The Awful signals the end of proceedings, but not before sparking a frenzy down the front as the adoring mob surge forward in an attempt to get closer to the new heroes.

With debut album Over The Counter Culture set for release in less than two weeks, the Ordinary Boys seem to be teetering on the brink of fame. However, the boys' response is typically understated. When we have a quick chat to Preston after the show and congratulate him, he simply dismisses it with a shrug of the shoulders, “I do like your t-shirt though”