Brummie not-so-newcomers sweat out their angst...

Frustrations surface, demons exorcised: while Calories are a new band on their first album, there’s experience here that goes far deeper than a ten-track indie-rock debut.

The Birmingham trio had another musical life as the tipped Distophia, albeit then as a four-piece; the band released a great EP, ‘Soda Lake’, and soon enough put an album proper, ‘Beat Dyslexia’, into the hands of their label Necessary. Unfortunately, at the time said label was rather wrapped up in the success Hard-Fi had brought them, and Distophia’s itchy, fidgety brand of boisterous rock and roll wasn’t money to their ears. Delay became suspension, and the album never saw official light of day. If you’re lucky enough to find a promotional copy in a second hand store, for crying out loud buy it.

Or, alternatively, simply pick up ‘Adventuring’ – while this record’s not as texturally rich as ‘Beat Dyslexia’ promised, its stripped-back style exudes accessibility aplenty, each and every furious riff tempered by a developed pop sensibility. It resonates with potential realised that had to sit in stasis for an unexpected period of time, subsequently appearing better formed than many a debut from a domestic rock act you’ll hear in 2009. Across the course of less than a half-hour (the guys don’t mess about – track starts, bang, you’re in) earholes are subjected to a barrage of acerbic guitars, percussion that kicks and spits, and sing-along-friendly vocals which imply that Calories could well become a live circuit favourite.

The energy exuded on ‘Adventuring’ certainly suggests its makers are well-schooled in the field of live performance, and to these ears it could well be recorded ‘as live’, the crackle in the studio air caught for posterity. As such, some will hear imperfections – not every line is delivered note perfect. Others, though – hopefully more – will feel enthused by a record that rattles along at such a frantic pace that it could only have been made with spirits running superbly high. It’s a kick up the arse guaranteed to get you out of your seat, each blustering number packing a punch firmer than the last.

But never is catharsis filtered through cacophonies neglecting essential melodies – so while ‘Oh K.S.S.T.’ is as incendiary as indie-rock can get before passing into the punk pigeonhole, it opens itself up between the frenetic six-string work and therefore presents an ‘in’ for those who wouldn’t normally be transfixed by aggressive music. ‘A Bear A Bison’ is an even better balance of twin traits of fury and focus, coming on like the best song Seafood never wrote; ‘Same Ideals’ sounds every inch a meeting of musical minds between Idlewild and Johnny Foreigners; and the title track rockets into view like Los Campesinos! with Roman Candles up their backsides. Throughout the ghosts of US indie past are present, too – listen sharply and, yeah, there’s your Pavement and Weezer echoes.

While opportunity knocked only to give their previous incarnation the cold shoulder, ‘Adventuring’ is strong enough to make further comments of Calories resembling Distophia mark II redundant, for this is a new voice demanding attentions in its own right. So, from now on less of ‘formerly known as’, more of ‘get this into your face immediately’.


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