23 June, 2007

Standing up for good pop - Air Traffic

If there's one direction NME has been heading over the past couple of years its down. Gone are its days of ruthless independant journalism and music criticism. What we're left with is a gossipy magazine that follows round the week's latest flavour. "We once flew a model helicopter around one of a gig's venues!" pips the lead singer of Hadouken!, on page three of the weekly music magazine.

But while bands - whose fame rest heavily on the supply of glow sticks to the hands of 14 year old kids around the country - receive full backing, Air Traffic, a band with an actual career in music ahead of them, aren't "cool" enough.

Once again its the whole -"I could see this type of person liking this band so I better stay well clear to maintain my credibility". The poor band haven't even got an album out yet but their already being dubbed as the next mum band, following on from the success of bands like Snow Patrol.

But while they do label themselves as a piano led indie band, their songs still maintain an air of rockiness about them. First single Charlotte, which just about crept into the UK top 40 - at 33, has the potential to be a slow burning indie dance floor classic. Void of the deadly keys of a piano its almost frantic pace just stays above chaotic to deliver a indie pop gem. Pianos take a back seat and don't obstruct the pace of the record like in Just Abuse Me - and even when they do feature prominently like new single shooting star, its still an excitable affair. Shooting Star is probably a better reflection of the album, rather than the sheer velocity of charlotte; its strengths are instead drawn from its winding vocal melodies spun on a warming piano score.

I caught up with Air Traffic at the Colchester Art Centre

“This has never happened before!” declares frontman Chris while holding his broken keyboard pedal just minutes into the band’s performance at the Colchester Arts Centre.

It was a problem that proved haunting for the Bournemouth born singer. While the majority teenage fans were more than happy to make do and enjoy the show , Chris – frustrated and clearly dissatisfied with the help received from the stage crew – regularly undermined the band’s performance with his exasperated outcrys and constant apologies to the audience.

But technical difficulties and bad moods couldn’t hide the talent of the upcoming indie foursome.

Early material such as the independently released “Just Abuse Me” were hungrily devoured by the animated traffic enthusiasts, while new tracks from the bands forthcoming debut LP “Fractured Life” rang with an air of familiarity, owing much to the band’s hectic touring schedule.

Before finishing on new single Shooting Star, fans were treated to a special extended version of charlotte. Booming bass drumming and some frantic rifts brought the night to a well executed closure.

The fact that the band were so well received on a toubled night only pays testimony to the indie rockers' potential.


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