Dirty Water Records

Taking Music Backwards Into Tomorrow

The Guardian: New Band of the Week - Thee Vicars

Hometown: Bury St Edmunds.

The lineup: Mike Whittaker (bass, lead vocals), Chris Langeland (guitar, backing vocals) , Marcus Volkert (guitar, backing vocals) and Will Pattenden (drums).

The background: It's all been a bit lush and lovely round these parts these past couple of days, so by way of contrast here's a blast of urgent, filthy noise. They might dress smartly, all suited and booted, but Thee Vicars create an unholy, unruly row. Julien Temple has just directed a documentary about Canvey Island's finest, Dr Feelgood, but if it had been a biopic, he could have got these boys in for the lead roles, although still in their late teens they're probably too fresh-faced, and nowhere near haggard, ravaged and worn enough, to play the pub-rock demigods. In fact, on second thoughts they could probably just about get away with playing Lee Brilleaux and Co as they were at school. Nursery school.

Closer scrutiny of Thee Vicars' primal clatter reveals a unit in awe of original rock'n'roll and 60s R&B, garage and freakbeat – a genre to which they nod in the title of their imminent debut album, Psychotic Beat. They are much like the Cribs' new favourite proponents of back-to-basics rifferama, the Strange Boys. You can also hear echoes of the early Stones here, as well as of more contemporary outfits such as the Hives, and there is something in Whittaker's snarling vocals that reminds us of Pete Shelley (actually, Buzzcocks presented them with a best punk/ska act gong at the 2008 Indy Music awards). They might not have a single, singular instrumentalist of the calibre of Wilko Johnson – whose pre-punk scything, slashing rhythmic guitar style prefigured that of post-punk legend Andy Gill of Gang of Four – but together they create a decent fuzzy racket, full of energy and heavy on the treble, with a low-end throb that does the job.

If the dozen three-minute surges of short, sharp guitar-bass-drums-vox on Psychotic Beat, sounds as though it was produced on vintage equipment, that's surely the point: to make Thee Vicars seem like a mainline back to the source, to bands like the Seeds, the Sonics and the Standells. It was the latter California garage outfit whose 1965 classic of 12-bar blues-rock, Dirty Water, gave Thee Vicars their label name. It's also the name of the north London club, round the corner from the Dome in Tufnell Park, where bands of this ilk are wont to tout their wares on a Friday night. Frankly, we're outraged that Thee Vicars – who have been going for two years but are still only 17-19 years old – are allowed out on a Friday night, or indeed any other night. All but one of the band are in full-time education and they had to get their parents' permission to go on tour, bless 'em. Not that they're mummy's boys – they describe themselves as "annoying bastards" whose avowed intention it is to "kick kung-fu-style all the shit bands into orbit". Others are equally impressed, one magazine hailing them as "heirs to the Horrors", another comparing them to "the Jam circa 1978, only better looking". What, better looking than the young Rick Buckler? Impossible.

  • The buzz: "They're so garage you can park your car in them."
  • The truth: They preach the gospel according to Lenny Kaye's Nuggets.
  • Most likely to: Be reverential towards early rock and proto-punk.
  • Least likely to: Become reverends.
  • What to buy: The album Psychotic Beat is released by Dirty Water on 27 November.
  • File next to: The Strange Boys, Reverend Horton Heat, the Standells, Dr Feelgood.
  • Links: myspace.com/theevicarsuk

Dirty Water Records London