Tag Archives: The Centimes

Album Review, The Centimes, released 12 Oct 2014

Track by track review of the new CD ‘Wooden Shirts’ by Cambridge Indie band The Centimes.

1. Wooden Shirts. A lively opener, setting the template of 12-string guitar, driving drums and solid bass. Some acapella vocals and harmonies add extra gloss to the mix.
2. Local Pool. Previously a single, a driving rhythm behind a full sound and strong vocal, the much repeated line ‘the party’s over, find another party’ indicating fruitless Saturday night wanderings or maybe a bigger metaphor.
3. I’m Fine. Coupled with Local Pool on the single release, a sparse but well-balanced and rather lovely song with a Velvet Underground first album feel. The sort of song to be playing in your head when you wave goodbye at the railway station after a weekend that didn’t go that well, perhaps with some regrets but ultimately tinged with optimism.
4. Locked Out. A moody echoing guitar figure slowly starts, then goes into another up tempo track. Lots going on behind the lead vocal, even a bit of synthesiser.
5. Billy. A change of direction into an American blues rock sound, heavier guitar and rolling bassline, smoky voice on the verse then blistering chorus that leaves no doubt that Billy is ‘the only one’.
6. La La Land. The guitar goes into full jangly mode, developing into a Chic style rhythm over steady drumming on one of the more musically changeable tracks on the album.
7. Stormy Tuesday. The musical centrepiece of the album, a long instrumental introduction, a pounding bass gathering storm, thunder and lightning on the drums and guitar eventually resolving into chords, then the voices blend well together for a lyric of threatening weather nightmare….play this one loud.
8. I Don’t See It Anymore. A slightly heavier track, each lyric line answered by the title phrase. A bit of keyboard and a guitar solo add to the atmosphere.
9. Little Table. Like a track from the first Orange Juice album the echoing 12-string skates on top of the bass and solid drum beat, then a tale of relationship aftermath unfolds with a strong optimistic chorus.
10. Spider. Often the first song of the live set, this is a confident but subtle mid-tempo closer to the album. An end of summer mood, beginning with a slow chiming picked chord, answered by a delicate descending bass run and some non-drums percussion and gentle vocal. The song keeps building, by the end we have strings and synthesisers and as the last chord fades away we are very glad we have shared 40 minutes with The Centimes, it is an impressive debut album.



Allo Darlin’, Portland Arms, Cambridge, 24 July 2014

An evening of Summer Indie-pop at the Portland opened appropriately with Cambridge based trio The Centimes. They have a distinctive original sound as I have said in previous reviews and the long instrumental introduction to opener ‘Stormy Tuesday’ laid down the template of solid drumming and bass with that stylish 12-string guitar jangling above. ‘La La Land’ showcased a bit of funk guitar and ‘I’m Fine’ and ‘Local Pool’ impressed as usual with strong vocal performances. The venue had filled up rapidly during the set and the band were well received. I look forward to the debut album, with some extra input spice added by The Organ Grinders Monkey..

Next on were the six members of Model Village, an Indie Folk band I had last seen at The Junction as support for Half Man Half Biscuit, not the most likely combination?! On that occasion there was more of an acoustic feel but they have a varying line-up and last night it was mainly electric guitar with excellent piano contributions and some welcome short bursts of harmonica. They also have the options that three different lead singers give and the musical styles vary greatly, from the up tempo opening song ‘Splitting The Risk’ to the mellow ‘Stockholm’ and the emotive ‘Red Chair’. It was a confident and enjoyable performance setting the tone for the headliners..

Allo Darlin’ are a London-based four piece formed in 2010, fronted by Elizabeth Morris. They play catchy guitar based Indie-pop, with involving lyrics drawing on human relationship dilemmas, cultural references (‘Woody Allen’, unfortunately omitted tonight) and reminiscences of Australia. It was generally an up-beat summer sound but listen to the lyrics carefully, there is plenty of darkness and light. The sound quality and instrumental playing were top-notch, like the Smiths with ukulele added to give an extra dimension of rhythm. There were two great interplay songs between male and female vocals, ‘Bright Eyes’ and the exquisite oldie ‘Dreaming’, three and a bit minutes of pop perfection…

The long set was engaging and varied, tracks from the forthcoming album ‘We Come From the Same Place’ to be released in October 2014 slotted in nicely with the more familiar songs. The band seemed very pleased to hear the audience singing along and there was a clever encore, ‘Kiss Your Lips’ segueing into the Paul Simon song ‘You Can Call Me Al’ (including that fast bass run..). It was a great show and from speaking to the band afterwards, the friendly onstage personas are all genuine!


The Centimes, The Corner House, Cambridge, 25 April 2014

Tom Colborn was the engaging opening act at The Corner House, with his slide (‘bottleneck’) guitar playing, probably unique on the Cambridge scene. It was the blues, characterised by the mesmerising crystal clear sound of the resonator guitar echoing underneath self-composed songs expressing social concerns that could have been from any era. He ended strongly with the blues standard ‘Dust My Broom’, as originally performed by Elmore James (and Robert Johnson before that…).

I like The Corner House, it is a friendly place and you can walk straight off the street and into a free concert. It is a bit like someone’s large lounge when the two smaller living rooms have been knocked through, there is a reassuring archway and homely wallpaper around the top of the room. It reminded me of the classic TV show ‘The Young Ones’ when the anarchic comedy was suddenly hijacked by a top band of the day appearing in the house (OK, I know it was just a stage set…).

Biscuits for Bears were on next, classic power pop line up, guitar, bass and drums. It was a high energy performance, but there was also plenty of variation, such as waltz time on ‘Saturn in Retrograde’ and understated bass on ‘Hand Model’. ‘Won’t See Me Around’ is a stand-out pop song, much appreciated by the steadily building audience. I enjoyed their set, I hope to see them again when they resume live performance in September.

Trouser Crisis had the same trio line-up, the opening song ‘Something Missing’ was a short burst of punk energy sustained through the set, temporarily slowed for ‘Ship in a Bottle’ then pushed through to the closing song ‘Taken’ via a speeded up cover of The Penguins classic ‘Earth Angel’, (as featured in the film ‘Back To The Future!). Well played and structured songs, delivered with a knowing awareness of their musical genre.

I was looking forward to seeing The Centimes again (see earlier review) and they did not disappoint, structuring the set differently from before, starting with the opening song featuring just simple percussion as the drummer stepped up to sing. Slow opening songs built up to the full band sound, the separate vocal strengths of each member of the band giving contrast and variety to the show. It was a confident performance, the sometimes sparse instrumentation leaving room to show the strength of the songs. A classy end to a good evening of music.


The Centimes, Blue Moon, Cambridge, 5 April 2014

The first band night at the recently refurbished Blue Moon, Norfolk Street, Cambridge. I have seen many performers at this venue in its previous incarnation and it is great news that the music has returned (and the beer has improved). It may be an idea to bring back a stage too…

Elephants and Castles from London (of course), two guitarists with varying styles and drums triggering other effects. They were confident, helped by good sound quality and affable engagement with the audience. Difficult to categorise, they played their own songs such as ‘Love on The Rocks’ about a forlorn affair and a jaunty cover of Electronic’s ‘Getting Away With It’ from 1989. The final song about the suicide of footballer Justin Fashanu was a challenging choice to end the set and brought the mood down just a bit….?

The Centimes, a three piece Cambridge-based band with drums, bass and a memorable turquoise 12-string electric guitar. This may automatically mean a sound reminiscent of The Byrds, but I heard Saint Etienne and Velvet Underground in there too, that’s a good combination. They rocked out on later songs but unfortunately the sound quality and mix was not great (no time for a soundcheck…) and the vocal subtleties were lost, which was a shame as the two female and one male voice combined well. The CD single (stylishly looking the same as vinyl?) ‘Local Pool/I’m Fine’ showcases the voices to good effect. A band to see again I think…