The Stands - 53 Degrees Preston - 2.10.05

You'd think for a band championed by none other than Noel Gallagher, given support slots on Oasis gigs at all available opportunities and who have released to exceptional, but under appreciated albums would receive the respect and support of their record label. Apparently not, because Echo has dropped the Stands and many other acts on their books with Feeder being amongst the few bands avoiding the chop. I predict a smaller independent label will come to their rescue and offer them all the artistic control they desire.

Visually the Stands are all curly hair and student attire, more unkempt street urchin than future international rock star, but as musicians they're the best kept secret on the live circuit. Obviously enamoured by Bob Dylan both in vocals and appearance, right down to the mouth organ attachment he uses, singer Howie Payne (his brother is Sean Payne, the drummer in the Zutons) shows an impressive range in his vocal ability. Howie's voice is well suited to the blues fuelled rock music the Stands play, retro it may be, but originally played with a drive and passion which is rare with a lot of the new bands around today.

The hook laden single "Here She Comes Again" one of the debut albums finest moments, whereas "Melody And Days" one of the more memorable moments to savour from the new album "Horse Fabulous". "When The Night Falls" should have been a bona fide hit with it's La's like chorus and insightful lyrics.

With a cover of Van Morrison's "I Can Only Give You Everything", as an encore The Stands make a Sunday night out an exciting alternative to Heartbeat and a cup of cocoa. If any suits from a record company are reading this then snap them up now, with the right label behind them this band should deliver on that early potential.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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