The Cellar, Oxford
31st January 2002
It wasn’t until my friend Dan mentioned on the way out that he thought they sounded like The Presidents of the USA that I found the comparison I had been searching for. AM60, the New York band who played at the Shifty Disco 5th anniversary “Songs of Praise” night, do indeed sound like the mid-90s punk/pop band but have a more varied sound than their fellow Americans. More sardonic and laid back, they came across like a cynical older brother to the Presidents’ excitable teenager. I couldn’t work out whether they take themselves more or less seriously, though; one of their songs, plaintive and slower than most of the rest of their set, seemed to be a paean to a “Fat Girl”.
If Britpop had a contemporary American equivalent, then AM60 are nu-US Britpop – less rocky than Wheatus and Blink 182, yet still more modern than the Presidents. They have been compared to De La Soul and Beck, and their style betrays a wide range of influences. Their East Village New York roots seem to be in hip-hop – their former drummer, Mackie, left them to join the Fun Lovin’ Criminals, and their former bass player and sometime artwork contributor, Chuck Treece, is a former member of Urge Overkill.
They played, along with Dustball, on the Shifty Disco live session on John Peel’s Radio 1 programme the night before, and their single from last August, Just A Dream, which had a lot of Evening Session airplay, was instantly recognisable. Their other songs ranged from one with a bossa-nova vibe that bizarrely reminded me of The Girl from Ipanema, to some that made them sound like a garage-rock version of No Doubt around their About a Girl period, combining ska and punk. Their delivery was understated and quite laconic; their 35 minute set wasn’t long enough to be either an especially captivating or dynamic appearance, although I suspect that as headliners in a bigger venue they might rock out a little bit more. However, I will remember the way mainman Chris Root held his guitar quite high, like a teenage George Formby, and his and bassist Leon De Bretagne’s hoodies.
AM60 – with a few more catchy songs like Just a Dream, they could go far.
From The Oxford Student, at some point