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BILLY MAHONIE / THE JESUS YEARS – split 7" (Theory of Nothing)

Posted: July 22nd, 2006, by Dave Stockwell

About two years ago I was persuaded to buy a 7″ rekkid split between two bands: the Lords of Nottingham and the Hey Colossus of Londonshire. Having witnessed both bands live but heard little recorded matter, I thought it could be a promising little number, especially as it was a debut by a new label to boot. Turns out that that 7″ was the best piece of 7″-sized wax I heard in ’04 by some distance, and it still gets regular spins on my turntable. Did I mention that the 7″ was insanely heavy and distinctly turd-coloured? I loved that 7″ and waited with baited breath for what Theory of Nothing Records (for they woz th’ label) would deign to release next.

Wind on to May of this year: I’d pretty much forgotten about Theory of Nothing, even though I probably haven’t bought a better 7″ since the Lords/Hey Colossus opus (restocked copies now available folks). Then! Out of the blue! I get asked to review the long-awaited second 7″ on Theory of Nothing – a split between the venerated and recently-reformed Billy Mahonie and Derby’s own fine young princes of post-math-pop-core, The Jesus Years. Get in! I said.

So, 9 years since their formation and a couple since everyone thought they’d split, Billy Mahonie make a triumphant comeback with their original line-up (despite the fact that Gavin apparently lives in Oslo). Their side is a track called “New Year’s Eve Song”, featuring the classic BM staples of twin throbbing basses, some deceptively sharp drum beauty and laser-like guitar playing combining to create another engaging, emotive and most importantly ROCKIN mathy/rocky genius. Even if the initial bassline sounds like a sped-up version of their signature song “Dusseldorf”. If you’ve ever enthused about Billy Mahonie in the past, this will be a proper treat of going right back to what you know. If you’ve not heard Billy Mahonie, you’ve been missing out and this is an excellent introduction. Billy Mahonie have always been a fine wine, best served cool and going down easy. This is like rediscovering a bottle that you thought you’d run out of years ago. Welcome back boys.

Facing up to matching this are The Jesus Years, a band I’ve managed to miss seeing at at least 3 gigs, despite living in the city next door to Derby. This was my first time listening to them, and they certainly impress with their skills to craft a canny pop song out of some classic math-rock moves. Their track, “Tom Seabourne PhD”, starts up like a ‘proper’ American emo band from the early ’90s; all crashing melodic guitar chords breaking down to nice jangly picked bits with slyly showy drums increasingly filling everything out until the song reaches the halfway point and it all erupts and gets suitably anthemic. It’s about this point you start wondering whether the Jesus Years really should go the whole hog and get themselves a singer and actually wear the ‘post-emo’ hat with pride. This is perhaps slightly cruel though, as they certainly have a knack for memorable guitar melodies and chunky rhythms that are satisfying like your favourite chocolate bar. Tasty, if occasionally slightly too sugary to be good for you every day.

All in all, another engaging and entertaining release from Theory of Nothing. The sleeve design is also really nice, and the vinyl is once again heavy enough to double up as an offensive weapon and it’s a beautiful translucent yellow this time. Much better than shit coloured. Excellent stuff, all. So what’s next?


Dave Stockwell

David can always be relied on to end his e-mails with one of those 'np: blah blah' things in order to remind us of how much more music he listens to every day than anybody else. His interests include rockin ' out in a major style as guitarist in Souvaris, throwing frisbees from tall buildings "just to see what happens" and simply kickin' back with his bitches in a gold-plated jacuzzi.


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