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12 DIRTY BULLETS @ ROADHOUSE, MANCHESTER 8/12/2011 - REVIEW BY NIGEL CARTNER

There’s a lot of hype that surrounds this band I’m viewing tonight, having been described as a “fiery, young, energetic, swaggering West London band”.  The only indication I have of their music is through a couple of songs on YouTube, not the best means to review music I know, and once again it fails to enthral me whatsoever. It doesn’t bother me though as I’ve had similar problems with previous bands so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and make my way to The Roadhouse, Manchester to experience firsthand what the rumblings are all about. Once again, YouTube fails to portray the true reflection of a band’s essence and before long I am powerless not to be captivated into this band that seems to have a different voice, edge and dimension from the one I watched on screen earlier.

’12 Dirty Bullets’ are a West London four piece indie/rock band, consisting of lead singer/guitarist Jamie Jameson, brother and bassist Josh Jameson, lead guitarist Michael Smith and drummer Joe Cotterill that when live are highly distinctive through their loud, emphatic guitars, given a new direction from the neat use of the RAT pedal and Gibson 335. Also through the intelligent, dark lyrics that combine the wild side of youth with the harsh realities and heartbreaks of general life. With that in mind, they remind me of London’s answer to ‘Arctic Monkeys’, but with a more serious tone.

Jamie Jamieson is full of energy, a passion and force in his voice that sounds raw, yet manipulatively hypnotic and enchanting. The rest of the band are equal to his lead in terms of performance, remaining more subdued, yet confidently unhinged . Michael Smith plays at a high tempo giving a ominous echo to the riffs that make you spiral uncontrollably outside the consciousness. It all emphasises the meaning of the world they grew up in and observed. The set continues at this high pace throughout the show, playing a mixture of songs from their debut album and ones that will surely appear on the follow up. The crowd cheer as every  song ends, and there is something quite unique about them onstage.

Displaying a softer side to their melodies, ‘Don’t Call Me Again’ starts on the piano, Jamieson serenades the crowd with lyrics full of pain, sadness and sorrow, a real chance to display just how good his voice is without the guitars. His words make you stare and ponder, feeling sorry for him in some way due to their deep meaning until the first verse concludes and the guitars then kick in, the lyrics maintain in the same emotional way, but with the uplift in tempo they take on a new meaning of sentimental anger, giving the song a new feeling. It was a highly energised performance that prompted me to listen to the album in full. Having done so, I can’t help but think that when recorded, a certain raw edge is lost that is only displayed in abundance when watching them live. The sound is very similar to numerous bands out there who create music going down a similar route, but live it’s a very different ball game where they sound distinguished and unique.

What does strike me about this band, apart from their obvious talent is that they are completely independent. They write, produce, compose and mix all the music themselves, whilst maintaining day jobs and still being able to tour, which is such an achievement in today’s world. That suggests that these lads have the correct attitude and a real passion about their music, doing whatever it takes to get there. They’ve already self confessed to the importance of plenty of gigging and that is the kind of dedication needed to make it today. By being totally independent, and gaining a much more well rounded experience, they may just take themselves to the next level.

After a recent US tour in October, ‘12 Dirty Bullets’ are now embarking on their first UK headline tour. Their debut album titled, ‘Downsides to Making a Livin.’ was released in 2009, and plans for the follow-up are in motion for early 2012. When that tour hits the UK I urge anyone to get themselves down to see them.

www.myspace.com/12dirtybullets

Review by Nigel Cartner /photos by Matt Johnston