Peerless Pirates: 'Thieves & Miscreants' - Nightshift
What’s the point of being in a band called Peerless Pirates and writing songs called `The Ghost Of Captain Kidd’ and `Palaver At The Harbour’ if you can’t slip some heroically hamfisted nautical metaphors into your lyrics? “As you sailed away / You were captain of my heart” bellows Cliff Adams at the start of the former number piece, a tumbling rockabilly caper that, if it were to take human form would likely bounce around your living room on its wooden leg, grinning at you through gold teeth. Oh sure there’s a hefty novelty edge to Peerless Pirates, one they’re obviously keen to play up to, but none of that would matter if they didn’t always sound like a right old barrel of fun – like The Smiths cavorting with The Ukranians in a rumsoaked orgy of thigh-slapping bro-love. Adams’ voice is pure Morrissey, while `Palavar...’ feels like a carefree seafaring adventure about to begin. `Bring Out Your Dead’ might almost be self-parody, so OTT is its delivery, but the undertone is “We don’t care what you think; we’re having fun!” By all that’s holy, wouldn’t it be great if more bands sounded like they were having as good a time as Peerless Pirates?
Peerless Pirates: Demo - Music in Oxford
Anyone who believes The Smiths were all about self-pity, poetry and a particular kind of doe-eyed defeatism obviously never caught one of the band’s riotous live shows – wild celebrations of the self-imposed social outsider set to a raucous rockabilly soundtrack and hosted by pop’s greatest panto dame.
Like Smiths fans, pirates are often miscast as lonely outcasts when really they probably had more fun, even minus the odd eye or leg or dose of scurvy, than most of the hapless put-upon landlubbing denizens of the seventeenth century, pissing away their ill-gotten gains in lamp-lit Cornish inns. Though maybe not to a raucous rockabilly soundtrack.
Anyway, Peerless Pirates have been kicking out their swashbuckling-tinted brand of Smiths worship for a few years now, over a series of seemingly unchanging demos, to the point that there’s something positively heroic about their refusal or inability to change one iota. Heck, they’re even still ripping off the same Smiths songs as they ever did.
Thing is, even to point such a thing out would be to miss the point as spectacularly as a misfiring blunderbuss in an Atlantic storm. Peerless Pirates aren’t about progress, or subtlety or, whisper it, nuanced pop poetry. No, they want to hang from the rigging, cask of rum in hand, and have all aboard dance a merry jig to the tunes in their head.
So, ‘Knight In Tarnished Armour’ finds the hearty frontman rhyming “adversary” with “necessary” without a hint of self-consciousness, as guitars twang like cracking timbers behind him, a lounge crooner experiencing his ‘Bingo Master’s Breakout’ moment and letting what’s left of his hair down for the last time. ‘Ella’s Voyage’ is heavy-handed but lyrically defter of touch, while ‘Palatine Bloodline’ finds the singer coming dangerously close to pastiche as he hits those same windswept high notes Moz forever reached for back in his 80s heyday. ‘Throw Down the Gauntlet’ might as well be ‘This Charming Man’ as it hits its chorus, albeit with a lively eastern European feel to it that we wouldn’t be shocked to discover was ripped wholesale from Boney M’s ‘Rasputin’.
Big, bold and sometimes maybe a bit silly, Peerless Pirates are never less than fun. Simple fun yes, but isn’t that the best kind? Not unlike a game of pirates, really.
Music in Oxford
The Yare Man Revieweth
One may expect a band with a name such as Peerless Pirates to be making music in the vein of Alestorm, Turisas or similar metal bands, but with a much lighter approach from clearly a very different set of influences, the music on offer is a very different kettle of fish within I guess the pirate music spectrum of the modern age. Impressive demos that aren't all necessarily as swashbuckling as the name suggests, but a great band in the making none the less.
Although all demos so far, they're still at a point of being very well produced tracks and opening with Knights in tarnished armour and then swiftly moving onto Ellas voyage, the collection begins very well, with excellent vocals, rhythm and a top notch guitar tone to boot. Palaver at the Harbour has a Monkey Island feel to it that kids from the 90s (or fans of Lucasarts) will certainly be able to appreciate in this day and age.
Like all great bands, they wrote a fine and catchy ballad, in this case it is the aptly titled High Seas Love Affair, a track that hits many spots and can be envisioned as a large crowd favourite. There are many tracks that encourage grog swigging with their piratey rhythms and Throw Down the Gauntlet is no exception to this, if you don't at least nod to this track you have no soul, it's just that catchy, frankly.
On the whole: vocals a lot like The Cure or Joy Division, dark but a lot of melody to them and makes the music reach that previous level that a different vocalist wouldn't perhaps been able to have achieved. The other highlight is the guitar tone on the electric sections, it always adds a very good salty dog vibe to the whole collection and it goes a long way in making some of the track becoming very memorable to the listener, such as Palaver at the Harbour.
I give the demos (so far) an 8/10. The band clearly had a lot of fun producing this collection of songs and it is only really a matter of time for their big break, definitely check them out.
The Yare Man Revieweth
Bossons About - 6 Towns Radio
"Oh that is beautiful, that is absolutely beautiful; the Peerless Pirates and Ghost of Captain Kid"
6 Towns Radio
The Pirates have been sailing around our playlists for eons now (check out their appearance on the Forum show from ‘back in the day’ below), and rightfully so too. They’ve provided us with consistently great tracks that we can honestly say we’ll be playing for many years to come.
With really well-written songs and an almost perfect pop performance, Peerless Pirates will have audiences bouncing on the dancefloor. Their sound is like an upbeat, happy version of The Smiths, making one wonder if Morrissey might be a tad jealous if he hears them.
What's on the MusicInOxford.co.uk stereo this week?
The eponymous EP by Peerless Pirates (www.peerlesspirates.com) is the latest set of songs by this band who craft cheerful, nautical tales set to music. While this template might restrict them in some ways, there's still variety, with touches of Interpol, Franz Ferdinand and even Lily Allen in their cheeky, jangly guitar pop music.
Music in Oxford
Peerless Pirates EP - Music in Oxford
In preparation for this review, Peerless Pirates’ Cliff Adams was kind enough to send his band’s entire oeuvre to musicinoxford.co.uk, at my request. I wanted a handful of the older tracks for a mix-tape (they’re still cool, kids!), although there was a secondary object in assessing how the Pirates’ sound has evolved since the likes of the splendid ‘One over the Eight’ and ‘Bring Out Your Dead’.
And here’s the news: it hasn’t. Not an extra whisker, not a spare parrot-feather. Like another denizen of the high seas, the shark, they have told evolution to avast (one). And for that we can be heartily (two) grateful.
Anyway, for those who don’t know, the Pirates’ stock-in-trade is cheerfully salty (three) nautical tales, set to Smithsian jangly guitar pop, and sung with mildly offkey gusto by Adams in a baritone reminiscent of Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos. The formula doesn’t change a lot, but the individual songs are all well-constructed, melodic and ooze character. The abiding image is of a bearded fellow running out of aPortsmouthtavern, trousers round his ankles, pursued by unpaid landladies, seduced floozies or enraged love rivals.
Within the template, you get a bit of variety: opener ‘The Gunpowder Plot’s first three seconds sound like Interpol’s ‘Take You on a Cruise’, but that’s as far as the flirtation with melancholia goes. The main bulk of the song borrows a little from none other than Lily Allen in both melody and the cheeky quote “It’s not fair!”, proving the resemblance is other than a coincidence (might the spirited Lily be one of the Pirate King’s conquests?) . ‘For Queen and Country’ is a little more chromatic, but the air of rumbustious comedy is never far away. ‘No Sight of Land’ has some lovely twangling Duane Eddy guitar and a twisting lanyard (four) of a melody. ‘Palaver at the Harbour’ is a bit pub rock, but has a great title and some of the clumsy rhyme schemes (we’re away, we’re away, in disarray, put us out of our mis-e-ray!) are actually quite treasurable (five), though they’d have to go some to beat Lord Byron (“Oh, you lords of ladies, so intellectual/ have they not hen-pecked you all?”).
If I had to choose, I’d say the set of earlier songs are a bit stronger in melody than the current crop, and one certainly doesn’t need an album by this group-they are emphatically a ‘singles’ band. (No harm in that-Madness were another singles band, and they did all right.). It seems quite right that the Pirates’ music has a punky, raw feel to it-pirates were the original punks, with their aversion to discipline, their bad hair and their can-do capitalism (Long John Silver, just like Malcolm McClaren was only in it for the money). If Nightshift’s Ronan Munro fancies a party band to close next year’s Punt, he could do worse than sign this crew (six) up. He’d be a plank (seven) not to.
Music in Oxford
Peerless Pirates @ The Wheatsheaf, Oxford, 22/06/2011
I was passing by The Wheatsheaf in Oxford last Wednesday evening and thought I'd pop in and say hello to my old mate Joel the sound engineer - who has been engineering sound to some of the finest gigs in Oxford since the 1990's.
After obtaining some ale and ascending the stairs to the stage area, there I was greeted by a sound I hadn't heard in this place before.
After greeting Joel and being granted entrance to the venue, my attention was caught by an unusual band. A different type of indie with an "out to sea" feel about what they do. Yes indeed, lock up your cash and your treasure while the pirates are in town. The singer, Cliff, has a swashbuckling look about him and the bass player sports a little Steven type of bandana. Yes, very piratey. Makes me wonder if they are aware of Pastafarianism?
This band is Peerless Pirates - and indeed they are. Their songs are upbeat and all about, well, pirate escapades, such as songs like "The Ghost Of Captain Kidd" and "Bring Out Your Dead". A fun band who you should go and see play live. Yes their songs are very swashbuckling!
Check out their Official Website or Facebook page and see when they're next gigging. You won't be disappointed.
Riverside Festival, Charlbury, 18-19/06/2011
Good, then we level-headed people can get on with talking about the Charlbury Riverside Festival 2011, always a beautifully run, welcoming event, and one that we organise our summer around because we’d hate to ever miss it. In some ways, it doesn’t spoil the event if the music is duff at Riverside but we must admit, this year the lineup was, pound for pound, the strongest it’s been for quite some years. And starting with Peerless Pirates certainly couldn’t dampen anybody’s spirits, even as the first of many showers blew across the festival. They play classic indie welded onto rugged, shanty-style basslines that justify the band’s name: think The Wedding Present with arrangements by Guybrush Threepwood. Not always painfully original – you don’t have to be Scott Bakula to make the quantum leap from their opening tune to ‘This Charming Man’ – but they offer friendly, jolly music that inaugurates the festival almost as well as the near visible battle within compere Lee Christian not to say naughty words on the mike.
Music in Oxford
Oxford Nightshift Demo Review
Oh thank God, a bit of life. Peerless Pirates might display an annoying tendency to paint themselves as swashbuckling warriors of the high seas in their biog, but musically they're decidedly less rum, kicking out a heavily Smiths-indebted form of jangly rockabilly on 'Bring Out Your Dead' with a sense of melodramatic melancholy that Moz himself would once have been proud to display. In fact you can imagine the singer gallivating about in front of his bedroom mirror, a bunch of gladioli in his back pocket, as he celebrates the romance of tedium with a flourish that is a rarer occurrence thatn you might imagine in modern day indie rock. 'One Over The Eight' is better still, akin to 'Hand In Glove' remade in the style of The Wedding Present, and if 'High Seas Love Affair' overdoes the pirate motif a little, it eventually blossoms into a lively jangle-pop sea shanty. Not quite a buried chest of musical treasure just yet, unlike too many acts this month, who we'd gladly force to walk the plank, at least Peerless Pirates are looking at the right map and appear to have a bit of the X-marks-the-spot-factor.
A Genuine Freakshow+ Peerless Pirates+ Ute, The Jericho Tavern 24/1/2009
This promoting business is a doddle. Hundred and fifteen payers through the door on a wet January evening, nae probs. What is everyone moaning about?
That, at least, must be the attitude of the promoter of Reading’s ‘Monkeysuit’ night, making his debut in Oxford at the Jericho. The room filled slowly and then explosively throughout the evening and must have brought a healthy profit for all concerned. As I left the venue, I warned him not to expect the same results in August.
Kicking off the evening were acoustic ultra-miserablists Ute, who have moved from a guitar and harp duo to a more classifiable but less distinctive guitar-bass-drums trio. At first, the consensus among my group was that they were terrible, offering nothing but sludgy sub-Hail to the Thief rock dirges and oceans of self-pity. The low point was the intro to the third or fourth song, which featured the bass player clapping away arrhythmically, as the singer caterwauled his way through some tortured vocal formulation-my mate described it as ‘Ryan Adams locked in a seal enclosure’. To be fair, the band picked up in the second half and showed some gift for close harmony, particularly on a couple of wordless choruses, but the set as a whole was a chore.
Far better were Peerless Pirates, another guitar trio, but one with little in common with the previous act. The first song sounded like the Muppets theme tune played by The Smiths, and it got even better after that. Suddenly, the audience realised that they may be allowed to have a good time after all.
The Pirates’ sound is a mixture of Johnny Marr jangle-pop with dashes of rockabilly and classic rock (Their excellent ‘Bring Out Your Dead’ sounds initially like a hidden gem from Bob Dylan’s ‘Bringing it All Back Home’ album and ‘High Seas Love Affair’ could have been the product of Long John Silver fronting The Stooges). Blackbearded vocalist Cliff clearly knows his Morrissey, and has a bit of the poseurish drawl, but jettisons the ennui and the foghorn delivery (Truly was it spoken that Morrisey “has the voice that saved a thousand ships”) and occasionally sounds closer to Neil Tennant. The band were on effervescent form and even had the earnest post-rockers jigging along at the end. Above all, their songs were laden with killer hooks, which is appropriate, given their profession.
Closing the evening were Reading post-rock collective, A Genuine Freakshow. It took a while to figure even that little bit out, as they had quite important parts for male vocals, and featured a string section as well as sporting a trumpeter. The Arcade Fire are a convenient starting point for their sound, with four-to-the-floor drums, high, reedy vocals and wintry, romantic violins. It’s all very accomplished, with care being taken to find space for the brass and strings among the dense guitar textures. What is missing is the odd genuinely memorable singalong tune which would crown all that obvious musical intelligence and the set began to plod in the last third.
Still, another brilliant, profitable night for the Jericho: the catastrophic, indefensible decision to abandon live music at the end of the nineties is now a distant memory and hopefully it will sail on indefatigably through the coming choppy waters. A bit like the Peerless Pirates.
Music in Oxford
Peerless Pirates: demo
“This music is designed to have you oscillating wildly.” And so Oxon-Bucks three-piece Peerless Pirates give their game away. Which is at least something, since their Myspace offers precious little by way of information other than a few annoying hints that they might be real pirates.
But of course they’re not. They’re Smiths fans, albeit pretty chipper Smiths fans, which I guess is something different. They can summon up a lively jangle-pop canter, that’s undeniable, but those not-so subtle reference points are unavoidable, from the singer’s bold, poetic delivery, sense of doomed romance (especially on `Where Is Michael’) and occasionally arcane language (although “Unhand me, you swine” could just as easily be Russell Brand, himself a shameless Morrissey devotee), through the guitarist’s intricate jangle, right down to the harmonica on `Random Shags or Regular Kisses’, which is ripped wholesale from `This Charming Man’. Elsewhere `Those Fashion Stakes’ pillages `Still Ill’, while, in a slight shift in style, `Bring Out Your Dead’ adopts a sprightly rockabilly stance, something a certain Stephen Patrick has been known to enjoy on occasion.
Not that Peerless Pirates are hopeless copyists, and their scrappy, jangly take on classic indie fizz and froth is more than passable, with a welcome feeling of melodrama. Their tales of `High Sea Love Affair’ aren’t as swashbuckling as they’d probably like to think they are, but against a backdrop of contemporary English guitar pop’s parochial dying embers, they offer a reminder of more bountiful times.
Music in Oxford