Monday, 12 March 2012

we can still picnic presents: mao disney

Nearly eighteen months into its existence, arts collective We Can Still Picnic remains difficult to pin down, with club nights, radio shows and pamphleteering amongst the activities keeping its members and affiliates busy. Their record label wing – originally a digital home for previously out-of-print albums by the likes of Nectarine No. 9, but also home to Wake the President’s (rather ace) Zumutung! – acquires further facets tonight, with the unveiling of Mao Disney: Fluxing the Aesthetic, a handsomely-presented tasting platter of ‘neu Scotland.’ Or, as Bjorn of Wake the President puts it, just “eight bands that Erik, Douglas and I like” – five of whom grace the CCA tonight for its launch.

Having since given the compilation several spins, we’re kicking ourselves for arriving too late to see Aggi Doom; a misjudgement we won’t make again. Instead, our evening begins with a low-key set from The Sexual Objects, who, despite being the most experienced and possibly most respected act on the line-up (when you consider their members’ collective history), tonight feel very much like a warm-up to more exciting bands to come, their all-acoustic set-up lacking the punch Henderson’s louche, retro-baiting songwriting usually delivers.

There’s a sharp upswing the moment POST plug in, their instantly-appealing concoction counting indie-pop, post-punk and a smattering of disco amongst its ingredients; from where we’re standing, it works a treat on an enlivened and appreciative audience. With momentum established, Casual Sex accept the baton with aplomb; frontman Sam Smith (previously of Mother and the Addicts) is humorously nonchalant one moment, sharply focused the next, and We’re All Here Mainly For the Sex’s dark funk is a highlight not just of their set, but of the whole evening.

Finally, Wake the President take to the stage to close the event with a dependably vigorous, but disappointingly short set (one Mao tune?). They open with a new song, which gets only a fraction of the attention and appreciation it deserves; those impressed by the progress demonstrated on Zumutung! will lap it up should it become a more permanent set fixture. Later, the likes of This Is New and the ever-shiny Miss Tierney are fired off with conviction, yet the results never quite feel like an end-of-night celebration; for a record launch, enthusiasm seems buttoned down. But this most minor of quibbles shouldn’t detract from the bottom line: an excellent venture, executed excellently.

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