As a catch-all term for the conflation of indie-rock, emo and alt-rock – as well as occasional dashes of folk and country – indie-punk has understandably blossomed into a phenomenon. It’s fairly easy to see why too, partly thanks to the gamut of sounds it encompasses, and partly thanks to the waves of critical acclaim that so much of it has been washed with. But away from the dedicated outlets that won’t hesitate to praise anything in this vein, it can feel as though there isn’t a lot that stands out with some of these bands, and a naturally low-key presentation doesn’t help when so much bleeds together.
With Three Man Cannon on the other hand, they appear to have something tucked away that so few of their contemporaries can muster – variety. And on this self-titled album, it definitely seems to work in their favour, skipping between Britpop meanderings, honky-tonk struts and shoegaze brooding within the first three tracks. It’s all grounded in a combination of Pat Brier’s understated vocals and the omnipresent indie-punk tactic of melodies submerged within the mix that gives a track like ‘Feeling Shot’ a sense of depth that’s always compelling.
Of course, none of these ideas are really new in isolation (particularly when the individual sounds return on a track like ‘Apple Tree’ and unfortunately starts to feel stagnant), but Three Man Cannon are able to mesh these ideas together in an interesting way that doesn’t compromise the ideals of their genre. There’s still a feeling of lo-fi, grassroots imperfection in the production, and the hollowness of the guitar tone continues to build on the melancholy that these sorts of bands are so good at creating.
Even if that means that Three Man Cannon will continue to be grouped with the indie-punk regulars, the slightest bit of innovation does make a difference, and playing around with their instrumental foundations does prove to be a worthwhile endeavour. It’s still not a sound that will appeal to everyone, but Three Man Cannon are delivering it in a fashion that’s more workable than so many others.
‘Three Man Cannon’ by Three Man Cannon is out now on Lame-O Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall (@nuttall_luke)