I don't remember when or where I first heard about p.s. eliot. Somewhere on the internet I'd heard the name, but I never got round to checking them out until the release this year of their new 7", Living in Squalor. Again I stumbled across it on some blog on one of my late-night music-seeking sessions (yeah, I probably should get out more). Within about an hour of downloading it I'd heard the album as well and ordered both on vinyl all the way from America (I couldn't find any UK distros stocking them, sadly). They really are that good.
The last FM page for the band (maybe written by them, maybe not, but presumably reflecting at least what they've said in interviews and stuff) lists Fugazi, Bikini Kill, X-Ray Spex etc. as influences. They're categorised as pop-punk. Both of those are all well and good, but to my ears the punk influences reflect as much on their "ideology" as they do on the sound: they seem pretty squarely DIY, and although they aren't as explicitly feminist lyrically as a lot of Riot Grrrl, they are a band with three girls in, something that's still underrepresented. But then again punk is nothing if not an ideology: but that's a blog post for someone else who's better at writing about music than me.
Anyway to my ears they sound like they're from the punkier end of what we over here would call indiepop, and they'd fit pretty well on a lot of that kind of lineup (the last FM also mentions the unfortunately now-defunct Pens). Uptempo, fairly unsophisticated (but in a good way) songs with really good (and again REALLY indiepop) lyrics: "I write you letters all the time/I never send them, it's just supposed to ease my mind." I like the singer's delivery too, sometimes spitting out words double tempo, sometimes going into charmingly off-key yelps in the high register. It's not a million miles away from stuff like the best bits of Standard Fare or something like that. The new 7" is probably more accessible, five great songs in less than twelve minutes, but the album's well worth seeking out too.
Maybe there's loads of stuff like this happening in America. I wish I knew. For all the good that the internet has done in terms of opening up scenes to people thousands of miles away (the fact I've heard of p.s. eliot at all for example), you do tend to get a very fragmented picture of what's going on. And another thing: from all the pictures I've seen on last FM or wherever, the majority of their shows are basements and apartments (see video below). Why doesn't that happen in London (or in my experience in the UK in general)? Maybe it's that houses in London tend to be a lot smaller and real estate at more of a premium than in a lot of places in the US, so fewer people have the kind of space where you can put on stuff like that. Or maybe there are just fewer established venues for this kind of underground music in places that aren't London, so people look for more unusual places to put on shows.All those pictures look like so much fun it makes me want to move to America. Maybe when I win the lottery (doubly unlikely since I've never bought a ticket) I'll buy a massive house and put on touring bands.
Anyway, the point of this post is that I love p.s. eliot and I wish they would come to the UK. Until then, go buy their 7" and LP.
Obligatory still-photo-with-added-studio-recording video:
Rubbish sound live video: