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A Magazine for Sheffield

The Bear and The Tiger

Built from a drink-fuelled discussion at a festival, this split covers album is the nuttiest noise to come out of my speakers in ages. Two bands – one speed punk, one politico-folk – each band covering the other’s songs. What could go wrong?

Very little, as it turns out, and loads goes really right. First, Bootscraper expose some Revenge of the Psychotronic Man songs to their arresting stew of European folk, blues and country, and those tunes cope with that exposure brilliantly. We open with ‘Clint Eastwood’, a fairground barker delivery hooked up to a lovely lurching swing. Bootscraper never fail to invest the lyrics they're performing with weight, showing that there's more to RofPM’s music that aggressively charging towards the finish. Here, ‘Another Way’ is a queasy western barn dance, which probably surprised its writers, suffused as it is with a sticky-floored Weimar oomph. My least favourite of this half is ‘Captain Gin vs The Victory Gin’, simply because it’s very Waitsian and I very much don’t like Tom Waits.

Revenge of the Psychotronic Man could be thought of as having it easier, in that they just have to speed their choices of Bootscraper’s music up and shout over it. To their credit, they work hard to blend content and approach into something new and surprisingly nuanced. ‘Then You’re Hers’ has real tenderness and feel, like a rose in a fisted glove. This half also contains my favourite song of the whole project. They take ‘The Suffering’ and soup it up into a juggernaut, all Iron Maiden duel riffing and wound aggression, its sheer energetic thump making you feel drained and able to take on the world at the same time, and that's some trick.

As Bootscraper have split, we'll never hear the like of this again, but we have this and it’s going to take a long time before it gets boring.