CAGE PARK - HOLDING ON TO HAND ME DOWNS
Stephen Pennell ©
Post-punk indie four-piece Cage Park burst onto the scene in 2017 as a gang of four effervescent school kids - so young in fact that on their third brilliant EP (check the back catalogue) they’re still singing about taking a gap year. But that’s not the only thing that makes them one of the most exciting prospects on the burgeoning Birmingham music scene.
The band are fast becoming a seasoned and exciting live act - and in high demand too. They’ve supported The Snuts, Dry Cleaning, FEET and The Blinders, and conquered Camper Calling and Valefest, the largest student-run festival in Europe, as well as selling out a series of hometown headliners.
They’ve featured on Tom Robinson’s BBC Introducing Mixtape on Radio 6, local platforms Rawsound TV and The B-Team, and like us at King City Online, local radio stations like BBC WM and Brum Radio can’t get enough of them, supporting each new release with air-play, track of the month accolades and multiple interviews. Their sound draws on a huge range of genres, with garage-punk and indie the most prominent, and their latest EP builds on those influences to create a more mature and exciting new direction for the band.
Holding On To Hand Me Downs comprises six colourful vignettes on the journey from adolescence to adulthood, brought to life over the relentlessly energetic guitar of Leo, Edie’s sturdy basslines and the intricate yet powerful drumming of Reuben. Some of the songs are straight ahead blasts of punk power, some are musical suites with weird, imaginative tangents, the lyrics intriguingly autobiographical and perfectly communicated by the strong and charming vocals of Arthur and Edie.
MUD tells the entertaining tale of playing and spectating at the Y Not festival as sixteen year-olds, where they were ‘too drunk to dance’ and it was ‘hard to sleep when you’re one feet deep under water’. When Split Ends talks of nights passed out on the floorboards, it feels like there’s a hedonist theme emerging.
A couple of the tracks have political undertones - Ninety Nine examines the meagre minimum wage: ‘7.80’s not enough/for a living wage so you work three jobs’, and what the band see as the futility of fighting against the 1% - ‘we won’t get what we want to/unless we become you’. It also describes Moseley in slightly less harsh terms than Dexy’s Midnight Runners did on This Is What She’s Like.
BUS takes us on a fun-sounding guided tour of South Birmingham via the number 50 and a Latin-inspired bridge, but also seems to refer to economic disparities apparent in the area - ‘crying children/and businessmen with their millions’. The title track speaks evocatively about growing up and contemplates moving on with a mixture of melancholy and mirth, rounding off the EP superbly.
The NME recently featured a number of local groups, the article packaged under a ‘B-Town Is Back’ banner. The exposure was welcome, and without wishing to disparage those featured, I can’t help thinking they missed a trick. The NME need to get their Mac books back to Brum forthwith and have a closer look at bands like The Novus, The Assist, Y!kes, The Clause, Overpass, Pagans SOH and last but by no means least - the wonderful Cage Park. But anyway, it’s golden age round here whether or not the music press knows it.
The band headline Dead Wax in Birmingham on 16th April to promote the new EP, and the o2 Institute 2 on the 22nd. They also play The Castle Hotel in Manchester on May 1st and Sonic Wave festival on June 4th.