Best new band of the year – The Virgins

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Yes I know it’s only mid January but as far as I’m concerned the battle for band of the year 2009 is over. New York’s The Virgins have already cleaned up. Mark my words, this band are going to be huge this year.

A friend gave me a copy of their album (currently only available in the US) back in November but as I’d heard nothing at all about them it sat forlornly on my stereo gathering dust for several weeks. I finally gave it a spin just before Christmas… and have listened to it at least once a day ever since. It is phenomenal – an incredible debut that gets better with every listen. Full of punk attitude, funk grooves and most importantly great pop tunes.

So it was with great excitement that I found myself in the Notting Hill Arts Club last week with no more than a hundred others waiting for The Virgins to pop my cherry. As soon as they took the stage you just knew that they wouldn’t disappoint. Crowded onto a stage that appeared to be no bigger than a double bed, they tore through the majority of the album in a non-stop half hour set that felt like an encore of their greatest hits.

I’ve always loved bands that could be comic book charcters and The Virgins look like the perfect cartoon band; the lead singer is the bastard offspring of Phil Daniels in Quadrophenia and Mick Jagger – possibly with an element of Peter Crouch thrown in for good measure; on lead guitar we have Tony from Skins, a narcissistic poseur in a bad hat that looks like he always knows where the best party is; the rhythm guitarist appears to be American Pie’s ‘The Stifler’; I couldn’t see the drummer, but on bass we have a Dee Dee Ramone clone that appears to have learnt his trade in Studio 54 rather than CBGBs.

And the bass is one of the big things you notice about The Virgins. They’ve got the sleazy old school New York attitude in spades, they’re tight, they’ve got the singalong choruses – they could be an amalgam of all the best New York bands of the last 30 years. But they’ve also got a serious case of ‘the funk’, with basslines that Chic’s Bernard Edwards would be proud of. This is what sets them apart.

It’s going to be a big year for The Virgins, with the album due out over here sometime soon and a UK tour just announced for March/April we’re going to be hearing a lot more about them. No doubt they’ll be playlisted by Radio 1 soon, become annoyingly ubiquitous and win best international band award at the Brits 2010. But right now they’re absolutely perfect. The Virgins are hot – enjoy them while you can.

Check them out on MySpace

Chris Cook

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