Unabashed Americana lovers we may be, but with the arrival in town of Argentinian post-punk trio Las Kellies, it is a full-on South American love affair that’s on the cards at the musical rabbit’s warren of the Green Door Store. Miserably wet summer night notwithstanding, it turns out there’s nothing three hugely talented South American post-punkers can’t do to chase the blues away on the first night of their UK tour.
Hailing from Buenos Aires, the all-girl trio have relentlessly acquired a name for themselves over here in the last couple of years. On paper it’s an unlikely state of affairs for a band from South America playing a brand of music last popularized over here in the early ’80s courtesy of the similarly sparse sounding, short-lived Leeds band Delta 5, the much beloved Gang of Four and various others from Devo to ESG (whose “Erase You” the band covered on recent album “Kellies”). But driven along by peppy basslines, shades of dub and some judicious cowbells, whistles, horns and a sort of Tarantino-soundtrack-flavoured twist of surf-punk (see “Perro Rompebolas”), the girls are more than alright, they make a throwback genre feel fresher than the midsummer rain falling outside, as they crank out some seriously tight, genre-melding tunes.
Transcending pigeon-holes, this is the sort of music that makes a mockery of genre. Lead Kelly (there is no such thing really in this three-way-power-punching trio) Ceci cranks out some perfect riffing, angular guitar, the chunked-up bass of Betty Kelly drives the whole sound forward with fat riffs and/or bubbling dub grooves, while the estimable work of drummer and (superb) co-vocalist Sil imbues the whole sound with a back-forth vocal style that owes as much to hip-hop as any kind of punky yoof angst.
The band sticks mainly to tracks from their superb self-titled third album, the endlessly addictive “Erase You” cover making an early appearance, while the throbbingly incessant “Keep the Horse” and bass-punctured rap of “Bling Bling” showcase the trio’s sassy take on not just post-punk but a kind of knowing, pseudo-hip-hop style. “Adwenture” allows Ceci to double as percussionist through some decidedly darkened dub-impregnated slink and by the time things wrap up after an hour of excitingly transcendent rock’n'roll there really isn’t much left to do but smile at the band’s super-stylish grooves. Argentina just isn’t big enough to contain this kind of musical exuberance and sound fusion; the world awaits.