Pat Long
March 29, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

For most people in Britain, this week has been about Eurovision. In the past, the annual pan-European pop competition introduced the world to the likes of Abba, but has long since descended into high camp and self-parody. Last year’s winners, Lordi, were a Finnish metal band that dressed in latex troll suits.

On a slow news week, though, this year’s British entrant made front-page headlines: Scooch are a boy/girl quartet that dress as airline flight crew and deal simultaneously in hi-energy pop and innuendo so blatant that it’s barely innuendo at all (their song, ”Flying The Flag (For You)” features lines like ”Would you like something to suck on before landing sir?”). Considering all of this information, it’s really no surprise that it was revealed that Scooch don’t actually sing their song, relying instead on a group of ringers offstage to sing. Eurovision might be about cheese, but — hey — it’s not about cheating.

Gallows are the anti-Scooch. A hardcore punk band from the drab London satellite town of Watford, they’re currently the talk of the British music underground for both their ferocious live gigs and for the huge double-headed Prussian Eagle tattoo that the 110-lb. singer, Frank Carter, has on his chest. A former tattoo artist, Carter executed the design himself — proof of dexterity and a huge aversion to pain, if nothing else. Gallows are beginning to turn heads in America, too — their performance at last week’s SXSW festival in Austin was attended by Perry Farrell and various other members of the U.S. alt-rock royalty.

Talking about SXSW, this year it seems as though the festival finally made the shift from spring break for A&R folks to just a fun week in a hip Texan city. Normally, our NME contingents come back from the festival with a long list of exciting new buzz bands. This year the list was substantially shorter, but that’s not a comment on the bands we did discover, namely Headlights, from Illinois, and Illinois, not from Illinois but Pennsylvania. Confused? Not as much as someone who doesn’t know where Pennsylvania is.

Another band currently taking up permanent residency on NME‘s office stereo are Brooklyn’s Stalkers. Their debut single, ”Let’s Get It Together,” is an irresistible blast of New York power pop that calls to mind Cheap Trick and vintage Ramones that will sound even sweeter when summer actually hits.

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