Chupa Cabra - Russian Models (Trashmouth Records)
Bloody hell what are they putting in the water in the North West? Noisy guitars and lyrics catchier than “that virus” are blasting out of locked down stereos all over the region. First Tinfoils, The Battery Farm and now Chester’s favourite sons Chupa Cabra. Stripped down and fuzz pedal to the metal, a driving slab of garage punk about Bolshevik Babes starts with Hayden barking “eyes are green like Stella bottles, them Russian models” and goes on to add “they’re everywhere and you can’t ignore them”. Speaking as someone whose junk mail is brim-full of Ukrainian girls looking for husbands, I know the feeling well. The new Russia is full of wealth, botox and boob jobs. A far cry from the monochrome images of cornfed farmhands we know from the pre-Glasnost era. There won’t be many songs that have ‘algorithm’ in the lyrics, hinting at your internet browsing history as to the real reason your feed is full of these images! Coming in at under 2 and half minutes, they deal with a real modern phenomenon, Cultural Communism via the catwalk. Dark humour and as the man says, “or are they bots?” Cue footage of T-55 tanks being driven by Sexy Soviets, a 21st Century reboot of Bikini Girls With Machine Guns.
Document - A Camera Wanders All Night
Debut 5 track EP from Manchester Post-Punk quintet has landed containing 2 previous releases* and 3 new tracks. Dark brooding guitar and with the drums featuring prominently in the mix, they are definitely summoning up the spirits of past mancunian stalwarts The Fall & Joy Division in parts on opening track, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold*. It could have easily been written any time during the 80's or 90's, but now there is a new generation of bands revisiting those decades. The World Until Yesterday is part Bunnymen/part Catherine Wheel without being derivative of either. Bands like Idles, Slaves and Royal Blood, to a lesser extent, seems to have jump started a new wave of angry young men with guitars, and that is definitely evident in Pity* with the underplayed fuzzy vocals fighting for air as the drums threaten to overpower and drown them. However, I'm most reminded of The Chameleons especially on Uncle Sam's Daughter, which for me is the standout track of the 5. American Heat brings down the curtain with a slow-fast-slow build up before crawling to a finish. It's refreshing to hear something exciting with bands like Girls In Synthesis, Deja Vega and now Document, the future of angry guitar music is in safe hands. Go consume!
Stepford Wives - All On Me (A1M records)
I have to confess to knowing very little about Stepford Wives before our inbox bulged with their first release on A1(M) Records and their 3rd in all behind last year's debut Follow This Way and the brilliant I Can't Fight. Hotly tipped by many pundits as one of the bands to watch for in 2020.
Their press release cites Joy Division, The Clash, Talking Heads and Fugazi as influences, but I'm really not feeling those here though. Instead it's more Supergrass meets The Libertines. Starting with twin guitar riffs reminiscent of Athletico Spizz 80 - Hot Deserts and Duane Eddy - Peter Gunn, this is tale unfolds telling of bad life choices taken but with the realisation that nobody else is to blame but themselves. Good solid New Wave influenced indie rock with a hint of ska. Looking forward to hearing more from these boys. If I had one negative thing to say I'd question the drum solo 2/3rds in. Probably works live but not sure it's true on record. No biggie though.
The Battery Farm - Poet Boy
Hot on the heels of one of the standout singles to be released so far this year (Crude Oil Water), the boys return with another absolute banger. Poet Boy is a rant against those narcissistic loudmouth types with huge egos, who surround themselves with sycophants so somebody can hear "all that meaningful shit he has to say". You know the types, they believe they're better than you if you don't hold the same views as them. We've all met them. Live this is a monster and they've definitely captured that energy in the recording. You can almost taste the sweat dripping from Ben as he repeatedly proclaims " he is a lie"! Brother Dom is rapidly gaining the reputation of being one of the best guitarists on the Manchester scene. From the Love Buzz -esque era Cobain on I Am A Man, through the keyboard-like licks on Crude Oil Water and now John McGeoch era-Siouxsie and The Banshees with Poet Boy, the boy has the chops. Building slowly, with the bass and drums almost reminiscent of The Charlatans - Only One I Know, the vocal track is dirty and fights for space in the mix like a drowning man. Time and time again the guitar washes over him, offering him the space to clamber out, before a tidal wave of guitars and drums spits him out onto the shore. Do I like it? What do you think? Out now on all digital platforms.
Cold Water Swimmers - We Are Building A Spaceship EP
The first physical self-release by the Best Band In Manchester ® on DIY Or Die Records. 3 piece led by Chris Bridget (ex-Dub Sex/Rude Club / The G-O-D). Limited to 81 copies (has special significance I'm told) you'll have probably missed out by the time you've read this! Collecting together their first 3 digital-only releases, and augmented by the never to be streamed Love Is Insane this is destined to become a collectors item. Summer Breeze sings of hope, embracing life after losing a decade and a half to drugs, "see I was a junkie for 15 years, could have took a bath in my mother's tears", brutally autobiographical wrapped up in a shroud of beautiful guitar. Burn Your Idols (inspired by Noel Gallagher) has a Kinks feel, almost anthemic call to arms. Robots could almost be about a Post-Covoid19 world, "what will you be doing in 5 years time, will life be one long holiday? Will you suddenly find what it is that makes you tick?" Perhaps many of us will discover new strengths and skills at this time. Chris Bridgett the clairvoyant! Love Is Insane, a joyful rockabilly infused romp through personal relationships and revisiting the past, examining the love/hate balance and remembering how that first feeling of love takes your senses over. Should tide you over until the LP drops. PS: I paid for mine!
Martins Broken Neck - Holistic Sertraline
Five piece from Manchester, this is their 3rd self released single. Written about the calming effect that black humour can have, Sertraline is an antidepressant and there is certainly nothing depressing about this. A mix of 60's girl pop, sub-Bhundu Boys guitars and Vampire Weekend melodies delivers an uplifting song. I'll be honest, the first time I saw them I thought they were a shambling mess but this shows a real maturity. The black humour is elegantly evident in the line "I tried to throw myself under a train, but it was delayed, I died of boredom instead".
It's light and breezy and has that "open the window" summer feel. I particularly like the hand claps. They remind me a lot of The Feelies, American 80's band, who were said to have been an influence on R.E.M, and who cited Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground as their own. They are another good example of the diverse richness permeating through the Manchester Scene at the moment. Not a parka or Fred Perry in sight. First impressions can be wrong it seems. A real upper on downers. Mid-term report "showing great progress and potential".
Alex Rave And The Sceptical - Itch
Having previously released two singles as a solo artist, Rave now returns with a full 5 piece band in tow, in the shape of The Sceptical. Doncaster born (now residing in Manchester), Rave's delivery is part spoken word, part sung over a background of soaring guitar and atmospheric bass and drums. His Donny accent comes through in the gruff narrative moments, reminding me of Slaves, but takes on an almost ethereal quality when he lets rip. Itch is about his Grandad, a coal miner who lived through difficult times without recourse to complaining about his lot, the daily blackened face grind in a deep dark pit. Rave examines his own life, the trivia that bends him out of shape. The admiration of his grandfather's stoical approach to life, making him wonder how he took it all on the chin so readily, when Rave himself finds it so difficult to deal with the minutiae of life. A realisation that nobody owes you anything and life is there to be grabbed with both hands. It really is a beautifully written lyric, the respect for his relative plain to see, “Oh, why so serious? I think I’m going to need a hero grandad. See pop cultures got me thinking it’s my God given right to be saved but maybe it’s not and maybe it never was.” Indeed Alex.
The Dolly Shakes - The Dolly Shakes EP
This is the real shit! Hand finished CD sleeve complete with a beautifully twee photocopied lyric booklet. DIY in action. Dolly Shakes, a 3-piece girl band from Manchester write deliciously quirky lo-fi songs like the Shop Assistants, Dolly Mixture and Lung Leg. 6 songs heavy on narrative, covering subjects from cinema, to out and out law breaking. They are the real OGs, taking on the authorities in I Never Agreed To Abide By Your By-Laws (On The Run), about being on the run due to overdue library book fines, as Quina Chapman tells us“ I love to smell the pages, I just sit back and inhale and I’ll never buy a Kindle coz the magics just not there.”TV and film plays a big part in their writing influences with All 5 Dances, a song about cult American comedy (Community) character Dean Pelton "he only has eyes for Jeff", Fangirl obsession with a Harry Potter character I Wish Luna Lovegood Was My Friend. Spoiler alert! If you were thinking of watching the excellent cult CH4 dark comedy, End Of The F***ing World on Netflix, then skip Deep Fat Fryer as it’s pretty much a synopsis of the whole series. Mean Girls is a typical American High school tale of bitchiness. The nearest to a love song is about sharing the perfect date night at the fictional American burger joint, Mooby’s from Clerks II on Meal For Two. Brilliant stuff!