The city of Manchester, England is rich with musical history. So many bands that I adore call Manchester home – The Fall, The Smiths, The Chameleons, Joy Division, New Order, The Stone Roses, Oasis, Magazine, I Am Kloot…the list could go on and on (truly). Some of these bands don’t seem to go together, but the attitude is the unifying thread. That unifying thread is giving voice to the disenfranchised, using art & music to give a voice to those who haven’t been heard. Woman You Stole is a new band out of Manchester and Excuse My French is their debut single. Impressively, they are imbued with a sense of the Manchester vibes that I adore so much.
The band features Haley Faye on guitar & vocals along with Jack Corcoran on bass and Steve Native on drums. Musically, they arrive on the scene sounding like a seasoned band, the players locked into a hypnotic groove. Excuse My French has a jangle that had me thinking of a post Dead Milkmen band, Burn Witch Burn. It’s that otherworldly sense of timelessness that appeals to me. Haley Faye oozes confidence in her vocals with her band mates locked in behind her. New wave medieval by way of The Clash, The Slits, and The Raincoats is what I was thinking as I played the single on repeat. Then a spoken word French bit comes in (fitting, eh?) and I was thinking of the best bits of Serge Gainsbourg. The video for Excuse My French hits all the right moves, mixing just the right bits of artistic flair, pop culture, band shots, and nudity (for good measure obviously). It really doesn’t get better than this, and I’m looking forward to what comes next from this thrilling new band
You can follow the band on The Social Network and buy the single at all digital retailers.
Verdict: Stunning Debut
For Fans of: The Dead Milkmen, Burn Witch Burn, The Smiths, The Slits, I Am Kloot, The Raincoats
The new album by Lay Low Moon is called On This Day Last Year. It is an interesting title for an album, and made me wonder where I was last year at this time and the year before that. In this day and age of “on this day” in Facebook land, much of the mystery of our memories has been removed. Still, I have no idea where I was on this day last year. The year before I was attending the last Fred & Toody show I’d ever attend (of Dead Moon fame). Fred Cole got cancer in 2017 and died late in the year. So, I was thinking about that today – I had no idea that the show I was at would be the last time I’d see them. I wonder what I was thinking when I took pictures of them and took in the music? Gone with the winds of time I suppose. So, we’ve established that I love the title of Lay Low Moon’s new album. How about the music?
Liverpool’s Sunstack Jones have long been one of my favorite indie bands over the last 5 or 6 years. Hints of 60’s psychedelia, nods to 90’s Britpop, and meticulous attention to detail make for an engaging listen. The band operates as a collective, something that has been part of their modus operandi since day 1. Christopher Jones is on vocals / guitar joined by Richy (drums), Lorcan (guitar), Dave (vocals / guitar), and Jules (bass). The band have a number of releases to their name, all evoking nostalgia, coastal drives by sunset, and life’s regrets. The latest self titled LP takes these traits and perfects them.
In the late 90’s I found myself outside of Toronto’s Horseshoe Tavern desperately trying to listen to a sold out Super Furry Animals show. The Welsh band were about to release another masterpiece in the form of Guerilla and were playing a mix of hit songs and yet to be released songs. Sadly, the sound was almost imperceptible from the street and I went on my way walking around the city. It was a sign of things to come, unfortunately – each time Super Furry Animals or Gruff Rhys solo came to town I’d either have a show lined up already (Black Sabbath being the most notable) or simply couldn’t make it. That’ll change this October when I finally take in a Gruff Rhys solo show in an intimate venue. He’ll be supporting his latest solo album, Babelsberg one of the finest records he’s been involved with, solo or otherwise.
The Classic Hunt are a new – but not new to the scene – band based out of Philadelphia, PA. My hometown and where I spent my 1st 24 ½ years. The band describe themselves as “psychedelic-folk-jazz-punk-blues” and I can’t think of a more apt description. The confidence displayed in their first officially released recordings betrays the depth of experience that each member brings to the table. The band was founded by keyboardist and singer Tyler Hayduk who has made a name himself in various Philadelphia bands – even opening for GZA on the 2012 Liquid Swords tour. After laying down songs that hinted at a new direction, the full band came together through jam sessions in early 2017. The band is now composed of Tyler, Brendan Burke (guitar), Andrew Haff (guitar), Jude Alvarez (bass), and Aaron Wolf (drums). Full disclosure – Jude is related to a relative of mine, though we aren’t officially related. All through “the law”. The Lyrids is the band’s debut. And what a debut it is.
The Lyrids takes its title from the annual meteor shower that takes place from April 16th to April 26th each year. A nice variation on the “April Showers” expression, the EP release coincides with these celestial happenings. The title of the EP is a nod towards the in-depth intellectual wit on display in the lyrics on all 4 songs. Back to Life starts the album with a bit of a jangle pop feel. Hayduk’s vocals kick in and sound like a mix of 90’s alternative and Bob Dylan. A tone poem story longing for simplicity in the face of life’s complexities, it keeps coming back to the phrase “I’m dying to…fuck you…back to life”. And the way it is phrased comes off as a statement of intent. Perfect. The sound fades out on a Guns ‘N Roses / Slash type guitar solo. Which is the way to my heart, truly. Catalina has my favorite line on the record: “The company was on point / They smell like lavender and pumpkin pie”. I can picture that, I’ve been there, you probably have too. The guitars shimmer like something from The Chameleons and the bass line just kills – anchoring the whole thing down. The song does a great job of building – and sustaining – a mysterious vibe that keeps the listener entranced. A catharsis of sorts is reached in the last minute or so when the band jams to another killer guitar solo. Sunflowers for Rye continues with the cryptic atmosphere. The band’s interplay is particularly exceptional on this track, the space between the instruments really allowing the players to flourish. Lyrically, this is devastating stuff. “Are you holding me / Or are you holding me back?”. Star Vultures brings things full circle – jangle pop that is an altogether lighter affair than the previous two songs. This is also the song where the EP takes its title from. Of course, that’s not in the chorus. The chorus reminds me of a big 90’s alternative hit single. I can envision the video filmed in downtown Philly as Hayduk sings “Don’t watch me walk away without saying goodbye”. A perfect way to end a perfect EP.
The EP is available now on Bandcamp. You can also follow them on The Social Network. The band has an album release show coming on May 18th at Orlieb’s in Philadelphia. Limited edition CD’s will be available at that show. I can’t praise this band enough – absolutely worth checking out. They just may be the next addition to the legacy of great bands hailing from Philadelphia.
Verdict: Promising Debut
For Fans of: The Essex Green, Lilys, Mojave 3, The Band, The Byrds, Teenage Fanclub
- Back To Life
- Sunflowers for Rye
- Star Vultures
Eels have always presented a conundrum for me – for every heartbreaking song that touches my soul they’ve had a bland middle of the road mid-tempo rocker that did nothing for me. 1998’s Electro-Shock Blues was the rare album that hit me fully on just about every song. Nuanced, emotional, depressing – it hit everything that I love. Other albums have come close, while others have been forgettable. It’s been 4 years since Mark Oliver Everett’s Eels have released an album. That album – 2014’s The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett represented a solid record with a few mix tape worthy songs of note. 2018’s The Deconstruction betters this in just about every way. In fact, it might be my favorite Eels album in almost 20 years.
It’s been 2 years since we last heard from Dinosaur Jr. in their highly successful and drama free reunion period. 2016’s Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not was the perfect blend of noise, melody, and melancholy (and my favorite song was a Lou Barlow tune). In fact, it ranks very highly in my “Favorite Dinosaur Jr. albums” imaginary list. Also the supporting show at The Showbox in Seattle was insanely amazing (and loud). Hold Unknown is (apparently) a one-off single as part of the Adult Swim Singles Series. A slab of pop punk that will bring a smile to your face. A J. Mascis fronted tune that is joyous and infectious. A recommended tune that will be worth the $1 spent.