Symmetry presents itself in many different ways. In 2020 – at least in my life – this has emanated in unusual ways. A move back to the Philadelphia region entailed a 3,000-mile drive in a Honda Civic. The last time I moved cross country 18 years ago to Seattle it also involved a long drive in a Honda Civic. Peculiar. Anyway, the challenges this year have contained multitudes, and yet as the year closes out I find myself in pretty much the same state I was in as the year started. Anyway, this is all a preamble to the fact that I’ve been sitting on the debut album by Distance to Zero for longer than planned. Not quite post punk, it is a DIY project that speaks to me in a way that the absolute best artists have throughout my life. It also helps that I’ve had a connection to band founder over the last few years.
SJ Collier first connected with me to discuss an act on his Stereokill Recordings label. The Cornelius Crane were an amazing American influenced band and I heavily promoted them at the time (I still love them). From there I worked Mr. Collier and discovered the various bands on his label’s roster. I took particular notice of SupaJamma featuring Martin ‘Sugar’ Merchant from Audioweb on vocals. I loved the instrumental work that SJ Collier did on the various releases. Anyway, he’s been promising a new project for a while now and I’ve been listening to the songs on repeat for weeks. Unfortunately, the best laid plans can go awry, and I found myself dealing with real life issues. 2020, as they say, will be memorable for all the wrong reasons. Or at least, that’s what I say. And yet, the soundtrack played on as we exchanges messages about the state of the world and the randomness of life. And thankfully, the music more than lives up to the kindness shown by Mr. Collier.
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
Over the last 6 years or so – ever since I started this site – I’ve made many friends in Manchester, England. Some are connected with bands you’ve heard of and some are indie musicians – on the fringe of accessibility. So it comes as no surprise that my heart was broken when I read about the attack on Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017. As it turns out, someone connected to someone I know was hurt in the blast – just a girl on a night out to enjoy music with her family. If there is one thing I know in this life it is that music has the power to unite people. So when a friend told me about this charity single featuring a mash-up of some of Manchester’s famous songs it was a no brainer – I told him I’d give it a listen and post a review on my site.
Bury Community Choir was formed in 2013 by music teacher Katie Geelan for people living in the Bury area. Encore (Bury Young Voices) are also conducted by Ms. Geelan and are made up of students in Bury Schools and Colleges. The Ultimate Manchester Mash-Up was created and directed by Andrew J. Smith. The artists featured are Elbow, The Verve, Courteeners, James, Heather Small, The Stone Roses, Take That, and Oasis. The single is just over 9 minutes and is a testament to the fighting spirit of Manchester. In my personal life I believe today’s youth are the key to the future and this single touched my heart. It has a purity that is inspiring. I’ll tell you right now that I don’t typically listen to choral recordings, but that might change going forward. My favorite pieces of this movement were the bits by The Stone Roses and Oasis.
You can stream or download this song for free here and here. Donations can be made here. It is for a worthy cause and is a testament to the power of the people to always move forward and help those in need. Never giving up always resonates with me and this will be a single I’ll always come back to. Cheers!
Verdict: Brilliant choral interpretations of Manchester favorites
For fans of: Britpop, humanitarians, people who want to make a difference,
It is a classic case of “what could have been”. Local Manchester, England band gets some buzz, records an EP, quickly gets signed to a label and the EP never comes out. But what if the EP had pointed to an alternate future? A future not dictated by the whims of record label executives following trends? Dog Toffee fit that scenario perfectly. Led by Gav Rourke & Sean Lyons and backed by a string of drummers (finally solidified w/ long time drummer Phil Nelson), the band tapped into punk, grunge, girl group sounds, and white noise inspired by The Fall. The band would go on to support legends in concert (Dwarves, Misfits, and Dee Dee Ramone to name just a few), headline shows, and record with Seattle legend Jack Endino. But until now, their debut recordings have never been released. 20 years later is as good as time as any.
Anyone who absorbs an ungodly amount of music will tell you – sometimes the bands and records become lifetime companions and sometimes….well, sometimes you struggle to remember what they sound like. Those initial impressions are important – don’t get me wrong – but those records that stay lodged in your brain forever, those are hard to come by. Manchester, England’s Soup have released a debut album that I am sure will stick with me forever. It’s one of my favorite records of 2014.