The Maitlands – ‘Where Did It All Go Wrong?’

This is the hook… let’s look on the upside.

Lush arrangements accompany the brand new single from The Maitlands, ‘Where Did It All Go Wrong’ to add drama and melancholy to this epic song about the world in pieces. Slower, more downbeat and pessimistic than the usual Maitlands projectile, this shows the real range and scope of this most flexible of bands.

Expense is added to expanse as the music paints a picture of grey Northern skies over grey Northern factories in grey Northern towns. Caffeine and TV the drugs of the nation. An insight into a world where ITV BE exists.

Carl’s vocals are slow and drawled here, when this timbre is added to a spacious song, the end result is like Elvis singing a Suede album track.

The carnival keys really sell the song, their playful / doleful tones painting an image of a down on its luck circus in Dukinfield, camped in a car park opposite B&M, the chief clown smoking roll ups in the roll, face paint dribbling down his cheeks.

Structurally the song is in some ways similar to ‘Speedway’ by Morrissey, with dehumanised drum patterns bringing the song to an end like the gruelling end of a late shift at the meat factory.

Repeated patterns of words mimic the repeated patterns of life. Hand me my golden shovel, watch as I dig my own grave.

The song is available on Bandcamp and for a limited time, there are a set of remixes too!

Last Bee On Earth – The Great Solar Flash

The shaman emerges from the cave and steps into the harsh morning light, blinking and concentrating, as if a migraine beams down from the sky instead of the sun. The solar flash persists, radiation zooms down.

He raises his six stringed sceptre to collect the transmissions, the vibes. Collecting these cosmic rays he soaks up the juice into his blood to use, to make magic. The solar flash courses through his veins. Ten songs are generated, woven from the ether.

The shaman was in lockdown but emerges to communicate. He has songs, gifts for people. From the great solar flash, he, the medium, passes them on.

‘Self-Isolate, Self-Oscillate’ shines as a startling, poignant updating of Bowie’s ‘Five Years’ for 2020, but instead of being science fiction, the shaman speaks truth, speaks the apocalypse. Strains of Bowie, strains of Johnny Cash, strains of Ian Brown are all here, like colours in the cauldron. ‘I Say One Thing, You Hear Another’ and ‘Seaview’ are unparalleled portraits from this master magician.

The shaman is Mike Bee, the premier singer-songwriter at work right now, in the now. The Great Solar Flash is his new album, a triumphant follow up to the wonderful Prism Break.

In this dark time it may seem there is no magic, but there is. Grab it.

Let music be your energy, your shaman is here with a bag of energy and a ton of heart.

Who are Synthetic Villains?

Being huge fans of Three Dimension Tanx here at colourhorizon’s ice palace, we were excited and delighted to hear Synthetic Villains, a new project from Brother Richard of the mighty Tanx. This new foray features a joyous, bouncy set of electro pop / synth dance cut-ups, smash ups and rave-ups.

We caught up with Richard Turner to talk Villains most Synthetic.

For a fiver, less than a pair of burnt watery coffees, you can treat yourself to this great release! So treat yourself now and support local music!

Who are Synthetic Villains?

It’s just me, Richard James Turner as it says on my birth certificate. But it might be more in the future. I’m thinking of getting some guest vocalists.

As a name it’s great. How important is it for a band to have a name that’s bob-on?

Why thank you. The name’s taken from a speech from Labour legend Nye Bevan in 1956. I read it in the Guardian in about 2007 and jotted it down. Given the electronic/synth aspect of the project, it fitted that way too, plus it also has nerdy sci-fi/ comic super villain connotations. So triple win.

How hard was it recording, which costs the earth?

I absolutely fucking LOVE recording. It wasn’t hard at all. Actually, the hardest part was postponing sessions due to storms and floods. It was recorded at Stonegate Studios, technically in Yorkshire, but near the Lancashire border. Sam Parkinson is really easy to work with, and very reasonably priced. I’ll be going back there.

How long did the album take to write and record?

If you put it into days – it’d probably only be 3-4 days altogether to record. But I actually did 3 hours a week over a few months. That gave me time to think about it, and cobble the money together!
Writing-wise, some of the tracks had been written or half-written ages ago, some were new ideas, and in all cases they evolved once recording commenced.

Tell us about some of the songs on the album…

Initially, this was going to be a guitar album. I was going to use drum machines, but basically, my aim was to do an instrumental guitar album. In the bands I’m in, apart from some riffing, I generally play rhythm guitar, and I was going to say “listen everyone, I can play lead too”. So, ‘Time Out of Rhythm’ would have been a massive raga-rock Mike Bloomfield does East-West, John Cippolina Quick Silver Messenger Service type thing. I was going to do a lot of Tom Verlaine impressions!
But as recording commenced, I layered more electronic textures, and mostly junked the lead guitar idea.
There is still loads of guitar tracks on the, but a lot of them are through synth pedals or bowed etc.
I’ve been collecting little mini-synths and drum things for years, and it was there time to shine.

Why use titles from The Three Stooges?

Well-spotted. The guitar and drum machine thing I mentioned was a rip-off of ‘Escape’ by Jody Harris & Robert Quine (Contortions and Voidoids respectively). Escape uses Three Stooges episode titles for it’s tracks, and I thought it was a great idea so nicked it! I love puns, and the ones I used seemed to fit the mood of the tracks perfectly – the melancholy in ‘Rhythm & Weep’, the cowboy-country of ‘Bonanza’ etc.
I confess to not having seen the episodes, but I’ve loved what I’ve seen of the Three Stooges. And the Stooges loved them, so that’s also cool.

I didn’t spot to be honest, I got it from Louder Than War’s review (a-hem). Everyone seems to agree that ‘Bonanza’ is the best song!

Really? I’ve probably had more good feedback for ‘Rhythm & Weep’ out of all of them. But I’ve also had people say ‘Time Out For Rhythm’ and also ‘The Captain Hates the Sea’. ‘Bonanza’ was something that I had as an idea for a while, and actually used a few separate ideas together. Then thought, what the fuck is this? It’s a ridiculous track. But it made me laugh, and I liked the juxtaposition of that after the previous track.

You’re getting some good traction, attention from bandcamp and louder than war! How hard is it to make yourself heard?

It’s really hard. First of all, I make the music I feel compelled to make. Then, when it’s done, you think “who the hell wants to listen to this, and how can I possibly market it?” It’s electronic, but it’s not IDM or EDM or anything else that you can tag easily. It’s psychedelic, but it’s too electro for most of the heads. And so on. Hard to pitch. You just have to reach out to people who do things that you enjoy. Most people don’t reply. I’ve been making music nobody wants to hear for 20+ years now, so I’ve built up some contacts over that time that get it.

What tech do you use? Tell us about them dirty synths!

Well, it’s mostly cheap eBay stuff. Casio MT400 and Yamaha PS2 are both early 80’s synths with great sounds and all-important analogue drum presets. Also Casio VL Tone. Microkorg is a workhorse – strings sound great through a Fender Twin amp, Korg Monologue for the basslines and a few other things. Borrowed a Roland SE02 for the Moog-sounding bits. Also a Rakit Drum Synth, Stilophone Beats (used for drums and basslines) and Korg Monotron Delay, Korg Monotribe, Volca Beats, Volca Kick and Volca Modular. Some synth sounds are the guitar through an EHX MonoSynth pedal.

At colourhorizon our Holy Trinity is Julian Cope, John Cale and Tom Verlaine. Which 3 celestial
bodies rule Synthetic Villains?

Ooo….that’s too difficult…probably for this project Kraftwerk, Bruce Haack and Silver Apples.

We know you’re also a big Verlaine fan, Richard. He’s awesome isn’t he?

Yes, he’s my favourite guitar player, solo and Television. Songs And Other Things was another
touchstone for my abandoned guitar album.

Hmm, not one of my faves oddly, Richard, we prefer Dreamtime here but let’s not bicker! Roxy Music? With Eno or without Eno?

‘Love is the Drug’ is without Eno. Therefore, without Eno!

Which modern acts do you listen to?

To be honest, I mostly listen to old-but-new-to-me stuff. But…
I subscribe to Electronic Sound and Shindig! Magazine, so I keep my ear to out.
I’ve just ordered a bunch of albums from Castle in Space, and the reissues of first 3 Pole albums (old, but he’s current!) I’ve been enjoying some ambient/experimental/haunty stuff on shows like Phantom Circuit and Kites & Pylons.
I get bored of guitar music most of the time, but some that I’ve enjoyed over the last couple of years are La Luz, Frankie Cosmos, Omni (very Television), Las Mitras and a Dutch band called E.T Explore Me that are super-energetic-manic garage-rock.

Lets talk the mighty Three Dimensional Tanx… plans, news, gossip?

Well. We’re still going…just on lockdown imposed hiatus. We recorded 6 new tracks that are awaiting
Spacey’s vocals. So, once we can get back to it, there’ll be another album.

At colourhorizon we consider ‘Psychedelic Sun’ to be in the top 10 psych songs of the 21st
century. What a honour!

It’s basically ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ on speed!?

Do you sometimes think that 3D Tanx were born in the wrong decade?

Ha! I think we’d probably be wrong in every decade!

And on that topic, ‘Idiots Deluxe’ from Synthetic Villains sounds like what Human League wanted to be. How hard is it in the 20th century to evoke, not repeat?

‘Idiot’s Deluxe’ basically came from putting a keyboard drum preset though an Attack/Decay pedal. There was an overtone of ‘B’, so I got my guitar and played some funk that fitted, added Stylpohone beats and a bassline and went from there.
To me, it’s more evocative of stuff like New York late 70s/early 80s stuff that combined disco, funk and New Wave/NoWave, much as I’m a fan of the Human League.
I think there are always new ways to mix things up.

Do you think making music is becoming more of a hobby than a career?

For 99% of musicians, yes. A labour of love.

If SV could soundtrack a movie, what would it be?

Wouldn’t mind having a go at Metropolis, not keen on that 80s attempt.

Favourite movie director?

Don’t have a favourite one in particular…but I’m going to go for Ken Loach mostly for KES.

What next for Synthetic Villains?

SV2! Already got the material, just working on arrangements.

Communications Across Time: The Remainderer by The Fall

MES first introduced us to the concept of time locks way back on ‘Wings’. On The Remainderer, he travels backwards and forwards along his timeline, and along the timelime of The Fall, in order to associate and interrogate the multitude of MES’ and The Falls that there have been.

The time travelling hi-jinks kick off with title track ‘The Remainderer’, and it’s double drum, percussion heavy sound takes us back to the days of Hanley and Burns. The Fall always were at their best with two drummers and this shows that whether the decade is the 80s, the 90s or the 10’s, this is a sound that fits The Fall like a glove. Here the song has the percussive beat of a wardrobe with a gorilla shoved inside, bouncing around the hold of a ship in the middle of a frothy Mediterranean storm. Meanwhile MES’ vocals contrast the 80s throwback-ness with his growly vocals that place the song purely in the 10’s. But on say, Ersatz GB, where the hawking phlegm voice seemed like a poor attempt to wallpaper over the cracks that they’d entered the studio without enough songs to go around and he’d entered without enough lyrics, here, instead, the double tracking and layering/layering/layering of vocals makes the delivery seem more like a deliberate attempt at experimentalism as opposed to laziness, using his vocal techniques as a musical instrument. And as he uses different strengths of growling and Captain Beefheart-ing, it sounds like different MES’ are coming together, like a Doctor Who special. The most notable of these discussions is when one MES opines: “it was a good day” only for another MES to retort: “whatever that is”.

‘Mister Rode’ features a starring role from a previous MES. It’s shocking in context to hear the ‘chorus’ “I gotta name, I gotta face  /say ” so clearly enunciated. It’s a stark reminder that he can let us hear the words if he wants to, it’s just that he doesn’t. As such it feels like the MES from The Unutterable has turned up for this song, from prime drinking-and-firing phase.

“He smothers his own, his own tomorrow” says MES in ‘Remembrance R’, providing a pithy epithet both for himself and his attitude towards his bands’ flirtation with lime lights. The song itself is a throwback to Reformation Post TLC, and his general ire at reunion acts, if anything it shows that when RPTLC came out it was the thin end of the wedge and he didn’t know how lucky he was. When Ding’s spoken word vocal comes in it’s like when Mike Bennett or Ed Blaney would do a bit. Meanwhile at the start the whole “canajetta” business takes us forward to the evolutionary dead end of the growling, being so close to parody it must be deliberate.

It’s our turn to travel through a time lock when a message in a bottle washes up from the 1990’s, a indistinct fragment of an undistinguished run through of Gene Vincent’s ‘Say Mama’. And did you notice the current MES warning of us about Remembrance R dubbed underneath? A slurry of noise hits us and we pass through a time lock into the present where the current band is doing an equally in distinguished run through of Gene Vincent’s ‘Race With The Devil’. Hanley becomes Spurr, Bramah and Scanlon become Greenway. The fact that these are fairly mediocre run throughs of Gene Vincent songs aside, the importance is the interaction with the past, the acknowledgment that somewhere is time there is another Fall with other band members. On all the other Fall albums, we’d get just the modern crappy version, but by cut and shutting it with the old crappy version what matters is the effort to try something new, to play with our perceptions of time and to bear witness to the changing nature of The Fall and MES. Like a time lapse of a flower opening, this is a decade long time lapse of the band. Things change, the young become old and everything has it’s time.

And then the reveal, then the grim punchline. On ‘Touchy Pad’ Tasmin Middleton screeches “where’s my time machine?” I’ll tell you where it is, Marky’s got it! And then when he talks of “the tentacles of the old ones” he could practically be talking about himself.

And so nearing the end of his span, MES acknowledges his other selfs and engages with them, admits that your former guises and lives are as equally valid as the one you inhabit now and the ones you will inhabit in the future. Then, having made peace with himselves, all that is left is… the remainderer.

“Pissing by the side of the M45”: check out The Maitlands’ ‘Dissatisfied’.

Kings of discipline: check out the album National Service by Total Victory

For more on The Remainderer the excellent You Must Get Them All has this to say, and agrees about the self parody-ing “hhhhhheeee caaaannnnnnn’tttttttt”

The Maitlands present ‘Flotsam & Jetsom’

Listen up all you fact fans, all you rabid revellers, all you porno peepers, all you net-curtain twitching nosey parkers, all you fb followers of The Maitlands, baying for information like wolverines at the chicken coop.

We have hot news!

Santy Claus is coming to town and this year his sack bulges under the weight of punky riffs and one liners tossed around like plastic chairs around the back of a discoteque.

From the hot bending screech that calls over the thumping bass line, ‘Flotsam & Jetsom’ kicks off in a ding-dong that sounds like your favourit-o new wave playlist has popped out a wee bairn.

“See the sights/join the fights/ pull yer pints/ no singing after midnight” sings Ingy, painting British seaside life; half Morrissey, half JMW Turner. Or, Half Morrisons, half JW Lees.

Guitar solo rings like a penny falls arcade game. Drums insistent like the smell of kebabs.

It’ll paint yer pictures, pull yer pints and all in under 3 minutes.

Have you peeped it yet?


Submission & Damage: Psychic Lemon present Freak Mammal

Psychic Lemon shoot you up then shoot you down with their monolithic slabs of space rock mashed with dance groove commitment. Their new album, Freak Mammal is a punishing adventure beyond time or reason, pushing every mother fucking boundary.

‘Afrotopic Bomb’: The strict rigidity of the song forces it into a huge edifice. This is a skyscraper set to music. This is architecture in groove. Resident of it’s own time-skin; never ending and changeless.

‘Dark Matter’ sees Massive Attack’s ‘Angel’ set to motorway rock on a crumbling pathway to oblivion. The wagon, packed with explosives. Mudguards splattered in blood and oil. The driver, covered in sweat. Veins popping. Dead behind the eyes. Nightmare without end.

‘Free Electro Collective’ sounds like a French beat poet’s existential crisis.

‘Seeds of Tranquility’ has an echo of The Black Angels ‘Empires’, but swapping gunship heroin runs for Chinese Junks in the Opium Wars as smoke rises languidly from the guitars.

‘White Light’ hits like Julian Cope’s ‘Hanging out & hung up on the line’, co-opting the arch-Drude’s ur-rock and speed-ing it up. We’re back to the motorway as Psychic Lemon live for speed until the fucking axles break.

Psychic Lemon drop rhythms in and out of the songs to create a truly digital form of dance then slave in guitar abuse to make death defying bone crushers.

This is freak out music in the sense of forays into the universe and awe at the vastness of possibility. But there is no free love or abandon here, just submission and damage.

Dream Team: Hey Bulldog and Two Skies

In our new edition of Dream Team, we bring together two power trio’s that make noises big enough to fill arena’s: Hey Bulldog and Two Skies! These are two bands that need wind machines…

Hey Bulldog – ‘Al Lupo’

I think I’m hyperventilating here; Hey Bulldog, Manchester’s most exciting band have just dropped the most exciting music video the world has seen since the Beastie Boys perfected the art form. Such an intense rush of sound, colour and movement. I’m going to watch it 20 times over and then be sick all over the living room floor.

‘Al Lupo’ raises it’s head to the sky as a short form blast of everything that is glorious about this band, acting as a superb jumping on point for everyone who loves heavy guitar rampage. And my friend does this rock ‘n’ roll animal deliver. Powered on a hacksaw guitar riff that scrapes each of your vertebrae, this combines the raw simplicity of The Buzzcocks ‘Boredom’ with the forward momentum and amyl nitrate rush of Roxy Music’s ‘Virginia Plain’ and the shrieking hysteria of Grinderman’s ‘Honey Bee’, all squeezed though Hey Bulldog’s aesthetic of groove heavy psych rock. To cap it all you get a RAT powered bass solo.

The vocals: frenzied, a man dangling on the cliffs edge. Rob M, with his purest, most well recorded vocals yet, sings like a man a razors edge, strung out on adrenaline and terror. When he finally hits the desperate refrain of ‘Into the mouth of the wolf’ the song is hitting with a barrage of throwing stars.


Two Skies – When The Storm Hits EP

England expects. Englands waits, wide eyes and innocent, ready for satisfaction. England wants something big and sexy. England will crave Two Skies.

England wants what we all secretly yearn for; a huge, rambunctious band with an arena sized noise, that could take the sterile inertia of rock and make it sexy, lithe and potent. Two Skies are that band. This is band with a vast, cacophonous guitar attack but with a rhythm section that pummels, that grooves. Oliver on drums and Jamie on bass make Two Skies surge, soar skywards, never looking down.

Their live shows roars a celebration of what music can be, could be and will be.

Their new EP, When The Storm Hits is here…

two skies storm

‘When The Storm Hits’ slow and sexy, rakish ghosts swoon. Mercury guitar licks pose in epic stances. The bass, a rumble of dub thunder from beyond the seas. Past two minutes we are reaching our Two Skies glory, our taste of succour and the hit of addiction. Dan’s guitar shoots energy.

‘Drone Attack DN19’ is a prime cut of punk energy meets movie soundtracks sensibility. Rhythm section races , Dan’s vocals a druggy passenger in this furious joyride. A silver-streaked guitar solo that would make Verlaine weep.

‘Arrows’ seduces with its slow bake. No one does slow like Two Skies. Their slow is a sensual build-up, the tension palpable for the upcoming attack.

‘The Hypnotist’ blows sky high. Motorik cruise pitches a relentless broiling paranoia, a strait-jacket dance. Guitar clips, piranhas on your fingers. Chaos ensues.

Watch ‘Hypnotist’ live

Two Skies… England is waiting.

Howard Devoto’s nose: ILL present ‘Kick Him Out The Disco’

Look, there’s not much point in going “ILL sound like The Slits, or The Au Pairs or sound like Devo”, cos they don’t really. They sound like ILL and sound like 2019.

Sure, they’re post punk but only in a loose sense of style and attitude. Remember that story about an early Fall gig in which Mark E Smith popped into the crowd to shove his finger up Howard Devoto’s nose? That’s the best comparison. ILL are a dirty finger up your nose.

Their latest single, ‘Kick Him Out The Disco’ sounds like a porcupine being lashed around a bus shelter while a car alarm goes off. Describing this song is to miss the point, it’s a bloody racket.

That’s why they’re called ILL. Cos you don’t write about being ILL, you just experience it and feel bad afterwards.

Here you go, a finger up your nose.

ILL’s brilliant new single is available now!

No pretence to caress: Hey Bulldog present ‘Death & Greed’

Hey Bulldog have been seducing down the door of late, with their New Order-ish power ballad ‘No Future Part 2’, the highway song ‘California’ and the quick draw six shooter ‘Al Lupo’. This trio of songs have seen the band not so much lighten the tone, but sharpen the scalpel and aim to cut rather than pummel.

Their new single ‘Death & Greed’ however, returns to their take-no-prisoners brand of Attack-Dog rock, cementing their place as Manchester’s loudest, but nimblest war machine. Bear witness to a grenade caught in the moment of detonation.

Like stone striking stone; ‘Death & Greed’ is a grinding, crushing, unstoppable force. These three men whip up a terror storm and kick against the mother fuckin’ pricks. Rob’s vocals return to the higher pitch of former days as his guitar slices acid-dipped katana blades. Drums are aggro powered. A bass solo is a bee the size of a steam train.

It’s partner in crime is ‘If They Could See Us Now’. This is stabler, patterned on surging rhythmic lines before a punchy, winning chorus. This song is a fighter jet on steroids and a pilot on coke.

Bigger, faster, louder and more potent than all the other bands out there, ‘Death & Greed’ is another unmissable release from the Manchester saviours of rock n roll.

‘Death & Greed’ is available on limited edition vinyl and download from:

Dream Team: Wire, The Maitlands and Total Victory

In our new feature we look back through the archives and suggest artists of like mind and sound, and thus bring their fans to new music that may appeal. Even if you are a fan of legendary post-punk band Wire you may have missed out on Red Barked Tree, that we happen to think might be a career best. And if you like Wire, you’ll probably enjoy The Maitlands and Total Victory, who both offer the best lyricists around these days.

Wire – Red Barked Tree (2010)

“Opera in the age of fragmentation”

With every passing year Wire’s Red Barked Tree becomes ever more relevant. A bile flecked broadside depicting a nation ruled by betrayal, treachery and inanity. A nation divided and subjugated. A nation elated by false hopes and distracted by glittery shinies. And yet within discontent, Wire plant the seeds of hope and look for the victory of common sense. Fighting with sharp words and sharper guitars, Red Barked Tree sees Wire fighting hard.

Wire do need better publicity though. Sure, their initial trio of groundbreaking post punk albums (Pink Flag, Chairs Missing and 154) are hailed, correctly, as iconic, but since their reunion their career has been so low-key that Sherlock Holmes could overlook it.

So, in 2010, when Wire released the brilliant Red Barked Tree, it received positive plaudits, but not the kind of attention that should befit a game-changing band releasing an album that could possibly be their best.

cover wire

The line “Opera in the age of fragmentation” sums up Red Barked Tree. Overcrowding, decay, ecological disaster, bureaucracy, stupidity and alienation are just some of the issues here. It’s not a downer though, as the songs are performed with such brio, verve and fervour. There may be discontent, but’s an anger mixed with style, wordplay and immaculate hooks. The album is chock-a-block with tantalising songs from start to finish.

‘Please Take’ heralds the album with what could be the catchiest, funniest Wire song in their repertoire. As soon as it starts you know Wire have hit pay dirt with a casual gait and jaunty guitars. I won’t spoil the chorus for those who haven’t heard it, but it’s one of the best you’ll ever hear. Meanwhile…

I won’t hear another word
Another sugared lie
I won’t be a part of your
Latest alibi, so,
Please take your knife
Out of my back
And when you do
Please don’t twist it…

‘Now Was’ continues the pace with a high energy shimmer bemoaning look-back-bores (see The Fall’s The Infotainment Scan for an album of such anti nostalgia vitriol) with the bad pun but great sentiment of “You’re the wizard of was”.

‘Adapt’ starts with a riff surprisingly close to ‘Wonderwall’ (go check if you don’t believe me) but is in fact a slowly spun, bubbling, resigned ballad, dispensing advice for the apocalypse such as “Adapt Chekhov to family crest”.

‘Two Minutes’ is a rampage of anger and pummeling mechanical guitars (check out Nnon by The Woken Trees for a band influenced by this kind of punishing post punk) and everything you need to know is summed up with the lyrics: “A dirty cartoon duck covers the village in shit / possibly signalling the end of western civilisation”.

‘Clay’ has a lolloping start but builds into a rising bubbling swell. ‘Bad Worn Thing’ features more brilliant wordplay “Jam sandwich filled with Uzied peelers” and bemoans the “overcrowded nature of things”. ‘Moreover’ has a machine gun delivery of problems and solutions.

‘A Flat Ten’ (not ‘A Flat Tent’ as one lyrics website has it) has a furious, but controlled velocity with Colin Newman’s delivery an immaculate display of wordcraft and delivery.

‘Smash’ has a terrifying salvo of guitars and an almost power pop immediacy (incidentally, the drums provide a crisp, neurotic backbone throughout the album). ‘Down To This’ is an ominous tale; lamenting dissolution.

Finally, ‘Red Barked Trees’ closes the album with intense acoustic strumming backed by bouncing, skittering bass thst grows in stature to a grandstand climax. The repeated “To find the healing red barked trees” offers hope in suggesting a cure for all the problems that have been outlaid over the course of the album.

Red Barked Tree is untethered from Wire’s back catalogue to a degree that Mark E Smith would find impressive. It’s almost as if their history itself does not exist. This is unmistakably a Wire album but the band sounds so fresh, so vital, so urgent that this could easily be mistaken for a debut album by a young band wearing jeans too tight for them. You wonder if it would have been worth putting a different name to this, to stop reviewers reaching for their copies of Pink Flag. The bottom line is, however, this is an excellent album; intelligent, passionate and immaculately constructed.

The Maitlands – ‘Dissatisfied’ (2019)

Chugging away to keep you satisfied…

The tedious maelstrom of life and the overbearing cack handedness of trying to please people bears the brunt of The Maitlands latest missive. What can you do when chisellers and freeloaders snipe at you? What to do when you flog yer guts and get scorn?

The Maitlands, that ever expending ensemble of heroes are creating buzz all around town. Their care free attitude and commitment to having a good ol’ sing song are drawing in fans, as well as more and more band members. ‘Dissatisfied’ is causing waves, smashing 2,000 Spotify in a couple of months. The summer saw festival appearances at Cotton Clouds and Blackthorn, and headlining their own gig at Academy 3 on Sat 10th August.

You look like a dickhead, I look like one myself from time to time…

‘Dissatisfied’ shows a band in full sway. It’s a drawling garage rocker built on a riff resembling the Velvets ‘Sister Ray’, except if the Velvets had been bought up on Vimto, not smack.

On top of this Carl weaves pithy one liners about the perils of trying to appease the unappeasable.

Scratting around behind the undergrowth…

The best thing about The Maitlands these days is just how well the songs are put together. Because the band members are breeding they’ve got a lot of instrumentation going on. Other bands would struggle to not get swamped. Instead every element is crisp and clear, each instrument can be heard playing it’s part, telling it’s own story. Everything is separate and nothing tries to take over. Best of all the drums support the music without cock blocking the words. 

Taking a piss at the side of the M45…

Meanwhile Carl seems to sing and intone ‘Satisfied’ differently every time, meaning he can’t even keep himself satisfied. Some people.

The Maitlands can be heard on spotify, and your favourite download vendors including:

Also, The Maitlands enjoy Vimto.

Total Victory – National Service (2012)

Total Victory are a band having their cake and eating it. Delicately walking a balance between shiny accessibility and standing on a soapbox, they provide enough on their 2012 National Service to please a healthy cross-section.

The sound is built on sharp, fluid guitar and bouncy, buoyant bass. As the album continues the music grows more groove orientated. The influence of motorik and punk grows increasingly apparent. This is an album of two halves and sequenced perfectly. So much so I’m wondering if some light-weights may be lost on the way…

Daniel Brookes’ vocals and lyrics are maybe the best thing on display. In an almost accent-less voice he opines and ponders, critiques and hold court. It’s like a mish-mash of Terry Hall, Mark E Smith, Jarvis Cocker and Gang Of Four’s Jon King with the occasional quip worthy of Nigel Blackwell.  Offering a wide array of social critiques presented in a clear, almost monotone manner he is great proof that less is more, much more.

Thanks to the lyrics each song has its own character and offer a wealth of food for thought. I already know I’ll still be contemplating some of the gems offered here for years to come. It’s rare to see a modern singer putting such thought into not just what he is saying, but what he has to say. This is an album where you are left eager for a lyrics sheet.

Let’s look at some of the key moments:

‘Churchbuilder’ starts with an intro of plaintiff piano before rolling out the chiming 80s guitars. It all sounds fairly radio friendly, the sort of thing you could hear playing in the local trendy Hummus bar.  However, the first chorus you hear alerts you that proceedings may not be as cosy as you first thought:

The natural order: the son kills the father
But the father killed the son
The father killed the son
The order was reversed and the father killed the son

‘Secession Day’ has a smooth rolling gait while Brookes spins a story of a small town’s misguided quest for independence that could be a Glastonbury friendly variant of The Fall’s ‘The NWRA’ or about 25% of Half Man Half Biscuit’s back catalogue.

Just after 1pm they renamed the town
And raised a new flag inside the market
Wrote a new national song
Designed new national clothes
And ate new national food

‘Holy Cross’ has a great groove not a million miles away from the realm of Alternative TV with stark guitars dropping in occasionally. A stripped down combination of vocals and bass works perfectly. Over 6 minutes the song grinds out a heady 4/4 stomp. Like steadily chugging a couple of pints of Guinness this is bold, heady stuff.

‘Advice For Men’ is great stuff, inverting Gang Of Four’s anti love song ‘Anthrax’ with a spoken word set of instructions and guidelines. Honest, useful and a long way away from the usual post Lad Rock cock o’ the walk toss-baggery.

I know the sounds obvious
But it’s easy to fall into the trap
Of only meeting women in bars
Here’s the ugly truth: less than 5% of men
Will meet a girl in a bar

Weren’t expecting that were you?

‘King Of Discipline’ is where the band really embraces the inner Gang Of Four with an extended, almost psychedelic march of guitars while Brookes finally loses his cool and starts throwing out a chain of words, leaving the listener to fit the pieces together themselves. Then he starts screaming the killer chorus of ‘I am the king… of discipline’. The album ends with the whole band singing the  following which links us back to the title of the album:

It’s war
Disarm me
And put me in the army

Meanwhile ‘Reverse Formation’ is a bit more of a straightforward indie disco tune. ‘Venn Diagram’ is mid album instrumental sounding vaguely kratrock-ish. By the end of ‘What The Body Wants The Body Gets’ the song has dissolved into the defeated dirge of Joy Division’s Closer from what started as an aggressive Gang Of Four clarion call. Or what about the stomping title track offering spiralling guitar and slanted social satire vox pops:

18 year old,
3 D’s at A Level.
Do you think there are prospects for your television career?

Total Victory are provocative and bold while never losing sight of the need for a catchy melody or a crunching groove. Continuing the lyrical and musical traditions of many of Britain’s finest bands yet with a strict and forceful sense of their own unique identity, Total Victory have delivered a stunning album with Nation Service. They’re not only keeping the flame alive but fanned into a beacon.