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The Maitlands – Daunting From Derker (single)

Basically, ‘Daunting From Derker’ is a cut and shut.

It’s a one minute pop song bolted onto a 4 minute pre-amble. Oddly, on The Maitlands last single, ‘Kisses For The Masses’, I compared the song to Roxy Music’s ‘Mother Of Pearl’ due to the song’s glorious ringing rhythm guitar. Well, damn it, I’m going to compare this song to ‘Mother Of Pearl’ too because of being two entirely unrelated songs hooked together. This can only mean one thing, front man Carl Ingram is Oldham’s Bryan Ferry.

‘Daunting From Derker’ relates to a story in which our hero is trying to make it home to his haven of Derker* on Manchester’s banana-like trams. The song chugs along on linear guitar lines. The guitars start not unlike ‘500 Miles’, yes really, listen to it. Big echoey vocals and big echoey drums drive the songs onwards like a scratchy motorik. There are fleeting mentions of “Bury the hatchet”, apparently the title of bands next EP.

It has a sort of chorus but interestingly, the song sorta refuses to acknowledge it, leaving Carl shouting it while the band (Ste, Ste, Matt, Saul) does its own thing, giving the listener the feeling of a passenger whose bus driver has disregarded the place where said passenger wanted to alight, leaving the poor sod walking through an industrial estate in Monsall.

Then at 4.18 song number 2 starts, we make our connection to the high-speed service and sparks fly as the train glides from Piccadilly: “I left the music behind, let the story begin” sings Carl and now the band recognises the chorus and goes full throttle. As we head through a tunnel, when we come out it’ll be time for The Maitlands next single…

Tagline = The Proclaimers doing motorik.

Or, a cunning parody of psych by inverting the clicked motorik genre, as well as putting a  local Manc spin, to create a tram based alternative. So, they’re both ridiculing and reclaiming a genre.

*If you haven’t been to Derker, imagine a shit hole.

‘Daunting From Derker’ is available to buy for 69p from bandcamp:


The Maitlands – Kisses For The Masses

I sung your songs at school…

It’s heady spiralling music all the way with The Maitlands, the ever surprising bunch of ne’er-do-wells, who flit through musical styles like cans of cheap lager. Some of their songs are short, spiky and sarcastic, but this newest single ‘Kisses For The Masses’ is as lush as it is well-defined and well produced. It sees their Wire influences counteracted by *ponders*… The Associates believe it or not.


This is a big pop song, make no mistake about it, and despite their shaggy dog attitude and go-with-the-flow live shows, this is an ambitious rocket aimed at for glory. The ringing rhythm guitar gives the song a veneer of class then it has a moody, boisterous New Order bass and drums breakdown before coming back around for another blast.

The key to the success of ‘Kisses For The Masses”? You wanna play it again, and again.

The Raft – Orion, Lullably & Blue and Blue (The Jellyfish EPs)

Hmmm… you know how Republic by New Order is bollocks? Why is that? Sure, it’s got ‘Regret’ but after that it slides off into what my mate Matt calls “Coldplay music for mums”. Well, after having been listening to The Raft aka Phil Wilson I think I know what happened. Clearly, the best explanation is some kind of time-shift music displacement. Maybe some Germanc souding robot as wide as a door from the future travelled back to the 1990s and changed the future. Maybe Republic was originally awesome, but it’s greatness lead to some epoch shattering disaster. Maybe the future wanted to make sure ‘What Do You Want From Me?’ became a thing. So, using some space-time technology lost to us, the music planned for Republic got lost in some neverplace void-ville until it eventually came to light under the auspices of Phil Wilson.

This makes a lot of sense. Phil’s music is lightly shoegaze but concentrates on breezy, summery pop music, what Republic was probably aiming for, but missed. Barney, off the back of Electronic, could easily have written these songs, on the back of his yacht. Steve Morris could easily have drummed on these songs, from behind a Panzer tank, or summink. Peter Hook could easily have grumbled his way through these songs (the Italian for grumble is “brontolare” btw).

Phil has a peculiar knack for writing evocative, melodic pop songs that glisten and glide and every so often ripple with warm nostalgic pulls from yesteryear.

Let’s have a look at his recent EPs.

First up is Coming Up For Air. ‘So Glad I Know’ floats like a piece of Scottish post-punk, in a slightly fey Orange Juice / Altered Images manner. The middle is packed with an extended riptide of acoustic and electric guitars. ‘Coming Up For Air’ has a stately piano ambience which opens out into a distinctly epic number, worthy of what late era Roxy Music should have been.  ‘Anarchy In Our Guitars’ hits a sweetly nostalgic tang of the last episode of your favourite TV show’s montage showcasing the characters and best moments. ‘Regrets’ is simply lovely; resting on a chorus as joyous and heart-felt as a summer’s day on Albert Docks, eating an ice cream with your girl on your arm.

More music from the real Republic surfaced on A Lullaby. ‘I’m So High’ church keys and softly rolling guitars gives an early morning vibe before a frisky drumbeat enters, like a dog at your heels. Then it really emerges in full Brit pop glory. There’s a keyboard line in the background which is just delightful. ‘O No She’s Alone’ continues with a tune perfect for a Lilt commercial; fresh-faced youths loitering on beaches. Again, there’s a dance orientated keyboard part which other bands would make the centre piece. What’s great about Phil is he comes up with wonderful parts, which are just that, parts of a song, he doesn’t feel the need to ram home his moments of glory cos he’s got a sackload of them. ‘O A Lullaby / Nobody’s Daughter’ ends like a dissipating memory, slipping away with its softly chiming keys and rippling guitar.

‘Blue And Blue’ starts Orion like a Match Of The Day Goal Of The Month competition and has a striding guitar solo. ‘Orion’ has a chorus which could be the Bunnymen, supplemented by a moody drum section and Eastern guitar solo. ‘Into You’ is a bit more on The Beautiful South end of the spectrum, which probably comes from Claire O’Neill’s swoony breathy vocals – more please! ‘My Elusive Friend’ rounds us of like a Peter Beagrie goal, sweeping and glorious*.

This may be 3 EPs but they fit together like one album, like Republic by New Order. Which it could be, but it’s not, it’s The Raft. Buy all three for a fiver and you’ll think the 90s were better than they were probably were.

*I was going to change this as Phil is a Red… but always go with what you write first is my rule.

Grotesque: Mark E Smith 1957-2018

A scraggy back street kid with a bad jumper. Teenage and fingers already yellowed from nicotine. A library dweller who reads Mailer, James, Dick and Lovecraft. An antagonist who wants to be a poet. An autodidactic storyteller. A man who gleefully puts his finger up Howard Devoto’s nose.

A cackling Alan Bennett for a world of Austin Maxi’s and terrace football. A surrealist story weaver telling spooky and bizarre tales of ham radio operators, container drivers, German athletes, time travellers, “self-satisfied, smug” (The Observer) writers, jawbones, suicidal bingo callers, the Northern Rising (not in 10,000 years), possessed rectors, a ghost in Bremen, a man followed around by a soap opera writer, a killer hiding out in a flat, the great god Pan, 63 Market Place, a death at Disneyland, fat Captain Beefheart imitators with zits, what flows from the mushy pen of a 3 legged black grey hog, hitmen in steak restaurants, the vet Cameron called out for birth of hideous replica, housewives on pills, elves and Cary Grant’s wedding.

A speed freak with a mouth and brain running too fast for his body. A man searching for the now, searching for the real thing, yeah. A correspondent from the rrrrrrrrrrriot torn streets of Manchesterrrrrr, England.

A paranoid man at the height of his powers. A man dissecting the media, package holidays, the nostalgia culture of the look back bores, bald-headed men, shift work, ‘Madchester’, business schools in Birmingham, handy men, Boston immigration, British people in hot weather and war in eastern Europe. He never did end up like U2 or Ian McShane. He never did find that song about speed he wrote conceptually, a la Bowie.

A man growing old disgracefully. Laughing through dentures at the notion of it being all over. Post reformation music better than ever. No time for reunion sell outs. No 80s reprobates. No Newsnight for you. More vital than ever when puncturing nostalgia displays for venues closing their doors. Then back to civilisation.

Barbiturates are kicking in. Fresh faced physician looks on. Whirlpools cascade. No grasp on monocard.

A gobshite without end.

A word-Smith without compare.

‘Rebellious Jukebox’

‘Flat Of Angles’

‘Impression Of J Temperance’

‘Jawbone And The Air-Rifle’

‘The Man Whose Head Expanded’

‘Tempo House’

‘US 80s-90s”

‘Free Range’

‘The League Of Bald-Headed Men’

‘A Past Gone Mad’



‘Weather Report 2’


And ‘Cary Grant’s Wedding’

Hey Bulldog and Sextile live at The Castle 24.01.2018

Three men fate has made indestructible, their name; Hey Bulldog. It’s hard to write about Manchester’s best band without repeating the same observations. Quite simply, this is a power trio with the best musicians in town. There is nowhere to hide and each one plays like a superstar. They have a maestro on the guitar who slices and shoots every kind of rock, blues and glam riff you could ever want. They have a groove machine on the bass, making you remember why the bass is the best instrument in music. They have an octopus on drums.

They are indecently magnificent. Not for them garage-y woolliness or genial enthusiasm of youth. These guys are sublime musicians and play long, forceful songs that explore the boundaries of that particular song. Their powerhouse setlist consisted of recent and upcoming singles and best of all is the elegant, elegiac ‘No Future Part 2” which treads its toes into New Order territory.

The uncompromising body politic of Sextile hits like a hammer blow. This is a band whose music rests on dissonant, atonal electro and strutting guitar sirens. Squelchy, undulating mutant disco; definitely slabs of Devo live, but definitely not Devo in the studio. Hot, sweaty dance music for a hot, sweaty room. Pure punk, aggressive yet euphoric. If any band could claim to be a Stooges for the hot, sweaty 21st century, this is it.

In fact, front man Brady looks like Iggy; gaunt with elbows poking and shining white denim. He yelps and barks, tripping into automatic language. His vocals dwell neatly within each song and while you can’t grasp everything he’s singing you know everything he sings serves the song. He’s a performer who literally performs the entire song on which the vocals sit.

The beats, from the standy-up drummer are occasionally stomping and glam. The music is sporadically 80s but this isn’t music made from nostalgia, this sounds bitingly relevant and contemporary. This is a band shooting fast and hard.

Each song feels not only like the finished article, but wholly intractable. This is a band that already feels like the finished article. A rough, damaged finished article maybe, but a band convinced of its own genius, which is the essential ingredient of every great band.


Purple Heart Parade and The Goa Express live Aatma 21.12.2017

The Goa Express are a band with white trainers but don’t let that put you off, they’re actually very impressive. This is a bunch of young lads that are tight enough to swap instruments. But more importantly, this is a band eager to swap genres.

They’re punk if you define punk as teenage lust set to guitar music. So there’s a hint of The Buzzcocks, or Stiff Little Fingers at a stretch. But there’s also the attention to ornate riffs of Television, the urgency of a Supergrass pop song and the lads in trackies vibe of the Mondays. Their music flows, you can dance to it and it all smacks of youthful exuberance.

For the main event we dive headlong into the inky black depths of Purple Heart Parade. Smoky realms of guitar rise and bubble, conjuring plumes as if a wizard is entering from side stage. From which emerges expansive drumming and a new-found boldness with keyboards that add even greater depth to this sound. Steve’s bass sound is silky and serpentine, luxury bass for the psych age. Through all this Pete’s vocals slink, a hammerhead shark in the reefs.

Purple Heart Parade’s continuing mirky descent makes their songs increasingly cryptic and vague. Sure, there’s Ride all other their sound but, believe it or not, there’s a growing taste of Roxy Music from For Your Pleasure, where arch artistry meshes the experimental with an opulent party ethos. Or,  perhaps, the dolorous wastelands of the Bunnymen’s Heaven Up Here.

The set comes increasingly agitated though as ‘The Room’ expands and contracts, dilating like a pupil in the light. Always majestic but here spun on cobwebs made by beasties. While many of their songs are not exactly anthems, they end with their signature battle cry, ‘Starfucker Blues’, which continues to shine as their calling card. It’s a huge, wonderful riff and momentous sing along chorus. It is one of the best songs to come out of Manchester this century. May it never leave their set list.


The Goa Express

Purple Heart Parade



Dead Sea Apes – Sixth Side Of The Pentagon

It’s as heavy and deep as it gets when the Stalybridge overlords of desolation Dead Sea Apes bring together their trademark space rock with the heavy dredd of dub.

The signs were there; on the previous album, Spectral Domain, Dead Sea Apes showed their hand with a new direction. It was called ‘Sixth Side Of The Pentagon’ and was a little bit like an existential version of Alternative TV’s ‘Love Lies Limp’. Just like ‘Fodderstomp’ on the original Public Image album, the last track on one album paves the way for the next album. Experimental becoming conventional. So now, the sixth side has sprouted tentacles (and ‘Tentacles’) and a life of its own. Here it is in full album form. The song ‘Sixth Side Of The Pentagon’ has now been fractured and runs like a fissure through the album The Sixth Side Of The Pentagon.

It’s rather pointless to talk about individual songs. This is a huge collage of dub echoes and shards amidst bleak space rock voids. It’s gloomy and oppressive but the thing with Dead Sea Apes is that the rhythm section of Nick and Chris is always right to the front so there’s always something to do. This isn’t background music, which is where many bands of this ilk can become unstuck. With Dead Sea Apes you can always nod your head. The gluey bass and the insistent drums always keep your head in the right space. But long-term DSA fans need not worry, there are still huge icebergs of guitar from Brett.

Actually I will mention one song, the simply incredible ‘Tentacles (The Machine Marches On)’ in which Dead Sea Apes team up with economist Adam Stone. The result is a noxious head spinning brew of words and music. Here is a sample of the lyrics:

Do you feel the system breathing for you?
The system is multi-tentacled,
Punctuated by profuse and drooling circular mouth-holes
And foul, ever-monitoring eyes.
Each writhing tendril fastens itself to the base of every willing human skull
And spreads pseudopods the length of every buckled spine.
The system is rapacious, self-destructive,
Feeding, gorging on death and violence.
The system is invisible to those who are drained by it,
Their vampire teeth glinting in the pale light of your smartphone.

Regardless of future extinction, the machine rolls on.

What is this sickness that seeks to infiltrate every corner
Of our waking and sleeping lives?
It is the madness of the system as it belches forth multi-variations on the commodity theme.
Desire for commodity equals behaviour modification,
Control masquerading as choice and freedom.

Sixth Side Of The Pentagon is a startling new direction for Dead Sea Apes but a triumphant success.

If you like dub buy it. If you like space rock buy it. If you like Dead Sea Apes buy it.