To anyone who’s into the underground Manchester live circuit, Partisan are no strangers. LTW’s Emily Oldfield reviewed them back in May 2018. I discovered them live last year at Jimmy’s and was blown away by how tight they were. The new single Mantras explains all.
In an era of bands in an era of shitstorms post Brexit, you need a breath of fresh air. The music scene is healthy as fuck right now and it’s hard pushed to find a shit live band around. No music genres allowed….
Partisan are a Manc band that sound fuck all like a Manc band. Think Teardrop Explodes, The Bunnymen, all the good shit that came out of a dodgy 80’s scene filled with dubious dross. They’ve already released a couple of crackers, with Oxygen and Turn Me On each track sounding too huge for the smaller venues. Mantras sounds like a huge 80’s anthem with a powerhouse chorus and songwriting masterclass. The partnership of Stuart Armstrong (vocals and guitar), Dan Albon (bass) and Leo Stanfield (drums) is perfect. After years of honing their skills they are finally creeping up on you unawares. Most great bands tread the circuit quietly in the background for years (take Slow Readers), then BOOM. The people get it. Listen to this and tell me I’m wrong….
Mantra will be released on Shoutback Records Friday 14th February.
After what seems like a long wait since their EP release Hate Music Last Time Delete and some stunning live dates last year, the London quintet HMLTD unleash their weird and wonderful mix of theatrical new wave sparklers on us. Wayne Carey reviews….
For a band once named Happy Meal Ltd until fuckin’ Ronald Mcdonald’s henchmen stomped on them with a large clown shoe, been through the traditional ‘sign to a major and get fucked over scenario’, they got straight back up and dusted off those black leather keks. Down but not out they return with their lost debut album. To be perfectly honest the first time I’d heard of these was when they supported Shame last year at The 02 Ritz and they were exceedingly top as fuck due to the pure spectacle. I described them as Soft Cell meets The Prodigy back then and I’ll still stick to most of that statement. Although the album has a lot of songs that you may have heard live it stands well with some ambitious moves.
Tracks like the opener The West Is Dead kicks off with brooding lyrics about the impending doom of Western civilisation, where the Dalai Lama wears Dolce & Gabbana in vermillion red trundling in his robes to a smart bassline smattered with electro beats, which kick in with a top beat hazed in laser beams and erotica tinged vocals, repeating the mantra “The West Is Dead”.
Loaded is a live favourite. Top hip hop beat with those sexy vocals from Henry Spychalski. He sold his soul to the devil tonight, cos he was pretty poor, hooked to a nice guitar riff. Sounds like a dig at Sony here. Too right.
Next two tracks The Ballad Of Calamity Jane and To The Door meld into each other in proper spaghetti western tradition nodding to Morricone, especially To The Door which is a full pelted Mariachi hoedown at it’s best. Henry has a unique vocal that gives you flashes of Cave, Marc Almond, Lux Interior. The way the tune switches from upbeat into techno splurges and vocal madness is fuckin great.
Satan, Luella & I mellows the pace a bit, still flowing on the spaghetti western vibe with the Soft Cell torch song vocals. It’s theatrical sounding, hitting on the early 80’s ballad themes. The chorus is shit hot with those haunting backing vocals giving Henry’s angry camped up voice a great edge. Mikey’s Song just screams hit single. It’s fuckin brilliant. It’s Depeche Mode at their best, however it’s a testimony to how good they are a popping out a hit. Are Sony on drugs??? That’s another story….
Why? is a weird little number that could easily slide into a Flaming Lips set list. Strange distorted vocals with layered over violin and keyboards. Short but sweet. 149 goes all techno industrial and introduces us to some nice vocals from Tallulah Eden and some bat shit stuff from Henry yet again.
Next two tracks Joanna and Where’s Joanna? are pure murder ballad stuff. We know where Joanna is. In pieces. Dismembered. Check the lyrics. An insane number that mixes Cave with Lux Interior again and sounds like a old dance hall tune on acid.
Deathdrive is another top as fuck tune. Dark as fuck, melding Suicide with The Cramps. Stop starting with apocalyptic shit running through it. It’s goes fuckin dubstep industrial in parts. Mental. And it ends with an American car crash abruptly.
Nobody Stays In Love goes into Depeche Mode territory again. A proper eighties tinged electro number. Commercial yeah? Sort of, yet HMLTD are doing something on their own, melding great vocals with a massive backbone of electronica holding it all together. MMXX A.D is like a small snippet of futuristic hip hop for 49 seconds melding into the last two tracks Blank State and War Is Looming. Blank State is like a call to revolution. “Throw away your books, rally in the squares, the world is a blank state” harks Henry with this cracking youth anthem that harks back to that 80’s era of electronica again.
Closing number War Is Looming is a doom laden end to an album that touches on changing the face of masculinity, repression, getting fucked over, queer culture, irony. It’s all in there.This band have been through a lot to finally get this released. Ok, there will be naysayers out there who will cry sellout after the Sony debacle. Fuck them. I know a few bands who have been through this and let me tell you, when you’re young and naive and are promised the world by a bunch of suits the world, who want to brand you in their way to sell records for their benefit… Good idea? Depends what you’re after. HMLTD were never about that really. They don’t try to be working class. They talk posh. They create good music. They’re honest. That’s what it’s about. Creating music for everyone, not a cliched pigeonhole that the overblown corporate’s expect. Fair to play to them. Make your own mind up.
I say it’s a fuckin good debut that has eventually arrived and shows commitment to their cause.
Feb 13th | Birmingham, UK @ Mama Roux’s
Feb 14th | Liverpool, UK @ Arts Club
Feb 15th | Edinburgh, UK @ Opium
Feb 16th | Glasgow, UK @ Nice N Sleazy
Feb 18th | Dublin, Eire @ The Sound House
Feb 19th | Manchester, UK @ YES
Feb 20th | London, UK @ Secret Venue
Feb 21st | Bristol, UK @ The Exchange
What happens when one half of mellow trip hop outfit Lemon Jelly meets up with the voice that is Charlotte Hatherley and create a musical story about the last surviving family on the planet? A surprisingly good listen reckons a chilled out Wayne AF Carey.
‘The Lasters’ is an ambitious new solo project inspired by classic concept albums like The Who’s ‘Quadrophenia’ and Jeff Wayne’s ‘The War of the Worlds’. A wholly original and truly out-of-this-world Sci-Fi concept record to rival the best, ‘The Lasters’ tells the tale of Earth’s final family.
In a musical first for the former Lemon Jelly producer, The Lasters sees him collaborate with ex-Ash member Charlotte Hatherley as well as newcomers Abi Sinclair and Steffan Huw Davies in addition to adding his own vocals to the album.
Set in a dystopian near future where climate crisis and a nuclear holocaust has brought Earth to the brink of extinction, the album marks Deakin’s first major release since his time as one half of hugely influential, Mercury and Brit-nominated Lemon Jelly. Marking Fred’s first foray into song-writing and singing, The Lasters weaves together a number of contemporary themes including climate change, dependence on technology and coming-of-age, while still containing the inventive, broad and unfailingly catchy tunes that Lemon Jelly fans will be familiar with.
For those who don’t know Fred Deakin you’ll remember him when you’ve heard this. Some people will think it’s a load of hippy bollocks. Some people will think it’s an overblown theatrical War Of The Worlds rip off. Some people will be refreshed that someone had the balls to make an effort. Concept albums always divide opinion. That’s why I like them. Fred Deakin was always going to try to pull something like this off. Here’s why.
He’s good at gimmicks. Look back to Lemon Jelly who did daft things like giant bingo games with the audience at their gigs, distributing sweets to the crowd. For fucks sake they even did one gig where you had to wear a limited edition t-shirt they sent in the post to get in the venue! So what do we expect when he tours this one?…..
It all kick off War Of The Worlds style with some dialect dragging you into the aftermath of planetary distruction and the beginning of the journey which floats into opening vocals from Charlottle Hatherley with the laid back trip hop of Alone and the almost stoner dub step of Satellite Song. Charlotte’s voice is the perfect companion to Deakin’s sound, beautiful and haunting, telling us the story of loneliness in a desolate space.
Get The Message Through ups the tempo a bit with it’s space age robotic vocals trying to beam down to these last remainers with it’s future prog. Then we get back to the narrative with the young girl who’s been abandoned by her parents, fearful of ‘Tech’ which has betrayed the planet and is evil. A message from her mother prompts the lush I Remember which floats around your head with Hatherley’s smooth sweet vocals until the story drags you into the girl’s fear of tech when her metallic guardian tries to explain she can use her hands to access the Pyramid promising hope.
Future Magic is a standout out track for me that I can’t get out of my head. Some clever guitar work, a shuffling beat and a spine tingling chorus from Hatherley. Sending a message of hope. Come To Me has vocals from Deakin and goes into prog meets Gary Numan territory with it’s hip hop electronica feel. The story continues with the main character growing in confidence shown through tracks You Never Knew, and the realisation of her father using ‘Tech’. I think her father get’s it with a laser!
The whole concept is nothing new, yet the sound is refreshing. You get some twee stuff like Bringing It Back To You which is a bit sickly, then you get the trippy Through The Veil with it’s acid tinged trip hop and those vocals. Especially on The End Of The World which is 7 minutes of dark foreboding mourning with the haunting vocals, followed by our intrepid young girl meeting up with her hologram mother and being told ‘Don’t give up’ by her metal head friend. It end with a couple of duets, some dogshit in a bagel incident and bows out with Into The Darkness an upbeat song with beautiful vocals about doom and gloom?? A new start for our intrepid adventurer? See you on the other side?
It’s like a prediction from Greta Thunberg set to music by the weirdness of that Lemon Jelly sound and Fred’s unique talent of melding trip hop into theatre with some clever sounds and a knack of concept. The test is, can this be pulled off live? Will Coldplay send out a death threat if there’s too many lasers or energy involved? Fuck em! Bring it on!
Fuckin ell! What a start to 2020. The Battery Farm return with a wonk fest of a tune. 97/91 was a brutal tune that turned me on to this North Manc band. Proper scuzz punk full of ideas, following in the steps of bands like Tinfoils, Check em out.
Crude Oil Water is their third single since forming in March 2019. It was recorded at Vibe Recording Studios in Manchester, produced by Dean Glover and mastered by Pete Maher.
It’s a song about dehumanization and the ease with which Human Beings objectify each other for entertainment and gratification, framed through the prism of someone watching strangers drown in a crude oil pit. Sound-wise, it is something of a departure from what they’ve released previously, employing more Post Punk elements than before.
Proper weird as fuck with a proper acid sounding bassline. A total mad as fuck tune that has elements of grunge, Evil Blizzard, industrial. Proper going for the jugular with this one. Last single I Am A Man was punk grunge rage. This raises the bar.