By Monster Island
No fancy packaging, no PR or A&R involved here. A photocopied page from a sketch pad giving some clues to the content ahead - men behind bars, and the apparent black, white and greyness of discontent.
The home-burnt, self-biro-ed CD comes wrapped in the business pages of the Manchester Evening News; either wishful thinking or a piss take? Let's have a listen and find out what's going on here.....it's lo-fi, but deliberately so rather than from average recording, I would have thought, given the ideas included. The vocals are generally dour (in a good way), definitely of the North-West, and usefully panned around the listening space, so you're never quite sure where the backing vocals will pop up next, always keeping your interest and your attention, especially in the breakdown bits ('Push the Bullet In' and 'The Blues Empire.')
The lyrics are sharp, full of frustration, and thought out carefully to hit the appropriate target(s), especially on 'Getting Warmer' and (for me, the best tune of the LP) the surf-swamp rock that is 'Open Collar;' a tale of the frustration of rallying against selling out, while it happens to you as you're doing the rallying ("the only competition left between us today / is to see who can be subservient in the most subversive way.")
Musically, the bands mentioned below are present and correct, but this drums/bass/guitar combo give us the bonus of additional and occasional off beat glockenspiel, cheap keyboards, self-made glitching and acoustic guitar.
Fans of The Fall, Half Man Half Biscuit, Sonic Youth, Pavement, King Missile, The Halo Benders, very early Beck and other lo-fi off-kilter nutcases will like this LP. I know I did. Bands based over this side of the Pennines, such as Blah Blah Tin, Piskie Sits and Farming Incident, should enquire into gig swaps.