Tag Archives: Menace Beach

Menace Beach – Stereo, Glasgow 22nd November 2014

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This review was originally published on new music website Overblown – http://www.overblown.co.uk/menace-beach-stereo-glasgow-22112014/

It’s Saturday night and definitely a night for volume in the basement of Stereo. It’s a great venue for a rock gig with its high stage, dim lights and industrial feel. It makes for a packed sweat-box for loud, fast music of which there’ll be plenty tonight. There’s a sign on the wall warning that human pyramids and walls-of-death are dangerous. Well, I’m here to see Menace beach in a support slot to their home town pals Pulled Apart by Horses so I feel quite safe.

For a support slot there’s a really encouraging crowd gathered at the front to watch Menace Beach. I’d imagine the headliners have done a decent job in telling their fans to check the support out, their guitarist is even wandering about with a Menace Beach t-shirt on.

A couple of months ahead of their debut album release and Menace Beach are in good form. They launch into Teenage Jesus and immediately there’s plenty heads nodding approvingly. It’s loud, satisfyingly so, with the guitars particularly dominant. Thankfully Liza’s keyboards aren’t drowned out but her vocals occasionally are. She’s the least animated member of the band throughout the set, casually switching from guitar to keyboards and singing, always looking effortlessly cool.

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Ryan, on the other hand, is a bit more of a whirlwind. There’s lots of arm movements, facial expressions and hopping around. He looks and sounds like the 90’s indie rock kid. In fact, if i didn’t know better I’d be convinced I’m watching Travis, the goofy skate kid from Clueless, fronting his own band. Lookalikes aside, there’s plenty of enthusiasm on stage and it’s infectious. “I feel so much better now, it’s been such a stressful day, it’s great to be playing some songs” Ryan tells us. Well, we’re feeling good too.

They run through previously released songs Honolulu, Tennis Court and the slightly slower Dream Out, then on to Come on Give Up from the new album. There are other new songs in between whose titles I don’t know but the signs for the new record are very positive. They’re lively, loud and absolutely packed with hooks.

Fortune Teller is the song that brought Menace Beach to my attention in the first place. The floating, looping keyboard Liza plays is the highlight of the gig for me. The song itself sounds much heavier in this environment, simply down to the volume of the guitars and the bands happiness to play hard. It’s a fantastic song.

They rip through the punky Lowtalkin’ at breakneck speed. Liza screams the song title over and over again (how do you not lose you’re breath?) while Ryan sings and they sound great together. Female / Male vocals in sync gets me pretty much every time. The set is over after about 20 minutes. It’s short but very sweet, leaving me eager for plenty more of their own shows in 2015. Time to retire to the bar at the back, ears ringing but happy nonetheless. Don’t want to get caught up in one of those walls of death when the headliners take the stage.

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Menace Beach – Heading towards Ratworld

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Easily excited? Yes, definitely. Easily pleased? Not so much so. Hearing just 30 seconds or so of a song can be enough to get me excited about a band, excited enough to find out who they are, check out other songs, find their records, see where they’re playing. It really doesn’t take much for a song to sound instant or  intriguing and grab you by the scruff of the neck to go and find out more. That’s pretty much exactly what happened when I first heard Fortune Teller by Menace Beach.

Menace Beach are a Leeds based band (yep, yet another one. What is it with that city?) who are made up of members of various other bands (Sky Larkin, Hookworms, Pulled Apart by Horses etc.). Due to this they’ll get the phrase Supergroup banded at them but that’s a weird  term as it kind of insinuates that the other bands they’ve come from aren’t super. Not true.

Thus far Menace Beach have only released four records (well, three and a cassette if you’re being picky) ahead of their debut album Ratworld which is due for release on the excellent Memphis Industries label early next year. I have two of these records, The Lowtalker 12″ EP and the Tennis Court 7″ both on Memphis Industries. Prior to that the band had released the Dream Out EP ( 100 copies only for Cassette Store Day) on Desire Records and the Drop Outs 7″ as part of the Too Pure singles club (500 copies for the subscription based singles series – I’ve not got a copy of this, you can sense the emptiness I feel, I’ll track one down somewhere!).

Lowtalker EP 12" Front Cover
Lowtalker EP 12″ Front Cover

So why did I get hooked? Fortune Teller is the first track on the Lowtalker EP and it kicks of with an incredible looping, swirling, dizzying keyboard over guitars that instantly lodged in my skull. It’s got a disorientating off-kilter feel to it and sounds slightly, well, menacing I suppose. It’s a fabulous song.  The remaining four songs are also excellent. Honolulu is rockier, more guitar and feedback heavy. Where I Come From and Nervous follow this rock pattern and sound very like the best bits from the last couple of Wavves albums. Last song Cheerleader is a little slower and more like Fortune Teller in style. The record is filled with hooks, scuzzy buzzing guitars, feedback, great vocals and backing vocals and melodies that fizz around your brain. This music is very much of the early 90’s US indie rock variety albeit via Yorkshire and with plenty pop charm added in to the mix.

 

Tennis Court / Lowtalkin 7" Front Cover
Tennis Court / Lowtalkin 7″ Front Cover

The more recent Tennis Court 7″ single follows in a similar fashion. Side A is Tennis Court which gets off to a mid-paced start with nice melodies sung over the lead vocal. The fuzz kicks in with the chorus and band friend Alana from Joanna Gruesome lends a hand with backing vocals / shouting. The B-side, Lowtalkin’, is the fastest, noisiest example of Menace Beach I’ve heard yet. It’s sprints through it’s 1 min 50 secs like it’s desperately trying to escape from the turntable and it’s refrain of “Lowtalkin'” constantly yelled over and over in the background is breathless and brilliant.

All this points towards a really exciting debut album Ratworld which will be released on Memphis Industries on 19th January 2015. Four of it’s twelve tracks have already appeared in the two records I’ve discussed. I’m not sure if they’re re-recorded but I suspect they will be. The cover artwork looks great and continues the theme of images over scribbled, wavy lines. It looks like a Ray Bans Never Hide poster. There’s so much promise over the first few records that all point towards Ratworld being full of great ideas and fuzzy tunes. I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on a copy.

I caught Menace Beach live earlier this year at the Beacons Festival which cemented my excitement about them. I’m heading along to catch them at Stereo in Glasgow this Saturday 22nd Nov in support to Pulled Apart by Horses. Can’t beat a gig on a Saturday night. Add Menace Beach to your life as soon as you get a chance.

  • Label – Memphis Industries http://www.memphis-industries.com
  • Lowtalker EP – 12″ on black vinyl released January 2014
  • Tennis Court / Lowtalkin’ – 7″ on clear vinyl released September 2014 (Ltd Edition – no idea how many copies were pressed)
  • Ratworld is released 19th January 2015 on Memphis Industries. You can pre-order it here http://www.memphis-industries.com/release/ratworld/
  • Menace Beach are on tour from 21st to 28th November with Pulled Apart by Horses