Tag Archives: Records

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

 

 

Trust Fund / Joanna Gruesome – Split 12″ EP

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Had I not already been very familiar with Joanna Gruesome this record could’ve caused me some fun confusion. On my copy the labels on the vinyl are the wrong way round so the side that says Trust Fund plays JG’s songs and vice-versa. Are the records all like that or just mine? I don’t suppose it matters one little bit. Great songs are great songs regardless of who’s playing them and I’d doubt either of these bands would mind their songs getting confused for the others too much. Anyway, I digress…

Trust Fund are new to me which (as I’ve no doubt previously mentioned) is part of the joy of split records. Their first track on here is called Reading the Wrappers and is pretty much exactly half gentle indie pop and half fuzzy indie pop. Melody wise it’s bright and breezy but there’s definite melancholy in the vocal delivery. It seems to be about (I could be wrong) that feeling of knowing someone you love is upset by something but they’re not saying what and all you want to do is make everything better for them. It sums up that feeling perfectly.

 

Their second track Scared is much more of an upbeat and immediate choice with choppy guitars. It’s catchier than an oversize baseball mitt and would be fun on any indie rock dance floor. There’s still that feeling of edginess here though, a certain anxiety about the song but i think that’s more down to the lyrics than the music.

Third track No Pressure slows the pace down and is beautifully effective. It floats by in such a relaxed, doleful manner with the great double vocals reacting perfectly with the minor chords. Again it all sounds very melancholic but this song leaves me feeling optimistic, I’m not sure why. I think it’s optimism for hearing more from this band, all very exciting.

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The Joanna Gruesome side kicks of with Jerome (Liar) which is a sub-two minute romp of punk pop that JG do so so well. I’ve no idea what Alanna is screaming in this song but i’m glad that she is.

Up next is Satan (Desire Edition) which is a reworked version of the song that closes their debut album. It’s a slow and sweetly sung ballad (can that really be the right word?) but there’s a squealing guitar feeding back in the background the entire way through. It’s a little longer than the original version and the addition of the extra vocal definitely improves on the original. That feed-backing guitar runs continuously into the next song Coffee Implosion which completes JG’s side of this EP and is almost somewhere between the two previous songs. Not as punchy and punky as the first, rockier than the second. On each song there’s a lot of emphasis on having two vocals and it sounds ace. It’s not that they’ve not used this approach before, possibly the male vocal is just a little louder in the mix this time.

Overall across all six songs i think that these are two bands that go really well together. There’s a perfect stand-off between mournful and joyful on this record, sometimes all in the same song!

The product itself is a gem from Reeks of Effort and much appreciated by vinyl geeks like myself. It comes on clear 12″ vinyl and inside a beautifully printed white card sleeve. It looks as impressive as it sounds.