Frazer King…brilliant new band from Manchester

October 30, 2009

Yeah, I know. It’s another best new band in Manchester rant but there is no way round it. Frazer King are pure genius. Pure musical genius.

I’m judging a battle of the bands in Manchester. They are always weird affairs. Stilted, awkward audiences and bands not sure how to play in the non-gig atmosphere. Then this kid walks in, crazy drunk, wild mop of hair- he goes up to the bloke from XFM whose one of my fellow judges and tells him he hates his radio station. He staggers around the room shouting his head off. Two minutes later he’s onstage.

This is the singer from Frazer King- a charismatic, deranged ruffian whose also sharply intelligent behind his bluff and full on attitude but with enough charm to get away with his combatative attitude. He’s also got the sort of wild-eyed charisma that fires a generation and is as out of control as a ruffian poet should be.

Then the band start playing and it’s wonderful.

There is no way you can define them. No way. It’s definitely not indie. It’s a mental cross between Doo wop, polka, yiddish folk songs played by the Pogues with sort of the Happy Mondays zig zagging attitude (they don’t sound like the Happy Mondays though- it’s just that there is this sense of chaos but also a supreme musical eclecticism that both bands share in very different ways)- it’s also non of these things. It teeters on collapse but somehow holds together and the utter originality of their music is underlined by the great impassioned song writing.

There’s three singers, the unruly bloke yells at the audience and then sings in a tarmac rough voice that has a powerful magnetism to it, he’s one of those kids that oozes music and his vocals blend with the neo doo wop harmonies of his fellow vocalists.

The drummer plays really cool rhythms and uses a woodblock. That rules- a woodblock- who plays one of them these days! The music could be show tunes or it could be Tom Waits if he was from Wythenshawe- Europe’s biggest housing estate near Manchester but again it sounds like something else. Indefinable and original- how many bands can you say that about these days? They zig zag wander through their set of trout mask replicas dressed in scruffy street wear apart from the singers  beer stained Acid Mothers Temple T shirt…

But what makes it work is the songs. They have loads of great songs- catchy as fuck top tunes just like their best buddies and fellow Wythenshawe wave band Dirty North.

Please check their myspace (  -it gives you a rough idea of their utter genius.

I love them.

If you are a music biz person, investigate them now- they are going to be massive. My instinct feels it and that’s never wrong.

After the show I speak to the unruly kid, he rants and raves about music being terrible, he tells me the noughties are  the worst decade for music ever. He’s angry and very funny and in a way right. He tells me that band will split up in two weeks and he will work in a call centre. He’s fibbing. He loves Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart and soul music. I’ve never been arsed about Zappa but Beefheart is a god in my world.

The band’s drummer used to wrote for Wire magazine- Frazer King are a mixture of street kids and suburban music freaks- the best line up for any British band…the drummer’s dad was in a band called the Kenneth Turner Set who shared an EP with the Membranes in 1980- it was our first release- I also know his mother from when I grew up back in Blackpool. He tells me all this whilst the unruly singer is arguing with someone else- it’s total anarchy. It’s like that legendary Sex Pistols moment when Steve Jones tells reviewers that ‘we’re not into music we’re into chaos’

Frazer King have updated this they are into the music and the chaos.

They will be massive

Youth Gang

September 24, 2009

Youth Gang

So young they have barely even got going, Youth Gang ooze an incredible potential. Just listen to these two demos on their myspace site… … and become enchanted by Ki’s vocals, She’s got an amazing, powerful voice that cuts ice and glass with its dark, emotive power. In Manchester there have been so few female singers- its always been a bit of a lads scene and the lads have made some great music over the years- some of the best but its great to hear a female voice in this sea of laddism.

The songs don’t fit in anywhere- they are so original- there is a hint of Johnny’ Marr’s effortless arpeggios in Nick’s guitar but with a harder edge. There is a flavour of indie before it became a byword for stadium landfill- that sense of making your own space and your own sound instead of following the herd. There is a sniff of northerness about them but it’s hard to place.

They also come with a great name fitting firmly into that tradition of great bands with Youth in there monicker like, of course, Sonic Youth, and Youth Of Today and Chimp Youth. They are working hard as I type writing loads more songs which should be up on their myspace soon. I am trying to sign them to my new Modern English label if I can convince the rest of the team of the band’s innate greatness.

I would keep tabs on this situation if I was you- this band are going to rule.

A Day In The Life Of A Music Journalist

September 23, 2009

This is a recent column I did for Drowned In Sound website which caused loads of controversy with some of their more pious readers…

Wake up early.

8 o’clock.

Electric rock n roll is going through my head.

Decide not to have a wank so I wont lose my edge and walk to the other room in the flat and start typing. Got a mish mash of columns and articles to tap out. Got a headfull of ideas, a  zig zagging machine gun of stuff- gotta get it typed up before it disappears into the ether.

Plenty of work got done last night when I got back in from watching couple of great local bands, one, Dirty North play a mash up of ska, hip hop and razor sharp lyrics like Antic Monkeys are rattling my cage. They were supported by Mike Garry a fantastic poet whose Mancunian street poems will make him the poet laureate of Manchester within months. When I’m writing about stuff like this words come easy and I still operate under the age-old rule of never write the first paragraph till last. Never sweat over that first sentence- just get on with it, a few words in and the word spew comes and you can be sat in a daze with words pouring out till someone phones. Or you feel hungry. Oh shit I feel hungry. I then do about 15 minutes of yoga to keep these trusty old limbs springy and then I eat. I eat like a horse! Writing is hungry work.

I return to the laptop and continue writing and then editing. Gotta get these words down before the phone starts ringing or the Internet starts buzzing. When you are one they are many and you have to organise your life! DIY is the greatest idea but it means often booking band tours for my band Goldblade on your own, sorting out deals and doing loads of meetings as well as writing and extra curricular stuff like helping Blackpool council with projects to make the town look, well, different than the clichéd idea of it.

I rattle out a couple of columns with the music now cranked up to full. I love rock n roll and I’m putting another dime in the jukebox baby. Also loving these dubstep collections you can find on the net and loving the occasional new demo but also wanna hear some good time adrenalin punk rock, Black Flag’s Damaged’…mmm…lets put that on again- the infernal energy and righteous racket matches the mood perfectly, will relatively  chill out with the dubstep later.

Midday go for a meeting with some heads who want to start a record label with me, it goes well, then have to record some T V stuff, not long after that I have to rehearse Goldblade for a couple of festivals at the weekend. Then late afternoon I will get down the gym and pump some iron- it’s a couple of hours to switch off and do something truly D.U.M.B Dumb. Fantastic. Leave the gym with that insane endorphin rush and sit on a chair in the sun and catch up on a lot of phone calls on my mobile. Cycle home and cook my vegan soul power tea, do some more writing and then thunder off into town and check out some music and then hang out a bit before going home and trying to get through more emails before popping out to do a radio interview on 5 live. Then home and to bed.

Tomorrow, though, I will be proper busy!

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