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Manchester Standards: Sides 3 & 4 Mof Gimmers , July 25th, 2014 10:32

The last outing for Only Joking Records’ Manchester Standards showcased the side of Manchester that has been largely slept on. While much of the press focused on the bands in-and-around Factory, or tap room wordsmiths like Guy Garvey, the exports didn't reflect the sound of the city. In basements and backrooms, the noise wasn't gloomy, introspective or any of that nonsense – it was a total racket made by bands that often looked like they might not make it through their own sets.

Since then, a number of bands have broken out of the city. PINS have gone on to be the hottest new Manchester ticket, with their wiry garage pop and Mazes took their grotty punk and glued it to a motoric backbeat. Both appear on the latest Manchester Standards, along with Egyptian Hip Hop who caused a stampede on interest in '08.

However, the real treasure found in Manchester Standards is the bands that haven't received the love outside of the ring road, and on 3 & 4, it shows that the city's new music is getting more fun, and increasingly weird. There's the usual basement belters that appeared on Sides 1 & 2, with Dinner Party and Young British Artists kicking up a stink, and Irma Vep breaking hearts with some dimly lit bedroom brooding, but there's a growing avant garde synthetic edge that is really taking these bands into interesting new territory.

These upstarts have started to sidestep simply going for your throat and now starting to get into your head with HypnoToad jams. There's a familiar fuzz to Bass Ventura's 'Side Of The Street', akin to Neu! getting their dinner money stolen by Motorhead and Naked (On Drugs) throwing Arkestra clarinet at Bauhaus while making thinly veiled threats down your collar.

Salford Media City (a name so cruddy it is amazing) have embraced the sound of a party at Bow Wow Wow's squat, like Hi Life chasing you up a stairwell before getting off with you in the bogs. All eyes, however, should be on Aldous RH, who provides the best track on the LP. There's a lot of eyes on Aldous thanks to an output which veers from oddball dreamscapes, to wonky Prince-esque space pop. On this LP, he hits somewhere between the two, with 'What's The Point' a song that trips in and out like someone channelling a radio station through an Ouija board.

While lo-fi grot rock still seems to have its eyes on California, Manchester's bands seem to have burrowed into stranger bits of the record box. While everyone wrings out every drop from Pavement's back catalogue, the bands on Manchester Standards: Sides 3 & 4 have been drinking bottles of 20/20 while dancing around to Macca's 'Check My Machine'.

OJ Records have, once again, captured the demented, creative corner of Manchester's art scene and collated it into a cohesive, eccentric collection of tracks by bands that have fantastic potential, provided the energy they possess doesn't make them implode. These oddball misfits are creating music that is fun, beguiling and downright weird, but as we all know, when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

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