The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Various Artists
Manchester Standards Mof Gimmers , August 1st, 2013 06:21

For some inexplicable reason, some still think of Manchester as a baggy wasteland, all cod-mod haircuts and dirt weed. In actual fact, Manchester rockscene is thriving musically, with three very distinct camps – most notably, you have the New Grey Whistle Test bunch, such as Dutch Uncles, Everything Everything and Delphic, showing off their racks of synths and knowledge of 80s synthfunk. Elsewhere, you have the Twisted Nerve fall-out, all burrowing deeper into the undergrowth in a bid to out-folk each other.

However, in the back rooms of pubs, people's yards, grey concrete cubes and basically, anywhere that'll have them, is the real heartbeat of Manchester's current scene – Grot Pop. With a love of garage punk dumbness, 80s hardcore and an unashamed love of pop music, these bands – all raised on a diet of crisps and 10p vodka – are making the kind of racket that gives you the giddy euphoria of throwing up. Manchester's not been this fun since The Buzzcocks last wrote a decent chorus.

While PINS are very much the poster-kids of this fuzz scene, there's a flurry of groups all chasing after them, loose change falling out of their jeans, not in a landgrab for fame but more likely, asking to crash a tab or two.

Bands like Hotpants Romance (a band that worked out how to turn their amps up really loud before bothering with any of that stupid Tuning Your Guitar Up nonsense) and Brown Brogues (arguably the greatest band in Manchester right now, turning listeners inside-out with their Slade-In-A-Cement-Mixer rhythm & booze) are capturing hearts and minds with spiky rock with zero attitude, while acts like Waiters, Former Bullies, Butchers, Weird Era and Daily Life grab at something not unlike all those great bands that sprang from Sub Pop or Creation Records (the Special Brew-era rather than the bloated pills and cocaine period).

Yet, this isn't a tuneless, sneering racket made by a buncha gits trying to smack you with something blunt over the head. The Bell Peppers are a pocket-sized Link Wray, while Temple Songs are catchier than e.coli. It's all crafted pop, just shot through a lens that was found in a skip.

Manchester Standards has managed to document this vital moment in Manchester's music history, with bands like No Womb catching lightning in jar. All these bands somehow manage to sound sweaty, fun, amped and when listening to this compilation, there's the palpable feeling of a bunch of bands getting together, taking all their clothes off and playing a gig in your lungs whether there's room for them or not.

This debut release goes off like a stray hose. There's no politics, no sighing at rainclouds waiting for inspiration to strike. This is a ragtag band of musicians more likely to bare their arses than their souls, drunk on bargain bin alcopops rather than influence and, if they're swaggering, it isn't because they're cocky – it's because they haven't worked out which way their trousers go on. And it is brilliant. These handsome deadbeats are energising, daft and yours if you want ‘em. While the Manchester Cavaliers may impress with their post-punk disco, Only Joking Records have gathered up the Roundheads for a public execution. These numbskulls may not know their arses from their elbows, but this is a war they were always going to win because the scum always floats to the top.

When Mick Farren wrote 'The Titanic Sails At Dawn', talking about four kids playing to their contemporaries in a dirty cellar club, he was talking about bands just like this. Manchester, like numerous other cities, is getting a shot in the ass with the most glorious grotty pop and thank fuck there's people willing to compile and share it with us all.