Manchester Music - Manchester's first and only online Webzine and music guide
Chairs Missing - Look out for upcoming Chairs Missing events in 2002 Music Dash is who we are Soviet Union Records - The Alternative Manchester Label

Manchester Music - Music and art links including resources for musicians Manchester Music - Live Reviews Manchester Music - Reviews of all the latest releases that matter Manchester Music - The latest news, information and gossip Manchester Music - Venue guide, links and reviews Manchester Music - Interviews with a difference Manchester Music - Join the mailing list Manchester Music - The infamous message board, where even we take ample stick - quite unfair really Manchester Music - Check out latest promotions and offers Manchester Music - Band index with links leading to news, information and downloads Manchester Music - Local and independent radio broadcasts via the net Manchester Music - Photos links with a Manchester perspective
Click here to view the Manchester Music Chart Click here to view the Manchester Music Chart
Email this Live Review to a Friend Printer Friendly Version of this Live Review
:: The Sonar Yen :: Lisa Brown :: Performance :: Julian Donkey-Boy ::
25 November 2004 / Night & Day / Manchester
By CA & DH

I've lived all my life in and around Manchester and seen the music scene go through a few peaks and troughs; there are bands I love now who were not even born when I first discovered new bands night at the Boardwalk, and the more I think about it the more I realise there's never been a time like this. You can walk out almost any night of any week and watch excellent new bands of wildly different style and substance, and nights such as High Voltage deserve some credit for this. So tonight they come of age, their excellent debut EP (see Releases section) unleashed in all its ten inch glory and most of the participants on hand to entertain us. Tonight's typically eclectic bill is kicked off by Julian Donkey Boy, a three piece with a daft name and a frontman who's a bit shy and awkward looking in a rather endearing way. Their classically jangly indie pop is a joyful experience. Shades of Belle and Sebastian, Sarah Records and Badly Drawn Boy are present in their summery, bittersweet sound, and an ear for a brilliant tune or six stops them falling into the twee trap inhabited by so many in this genre.

Lisa Brown have as usual brought their sizeable teenage army along, chanting "Lisa! Lisa!" before the screen goes up. The opening song starts with a guitar line straight off the Chameleons' tripped-out second album, although it's anybody's guess whether the band are aware of this. It's a wonderful, shimmering slice of classic Mancunia, the singer 's voice soaring everywhere it should. Unfortunately it's downhill from there. There are some pleasantly innocuous Elbow-meets-Coldplay ballad-anthems wth piano and heart-on-sleeve vocals, and a couple of more indie-ish tunes reminiscent of the Stills - they're certainly one of the most commercial sounding of the current crop of buzz bands, and would slot in as well on (new style) Radio 2 as 6Music. The biggest cheer of the night goes to "My Saving Grace" - it has the bones of an anthem, but there's something missing, that spark, that unquantifiable thing that makes great bands great. The crowd chant on. I can't help thinking these kids should be listening to something more exciting, defining new styles of music impenetrable to anyone over 20, rather than something my dad would tap his foot to. They pick up a little at the end when that lush delayed guitar slides back into place, but mostly it's all a bit too... nice. They will probably be massive.

For a band that youíve known almost since they swapped their Nintendos for guitars, objectivity is a difficult thing. As is repetition and boredom. But The Sonar Yen are not one band that have ever been satisfied with sitting still. Almost every appearance brings new material of equal quality and development. Thereís always a new direction but part of its beauty lies in the mystery. Quite the opposite of travelling through the majority of Britainís towns you never know where your head will rest but itís usually a place refreshingly different from the last. Incorporating new bassist Zack Hane sees the band move into a wirier splayed aesthetic. His delicate, abstract runs add an extra ethereal dimension to the usual edifices of off-centre jangles, drones and bone-shaking howls. The Yen have moved on vocally too. For the first time thereís interplay between Tim and Mike. Itís subtle and fairly primitive but the shaping of another tool in an arsenal that succeeds through slanted surprise.

I canít pretend that Iíve ever been the greatest advocate of Performance but their ability to rigidly weld together various throwbacks from 80s synth pop a la Dr Frankenstein is not without a disconcerting sort of competence. This is for the main part derivative in almost every detail right from the Phil Oakey vocals to the glut of nostalgic synths. Nevertheless they certainly know their way around a reasonable pop tune and not just a Roland 808. Anyone seeking a pleasantly unchallenging dose of retro sunshine will be more than served with an hour or so of basking.

The Sonar Yen
Julian Donkey Boy
Lisa Brown

Manchester Music - Reviews of all the latest releases that matter

Various Artists..

Manchester Music - All the latest News

Manchester Music - Final Words..For Now.......

ManchesterMusic - Signing Off...

Manchester Music - The Chairs are Missing ...

ManchesterMusic - Farewell...

ManchesterMusic Bows Out...