Mind Your Manors
Mind Your Manors is available at:
25th March, 2015
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
The E.P. This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things is available at:
I’M going to embrace my inner naivety; accept that …
I am just ‘well known’ among the streets of Hamilton, Ontario. Every other day, I receive a new email: usually from an Ontarian band; proffering the same sort of music- I wonder why this is. Not wanting to think the worse- that a huge record label is just sending (slightly edited) spam emails to me- I think it is just ‘luck’- maybe a previous review (being published by a fellow Canadian) has caught the imagination. Regardless, this will be the last Ontario/Canadian review (for a long time): there comes a time when you have to employ some rationale- concentrate on homegrown bands; focus on diversity and difference. Canadian music has always struck my ear- with its energy and sense of innovation- yet there has been some stagnation: the masses (that get in touch from Ontario) have started to clump and blend (into one). Being slightly world-weary, I was surprised to come across The Bandicoots: a band that has that distinct edge; are a cut above the similar-sounding conveyor belts (of bands I have been receiving mail from). As I train my mind back to London- and help some of my favourite U.K. acts get some recognition- I can at least (bid Canada farewell) with a lighter heart- relieved there is a positive (end) note. Hamilton is a gorgeous city: an area with ethnic diversity (a lot of English live in this locality); wonderful cityscapes; stunning views- a wonderfully thriving economy. It seems the citizens are not police-orientated- the amount of police-levelled hate crimes is pretty high- but you cannot fault the place: it is one of the most evocative and stunning areas of Canada (check out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamilton,_Ontario). The likes of Caribou (and Nicole Appleton) call Hamilton home: the port city is a safe haven for many musicians. In terms of new music, there is activity a-plenty: many of Canada’s finest new acts are plying their trade in Hamilton. The Bandicoots are one of the best (the city) has to offer: a hungry act who are aiming big. With their latest E.P. – This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things- being dropped; it seems they are on the rise: early reviews have been glowing and positive. Before I come back to the band (and Hamilton indeed) it seems pertinent to raise one issue: the plight of new musicians in this country (the U.K.). I know a lot of great musicians- across twitter and Facebook- who are in real trouble: their finances are dwindling; their fate is waning. I feel real sympathy and heartache: so many great acts are struggling; it is one of the saddest parts of music. This country is producing a heap of new musicians: by the week, we are seeing clans of new bands/acts/artists- they are cramming into a small isle. For the ‘established’ acts, what are they to do? Many musicians (that I know) are finding life difficult: trying to get their voices heard is a real struggle- it is a sad sign of the times. I hope something can be done: finding a way of gifting every musician an equal voice. Maybe it is overly-optimistic; it seems fair the best should get (their fair) shout: have their music proffered and promoted (and witnessed by as many people as possible). I’m not too sure with regards Canada: whether musicians there have that same struggle; have the same issues? Canada has a population of (fewer than) 36 million- some 27 million fewer than the U.K. The country (Canada) has a 50/50 split- of men and women- with their nation, wide and wonderful- a lot of open space and room. It seems things are more ‘cramped’ here: the big cities and towns are compacted and suffocated. Aside from moving to Canada- a drastic ‘Plan B’ potential- what are we to do? It seems Canadian music is ripe and receptive: the new acts coming out are less stressed and angst-ridden; have a slightly ‘easier’ time of things. That said; the possibilities (and opportunities) for Canadian acts are limited- compared with here in the U.K. U.S. acts have the routes and contacts- and the major music cities- yet Canada seems self-sufficient: the musicians have a harder task than their U.S. counterparts. Aside from the ‘tasks’ that face Canadian musicians, they seem- and Hamilton residents at least- to be less overwhelmed: their music is freer and more effortless. The Bandicoots are showcasing this sense of alacrity: their debut E.P. is swimming in energy and youthfulness; acres of passion and swagger- that is sure to see them well-received here.
When it comes to (The Bandicoots’ current disc) it is worth looking back: to see how far they have come; how they have developed. Their last release- appearing in December of last year- was No Turn on Red: one of (the quartet) of tracks from the E.P. Swooning and shimmering in the introduction, the song is focused and fuzzy- the vocal is passionate and tempered. One of the most direct tracks (from the E.P.), the boys are in-step: the performance is tight and electric. Graceful and kicking; biting and honest, the song looks at leaving town: getting away and trying to find a way out. A romantic suicide (almost), the song is a farewell: the hero is bidding goodbye; trying to get away from things. Being the first foray- for the band and their music- the E.P. is purest (testament of what they are capable of). Just After Dark– with its bounce and youthful vigour- is a gut-punch. You cannot help but think of Arctic Monkeys: the band’s E.P. has the sound of early-career ‘Monkeys. Just After Dark shares skin with Balaclava and D is for Dangerous: that same stop-start energy; the spy-theme-cum-shout-out sound- the swing and swagger arrives by the bucket load. The vocal passion- the band’s committed and enflamed parabond- and delivery cannot be faulted- signs of Favourite Worst Nightmare’s (best moments) come to the fore. That is not to say anything negative: the band is not replicons of the Sheffield legends. The E.P. is chocked full of personality and uniqueness: the Canadians have taken their own lives- the street scenes and romantic woes- and funneled it into distinct and personal songs. Employing a pinch- of Turner-esque saltiness and Yorkshire pepperiness- and you get The Bandicoots: an act with their very own sound. It is great to hear Arctic Monkeys come through in any form: for a while, most new U.K. bands were indebted to them. As of late, that ‘trend’ has subsided: there is a tendency to think wider (and err away from their doors). Being (that this is) a first effort- from the Canadian newbies- This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things is a stunning statement. Four tracks of tight, focused- and variably emotional- numbers; it’s an E.P. sure to sell well over here- the sound is just what we favour over here. The question is- when their sophomore effort arrives- how do they top/alter at all? Do they stick with the same sound; widen their scope- or bring in different influences? The boys are pretty unequivocal; their flair and passion is unwavering: their songs are packed with determination and nuance- qualities that will stand them in good stead.
Starting with a sensual slink; a call-and-response hard punch: Mind Your Manors begins its life with plenty of aim and potential. Sparing no time (for wasted notes and loose ambitions), the tight (and springing) introduction is gripping- enough to get the mind working. When the vocals come in, some intriguing words are brought in. With a fascinating opening verse- “Those daydreaming eyes could likely see you to the moon/sending you packing for the stars on a hot air balloon/For days/Stuck in a haze/You ever see a place like this?”- you start to conspire and imagine. With its poetic-ness and imagery, the band does not go for the base and asinine- they ensure their earliest words are striking and memorable. Allowing his voice to dream and drift, out hero has a lot on his mind: the heroine of his focus has a ‘shady’ day-time life. “Replace your midnight pining for a bill in her thong” leaves little to the imagination- you can almost smell the sweat and stains of the strip club scene. That sense of release and escape- the subject yearns for a hide-away beyond the reach “of the (tip) jar”- is a trademark for The Bandicoots- the E.P. has plenty of escape-and-run ambitions; that need to get to a better life- run from that which holds you back (and punishes the soul). With his comrades providing ample support, Mind Your Manors hits for the grit- the hero does not (want to stay here) “any more than you.” With those stories in your mind- the pole-straddling muse tearing up and dying inside- you get caught up in the drama and tableau. The track has a merry streak- whether ironic or genuine- that gives it energy and panache: a combination of ‘60s Pop and Arctic Monkeys cheek lodges the melody in your mind. Distracting by the composition- that is both subtle and powerful- you drag your attention to the forefront: the tale continues; the players progress. Building off the strip-club-and-its-desperately-naïve-clientele parable, you can see the images all too clearly- the way (the patrons) think they have a shot; the dancers have anything for them (bar dreams of their wallets and credit cards). With ‘Miss. Mary’ (the dancer) and ‘Maya’ (having “taken a stab”) the protagonists are making their mark: the boys have to hit up the cash machine; the bouncers are getting rough- it seems things have gotten out of hand. You cannot (but admire) the wordplay- the pen is as mighty as the Arctic sword- which tumbles and spirals. Both literary- with wit and pathos- it is detailed and scenic- in few words, the band manages to project vivid scenes and wonderful byplay. The song’s ‘customers’- whether the band themselves (based on real events?) or fictional wannabes- have drama ahead: they have scared up money (to pay the tab); are preparing to tighten their laces (in order to outrun the muscle). With its heart rooted towards Arctic-esque avenues, the lads never try to ape or copycat: their words and themes were never explored by Turner’s crew- they take a common situation and give it a fresh spin. Concocting spiraling notes- mood changes and subtle key changes- the band never loses momentum; the song constantly pines and prods- taking your mind somewhere else. Imbued with some terrific moments- the 2:30 mark gives way to a beautiful harmony; the most fervent and ecstatic point- the composition is glistening and delirious- a cornucopia of styles, swagger; beauty and stomp. When the final moments come into view- the outro. has a cheeky glint and wink in its smile- you cannot help but reflect: shoot a smile and hit ‘repeat.’
The entire band puts in a hard shift: the performance and commitment is fantastic and impressive. The vocals throughout are superb: that mixture of northern drawl (and Canadian accent) gives the lyrics real intent and meaning- few other singers would add such weight and conviction. The words are (perhaps the most) impressive thing on display: a song sheet with plenty of quotable lines; ounces of memorability and vivacity- poetry and drama. You cannot fault anything in display: Mind Your Manors is a song that is no fluke- the band produce three like-minded gems (into their E.P. repertoire). Having listened to their new single- a few times now- I am deeply impressed: the song reveals new tricks/magic with every spin. It is that kind of nuance/strength that will see the band inspire- hopefully they can bring their music to Britain (a nation awaits, sirs).
As the Ontario band embark on tour dates- taking their debut E.P. on the road- you have to tip your hat: the lads have produced music designed to unify the masses; get the festival crowds moving. Whether a cynical ploy, or a natural development, and it leaves them with this conundrum: do they stay in Canada or move to the U.S. /U.K.? With a sound British-influenced (in small parts) they have a definite future here: many crowds and towns would welcome them in. This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things has cynicism and sarcasm; passion and openness- colour and black-and-white shades. The band is committed and tight throughout: each song is defined by a clear and concise performance. Allowing ragged and raucous edges (to come in), the band impress throughout. Aided by fantastic production values- that allows vocal clarity and a raw sound to reign- and you have a triumphant effort. Too few bands (especially in this country) have their minds set to the future: I am hearing too much anxiety and fear come out (in the sounds of the new-born musicians). Whether it is a Canadian thing- and there is a more open and less tense market there- I am not sure. It is a sign of the times I guess- that every candidate has a hard task ahead- that stress and nerves will take a hold: if you can think positively; have ambitious plans in your locker- this reflects in the music. The Bandicoots are a group with no signs of quitting; no quarter is being levelled towards demure and fear- the band is looking forward and dead ahead. Make sure you check out their E.P. – and new single- and take time to investigate a band that means business: a group we may be seeing in the U.K. in the near-future. I will finish with (my earlier point coming back around): wonder why Hamilton, Ontario is a big player; comes to my attention (on a tri-weekly basis). God knows why I am popular there- and whether any other areas of Canada will contact me- but it is ‘interesting’ at the very least. If the music is varied and high quality then fair play: I am finding too much sameness come out here. From such a beautiful (and varied) city, you would expect a bit more variegation and diversity: I hope bands here start to widen their aim and ambitions. The Bandicoots have plenty of potential about them: Mind Your Manors– with its clever wordplay- is a fine example (of what the group is about). With music’s issues- compartmentalisation and wide mass of musicians- it is hard (for new acts) to make their mark- harder still to resonate and remain. I hope The Bandicoots keep strong; bring in some new sounds (for their next release) – as much as anything, come play their music in Europe. With so many (of this nation’s) finest starting to feel the pinch: it is essential we are given some fresh impetus. I guess it is flattering- that so many Canadian acts are coming to my attention- and it is encouraging to see such energy here- as I step away from the country for a number of weeks. When it comes down to it (and having many Hamilton residents coming to you), you could say this:
THERE are worse things in life.
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