Best Tracks Of The Week (Oct 30th – Nov 5th)

Contributions from Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler), Ethan Woodford (@human_dis4ster), Sean Hannah (@shun_handsome) Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

Pinegrove – Intrepid

Unashamedly raw with an enticing, emotionally gooey centre, the latest track from alt-rock New Jersey outfit is one that feels as tight as it does evocative.

With a wide array of beautiful lyrics as well some perfectly natural performances, Intrepid is certain to nuzzle its way into Pinegrove‘s setlists as well as into the heart of anyone willing enough to risk shedding a few tears.

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes – Spray Paint Love

We gave this song the full review treatment but for the sake of its inclusion, here’s a little line or two: a sultry, sleazy track that proves The Rattlesnakes are still full of venom. Screaming riffs coupled with Bon Scott style lyrics make for a dirty dirty.

Flood Manual – Empathy 

We’ve had some very nice things to say about the Manchester boys’ latest EP but a highlight from that release has to be Empathy: a melodic affair that feels pretty delightful with somewhat harsh guitars being pressed together with the aforementioned lovely singing to create a tasty, punky panini a la Weezer.

Keep yer eyes peeled for Flood Manual

N.E.R.D ft Rihanna – Lemon

The Pharrell Williams fronted project’s first single in seven years is a song for 2017; referencing everything from Donald Trump to memes and sampling viral videos, it’s clear the group has plenty of material to work from that they have missed over the years. While the track doesn’t seem to have a clear focus and changes topics several times, it serves well as a comeback.

Announcing its arrival with a massively catchy beat and Pharrell’s flow oozing with A Tribe Called Quest influences, Lemon is exactly what a comeback single should be. Also can Rihanna just have guest verses on everything from now on? Thanks.

Sunflower Bean – I Was A Fool

While it may not be the band’s 22, A Million transformation, Sunflower Bean has managed to craft a charming little track as they make their Mon + Pop label debut. 

“I think this song is a good example of how we’ve grown as a band, while still staying true to the band that first played together back in high school,” is what Nick Kivlin had to say about I Was A Fool and it’s hard to say he’s wrong: restrained in its production, allowing for some gorgeous vocals to take centre stage, it’s a sign of things to come and a relieving one at that.

Ought – These 3 Things

Tim Darcy spent most of 2015’s Sun Coming Down doing his best Mark E. Smith, so it should surprise no one that These 3 Things finds the American-born Canadian transplant moving on to aping Robert Smith.

An angular, 808-driven affair, These 3 Things tracks Ought shifting their influences from the abrasion of late-‘70s post-punk to the dejection of its mid-‘80s predecessor: goth. With his lyrics bordering on Yeatsian, Darcy discovers purpose at the song’s envoy: “I must remember to dance with you tonight/ I must remember I owe my heart.”

Eera – Reflection of Youth

Fervent but subdued, this closing track from EERA‘s debut is a standout, not just due to the fact it’s the most stripped back of the last. Hushed vocals and a laid back guitar are all that is left to be heard as opposed to the harsher structures she has weaved throughout her first LP offering.

While it may sound pretty light, Reflection of Youth is still utterly dazzling, making sure that listeners go out on a delicious, delicate high rather than a messy finale. 

listen to our picks via our swanky wee playlist, updated weekly:

EP Review: How to Be Happy by Flood Manual

Words by Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)
Photo courtesy of Dawncast

Premise: Morrissey (the young mopey kind before he became a racist “yer da” type) rating 8decides instead of going off to start one of the century’s most influential bands, he wants to branch off to start off a grunge/punk outfit. The result of this very specific pitch would be Manchester act Flood Manual, a band that runs with a simple three-word tagline: “soup with croutons“.

This comparison to The Smiths exists on two main points; they both originate from the North West and they share an unshakable vocal similarity. Louis Johnson may never reach the piercing falsetto heights of that cynical frontman, but the broody, bass-ey pipes that he shows off have a lot of resemblance throughout the band’s EP How To Be Happy.

Outside of these factors, though, Flood Manual are finding motivation elsewhere, and on paper, they really shouldn’t work. Instead of going down a more poppy route, How To Be Happy feels like a garage-rock type of affair, donning a few different costumes along the five-track running time to keep things remarkably fresh.

Empathy is a song to be commended for this, a melodic affair that feels pretty delightful with somewhat harsh guitars being pressed together with the aforementioned lovely singing to create a tasty, punky panini a la Weezer. Opener Over Me inaugurates this pattern, prancing in with a mesh of shoegazy instrumentals before chucking them off to hit into an indie rock nerve, finding a moment to chuck them back on to relish in the haziness. 

The band cites Title Fight as an influence and it’s not hard to see why, as that act have shown their ability to blend in with delicate and jarring environments: there’s a good balance of this throughout this EP, Flood Manual choosing to rest for the third as well as the penultimate track. However, it’s Citizen that can be felt coursing through most of this EP, specifically Mould, which begins with a grainy, lo-fi guitar that serves as the fragile foundations of the track.

Much like the title would imply, the major theme on here should be happiness, more so the recovery in order to reach that place where you feel some joy – that’s not the case, though, as the band talk more about the struggles that make being happy so hard. There’s a frayed and strenuous relationship on the closing eponymous track (“Only happy when you close the door“) with the aforementioned Empathy being about the loss of such faculties, containing one of the best lines out of the whole EP: “I never thought I’d see the best of me, leaving my fingertips at 17.” While this kind of subject matter would wear itself thin over the course of a full record, Flood Manual made the right call to release an EP that not only keep itself sounding crisp but what it has to say too.

As a Scottish music site, we can’t dictate what another city’s music scene is like. From the stuff that is bubbling up to the surface on a UK level, though, a large chunk of it seems to be artists wanting to replicate the sound of either The 1975 or the Madchester era. While there are similarities to some old-school heavy hitters, Flood Manual have managed to craft something that displays visible roots, but doesn’t get tempted to copy its influences, standing out from their local contemporaries. How To Be Happy may be an EP about struggles, but it’s far from a challenge to listen to.

How To Be Happy drops 5th November – you can follow Flood Manual on Facebook and Soundcloud.