ENDLESS. UNSTOPPABLE.TUNEZ. #6
Welcome back to the blog! It’s been a while since we’ve done one so what better way to restart than with ENDLESS UNSTOPPABLE TUNES? For those of you who don’t remember – ie most of you – EUT is just a lil round up of what we’ve been listening to recently. It’s not strictly new stuff, not strictly old stuff. Just stuff we feel like sharing. Have a gander
The Red Stains – Mannequin
The Red Stains are one of the bands – like Richard Carlson Band, Furrowed Brow, Stepford Wives and others I can’t think of right this darn SECOND – who started in Manchester around the same time we did in 2019, back when things definitely couldn’t get any worse and World War 3 was still just a meme. It’s been genuinely wonderful to watch the growth and development of a load of our peers since that time, and The Red Stains are the most vivid example of that growth, the trajectory of which is on full display on their new single, Mannequin.
In a catalogue that is already wildly exciting and completely singular, Mannequin is the best thing The Red Stains have ever released. A re-record of their debut release, this version of Mannequin is souped-up and superior. It’s driving, powerful and addictive, dripping with rage, intellect, and pathos. The band’s new line-up has supercharged their sound, and it really is a right kick to hear just how much power and intensity the new members have added. There’s something extra visceral, extra uncompromising about The Red Stains now and it’s thoroughly gripping.
It’s a funny thing, trying to celebrate bands you know or bands you’ve shared the scene with for a while. I’m always worried about being viewed as a sycophant or whatever. Fuck it, though. It’s important to celebrate things you love and the things that inspire you, and you should also give the people who create those things their flowers while you still can. Life’s for living, isn’t it? Probably, yeah. So, with that being said, Mannequin solidifies The Red Stains as an important, bold and compelling band with a unique voice who ooze charisma and have done since day one. They’re coming into their own in a massive way now. The future is bulletproof. If you don’t know them, you should. Give Mannequin a listen at https://open.spotify.com/album/2T2m52mEXg4KCjbLVjQ4ph?si=DlmThi6tT2O7cs9z76vvOg&context=spotify%3Aalbum%3A2T2m52mEXg4KCjbLVjQ4ph
Lou Reed – Live: Take No Prisoners
I’m currently on a huge Velvet Underground/Lou Reed kick. I recently listened to No Dogs in Space’s excellent series about the Velvets, which prompted an obsession not unlike the ongoing one I developed with The Beatles during the pandemic. Big auld deep dives like this take you to unexpected climes, and this has been no different. From discovering the lives and works of Babatunde Olatunji, Delmore Schwartz & La Monte Young to finally making the time to work through Nico’s incredible back catalogue, it has been a fruitful venture.
I could have chosen any number of the things I’ve picked up in this rabbit hole, but I’ve settled on a 1978 Lou Reed live album entitled Live: Take No Prisoners. I’ve chosen this because it’s a fascinating, chaotic and thoroughly majestic document of Lou Reed going against type. On Take No Prisoners, he barely actually performs the songs as you know them, zigzagging in and out of stream-of-consciousness monologues to occasionally half-sing a line from the record in a vaguely familiar way. I saw someone, somewhere comparing it to a Lenny Bruce set and they’re not far off to be honest. It’s got that same machine gun irreverence and free-wheeling insouciance. It not only shows the profound depth of the man’s lyrical imagination but also his capacity to completely take over a room and hold it hostage to his will – for better or worse – if he so wanted to.
Sweet Jane and Walk on the Wild Side become 10-15 improvised monologues about whatever he wants to talk about (‘fuck tall people. Fuck short people too, little people. And fuck people from Wyoming’). During the latter, Reed stops to acknowledge Bruce Springsteen (I think) in the crowd, tells numerous scattergun anecdotes about the creation of the song and airs some grievances about Rock critics. I’m Waiting for the Man becomes a blues jam led by a semi-improvised soliloquy intercut with terse exchanges with hecklers. It’s ridiculous and truculent and it’s magic.
In a less kinetic setting, this kind of stuff would probably be maddening – watch The Velvet Underground doing Venus in Furs in 1993 for an example of Lou Reed pugnaciously, deliberately butchering his own song in the most joyless way imaginable. Here, however, there’s a palpable electricity in the air that shines through on the record. Reed is somehow simultaneously feral, controlled, hilarious, bitter, kind, sardonic, sad, genial, mean, and grouchy. Yet, he remains engrossing throughout. His band are remarkable, rising and falling and flailing with their frontman as he works through whatever he needs to. They never miss a step, but they never just go through the motions either. It’s tumultuous and anarchic, but the wheels are never truly in danger of coming off. What could just be a run of the mill greatest hits set mutates into something breathtakingly dangerous and totally essential.
There’s so much more I could say about Take No Prisoners but there isn’t the space. I haven’t even covered the between-songs material. I’m sure it’s well-known to a lot of people but I’d never heard of it until recently, so here we are. Now I can’t stop listening to it. If you haven’t heard it, seek it out. Some of it hasn’t aged well (I Wanna be Black is well-intentioned but particularly grim), but in the main it’s a mind-blowing spectacle and one of the best live albums I’ve ever heard. Listen at: https://open.spotify.com/album/7MXvLFQMlf0GZS4o5icfiu?si=T7x2bVXGQNySTDwf3t7adA&context=spotify%3Aalbum%3A7MXvLFQMlf0GZS4o5icfiu
CLT DRP – NEW BOY
We played with CLT DRP at Right to Roam Festival in Bolton back in July. They were amazing. Full of presence, power, wry wit, ferociously innovative musicianship, and big auld tunes that do not sound like anyone else. This is reflected on their debut album Without the Eyes, which is a remarkable piece of work and proof that there are still plenty of boundaries to be pushed in the Rock music.
All this is to say that CLT DRP are a band you should be paying absolute attention to. Their new album, the brilliantly titled Nothing Clever, Just Feelings, is out 8th September, with the opening track NEW BOY having been released a while back. If it’s any indicator, the album is set to be a treat! A full-bodied exhibition of Scott Reynolds’ remarkable guitarwork, this is a gnarly, grinding, angular and visceral introduction to what is shaping up to be one of the albums of the year.
Normally you’re supposed to say ‘oh, it’s been ages since I heard anything this fresh and exciting’, but actually it isn’t, which is a beautiful thing. CLT DRP are part of a growing vanguard of bands creating bold, vital art that is completely unique to them, wrought from the anger of being part of what is a forgotten and fuck over generation. See also Bob Vylan, Benefits, Tokky Horror, Lynskey and the aforementioned Red Stains among a lot of others. There’s another wave breaking. It might just be a good time to be alive after all. Listen to NEW BOY at https://open.spotify.com/track/4XbW7CRBTy5jCQcN8XAcNS?si=wCgtlrLlROCyaUfAKxDhgw&context=spotify%3Atrack%3A4XbW7CRBTy5jCQcN8XAcNS