Cool Band Alert…

February 3, 2007 at 5:32 am (Uncategorized)

Quick thought: what was the last band you can remember who cited The Velvet Underground as an influence?

Ok, probably you came up with someone pretty fast. Here’s the thing though: how old is the band/artist you thought of? I mean, back when indie rock wasn’t a cliche and was something pretty damn cool, The Velvets were on everyone’s list of influences, whether you were Pavement, Velocity Girl, The Pixies, Galaxie 500, or whomever.

These days? Not so much.

That random quick thought wandered through my transom after hearing the debut album from a nifty little band from Leeds who call themselves The Manhattan Love Suicides. (The MLS for short, and no, if you stumbled onto this blog looking for Real Salt Lake updates, boy are you pissed at google right now. The band is named after a series of short films by notorious NYC director/photographer Richard Kern.) The MLS cheekily and proudly cites the Velvets as an influence, alongside such stalwarts as The Jesus & Mary Chain, Galaxie 500 and (ulp, no really, keep reading!) The Beat Happening.

So, ok, sure. I’m curious at least, just because these folks have a list of stuff they’re into that would seem more appropriate to 1987 than 2007. Aaaaand? Holy crap, two listens in and I’m smitten like a schoolboy in love, two weeks worth of listens has me convinced that this disc is totally wonderful and absolutely essential.

The MLS can cite all the influences they want…and occasionally when they slow it down, they do sound kinda G500-ish, or kinda Velvety….but mostly they sound like a 2007 version of the best C86 band that ever was, The Flatmates. Since (unless you got drunk before a Game Theory show in 1988 in Matt Netzer’s apartment in Columbia Missouri) you don’t know who The Flatmates are, think of what you’d get if you combined The Primitives, The Darling Buds, Lush, The Pastels, and The Jesus & Mary Chain into one band…suffice to say, it is a sound that utterly rocks my world.

What’s exciting to me about The MLS is what they can do that the folks who they’re influenced by couldn’t. In 10 minute doses, The Primitives, or Darling Buds, or Lush were utterly brilliant. Longer than that, though, and it all started to sound alike, and listener fatigue set in pretty quickly. The MLS manage to vary things nicely with acoustic (!) guitars, keyboard fills, and even a delightfully off-key viola (a nod to John Cale, I suppose) that keeps this effort consistently interesting.

They’re a UK band, which means they love the guerilla press thing; not too many details about who’s in the band (they’re a four-piece), and reports from across the pond have them playing 10 and 15-minute gigs (The Reids would be proud of their stamina) before storming offstage. Cool, I dig a band that’s willing to play the mystique game; that’s one of the best things about UK bands–they get the importance of “image” much more than US groups do. In any event, I’m totally absorbed by The Manhattan Love Suicides, and I think you’ll dig ’em as well.

Here’s a song to listen to:

“Suzy Jones”

And this just makes me keep punching the repeat button on the CD player: The MLS cover “Indian Summer” by The Beat Happening. This, folks, is how you do a cover: it pays homage to the original, but then does something totally different and exciting than the original ever thought to. I love Beat Happening’s version of this song, but my soul is possessed by the MLS version.

“Indian Summer”

And, just because I can, dammit, here’s two groovy-ass Flatmates songs. These folks, had they the fortitude to stick it out, coulda been ‘uuuuge.

“Don’t Say If”

“Happy All The Time”


  1. matt netzer said,

    ChrisMatt Netzer here. At a party where everyone vanity googled themselves and I found your…your… blog. Hope I dont regret posting that…Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. CHeck them out.

  2. Chris H. said,

    GREAT to hear from you Matt, and hope all is well! Thanks to you and Robb and Steph for turning me into a lifelong fan of the Flatmates…and also for giving me my first spin of Spacemen 3’s <>Perfect Prescription<>. Good times!Huge SSLYBY fan too.

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