EP review: The Mantells - ‘How To Say It’
Plus: the band discuss their musical influences
The Mantells are a three-piece from Manchester, comprising Tom Barrow (vocals and guitar), Dale Moran (bass and backing vocals), and Dale’s brother Lewis on drums and backing vocals.
The four-track EP ‘How To Say It’ was officially launched with a sell-out gig at the Castle, one of Manchester’s landmark live music venues.
The title track of the EP is as catchy as it is accomplished. From its urgent, pulsating start through to the lilting refrain “I say all the wrong things at all the wrong times” this is a song that clearly knows exactly how to say it, and after only a few listens it head taken up residence inside my head.
Next up on the EP is ‘Parallel Lives’, which has a great intro which builds into a jaunty, catchy riff that sets the scenes for a song that bounces along delightfully.
‘Key To The City’ is a more intense offering, both lyrically and musically. It flips from moody to poppy, and while that sort of juxtaposition isn’t going to float everyone’s boat, it speaks of confident song writing and arrangement.
The last song on the EP, ‘Able Bodied’ follows a similar hard/soft pattern, delivering really well-pitched dynamic range to the song – the energy, when the tempo picks up, is infectious. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn this one is a real crowd-pleaser when played live.
Sometimes trying to write about music, or how a band sounds, is a little like trying to describe what the number purple tastes like. But here goes.
The band has a sound of its own but its one that, for me at least, brought to mind many things I’ve loved, from the 60s to the present day. The Mantells somehow got me thinking of the Kinks, the Las, House of Love, Arctic Monkeys, Raconteurs, Kaiser Chiefs … bands for whom you get the impression the song itself was always the most important thing.
I asked the Mantells themselves to tell me about some of their musical influences and inspirations.
“I personally feel I take inspiration from many drummers from Travis Barker (Blink-182) to Matt Helders (Arctic Monkeys) and especially where it is clearly apparently who the drummer is with only hearing a drum track, I feel that individuality is key.
“As for bands that I feel I aspire to and think are making some great sounds at the moment, Catfish & The Bottlemen are really catching my imagination and I saw them put on a great show at Kendal Calling this year. Courteeners’ new stuff is sounding really good and I really like the kind of boozy party element that comes along with the music. This is something I feel a number of our songs that we play live create such as “Shudehill” and “The Escape” they always seem to get the crowd moving and at the end of the day that’s what we are all in it for!”
“I’m sure the rest of the band are going to answer completely differently but the sort of artists that I would like to make the band sound like, mostly because I like the bass in them.
“The Housemartins , for the energy, clean sound and vocals and who wouldn’t want Fatboy Slim on the bass?
“I’ve supported Paul Heaton in a previous band, in his pub the Kings Arms in Salford, and when he played in Barcelona – that was an eye-opening experience, and really gives you the kick up the arse to make you want to do it for a living!
“The next two bands I saw at hurricane festival a couple of weeks ago, both top bands but for different reasons the Pixies, for the top driving bass lines and a rawness. And a modern one, Royal Blood, the amount of noise those two make, puts some of these five-piece bands to shame!”
“I think lyrically I take a lot of influence from early Arctic Monkeys’ stuff, writing about things that’ve happened to me, there’s some tunes that aren’t quite as obvious, but they’re all stories from my life.
“I think my guitar work draws a lot from Jack White, of course I’m not quite the Guitar Hero he is, but I love the way he plays, you might notice it bit more with tunes like The Escape and Stuck in Shudehill. Hopefully bit more practice and I’ll be pulling off riffs like Mr White does.
“Then vocally I’ve recently realised I’ve taken a lot of influence from Luke Pritchard from The Kooks, a lot of people compare my vocals to his and The Kooks have been one of my favourite bands for as long as I can remember, so I think without initially noticing I have taken a lot from them, but it does fit perfectly I’d say.
“I think that’s the thing with influences, if you listen to a lot of different music you take bits from different places without necessarily noticing what band or artist they sound like, you just know you like how it sounds.”
You can find more of the Mantells’ music here on Soundcloud.
Single review: Mutineers – ‘Love, It’s a Killer’
Plus: exclusive news about forthcoming Manchester show
According to one song I’m familiar with, love is a many splendored thing. And so is the new single from Manchester-based band Mutineers, ‘Love, It’s a Killer.’
Available today, ‘Love, It’s a Killer’ is underpinned by one of the catchiest guitar riffs I’ve heard in a while. This is the first release of 2014 from one of my favourite bands, and it’s a genuinely uplifting and addictive song, pairing pithy lyrical observations with fabulous melodies that are sure to have you singing along.
The “killer, killer, killer” backing vocal refrain at the end of each verse is catchy and theatrical without being over-the-top.
The first Mutineers’ album came out in 2010, with the band having been together for about a year or so at that point – much of that time was spent writing, rehearsing, recording and gigging. The line up changed after the post-album break and the current line up has been in place since late 2011.
Mutineers are a really accomplished band that knows what they’re doing – ‘Love, It’s a Killer’ is a great song, paired with excellent musicianship that sets the bar high, in my opinion. Following it won’t be easy.
And seeing as I can’t wait to hear what Mutineers have in store next, I asked them a few questions.
Sean: You’re touring extensively this year. Where can people catch you playing live?
Muts: We’re looking forward to keeping the show on the road. After the Glasgow show (at the weekend) we have a break until the end of April, where we’re going to get in the studio and work on some new songs… then we’re going to do a few one offs to keep the band tight and vibed up. So, shows in Birmingham and Tramlines Festival (Sheffield) and possibly a couple of others before another mini tour in October, where we’ll be playing the Academy in Manchester (exclusive news for you there!) and hopefully London, Glasgow (our second city!) and a few other places.
Sean: When can we expect a new Mutineers album?
Muts: We’re not exactly sure, as we’ve been concentrating on getting together cool singles to put out and promote, to raise the band’s profile. It’s not something we’re going to rush this time around. The first album was half-finished and half-good demos that just got mastered, so we want this album to be much more considered and to actually finish it properly. In a way this next one will feel like that first PROPER album… the first selection of songs have their place in terms of cementing our online fan base.
Sean: Are you still doing everything without a label?
Muts: We’re doing it all ourselves for this single release-wise, but we do have a PR team in place this time around. It’s a lot of work to hype a single into the indie chart on your own, so we have stuff like radio plugging and regional working on the single. It’s not that we’re anti-label, it’s just that we’ve had better results by having control over things, as of yet. When we had high powered management and other industry backing, around the time of the first album, we were always seemingly bottom of the food pile, which was quite unfair when you look at the standard of the songs and the love people have for the band… things are changing within the running of things though, but we’re only prepared to go in with people that we’re comfortable with working with and on our own terms.
Sean: A lot of people will know your bassist, Iwan Gronow, from his work playing in Johnny Marr’s band. What was the impact on the band of him touring with Johnny Marr?
Muts: Everybody in the band has other musical projects that they’re involved with, so it’s not really something out of the ordinary for us. Iwan’s involvement with Johnny is obviously the most high profile. I think it’s quite a healthy thing and the music industry has changed – you have to be multi-faceted in order to make enough money to survive just as a musician and in that sense we’re the ultimate modern band!
Sean: There’s clearly a lot of love for the band on social media. How important to you have things like Twitter been, in building a fan base? And is it something you think will continue to grow in importance for bands in general?
Muts: I think it’s been an amazing thing for us and it was great for us to finally get validation from people that what we’re doing is relevant. We’ll always interact with the fanbase, but as previously touched upon before, things are changing a little within the running of the band and we can’t rely on just promoting our music via social media….we don’t just want to be known as “that twitter band” – would be a great injustice to the quality of the music!
You can’t buy much in the UK for 89p any more. You could put down a deposit on a coffee-flavoured hot drink from Starbucks, perhaps. Or maybe treat yourself to a bag of crisps. Or, you could buy ‘Love, It’s a Killer.’ It’ll still be with you long after you’ve parted company with a bag of ready salted.
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