The Redneck Manifesto - Friendship (Richter Collective )
IT IS not misplaced patriotism to say The Redneck Manifesto are one of the finest post-rock bands, not only in Ireland, or in Europe, but from anywhere.
So when on albums like I Am Brazil, you’ve largely perfected the genre, what do you do? Where is there to go? A new direction of course, which is what the band have done on Friendship.
This is still recognisably a Rednecks’ record - there is Matty Bolger and Mervin Craig’s very particular guitar sound and style, multiple time signatures, and slow build ups which transform, sometimes suddenly, sometimes gradually, into dramatic new twists and turns.
However the groove and the beat is starting to take a precedence within their music, as evidenced by the thunderous rumble of ‘Black Apple’ and the Neu! like motorik and drones of ‘Little Nose’, ‘Rubber Up’, and ‘Weird Waters’.
The key track is ‘Click’, which begins with a typical Redneck trademark of Matty and Mervin’s busy guitar licks. Halfway through though comes a faux-Japanese style riff and the track transforms into a ‘techno music played by guitarists’ groove that is impossible to sit still to.
The influences of other genres are also making their presence felt, hence we get the very un-Rednecks like Afro-beat of ‘Tomb Of The Dudes’ and the Elvis Costello-esque ‘Hex’.
It is a credit to the band that they can incorporate these new influences while mostly retaining their signature sound. Friendship is both familiar and very new, but when it comes to post-rock, nobody does it better than the Rednecks.
Frightened Rabbit - The Winter Of Mixed Drinks (Fat Cat Records )
“THE NEW Frightened Rabbit album is excellent,” the acclaimed Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin told me during my recent interview with him, and he’s absolutely right.
Haling from the historic town of Selkirk, Frightened Rabbit’s music is indie, but an indie strongly informed by and indebted to Scottish folk-rock, particularly in its warmth and spirit (eg, the pounding, anthemic ‘Living In Colour’ ).
This is the quintet’s third album and despite vocalist Scott Hutchinson pledging it would be less personal than the last two, it still finds them dealing with “all of the s**t that came out in the wash”.
That line is from ‘Not Miserable’, as the title implies, this is no album of self-pity. This is Hutchinson looking at himself honestly and critically, and coming out the other end, bloody, but unbowed and unbroken.
From the marvellous opener ‘Things’, Mixed Drink’s has a nervous energy that builds and builds into a cathartic release and a peaceful resolution, while each song is a cathartic build up and release in it’s own right.
It is also an album of great poignancy and hope, as evidenced by the beautiful ‘Swim Until You Can’t See The Land’, with its chiming guitar and defiant chorus, and the aching, delicate, closer ‘Yes, I Would’, featuring a touching vocal performance from Scott.