When a new band bravely announces that they’re “a rock band unlike any you will ever have heard” your first thoughts might well be that they’re setting themselves up for a fall. If I was given a pocket full of loose change every time I heard that phrase then, while I may not quite be a millionaire, I’d certainly not be short of beer money. These days you have to be pretty damn unique to make such a claim and actually get away with it. Yet with the entire album being “recorded completely live, without a click track [and] without without any Protool gimmickry” maybe, just maybe The Manic Shine might have a case to answer.
‘Tin Crown Kings’, assuredly provides evidence that The Manic Shine are not all talk. Opening with a synthetic sounding riff you think that you have TMS pinned down. Though before you get too comfortable in comes an ‘Incubus’ style verse followed by a Tool-esq bridge before a catchy and anthemic chorus blows your preconceptions out of the water. ‘(S)WORDS’ again trades off a progressive alt/rock rhythm section while the lead guitar work meanders and whistles like a Clanger over the top doing a more than passable impression of a modern day keyed synthesiser.
There’s a definite Deftones vibe about ‘Avarice’ – think tracks like ‘Minerva’ and ‘Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away)’. There’s also a more than a hint of Jeff Wayne’s ‘War of the Worlds’ mostly thanks to the rich and creamy sounding synth-guitar lead. ‘Scattershot’ is a more straightforward sounding progressive alt/rocker crafted from the same material as Tool have utilized for most of their career. Nevertheless it’s an alluring prospect and provides the ears with an orgasm of soundscapes.
‘Use Your Horizon’ is arguably the most ‘standard’ song on the album though in this context that still means it’s a pretty quirky tune. If you can imagine what a songwriting session between System of a Down and Clutch would produce then surely this is it. ‘Leatherface’ makes excellent use of a cowbell while ‘Libra’ is what I suppose passes as a ballad in this company. If only in the sense that it’s the most chilled-out song on the record.
‘Weightless’ continues in much the same vein as the rest of the album but adds a hint of Linkin Park into the mix. ‘Fiendish Means’ concludes matters and introduces a subtle hint of Crazy Town’s ‘Butterfly’ during the verse but I doubt very much that was deliberate. It is a testament to the incredible skill and musicianship of the band that it’s difficult to believe that it’s essentially a live recording. Such is the quality of the production on ‘Let Go Or Be Dragged’ that you’d be forgiven for thinking that it has been multitracked over many different studio sessions.
The electronica/rock cross over (let’s call it ElectRock) has been happening for many years now and it is arguably as popular now as it has ever been. Whether or not this genre will prove to be the much heralded saviour of Rock’n’Roll only time will tell but it is certainly providing some of the most original and groundbreaking acts of our time. At TBFM we have been raving about a number of new bands in this diverse category, namely Vamps and Electric Cake Salad and The Manic Shine will surely be added to the fray.
Yet while the music on ‘Let Go Or Be Dragged’ easily sits within this new and exciting movement it would equally be at home alongside progressive alt/rockers such as System of a Down’s ‘Toxicity’, Tool’s ‘Lateralus’ or any other number of genre crossing experimental masterpieces. It’s refreshing to hear bands that challenge your perceptions and as such The Manic Shine has left me with a manic smile.
Let Go Or Be Dragged
01 Tin Crown Kings
05 Use Your Horizon
09 Fiendish Means
The Manic Shine are:
Ozzie Rodgers – Lead Vocals & Guitars
Orren Karp – Backing Vocals & Guitars
Hutch Hutchinson – Backing Vocals & Bass
Tamir Karp – Drums