manic street preachers
Mainly because I’ve just been watching Donnie Darko, and it’s featured in the brilliant opening sequence. The video above however, is a almost/sort-of-cover of the song from the Manic Street Preachers’ gig in Liverpool last October (the best gig this writer has ever been to). Pretty special.
Welsh firebrands (and this writer’s fourth favourite band ever) the Manic Street Preachers have announced the forthcoming release of "National Treasures - The Complete Singles", their second ever “best of” compilation. The very aptly-named album will be released in October and charts the band’s 38 single releases over the last 21 years, from "Motown Junk" to "Postcards From A Young Man". The compilation will also feature a brand new, as-yet-untitled song.
The band also revealed at a recent gig for the iTunes Festival, that they will be taking a year long break from touring. Nicky Wire couldn’t resist a pop at the Royal Family, saying:
"We were gonna take a year off from touring altogether next year but we are gonna do one gig just to avoid the Diamond Jubilee. I mean, how fucking saturated have we been with the Royal Family this year? So there’ll be one gig, just to avoid having to listen to Prince Philip for an hour."
WATCH /// MANIC STREET PREACHERS - THIS IS THE DAY
Time to get weepy and nostalgic. Manic Street Preachers are releasing their ‘best of’ boxset National Treasures - The Complete Singles on October 31st, which encompasses everything from “Motown Junk” to “Postcards From A Young Man”. To go with the new release, the Welsh legends have recorded a cover of The The’s "This Is The Day", which is available to download from iTunes now. It’s the sort of glossy pop that the band have always loved and been a dab hand at. The video takes us down Memory Lane, through the Manics’ career. They are national treasures, no matter what anyone says.
Name a band from the last 25 years with intelligence, wit, fire in the bellies, hearts on their sleeves, pop nous, arrogance, glamour and with something still to say after ten albums? If you said the Manic Street Preachers, then you’re correctmundo. Yes, they may be a long way from their hedonistic, South Wales glam-metal, spray-painted sloganned blouse-wearing days of yore; yes, they may be in their forties with kids, families and responsibilities now, but that doesn’t stop them from being on of the most important and vital British bands around today. Whilst we drown in a sea of musical ennui brought on by James Blake, his pallid white-boy R&B/dupstep and a mass of pouty teenagers in American Apparel hoodies behind synthesisers, a band that means and says something is necessary (even if its a band old enough to remember the Seventies). That band is the Manic Street Preachers.
Even though they are musical Marmite for some, the Manics are everything you could ever want in a band: the aforementioned intelligence matched with a pop nous, the ability to switch between brutal, at times harrowing post-punk to radio-friendly chart topping anthems within the space of one album, the ability to look fucking cool and insane at the same time (see the Generation Terrorists era). For every slightly cliched Gallagher interview, there’s four ridiculous Nicky Wire ones, full of hilariously OTT quotes and contradictions every which way.
The balls to include the line "I laughed when Lennon got shot" (left out in later live performances) in your very first single and to cram later tracks with references to Willem De Kooning, Kevin Carter, Marlon Brando, Kate Moss and god-knows how many other diverse cultural figures without being tongue-in-cheek or painfully post-modern is the sign of a truly great band. Who else would include a track about the fall of Labour on an album that was supposedly “one last shot at mass communication”? Who else would have a live stage set made out glitterball figures and feather boas? Who else could go on Top Of The Pops in its prime wearing an IRA-esque balaclava singing a song like “Faster”? The band’s 25 year history makes them one of the most important rock groups of recent times (albeit, strangely uninfluential; they’ve never been the fashionable name to drop a la Jesus & Mary Chain, Joy Division, The Smiths, Sonic Youth).
Even after a career spanning three decades, the Blackwood trio are still as angry as ever, whilst no one else really seems to be speaking out over the shite of modern life. Jon McClure? He wishes. The Enemy? Only if you’re brain-dead. The fact that it falls to a group of 40 year olds on their eleventh album to be the standard bearers and representatives of the disenfranchised would be a sad situation if it were any band other than the Manic Street Preachers. A band with more passion, power and talent in their collective little finger than most modern bands have in their entire careers.
With the imminent release of their second singles compilation National Treasures preceding a break of “at least two years”, the band are sure to find a new audience or generation of fans using the compilation as a jump-off into the wider world of being a Manics fan. After the break? Well, there are no firm plans but Wire has mentioned “the third great phase of Manic Street Preachers” recently as well as plans for 70 Songs Of Hatred And Failure (one more than The Magnetic Fields’ 69 Love Songs), the band’s eleventh album of “pure indulgence. There’s only so much melody stored in your body that you can physically get onto one record. [Postcards From A Young Man] was just so utterly commercial and melodic.” Never has a title been more apt than National Treasures.
Everyone knows the standard Christmas classics trotted out every year; yer Slade, yer Wizzard, yer Shakin’ Stevens, but with the wonder of the internet, there’s a whole host of more contemporary festive ditties available from even the most unlikely of groups.
The Mancunian electro duo gave us this suitably bombast ballad last year. It’s not one for those who revel in in the cheerful glitz of the big day, but the slightly more miserable and mournful aspects, and just want it all out of the way. The free download is a downbeat but uplifting anthem, and should get more than a few plays over the next few weeks.
For all their pomp and extravagance, The Darkness certainly knew how to write a good rock tune. “Don’t Let The Bells End” is arguably their finest song, and contains all the tropes you’d expect; overblown solos, massive riffs, ridiculous vocals, sleigh bells,and the standard children’s choir. Just try not singing along to that chorus.
Most versions of the Band Aid fundraiser end up being dull, maudlin retreads of the original that almost sort of make you not want to donate anything. But when Canadian hardcore legends Fucked Up covered the track in 2009, they brought in a star-studded studio of help. Included on the track are Yo La Tengo, Wu-Tang’s GZA, Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend, Tegan & Sara, Andrew WK, Bob Mould, Kevin Drew (Broken Social Scene), Kyp Malone (TV On The Radio) and star of Arrested Development David Cross. It beats Coldplay and Dido.
The Las Vegas quartet have a tradition of bringing out a charity single every Christmas time, whether on hiatus or not. The best so far has been “Don’t Shoot Me Santa”, a quite bonkers plea to the big man in the red suit. It does have to be heard to be believed, and the video is suitably weird too.
Slighty obscure one here. “Christmastime Is Here” is taken from the Peanuts Christmas soundtrack A Charlie Brown Christmas, as well as soundtracking scenes in Arrested Development. It’s a laidback jazzy instrumental, perfect for relaxing indoors next to the fire, whilst the heavens open outside.
The standout song from one of the best Christmas films ever (and the only good musical, in this writer’s opinion), “What’s This?” is an all too brief sleigh ride through just how weird Christmas seems when you take a step back. I guess in context it’s helped by being viewed by a living skeleton. It’s so good that it can even survive a Fall Out Boy cover.
The Futureheads do frantic post-punk racket better than pretty much everyone, and they can even make it work with a Christmas single. “…Better In The 80s” manages to work in all the trademarks of the Mackem band; hooks a plent, chugging guitars and stellar vocal work. Sadly I can’t comment if the title is in fact true, but The Futureheads make it seem true.
Whereas The ‘Heads trumpet Christmas in the 80s, the Manics firmly believe that the 70s were the best for festivities. “Ghost Of Christmas” sees the Blackwood trio at their glam-rock finest, with unabashed saxophones and tubular bells, and namechecks for Scalectrix, Tomahawks and the Queen’s speech. If there were any justice in the world, this would have been a Christmas Number One.
The Sheffield duo give their twee folk a Yuletide spin, and it turns out to be even more lovely than usual, the key lyric being “And I’d like it if you made it to mind my Christmas Eve/So you can hold me/And we’ll watch Christmas TV”. Now who hasn’t felt like that? Their version of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” is also quite stellar.
Does what it says on the tin realy. It’s James Brown. Doing a Christmas song. It’s very funky. What more could you want from life?
Artist: Manic Street PreachersSong: Last ChristmasPlays: 411
Watch: Manic Street Preachers - Walk Me To The Bridge
Well this is a pretty decent way to start the week. Coming barely a year after Rewind The Film, the Manics are releasing their twelfth studio album Futurology on May 7th, with the first single taken from the record being “Walk Me To The Bridge”. The video above is in the vein of Run, Lola, Run and was directed by longtime collaborator and recent BAFTA winner Kieran Evans, whilst the track itself returns to a big glam-pop sound after the stripped-back acoustics of Rewind.
Listen: Manic Street Preachers - “Europa Geh Durch Mich (featuring Nina Hoss)”: After the lush acoustics of last year’s Rewind The Film, Blackwood’s finest are back in angry pop mode with the upcoming Futurology. This latest single from the Manics is best described as motorik glam-pop; bowel-rumbling bass, marching drums, vintage Wire rhetoric for lyrics… this could very well be the national anthem for a boa-&-glitter-wearing socialist city state. German actress Nina Hoss (who’ll also be appearing Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man with the late Philip Seymour Hoffman later this year) provides an excellent vocal cameo, and a reason to brush up on your GCSE German skills. These multiple, overt references to Europe and its culture also give the track a very political feeling; it’s not hard to imagine this being influenced by the rise of UKIP and anti-EU politics in the UK right now. If there’s any band you’d want to stand against Nigel Farage, it’s the Manics.