Friday, March 26, 2010

The Redneck Manifesto - 'Friendship' - album review

The Redneck Manifesto
(Richter Collective)

IT IS RARE that a new release from a staunchly independent Irish band will cause a frisson of excitement, but The Redneck Manifesto are no ordinary band.
Starved of an album from the collective of Irish musicians for the past six years, fans of the Manifesto could well be forgiven for thinking the best live band in the country had put up shop and returned to their day jobs.
Not so.
Mervyn Craig, Matthew Bolger, Niall Byrne, Richard Egan and Neil O'Connor return with their first album since 2004’s I Am Brazil and first release since the 2006 EP Seven Stabs - and boy, is it a cracker.
Formed in the late 90s, these guys have been at the forefront of the Irish indie scene for well over ten years, but because of their relative inactivity in recent years, may have slipped from public consciousness.
As a result, returning after recent excellent instrumental releases on the Irish scene - Super Extra Bonus Party, Halfset and And So I Watch You From Afar to take just three that this album evokes - it could be forgotten just how innovative Redneck Manifesto were, and still are. Memorable gigs in these parts from the debut album Thirty Six Strings era of 2001 still has a legion of dedicated fans for the Manifesto in Limerick, and tells just how much of an impact their music made when everyone else was listening to guitar slinging singer-songwriters.
All five members of the instrumental band have been busy in the intervening period between releases on their own solo projects, from Egan’s Choice winning persona Jape to Neil O’Connor’s excellent Somadrome alter-ego, and it seems the quintet have each taken something from their own projects and added it to the mix here.
Recorded in Dave Odlum’s Black Box Studios in France last year, this is an effervescent and varied album that leans in different directions, and sees the Manifesto crucially capturing some of their live energy on record, coupled with the band pushing themselves in “new and creative ways”, to quote themselves.
Modern instruments, like the andromeda synth, have been processed through old vintage effects boxes to create a modern-sounding electro element to their at times post-rock wigouts - to startling effect on album opener Black Apple, which is a breath-taking, subversive, teeth-chattering opener.
The miltary-style, krautrock influenced drumming of Drum Drum features screeching guitars, but is immediately followed by the shimmering electro-soundscapes of Little Nose, which is underpinned by Egan’s bass and fizzing electro beats.
The almost Vampire Weekend-esque Tomb Of The Dudes couples jaunty guitar lines with Afrobeat drumming, and is like one half of the playful, gentle album finisher Cloud Beard.
While the lads like to deploy their guitars and drums to deep effect at times throughout the album - like the two minute blast of Hex - it is when they allow the electro-sounds to come through, that this album reaches its heights.
The warped synths, dancey rhythms, and joyous, chiming guitars of Rubber Up, make that song an album highlight for us.
As they say themselves, “it still sounds like TRM, but we’ve never sounded as good on record before”.
We wholeheartedly agree.

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