Reviews / Previews
Preview by (sic) Magazine
Former [sic] First Glances stars Optional Wallace are set to release the first single “Generation” from their assured self-titled debut. Standout cut from the album, the track finds the politicised three-piece in chest-beating form, coming on, ironically, like a mouthpiece for the generation they state “has nothing to say”.
“Generation” comes backed by an acoustic version of “Can’t Explain”, which has been taken from the band’s recent BBC session. Stripped of electronic bluster, the track’s core slow-build nevertheless makes itself heard, adding tenderness in place of oppressive instrumentation.
“Generation” will be released 7th November 2011 on Squealing Beagle, and will, along with the acoustic version of “Can’t Explain”, be available for a short time for free download at the band’s homepage.
Preview on Silent Radio.co.uk
Optional Wallace, the brooding post-punk trio from Manchester, are releasing ‘Generation’ as a free download on November the 7th.
Recent supports with The Fall and Chapel Club are a good starting point for the band’s sound, with the live favourite and Steve Lamacq-championed ‘Generation’ available fromhttp://www.optionalwallace.com/. The release comes with an acoustic recording of ‘Can’t Explain’, recorded for BBC Manchester. To support the release, the band are hosting a free gig at Manchester ‘s Star + Garter on Bonfire night (5th Nov) with Mount Fabric and The Slow Readers Club.
:: Optional Wallace ::
30 September 2011 / Promo / Squealing Beagle Records / 2 Trk Free Download
By Jon Ashley (Manchester Music.co.uk)
Optional Wallace have maybe the least rock and roll name in Manchester. Conversely they are one of the hardest working and genuine rock and roll bands too, setting up their own events and nights in a spirited and effective display of punk DIY. “Generation” is a bright, anthemic rock song, straddling the promised land that falls somewhere between James and The Manics. Whilst I suspect that Optional Wallace prefer to keep just out of the limelight, this track displays every grain of their genius as it rises into an accessible, rousing call to arms. The accompanying live (in-session) acoustic track fails to live up to the co-star billing and seems misplaced, but it matters not, the previous musical bonfire having created enough of a spectacle.
THE WINTER OF DISCONTENT
4 November 2011 by Steve Lamacq
We don’t get in to watch ZULU WINTER. Instead I stand like a sap outside the door of an apparently rammed Camp Basement, until one of the security men starts getting fussy about his pavement and moves us on.
Across the road in the pub, where Arsenal are delicately wandering to a draw on at least three TV screens, we speculate on whether this will guarantee ZW inclusion in this year’s BBC Sound Of…Poll.
Has this upped the ante? Or are they, even now, blowing it big style in front of the east end guestlist massive? I hope not.
The more I listen to this Zulu Winter single the more I like it. Both sides. There is a gentleness of touch at work here, beneath the swooning vocals. ‘Let’s Go Back To Front’ is really sly; it’s sleek and effortless, but has a real drive to it, while ‘Never Leave’ is coyly ‘80s, almost Japan-like musically, with a ghostly David Sylvian-style presence.
Not even the realisation that they have form (they were once The Molotovs, who had a feisty mini-LP released by Fierce Panda) can dull the anticipation of what’s to come.
And that’s rare these days, as I’m sure the Pollsters will be thinking (actually they’re probably not, they’re too busy agonising over where the consensus of cool currently resides). There were more than 150 tipsters contributing to last year’s Sound Of… survey and the larger it gets the lower its common denominator becomes.
The operation is now so big that the voting forms were sent out a fortnight ago – amid mutterings from some quarters of the industry that it is becoming a curse (as a reminder the Top 5 from last year were: Jessie J, James Blake, The Vaccines, Jamie Woon and Claire McGuire).
Given the current state of play, I imagine this year’s list will be full of pop again (surrounded by a couple of female singers, a tortuous blog sensation and a cursory guitar band….and where’s the fun it that?).
Given half a chance I’d force anyone taking part this year to listen to the new OPTIONALWALLACE single before they go about buggering up music for another three months.
‘Generation’ is the song that says out loud, what a lot of people are thinking about pop these days. It doesn’t care. It stands on a table and berates its audience. It is almost embarrassingly trad-rock (or at least post Britpop) and thus – in these days of keyboard frippery – sounds brilliant.
It is old school but angry; cheaply poetic and agitated.
Listen to it.
And when they get to the lines “no revolution, no cause to fight, so just give up and let this slide/so plagiarise ‘cos after all, all that’s said has been said before,” turn on Radio 1 and shout out loud at it: THIS IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH!
I thank you.
Here’s a review of the show we put together to mark the single release:
OPTIONAL WALLACE / MOUNT FABRIC / SLOW READERS CLUB
5th November 2011
Star & Garter Manchester
Indie rock in 2011: if ever there were a genre of music with a bad, bad reputation – and let’s face it, not undeservedly so. “Indie rock” for the most part has precisely fuck all to do with indie in its original sense and it doesn’t generally rock particularly either. Seen too many bands that sound like Shed Seven’s understudies at an Oasis cover night? So have we. But then we’ve seen far too many generic electro-chillwave type bands too (oh look, another fake faded polaroid record sleeve, great) and generic garage rock’n’roll bands (spare us the American accent, we heard you at the bar and we know you’re from Widnes) – every genre has its landfill, it doesn’t mean there aren’t good bands if you know where to look. Optional Wallace are one such band, but we’ll get onto them in a minute because they’re also damn fine fellows full of punk DIY spirit – and thus for this their single launch they’ve got a couple of great local bands to warm up for them.
THE SLOW READERS CLUB have been around for a couple of years in this guise, although most of them were formerly in great mid-00s Manchester band Omerta. Their modus operandi is the seamless blending of Puressence-ish atmospherics with the alternative-pop feel of early Killers, and their secret weapon is a clutch of bloody good songs. “One More Minute” survives from Omerta days, danceable and upbeat but with a seam of melancholy running through Aaron Starkie’s slightly world-weary vocals; “Block Out The Sun” is spine-tingling even without the keyboard sweeps of the recorded version (they didn’t think there’d be space for the keyboard tonight), whilst “Follow Me Down” is stunning, Aaron’s voice leaping an octave effortlessly. When his guitarist brother Kurt’s darker and more melodramatic voice gets involved as well they’re even better. Tight as anything, too. By the end of their short set they’ve drawn everyone in the pub into the tiny front room that’s serving as a live venue this evening. They release their debut album themselves on 5th December, and you can have a listen to all 12 tracks now on their website.
MOUNT FABRIC have a sound so expansive the little space can hardly contain it, and it’s not an easy one to pin down, which in itself is a good thing although it means reviewers can’t just describe them in terms of other bands and have to write things like “leftfield progressive prog-indie-pop” instead. OK, so that was actually me, a few months ago, but I’m standing by it. Throughout 2011 this band have been getting better with every gig; now five strong the addition of a dedicated keyboard player the dynamics are the key to their brilliance. Complex arrangements mean they’re the sort of band you can’t really get by half listening, but make the effort and you’ll be richly rewarded. Singer Alex is incredible – there’s a certain mystique to his rather understated stage presence, half hidden under his trademark wide-brimmed hat, but what a voice. Their last song in particular is excellent, all the instruments spiralling up into a big post-rock-ish crescendo.
OPTIONAL WALLACE come with the Steve Lamacq seal of approval and it’s not hard to see why – they’ve got a fire and passion about them that’s lacking from all those landfill bands as well as a way with a rousing, punch-the-air chorus that harks back to the golden age of post-punk indie rock, simmering with frustration. On “Generation”, the single they’re launching here tonight, the target of their frustration is indeed those self-same bands who don’t appear to believe in anything much, the “generation with nothing to say”. For musical references think equal parts post-Chameleons thunder and Manic Street Preachers’ angry wall of sound. And it’s not even the biggest song in their set – that honour goes to “Can’t Explain”, whose almighty rhythm section could shake the walls of any arena you care to mention. They’re wilfully unpretentious without ever being dull, and their belief in the simple power of their songs is backed up by genuine quality.
No gimmicks, no hype, no posturing – just three decent bands playing in a pub. What more do you want from a Saturday night?