Album Reviews ‘Optional Wallace’

Here are some reviews of the debut album, ‘Optional Wallace’.

“Now I’ve lost track of whether good old fashioned edgy post-punk indie rock is fashionable or not right now, and less still do I care, and clearly neither do Optional Wallace who attack the genre with some gusto on this their debut album. It’s been some time coming – the band first emerged around 2006 with early support from Lamacq, XFM and indeed ourselves – catching them for the first time early in 2007 we noted impassioned vocals, deep rumbling bass and references to the Manic Street Preachers, Chameleons and Editors. All of which are still present and correct here Continue reading

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Wallace Review of 2011

Quite a year for the Optionals!

The debut album ‘Optional Wallace’ was officially released in March.  We had been sending a few promos and did a few mail order before that, but Spring was the official release.  Reviews were all positive, which was great, and it was noticeable that people knew the songs at the shows!  It’s still available to buy from here and will be delivered to your door…  Plus, if you order during January 2012, you will get a personalised, signed CD copy with four page booklet!!

Here are some of the reviews of the album:

Optional Wallace Album Reviews

Shortly after the release came the big event in the Manchester musical calendar for this year, Friends of Mine Festival.  Neil gave an interview on BBC Radio Manchester (link no longer online), and the excitement he had for the weekend was justified as it turned out to be a more-than-welcome addition to the festval season.

We were handily placed in the Capesthorne Arms Stage, with real ales and a roof perfect for the typically-British festival weather.  The gig was good, the crowd was better and a great time was had by all.  We camped by the pirate flags, and duly drank the rum and sang the sea shanties!

For the rest of the weekend, we dashed around watching all the great acts by day, and had our annual campfire acoustic gig / singalong by night.  And ate ostrich burgers.  Hats of to George Borowski, Jo Rose, Dutch Uncles, Longcut, Mount Fabric, Buzzcocks, Monroe Hips, Beat The Radar, Yuck, Patterns, Liam Frost and of course Sam Gardner and the FOM team.  The Charlatans closed the weekend in great fashion, roll on next year!

Here are some reviews of Optional Wallace at Friends of Mine 2011:

Northern Noise

Manchester Music

The Optionals played at Blue Cat and Bakers Vaults over the summer, as well as a few acoustic things (below is Neil playing ‘You Will Get What You Deserve’: Neil Acoustic), but focused on the release of the ‘Generation’ single in late Autumn.  Things picked up a pace when Steve Lamacq started playing his promo almost instantly on 6music, and for a good two months regularly until the release date of November 7th.  Steve labelled it a ‘Single of the Month’ and stated that it ‘Sounds Brilliant. Listen to it.’  Thanks Steve!  Here’s his full verdict.

Steve Lamacq’s BLOG


The single was released as a free download from here, with exclusive B-side (Can’t Explain (Acoustic)), and the number of downloads (and album sales off the back of it) was greatly appreciated.  Lots of nice things were said about the single.  Here are some:

Generation Reviews

LISTEN TO ‘GENERATION’ on Soundcloud Here:

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A special show at the magical Star and Garter helped celebrate the single release, which was very special.  Big thanks to The Slow Readers Club and Mount Fabric, for their wonderful sets, plus all of you lot for getting down nice and early and making a great night of it.  And to the staff at the Star for having us.  Below is a review.  And below that is a video from the show.

Generation Launch – Gig Review, by Louder Than War

More winter follwed with a special nod to the Optionals in this wonderful poem by Phil Martin, which details the history of Manchester music in the past 30 years.  Have a look!

‘Manchester Rocks’ by Phil Martin

Finally, 2011 ended with the album ‘Optional Wallace’ being included in this Canadian website’s top 25 albums of the year, alongside the likes of Wild Beasts and British Sea Power!  “A searing effect that British indie rock hasn’t had in years or, depending on whom you ask, decades.”

From A High Horse Top 25 Albums of 2011

Happy New Year!

Wallace HQ is already very busy with plans for 2012 so keep up-to-date via – plus you can stay in tough on Twitter / Soundcloud / Facebook Page as well!

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A big catch up on the world of Wallace – 2011

A big catch up on the world of Wallace.

It’s been a while; but here are some of the highlights from the happier happenings in the world of Wallace of late – consisting mostly of rosy reviews of the band’s latest luscious and original offerings. Word.


‘Generation’ Single – Released 7th November 2011

Optional Wallace – ‘Generation’

FREE, two-track download only single by Manchester’s Optional Wallace. Includes exclusive ‘B-Side’ recorded live for BBC Manchester.

AVAILABLE TO DOWNLOAD FOR FREE from Monday, 7th November 2011, from the link above.

1. Generation

2. Can’t Explain (Acoustic BBC Session)

“this track displays every grain of their genius” –

“storming” High Voltage –

Steve Lamaqc has also been playing ‘Generation’ on his 6music show.

‘Generation’ and the original, full-band recording of ‘Can’t Explain’ are both taken from the debut album ‘Optional Wallace’, released on Squealing Beagle Records, March 2011.

released 07 November 2011

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 BBCsession. Stripped of electronic bluster, the track’s core slow-build nevertheless makes itself heard, adding tenderness in place of oppresive 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

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 from 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

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.



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 ths show we put together to mark the single release:


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.

Optional Wallace

No gimmicks, no hype, no posturing – just three decent bands playing in a pub. What more do you want from a Saturday night?

Reviews of debut album ‘Optional Wallace’

“Now I’ve lost track of whether good old fashioned edgy post-punk indie rock is fashionable or not right now, and less still do I care, and clearly neither do Optional Wallace who attack the genre with some gusto on this their debut album. It’s been some time coming – the band first emerged around 2006 with early support from Lamacq, XFM and indeed ourselves – catching them for the first time early in 2007 we noted impassioned vocals, deep rumbling bass and references to the Manic Street Preachers, Chameleons and Editors. All of which are still present and correct here – to the point where it’s been pretty frustrating seeing bands like White Lies, a clearly well-connected bunch who were still doing sub-Franz Ferdinand art-pop under a previous name back in 06-07, selling out colossal venues with a by-numbers take on such things and without a fraction of this Mancunian trio’s brains or indeed balls. They set their stall out early with “What Goes Around”‘s choppy riffs and edgy commentary, followed by live favourite (well mine, anyway) “Generation”. This being a musically rousing but lyrically disaffected lament for a generation who have nothing to say, which writing this the morning after watching the Manics doing a Greatest Hits set could quite easily have escaped from it. Not a bad thing at all, that, and Airtight’s Tom Knott has done a fine job on piling in the power given that he’s got just a tiny fraction of the Manics’ budget to play with. The rest of it carries on in much the same vein with “Can’t Explain” doing the soaring thing and “Courting Paranoia” the angry thing very well – no surprises, then, but if you want a quality collection of powerful, gloom-laced yet uplifting indie rock like you thought they didn’t make any more, then rest assured they do.”

:: Optional Wallace :: 31 January 2011 / Squealing Beagle Records / 8 Trk CD By Cath Aubergine

“As a band name Optional Wallace is somewhat enigmatic, evoking at least a sense of democracy and, perhaps misleadingly, of claymation too. Whoever they are, whatever their agenda, Optional Wallace are at least giving the people something current to think about, having taken their cues from best parts of the past.Their core of intricate guitar, driving bass and pounding drums eats up spiky post-punk structures in “What Goes Around”, and equally lets fly punchy, Manic Street Preachers-like vitriol in the slick cut “The Ladder”. Crunching bass-work sets “You Will Get What You Deserve ” apart as an imposing new-wave monolith, and depth and range is added to the band’s self-titled debut thanks to the anthemic slow-build of “Can’t Explain” on which Manchester’s iconic grey makes itself all too known.” Rob Gannon, ‘First Glances’ – (sic) Magazine.

“Not the crazily-monikered brother of writer Danny or retired-footballer Rod, Optional Wallace are in fact a three-piece hailing from Manchester, releasing their self-titled debut.

Offering the kind of rock songs with a message that the Manics are noted for, Optional Wallace stick two fingers up at the current laissez-faire culture of modern society. “Our generation has nothing to say” they bemoan on the storming ‘Generation’.

The album is peppered with lyrics that’ll make you think – even some of the titles, such as ‘You Will Get What You Deserve’, tell you this isn’t your run-of-the-mill indie debut. Usually the lyrics are about breaking out of your hometown or your misspent youth; here it’s all more weighty and significant, yet without ever sounding self-righteous.

The spiky guitars and pounding drums of ‘The Ladder’ are a highlight, and the punky ‘Code of Silence’ is a belting album closer. Even the token slow song, ‘Can’t Explain’, is an absolute winner. This is an incredibly polished for a debut effort from a band on a DIY label. Some kick-ass harmonies, as showcased on ‘Courting Paranoia’, coupled with distinctive vocals – think Interpol – make this a very intriguing record indeed.

If there is just one complaint, it’s that it’s too darn short. Eight tracks doesn’t feel like enough, and Optional Wallace will leave you craving more.The album is peppered with lyrics that’ll make you think – even some of the titles, such as ‘You Will Get What You Deserve’, tell you this isn’t your run-of-the-mill indie debut. Usually the lyrics are about breaking out of your hometown or your misspent youth; here it’s all more weighty and significant, yet without ever sounding self-righteous.” Album Review by Michael Pilcher for High Voltage

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Neil’s 2010

We have maintained a fairly low-key start to the decade.  Short of a few shows such as January’s Friends of Manchester event (see previous blog) and the Biko Records launch night, we have been hidden away.  The reason is that we have spent many a Friday night / Saturday night / Easter Holidays / Summer Holidays / any-other-time-we-can-collectively-get-together locked away in the studio to complete our album.  The results of which I shall let others discuss.  The process behind its creation involves many a cold, dark, overnight session in SSR with our producer Vicky admirably entering the abyss of sleeplessness and dragging us through the other side…

Time was on our side, so we took it.  Anything that could be improved was improved.  The layering of the tracks was quite complex in its execution but the dynamic mirrors what we sound like as a band; no need to add loads of extra sounds or trickery that lose what essentially makes us sound like us.  For a brief moment, the sleeplessness of an overnight session caused me to hallucinate into thinking I was a member of Westlife.  Or so I thought.  It later transpired that we did indeed add a four-part harmony of angelic detail to Courting Paranoia…  The album was mixed by Tom at Airtight and, as I mentioned earlier, I’ll leave it for others to comment on its results.

So what else have we been up to?  We played a low-key show for Lucy’s 30th, a private party which opened up into a public jam and frolics well into the night.  The Biko Records launch was a great night, with the wonderful Charlie Barnes and Dutch Uncles making a stellar line-up.  This year’s trip to Wales was for the Ymuno festival (Square was cancelled) with BUSK favourites Kev Fox and Becca & The Broken Biscuits playing great sets, both on stage and round our campfire.  I somehow managed to blag it with the organisers to watch the World Cup from the kitchens as well, shame Veron didn’t play…  the by-now-obligatory camp-fire acoustic jam lasted until daylight, various videos and photos are about.  Someone asking me to play some Super Furry Animals being one of the highlights of my entire life (I wish I was joking).  Dan’s been busking round Europe; I even saw him busking on Oldham Street in August 10 minutes before we were due to go onstage ourselves for a gig!  That was an acoustic gig at Moho.  It went well, I shall try to get some videos up soon…

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Autumn / Winter 2009 – Neil’s recollection

We were invited to play the FC United end of season party / treasure hunt, which also coincided with the Looking For Eric release.  Playing an early evening post-punk set in a jazz club, with a sea of moody, black-jacketed characters wearing Eric Cantona masks staring back at me was an unusual one, but an enjoyable gig all the same.

Revue, an excellent new night at Centro, asked us to play their debut gig, and we played an acoustic set. Revue is a free night which always hosts some of the best acts around, in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Worth checking out.

Watch a recording of ‘What Goes Around’ and an interview of Dan and Neil using this link (just skip the video back to Episode 1):

The Academy show with The Fall in July was our biggest of the year. The preperation was good, the set went well, and the crowd were much more receptive than we had anticipated. For more about the set, and Vicky’s photo diary, please see our earlier post and photo album.  This was followed by a much needed wind-down in the Star and Garter…

Dan and Neil continued the summer gigging hi-jacking various open mic nights, at flat parties, and Dan even playing to a Northern Quarter tramp at 5am…

After the shenanigans of 2008, Dan, Neil and Lucy headed back to Mid-Wales for The Square Festival. Matt was away this year, so we were not playing, but went to have a bit of a holiday instead. Flu of the Swine had already claimed one of our party before setting off, but that just meant more room for beer in the car.  Problem was, the car wouldn’t leave the Asda car park. Lucy ordered me to buy some in-car hair straightners (this is actually true) to buy time, so that the engine could cool for Dan to unscrew some bolt or other.

Car fixed, hair strightened, beer opened, we set off. We saw the Bison Ranch, lots of sheep at 70′ gradients, and were definitely at loggerheads at one point. Then Cardigan Bay rolled into view. The weather and the scenery, like last year, were amazing.  The policy of ‘4 cans only to be taken into the campsite’ was equally amazing, but not in a good way. A daft game of going in and out of the campsite began, until even the stewards got bored and we got all the booze in. Tents up, ’twas time for Supergrass. Good set. I’d forgotten how many good songs they have, and forgotten about ‘Mary’ completely.

Sunday saw lots of lying out in the Sun, drinking Cider, playing the guitars, and watching some kids claiming they’d just taken shitloads of Ketamin, whilst running round like 5-year olds on a sugar/lemonade rush. Er, they hadn’t.

Sunday’s washout meant that only one man could brighten the day. Step forward Mr Gideon Conn. In no time the atmosphere changed from wet, cold, miserable to holiday time again, thanks to Conn, Josephine Oniyama and band. Hats off, Sirs. The Joy Formmidable were also excellent.

We dried off in the pub for an hour or three (cheeky phone charge as well), although the Sunday night kareoke by the locals was less then impressive.

Next stop – gig in a takeaway: Challenged by new friends to play a song in the street, Neil and Dan were ushered into a takeaway. Right in, in fact. Through the door, behind the counter, through the back and into the garden around a huge campfire!  Here’s a photo.

And another:

We took the party back to the campsite (‘We’re by the tent that looks like a cow’, ‘eh?!?’), drank a lot (of various concoctions) and Dan+Neil played some Acoustic Wallace, long-forgotten classics and a nice version of Helicopter with help from the ‘Bloc Party Choir’.

After an absinthe breakfast, and sharing the wealth of apples and their healing powers with our new friends, we said our goodbyes (until Square 2010) and made the now-customary trip to the beach – Lucy went for a swim as Neil played and sang Mansun’s first album from start to finish.  A quick stop off for a Bison Burger and we were home for a shower and some sleep.

September saw us debut a new song at The Roadhouse, which seemed to go down well.  A bit of tweeking in the rehearsal room followed, but it became a staple in the set, and will be on the next recording. So that’s two un-named songs now…

Revue invited us back to play their InTheCity showcase, as a full band this time.  Once again, a good gig ensued, with another great line-up of acts. Even more pleasing was the artists’ food rider and chocolate brownies. Yes please.

We put our own InTheCity showcase on the next day. The line-up was THE WITCHES, OPTIONAL WALLACE, BEAT THE RADAR, AIR CAV, NOMAD JONES and NO GOOD TOURIST (FRANK). Every act was fantastic. The best bit about InTheCity BUSK is that we get to pick our favourite acts to play. But luckily people agree with our taste, by virtue of it being more and more sucessful each year. Cath Aubergine (Manchester and a gig going legend) knows a thing or two about watching live music, and described it as “absolutely necessary”. Very Humbling.  Read the full review at the link here:

I will add some photos from the day soon (phone trouble at the min). Already looking forward to next year…

In November, Swampy asked Optional Wallace to play at his birthday do, in a (fittingly, some might / should say) brewery. Dan and Neil had played an acoustic set here in the summer, but brought Matt (and no fewer than THREE PA systems) along to do a full set. The largely Man Utd crowd lapped it up, so much so that Dan kept playing and playing until well into the next morning… Three Rivers – we salute you.

Friday the 13th and we were invited to play main support to Beat The Radar, at the launch party for their (excellent) album, ‘To The City, From The Sea’.  Another great night, BTR were on top form, as were their fans. Deaf Institute is a great venue – great stage, great sound, and an amazing backstage flat for the artists, complete with sleeping quarters, kitchen, kettle, fridge and washing machine. A beer and a brew and it was time to play! Neil was invited by Mr Garton to DJ at the post-gig Indie Disco, with Felthead and Lisa. DJ Sunshine was not present, sadly…

The next decade is to be brought in with BUSK on New Year’s Eve, which is to contain loads of great live acts, and entry is free all night long, so we hope to see you there!  Then it is into 2010, and the recording studio…

Fanzine ‘United We Stand’ has put us top of their Top 5 Bands To Watch Out For in 2010, and we hope to reward their faith in us.

We shall, as ever, keep you posted on all things Optional, Wallaces and Wallacettes….  xxx


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Summer 2009 – Glasgow

Current mood:evil

Glasgow 16/05/09 – King Tuts – with Hip Parade and Danny Shah

“…people mistake her for a wee boy, but she iz’nee…”

Piled into Lucy’s van at 10 am, all a bit hung-over from a night of drinking and making CDs to give away when we got there. Jo and Dan had had a production line going that became less and less productive as the night wore on. Kirby had promptly fallen asleep with her bottle of beer still in hand. Matt hadn’t been quite as lucky spilling his whilst still awake. Dan and Matt continued to drink and play/re-string guitars until around 5.30. Shattered. Good start.

Neil complained of missing the United – Arsenal game pretty much from the moment of us setting off. We were all thinking the same though – “to the pub” to watch the last twenty minutes if there’s time. No such luck. We’d bought 3 crates of Stella and 3 bottles of wine to keep us company for the journey there. Stopped off at some services past Carlisle to sing a song for the champions in the toilets. No one minded. Job done. Checked in at the guest house. Neil made an immediate impression on the lady who runs the show after Dan had promised we’d be on our best behaviour. No chance of this as Dan would soon find out later.

Sound check was uneventful, other than Danny Shah’s guitar packing in (and Matt realising we didn’t have the right number of cymbal stands, standard). Dan lent Mr Shah his acoustic that we’d brought on the off chance there’d be the usual “gig in the taxi”, “gig in the park” etc. Ed loves it, and if it’s good enough for Dusseldorf it’ll do for Glasgow.

9.15pm Wallace took to the stage and gave it their all to a rapidly filling up sell out crowd. The gig was a pleasure to play and the Glasgow crowd were very receptive. A hundred CDs, given out by “the Lucy B’s”, Jo, and Kirby, disappeared without a trace moments after we finished. Danny Shah ripped up the stage (literally) with a blistering set including a great cover of “hey yah” by outkast, followed by an atomic set by Hip Parade who had everyone’s attention. Especially since Rob stage dived into the crowd during the last song. Kind of hard to ignore when someone throws themselves off a stage straight at you. Very Random, wouldn’t you say Neil?

Drank as much of the rider as we could (all of ours and some of theirs he-he) and headed to Glasgow’s answer to 5th Avenue. A night of Manchester classics it seemed with Courteeners, Joy Div, Stone Roses, Oasis, Mondays, all featuring. Somehow it felt better than usual though and Neil had had so much fun he had to leave early. Dan had had one too many and wandered Glasgow in search of Glasgow’s best kebab house. He didn’t find it. Standard. Lost his coat plus whatever might have been in the pockets.

Dan wakes up, fortunately in the hotel room, to what looked startlingly similar to dried blood all over the bed sheets. Some comic genius had attempted to make coffee on Dan whilst he was asleep. Two sugars please. Not pleased. Dan shouts a lot. Throws the bath plug and other assorted items that had been found in his pants at Neil. But Neil was first in, wasn’t he? No one’s saying nothing. There also appeared to be open cans everywhere according to Simon, with only a sip taken from each. Rubbish. We smoked heavily and shuddered at the prospect of another gig at Dry Bar that evening. Not well. Breakfast in Yates’s. A brief chat and a lent cig to two locals who left us with an insightful quote which was reiterated by all of us at various points throughout the day. See above.

Acoustic covers gig on the way home as Neil sorted his hangover out by drinking more. Others joined in as the Journey went on. Somehow ended up in Perth? I think we had been too busy singing along and not really bothering to look at road signs that probably said “the North”.  Gigged most of the way home. Then gigged at Dry. Battle of the Bands. Played for fun as we’d had no time to organise any kind of a crowd for ourselves. Wished the other bands good look and attempted to play us out of the competition. The crowd had other ideas. We came out with one of the highest votes and sailed through to the next round at Academy. Simon said “It’s the British way, “we’d don’t want to do this anymore”, so everyone votes for you”. Not that were ungrateful, just surprised. It’s all good. Another completed Wallace away.

Wallace x

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2010 Live Reviews

Freinds of Manchester Festival 2010 – Reviews
The performance that local regulars Optional Wallace turn is a beefy one this evening. Supporting their politicised rock with aggressive guitar, militaristic drumming and loose, low bass, they let the music do the talking, each member showcasing their individual talents in turn. The noise they emit fills every inch of the vaulted space with concentrated riffs, shifting rhythms and crashing choruses leaving more than one crowd member mumbling “Placebo” and “early-Manics” in quick succession. “Nobody listens, nobody cares” they emote in exasperation. Those present are not inclined to agree.

Optional Wallace finally go on about half an hour after they were meant to (which compared to last year’s festival is almost early), nailing their colours to the mast literally in the form of a green and gold (United fans against the Glazers) shirt dangling from a cymbal stand – as actually wearing it visibly may have resulted in hypothermia. I know it’s January, but there are these things called radiators… Singer/guitarist Danny Foster has probably kept his heavy coat on for purely practical reasons but it kind of fits with their classic Mancunia (post-Chameleons spec). It’s urgent post-punk indie laced with darkness and claustrophobia, all frenzied drums and thunderous bass – and whilst the fashion for such things may have come and gone again it’s a sound that will never die in this city, it’s in the blood, and they do it a lot better than some more feted practitioners of such (no, no names, this is MM not NME).

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2009 Live Reviews
Optional Wallace –
Academy, Manchester. 18/07/2009
The usual step up from headlining your own small intimate gigs will see you generally filling the support slots for bigger names. The main change will be that you now know the audience are not there to see you and have in all honesty, probably never heard of you. Even though this is a daunting task to take on, any band serious enough about their craft will have to jump from playing to family and friends and take their music out to the critical masses.
With all of this taken into account and you find yourself opening for The Fall at a hometown show, this can only add to the pressure. Fans of Mark E Smith and his ever changing ensemble can be hard to please at the best of times and tonight will be no different.
At half past eight the venue is now over half full when the Manchester trio Optional Wallace take to the stage. On first appearance they may not give the impression of three blokes who would be in a band together. Danny Foster (vocals/guitar) is dressed very casually, Neil Meehan (Bass/backing vocals) is a tall imposing figure clad all in black with his face half hidden behind his fringe and Matt Anderson (drums) looking rather dapper in a shirt and tie with a tight fitting waistcoat.
As soon as they launch into their first song Code of Silence, all preconceptions are put aside. The fast paced guitars and Matt’s tribal drumming hit you like speeding train and continue to do so throughout the set. By the end of the next offering “Generation”, the crowd are starting to take more notice and seem to be warming to the hard, but melancholic sound they are hearing.
What Goes Around is fast and choppy and would not have been out of place on the infamous Factory Records label. Danny’s vocals are strong and clear and have a slight feel of Placebo front man Brian Molko. Neil’s bass playing style is frantic from start to finish as he thrashes away whilst occasionally stamping on his effect pedals.
During The Ladder and Movie Star they continue to impress and by the time they reach their last song the crowd have been well and truly won over. So as support slots go, this was a resounding success and Optional Wallace’s fan base will surely have grown from this short but sweet performance.
From The Fly Magazine – March 2009
Manchester – Band – OPTIONAL WALLACE It’s one of the weakest band names we’ve come across in a while but Optional Wallace prove that having a catchy name is only half the battle. For such a semi-innocent looking trio, these fellas can’t half strum a racket. Each track is an aural onslaught of hefty, soaring melodies, churning guitars and the melancholic delivery of Interpol. Next gig Dry Bar (2nd).

Review from Second City magazine – issue 3, Mar/Apr 2009:
Friends of Manchester Festival – Jabez Clegg – 21st Jan 2009
“I nip upstairs for 15 minutes at half-time to catch Optional Wallace on the Main Stage. An unfortunate slot to have been delayed for a band with a fewfellow reds in, but nevertheless they crack on with their dark post-punk indie-rock. My first viewing of the band in full, and having a copy of last year’s EP, it’s safe to say that they back up the quality shown on there in their live performance. The songs are as big as expected, with The Ladder sounding especially rambunctious. I said it when i reviewed their two-track, but fans of everything from Interpol to The Fall should embrace this.”
Daniel Alston
Surface Unsigned Festival + Review
This manc 3 piece play with a punch and prove to be one of the tightest band of the night. They are obviously well rehearsed with structured songs that at last ooze with catchy hooks that you might whistle on your way home. Without wanting to sound biased being an honourary mancunian myself but there is a reason this city produces great bands and these guys are flying the flag. Hooks, hooks, hooks. With joy division moments of dark depression in verses to uplifting sweeping vocal melodies in the choruses this band have a formula they should stick with. Breath of fresh air!
Joe Wilson (

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2008 Live Reviews

Live review of Optional Wallace at InTheCity 2008 from The Fly magazine:

“Next up three-piece Optional Wallace, winners in the crap band name stakes but equally good for blasting us away with their retro 90s Mansun/Placebo onslaught of dark noise. “I’m so fucking hung over” the singer tells us, we agree…”
Lisa Durrant – The Fly

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2007 Live Reviews

Manchetsr Academy 3 – Sun 2nd Dec 2007
Sunday night, anyway, sees four of the regular fixtures of the year all on one rather excellent bill courtesy of Stuart “S.A. Promotions” Avery. “You reviewing tonight?” shouts Liam “Tides” Pennington at me on the stairs. The short answer? No. The long answer – not officially; I don’t think I can. This’ll be my sixth live encounter of 2007 with Juno Ashes and The Vanguard and my fourth with The Tides and Optional Wallace; I’ve written about them all a couple of times on ManchesterMusic, and I know pretty much all of them to some extent. I have paid my five pounds and I am having a night off…
It’s the biggest Manchester gig and biggest stage yet for The Vanguard, their first time through massive speakers; Optional Wallace have a couple of big support slots already under their belts but it’s the first time I’ve seen them somewhere with a proper PA; and both sound absolutely fantastic. Both deal in the type of powerful, emotionally charged, brickwork-rattling North West post-punk-indie-rock which needs power and volume and depth to be properly appreciated. The Vanguard are on first, but there’s an impressive number of people made the effort to get down for half seven and it’s fair to say those who’ve come for the other bands are pretty impressed. And with good reason; these are songs of bitter beauty which stay well clear of lyrical cliches whilst the guitars entwine and spiral over deep stormcloud bass and drums, stirring something deep in the heart of this old Chameleons fan and a few others too. It’s a shame they lose five minutes to an emergency guitar re-stringing, but to their credit that nobody seems to fuck off to the bar.
There are Chameleons echoes in Optional Wallace too; the three-piece are rooted in the faster, earlier end of the great band’s legacy, tight as anything tonight, but like The Vanguard there’s a present-day feel to their songs that puts them above those whose only interest is to resurrect sounds past.
by Cath Aubergine (

Optional Wallace @ Starkie’s Bar
Rob Allen for Manchester Online – 30/10/2007 – Starkie’s Bar, Gigg Lane, Bury
Saturday 27 October
It’s a stadium show, but not as we know it. In a far corner of the ground at Bury’s Football Club’s Gigg Lane stadium there is a new gig opportunity for Manchester’s bands, to entertain the pre-match hordes attending FC United’s home games.
Prior to a the visit by a team from Osset it was the turn of the oddly monikered Optional Wallace.
One of the most active bands on the unsigned scene, setting up their own live nights in various pubs, their early career has been met with politeness rather than the enthusiasm they may have expected but after the best part of a year under cover, writing, rehearsing and recording they have returned as a new band.
The response to this show is best measured by the fact that the announcement that a clutch of CDs were waiting on a nearby windowsill for collection was met by people suddenly dashing from their seats to grab a copy. So assured was their performance that a shaky PA system sounded like it was custom built for the job.
The lead track on their recent demo, Moving Targets, has found itself snaking into the consciousness of local radio DJs and journalists and it was no less powerful on this occasion. Vocally capable and definitely able to wield their fuzzed up guitars without any more coaching there are shades of Placebo’s complex darkness spliced with the savvy, bass-led melodies of New Order.
It was either this potent mix or the heavy tater hash on offer from the bar that kept a pre-match football crowd glued to the spot and transfixed for every second they were on stage. For the sake of commending a great gig during daylight hours we’ll save our compliments for the chef and heap praise on Optional Wallace.
:: George Borowski :: Optional Wallace :: The Witches ::
21 October 2007 / The Garratt / Manchester
By Cath Aubergine
Fellow BUSK regulars OPTIONAL WALLACE are on next (the alternating stage set-up leaving little chance to catch your breath) – this is terse, powerful and ever-so-slightly doom-laden indie rock, administered with that tautness you only get in a three-piece. the Manchesters past in their sound are those of Magazine, early Chameleons, imposing waether formations over crumbling brickwork – but there’s a soaring indie-rock sensibility too in their urgent songs. And, of course, they’ve got an utterly fantastic name.

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