News – Artwork for The Ladder

Here is a sneak preview of the artwork for the next Optional Wallace single, The Ladder.

Release details will be made available very soon….

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Live Review – Manchester Star & Garter 5th November 2011 (‘Generation’ Single Release)

Review by Cath Aubergine for Louder than War

OPTIONAL WALLACE / MOUNT FABRIC / THE SLOW READERS CLUB
5th November 2011
Star & Garter Manchester

'Generation'

‘Generation’

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?

Optional Wallace / Mount Fabric / Slow Readers Club – live review

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‘Generation’ Single Reviews

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, Continue reading

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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:

<iframe width=”100%” height=”166″ scrolling=”no” frameborder=”no” src=”http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F24448650&show_artwork=true”></iframe>

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 www.optionalwallace.com – 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

http://www.optionalwallace.com/

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” –www.manchestermusic.co.uk

“storming” High Voltage – www.highvoltage.org.uk/article.php?type=3&id=1322

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.

squealingbeaglerecords.bandcamp.com/album/optional-wallace

www.optionalwallace.com

info@optionalwallace.com

Twitter-Facebook-Myspace-Soundcloud.com/optionalwallace

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.

http://www.sicmagazine.net/articles/991/optional-wallace-release-first-single-from-debut-album

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.

http://www.silentradio.co.uk/10/28/news-optional-wallace-new-single-free-download/

:: 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.

http://www.music-dash.co.uk/releases/release.asp?item=7092

 

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.

http://goingdeafforaliving.com/blog

Here’s a review of ths 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.

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?

http://louderthanwar.com/featured/optional-wallace-mount-fabric-slow-readers-club-live-review

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

www.manchestermusic.co.uk

“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.

http://www.sicmagazine.net/articles/839/first-glances-optional-wallace

“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

http://www.highvoltage.org.uk/article.php?type=3&id=1322

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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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