Friday, 4 June 2021

Replicant / The Melancholy Rose : Single Released 04June2021

And here is the new single: 

Replicant / The Melancholy Rose. ...As the label put it:

Driven by acoustic guitar and exuding a joyous hip-swaying bouncing beat. Replicant playfully asks questions about the very nature of human existence. Offering a foretaste of the themes of the upcoming full length album. Here too, The Speed Of Sound draw heavily from their Science-Fiction influences. While Replicant seems to inhabit the same universe as Blade Runner it also carries another message from the corporate world. Where modern job interviews appear to have evolved into some kind of reverse Voight-Kampff Test; instead of designed to detect replicants, the purpose is to determine if the applicant has unfortunately retained any human characteristics, or will - as hoped - mechanically follow scripts and instructions. Do Androids dance to analogue music? We don’t know, but point your arm and shout along with the chorus.

Shimmering summer pop for shaded people; languid open and drifting, a gothically tinged piece of romanticism lies atop a sparkling guitar riff and a tale of the first rose of the year to bloom. Ahead of its time and alone, but merely the trailblazer showing the way and heralding the coming change. A celebration of the sudden bursting open of summer itself and an invitation to tune out from the background white-noise of civilisation and relax. To exist in the moment and enjoy the things around us. The Speed Of Sound are known for their power, yet this displays their soaring delicate side. Guest vocals are provided by one of pair a blackbirds that nested (and successfully fledged four chicks) among the dense honeysuckle and ivy of John A’s back garden during lockdown.

Recorded at Vibratone Sound Studio in Manchester.

Sleeve Art by LocalHotelParking.

Saturday, 29 May 2021

Preview Review of the next single

It isn't out until 4th June, but we already have a review of the next single... giant thanks to Christopher Nosnibor and Aural Aggravation for covering it with so much enthusiasm and for really getting the concept of a proper single (which is one of the many things we like about Big Stir records too).

"Well here’s a wakeup: The Speed Of Sound are into their fourth decade, yet are so underground they’ve bypassed me all this time. I feel a certain sense of both guilt and shame for this. Obviously, no reviewer can know everything about every band going, but sometimes, a band will slip under the radar and leave you kicking yourself. The Speed Of Sound is one such band.

The fact they’re releasing a double A-side says something about their vintage. 7” singles may still be a thing, but they’re a niche, collector thing rather than the thing you’d experience as a youth. I was in my early teens – perhaps younger – when I’d go into town and visit WHS or Boots or perhaps Woolworths and pick up a 7” single for 99p, and the B-side would often be as integral a part of the experience as the A-side, while a AA sometimes meant the second A-side – the one less likely to be played on the radio – was the better one. Hearing it would be a revelation after you slipped it over the spindle and onto the turntable. It was a magical experience that words struggle to convey.

The two tracks on this release are thematically-linked in that they’re all about the band’s love for sci-fi soaked in reverb and with some hints of dappled sunlight mellowness.

The inspiration behind ‘Replicant’ probably requires little explanation as it draws the comparisons to the world of Bladerunner and the contemporary corporate world. Hearing Ann-Marie Crowley enunciate ‘Replicant’ calls to mind Johnny Rotten emphasis on ‘Pretty vacant’, but more than anything, the uptempo acoustic guitar that leads the track has a distinctly 90s indie flavour to it, and it jangles along nicely.

‘Melancholy Rose’ is a spacey indie-psychedelic folk effort with the jangle of the early 90s and some mellow shoegaze meanderings, sort of like The Fall covering The Charlatans. There are hints of sleepy, summery funk to the track, too.

Together, it makes for a nice single that does very much evoke the experience of yesteryear’s 7” purchase."

Big Stir Records – 4th June 2021

You can find the piece here:

Christopher Nosnibor

Aural Aggravation

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

New Double-A-Single

Our third set with the lovely bunch of dudesses & dudes at Big Stir Records in Burbank CA is now out and this single link will take you to streaming at Apple Music, Bandcamp, iTunes and Spotify. Here.

The new pair of songs is Radio Safe and No Kicks and we have again collaborated with photographer Natalie Paddick (see our fabulous bunny t-shirt), using a crop-and-cut her fabulous 'Red Rope' picture (available as a print from Saatchi online) within the sleeve artwork. Here's the landscape view:

Exciting is an understatement. The feeling of releasing new music in these impossible circumstances is pretty big. A definite sense of achievement and joy at being able to share it. 

More to follow including video...

Sunday, 11 October 2020

Karin B on Aldora Britain Records compilation

We can now reveal that Karin B from our Everything Changes album features on the new compilation from Aldora Britain Records. Snappily titled Everybody's Out There Doing Nothin'New (It Doesn't Matter To Me) and you can get the entire compilation from the Bandcamp shop for £1.60 here

And why wouldn't you at that price. 
Exciting to be involved. Click the link above for full track listing and of course you can stream it on Bandcamp too.

Friday, 2 October 2020

Wow! ...that is quite a review

Yes. Needed a cup of tea and a sit down after reading this - Mick Middles writing in the printed Fall Edition of Rock at Night which has the theme of 'Revolution'... Here we go:

"Of all the angles, colours, shades, clouts clangs and dances that have given life to Manchester music since the advent of punk, none have felt or tasted quite the same as The Speed Of Sound. With a history over 30 years deep and a smattering of musicians adding up to - and beyond - 18, Speed Of Sound have remained a vibrant scream from the Manchester shadows.

It HAS to be a scream, too, at times literally so, for this perennial Manchester outsider band. Now deep into middle age, the lovely intelligent and softly spoken people who take refuge within this band explode into life when their feet hit the stage.

I recall a gig three years ago at Manchester's funky-if-not-downbeat Thirsty Scholar. Sitting chatting within the wicker-lined interior, we chatted as they unpacked their gear, carefully lying their guitars to rest before studiously replying to my measured questions.

As the set began, they instantly transformed into some kind of weird raging torrent. John Armstrong slashing an arm viciously across his guitar while Ann-Marie Crowley vocals howled as an untamed banshee. I swear that a gaggle of attendees, seasoned punks to man and woman took two steps back in disbelief. In that modest arena, it became one of the most spectacular gigs I had witnessed for decades.

Around that time, I received a copy of their sumptuous double album, Everything Changes. It proved to be  a gorgeous product, this, especially in vinyl format, where the main affair was accompanied by an additional 10 song CD.Essentially therefore, that rare beast, the 'double album' and a most intriguing one at that. Fear not, this is no Frampton Comes Alive where the entire career hinges on a gimmick-laden, video friendly head bug of a song. Although bugs do abound and kind of twist your brain with repeated plays, offering visions of, I guess, Whalley Range or thereabouts.

The beautiful cover features four photographic tints of what looks like a Manchester park and a stunning marble statue on the reverse. There is more: A lyric-heavy inner-sleeve neatly overlays undoctored images of the band who also appear cartoon-esque on a separate sheet and - more, more again - a neat A4 glossy poster insert. I do apologise if this initial talk of packaging might seem rather crass,  as I mean no disrespect. What is important here is that the parade of artwork and extraordinary care built into it reflects the equal care embedded in the music.

What I particularly adored about this album is the unlikely relationship between the languid New York style vocals of songwriter John. Armstrong and the infectious evocative bass of Kevin Roache. It is a marriage that governs the album recalling - for me at least - a rather bizarre cocktail of Television / The Only Ones, Henry Crow and, when Ann-Marie Crowley's vocals kick in, touches of 'Meet On The Ledge' circa Fairport. The comparisons might seem lazy, but this is precisely where the album sits...oh, perhaps with elements of off-kilter John Marty. Maybe...maybe, definitely.

In 2018, there followed a further extraordinary slap of vinyl. A single this time, in support of Manchester Women's Aid. A double-A-side of two songs "I'm Real" and " I Don't Want Your Attentions", both ferociously exploding with feministic intent... and both written by John Armstrong. While the song titles may seem self explanatory, the jagged edges of the lyric certainly snagged on unexpected territory. "I won't put up with this anymore you've pushed me near the edge, every time I see you I want to get away, I just wish you were dead."

John Armstrong is an enigma; Perhaps Manchester's greatest, squealing form under the floorboards. Interviewing him is, itself, a curiously beguiling task.

I ask him about his writing... he replies: "There's a literary approach in my writing, partly because of writing about actual things rather than generic stuff. There are enough people writing predictable pop songs already. We need more songs about a ship full of toxic waste or a mannequin tied to a pub roof or the ring road in Rio de Janeiro. I am trying to find something that interests me. Something that won't be boring in ten years". As carefully posed question...are Speed Of Sound comfortable with being tagged 'outsiders'? "Very much Outsiders." He replies. "We are not interested in the music business, labels fashions and trends and didn't start making music to end up of the cover of Smash Hits or being a major label signing. All this people who have played with The Speed Of Sound over the decades make music because this is what they do. The industry is about 'product'. The sound, the textures is irrelevant to record companies. Whereas we are simply doing it for the music which is the other way around to the mainstream. Doing it our way gives us a level of artistic control that is impossible in the major label world. I am happy with that."

A new album edges towards completion. Themes will edge towards sci-fi in a typically off-kilter manner. Shots will emerge before the album release, in Spring 2021, in the form of planned singles. But of course, this being 2020, nothing is ever going to be nailed onto anything. This is the uncertain world in which we live.

Bu Speed Of Sound remain elegantly adrift, from anything and everything."

Mick Middles

Friday, 4 September 2020

Remembering The Chords

Hot off the press is the fabulous new book on the highly influential and cult status mod-punk band The Chords, and it is already collectible having sold out its first print run. Aside from it being a great read combining information (of the interesting kind) with flavoursome inside anecdotes; it is herd written and is by far the best of its kind in that format, giving a real sense of what it was to be there. Ray Butler did an excellent job in compiling and whipping into shape the diverse contributions on a band that is ultimately one of the reasons that The Speed Of Sound exist... so, extra delighted to say we're in it too, occupying pages 247-248. 

There will be a reprint so if you fancy seeing it in your own hand get in touch with Ray via the link here.

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

The Importance of Sharp Footwear in Wonderland

Long term Speed Of Sound artistic collaborator Natalie Paddick has a new website which has a feature on the work we've done together over the years & yes; the stunning T-shirt is back in stock on our 'shop' page and via Bandcamp again. 
I'm quite sure there are many lasting relationships that begin with footwear and fortunately all is explained within, but suffice to say shoes are essential. 
The Wonderland Clockwork Orange crossover images worked superbly in the Checkered Land video:
and the building 'renovation' scenes fitted Shut All The Clubs equally, gig posters and assorted website elements followed. Enter sinister Bunny stage left.

You can find the piece here and we're happy to say despite viral interventions there is more mixed media collaboration on the way... 
Cut off their tails with a carving knife... (or some sharp scissors) ...Snip snip snip...