The new UK post-punk band Manilow may have a confusing name, connoting crooner Barry Manilow, but there is nothing confusing about their sound. With their debut EP Cease and Desist, Manilow aims to take the best parts from 70s and 80s punk and post post-punk to remind audiences of the full force behind the punk movement. The album takes punk fans back to the raucous days of The Sex Pistols and the Clash where punk was nothing but power and anger. Their musical skill can also hold some more complex influence, however, with lashings of 80s post-punk and feedback-driven noisecore a’la Sonic Youth. Cease and Desist is a tour through the best parts of punk history, and Manilow aims to show that those days are far from over.
The members of Manilow represent the classic punk trio, with Dean Moston on vocals and guitar, Paul Chamberlain on bass and Gary Cardno on drums and percussion. Moston’s vocals have the raspy timbre of The Clash’s Joe Strummer, but his delivery is more reminiscent of Johnny Rotten from the Sex Pistols. He fires his lyrics straight from the diaphragm with a fury which probably tests the skills of any sound technician, but Moston still has a melodic cadence to his vocals, which makes him capable of diversity and modernity. “We don’t aim for ‘a sound’, we’re more honest and ragged than that. Our songs are about real life, there’s no redemption stories, no cute resolutions. We just write and play the stuff we are going through,” said Moston in a recent interview.
True to Dean Moston’s word, listeners will find no soft punk here, as the subject matter of Manilow’s songs is also classic punk. Newer pop punk bands speak about love, parents, and shopping but Moston’s lyrics are about psychosis and dissolution and are very anti-establishment. His guitars, along with Chamberlain’s bass and Cardno’s drums, are strong and have the unmistakable sound of 70s punk in Cease and Desist’s opening track, Missing. This is meant to be recognized, as the song is meant to mimic Johnny Rotten in both style and sentiment.
The EP’s second track, Law Here drives the band into 80s college rock and post punk, but still with heavy lashings of classic punk. Bauhaus might be an apt comparison to make with this track. Control Issue lands smack-dab in the middle of 80s American mosh punk, reminiscent of Henry Rollins’ Black Flag or The Descendents with a bit of thrash thrown in for good measure. The album is rounded out with a sophisticated, feedback driven post-punk tune, Vitamins. If Johnny Rotten or Rancid’s Tim Armstrong did a guest spot with Sonic Youth, Vitamins might be what they come up with.
The closing track to Cease and Desist really shows not only the diversity of Manilow, but of the different factions of punk over its 40-year history. It is both a chronological lexicon of all that is great in the genre and a showcase of Manilow’s core understanding of punk rock. With Cease and Desist, they have been able to translate the raw power of early punk, the melodies of college radio, the anger of mosh punk and the sonic complexity of noisecore into a modern and energetic expression of their own continued dedication to the genre. Cease and Desist was released on October 10 and can be streamed and purchased on their Bandcamp page, listed below in “Sources,” or on itunes, Spotify and Amazon.
Review by Layla Klamt
Interview and Bio, Manilow provided by Independent Music Promotions