Manhattan Coast

This One's For You EP

Written by: TL on 17/02/2014 10:38:55

Ever since a certain band whose singer shall not be named blazed a trail for Welsh bands in the dawn of the 00's, an increasing number of young contenders have attempted to follow suit with their own variations of the original attitude-filled, modern, Welsh power-rock. Funeral For A Friend have given things an emo and subsequently a hardcore tinge, while The Blackout have dependantly delivered party rock and lately Straight Lines have made some impact with straight forward, energetic songwriting and characteristic vocals.

Manhattan Coast from Bridgend is the latest band to follow in this line, which leads them past my reviewing desk on their way onwards, and judging from their second EP "This One's For You" which drops today, they've taken accumulating queues from each of the bands I've alluded to so far, although of course not exclusively, as a band like The First from further away in the UK also seems like a worthy point of comparison. The order of the day is up-beat, driving rock tunes with the guitars and bass providing a consistently powerful setting around some high, sharp vocals that are highly reminiscent of those of Straight Lines' Thomas Jenkins.

Despite probably garnering some benign attention for their Temple Of Doom-inspired artwork however, Manhattan Coast are still some noticeable steps behind the levels each of the referenced influences were at when they posted their defining debut albums (and to be fair, this is of course 'just' an EP). There's good energy, an occasional ear-popping turn of phrase and sort of a fuzzy edge to the production job that makes "This One's For You" sound less squeaky clean and poppy than what other hopeful young bands are releasing, but after ten plus listens, you start to recognise some drawbacks that hold the songs back.

Mainly I'm talking about firing on all cylindres without enough variation. The chord progressions and strum patterns of the guitars are nicely dynamic, but for much of the EP the band is bombarding you with both those and the vocals on top of each other instead of interveawing them, which is a shame because the vocals lose in this tussle and they otherwise sound like they have even more energy and character to flash if only the production catered to them a bit more. The opening verse of the title track is a good example of a bit where the band strikes a nice balance, but as soon as the song takes off for the chorus we're back at the same issue.

The closing "Carpe Diem" is another good example, bringing a catchy vocal melody and a nice riff together in the chorus, but each sounds good enough that they could've done with a bar without the other for added dynamics when they did merge, yet instead of spending the time to get the most of them, the song spends precious time towards the end on a solo that feels a bit glued on at a point when the song could already have ended. It's little things like that which betray the band's hints of power and catchiness, so while I have a feeling that some slightly more elegant arrangement choices could have Manhattan Coast sounding like the expert songwriters in a band like America's There For Tomorrow for instance, the tendency to go full power for the mainstay of "This One's For You" holds them in a more ordinary place alongsinde but not above your average group of UK hell raisers.


Download: War On The Weekend, This One's For You, Carpe Diem
For The Fans Of: The Blackout, The First, Straight Lines

Release Date 17.02.2014

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