Existing since 1997, when formed from the ashes of past pursuits, Leeds born and now Huddersfield based, Instant Species have consistently strived to write catchy, gripping alt-pop about life, love, lady boys and whatever feels relevant to them - all with one simple mission…that it strikes a chord with others….and it would seem that it has! The band has been distributed on over 18 releases, including 7 self financed albums.
The question posed by many of these listeners is “Why haven’t I heard of you guys before?” Over the past few years Instant Species have grafted hard on the road, blowing away crowds with an edgy and energetic live show. The bands’ sound is one that literally explodes and finally delivers on all the promise of previous forays.
Where next? Wherever would seem to be the answer because when you’re having as much fun as these boys then stopping just isn’t in the equation.
Rick El Cantante - Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Lead Vocal & Guitar
Bob Diablo - Backing Vocals, keyboards, Lead Guitar, glockenspiel
Stu "The Map" - Backing Vocals, keyboards, Bass Guitar
Nick Batterista - Drums, Backing Vocals, Percussion
Album : Instant Species Miraculous Curative Compound : 2008
EP : Taxman Funny Man EP : 2006
Single : Love Hooks / Hombrecide : 2006
Album : Robert The Bruce's Spider : 2006
Single : Night In The City / Scott Free : 2005
Album : Plan "E" + : 2005
Album : Plan "E" : 2004
EP : She Gives Me Nothing EP : 2003
Album : Meat Pie Argument : 2002
EP : The Take Away EP : 2001
Album : 3 Star : 2000
Single : Home Alone : 2000
Album : Uppers & Downers : 1998
Album : Just Add Water : 1997
You Might Like To Reconsider It
You Should Know What To Do
Exception To The Rule [Trombone Mix]
Call Of The Wild
An Apology For Joanne
Taxman Funny Man
This Is Where The Trouble Begins (Spaghetti Bob Mix)
Miraculous Curative Compound
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The packaging alone is worth a tenner. The fourteen blistering tracks should be in every English hom...The packaging alone is worth a tenner. The fourteen blistering tracks should be in every English home. And the name INSTANT SPECIES should be spoken, often and far, wherever astringent pop songs are admired.
The tin itself (yes, a real tin, just like the picture) takes a few minutes to open for the first time. Be patient. Don't prise it with sharp or brutal instruments. Once yielded, the contents are revealed to include a paper insert of most helpful dosage directions. These are helpfully calibrated by age group. The troublesome 14 to 18s are advised to dissolve in cider and to mask any lingering unpleasantness with mints.
The music itself carries the essence of post-punk song-smithery, boiled and distilled to its most corrosive concentration. No song is much over two minutes: most are below. The sound explodes from track one and stops neither for breath nor apology. It gleams like a weapon. 10 years, 7 albums and a long working relationship with co-producer Carl Rosamund have accumulated levels of cunning and confidence that bury all dead ideas, banish all fillers and leave no cracks for papering. Every bar is needed and every note is used. Just sit back and hear them glint like blood-flecked sharks' teeth.
The subject matter is interpersonal, with a grudge or two. And here, the happily conjugal smilealots should back anxiously away. Rick Garnett, principal lyricist, could be taken for a serial misogynist if his general misanthropy weren't spread so evenly. But he does have issues, as the songs make very clear.
"Step Into the Mantrap" opens this side of Garnett's agenda at track one: "She's right, you're wrong, you're weak, she's strong" is a pretty fierce shrug of the lyrical shoulders, by no means resigned to the truth of the situation. In "Set Your Sights A Little Higher" the barbs are out to catch the proxy ambitiousness of parents colleagues, friends and neighbours. A "local girl" gets a walk-on part as the epitome of someone with less imagination than she needs. Someone similar might be in the frame in "Small Town Beauty Queen". INSTANT SPECIES sing: "You're the prettiest girl in the village so you move into the town". She fails to cope and "you move back to the village and you put on 20 pounds". Sharp enough to cut themselves.
The conniving boss is another target, with sleazoid blackmail threatened in "You Might Like To Reconsider It". Garnett invents some compromising bedroom photographs: "It's amazing where you can hide your camera" he leers at his victim, who is being persuaded, it seems, to improve the quality of his decision making, disgruntled employee-wise.
"Beware Of Sarah" and "You Should Know What To Do" are two more of those suspect females, with designs and/or design flaws. "A Manager, A Lawyer And A Label" turns the interrogation light onto the failing eyes of the music industry, their "big plans for you" and their menacing "you will see our point f view" being 20-20 unwelcome. "This Is Where The Trouble Begins" could be another band-related song, pointing the finger of fate at those awkward moments when "girlfriends start moving in" and "friends start acting their age"
"Exception To The Rule" is a gentler song with a reflected regret. Along with "An Apology For Joanne" it ames clear that Garnett's pointed disappointment is even-handedly available as self-analysis.
"Two Faced" has a lovely guitar/organ intro. Musically it's my favourite by a mile. It would make a gem of a single
The final three songs stand apart, surrounded and linked with birdsong, as if they constituted their own bonsai concept album, "Into The Wild", "Call Of The Wild" and "Surfin' Dave"(with its heavyweight surf guitar noise and its unexplained reference to some local music legend) still carry the brief for brevity, but their hearts are freer and lighter.
Miraculous Curative Compound
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‘Step Into The Mantrap’ kicks us off, breathless and noisy, and ‘Set Your Sights A Little Higher’ co...‘Step Into The Mantrap’ kicks us off, breathless and noisy, and ‘Set Your Sights A Little Higher’ continues the mood apace. As the rest of this album speeds by, I think of one act and one act only – Kingmaker. Roundly derided, Loz Hardy’s gang were often accused of being middle-class student types. I got hold of their last album, ‘In The Best Possible Taste’, and I’d like to say that Miraculous Curative Compound could occupy a similar place in my heart as Kingmaker’s offering. And that would be true. Both albums had a couple of good songs on them – ‘Exception To The Rule’ and the mildly Pulpish ‘Beware Of Sarah’ here. And, like ITBPT, MCC is, well, hard work. And, very much like Kingmaker, I have no wish to hear of Instant Species again. Yet, this is their seventh album! The other six had passed me by too. But, as often happens, I prefer not to end on a negative note, so... If you like brief, guitar-based clever-pop rackets that sound a lot like Kingmaker and a little bit like Pulp, and, apparently, somewhat like Supergrass and Teenage Fanclub, then you’ll love this! Buy it!
Robert The Bruces Spider
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First, a little story... It was at The Junction in York 2003 when I felt truly rock and roll for ...First, a little story...
It was at The Junction in York 2003 when I felt truly rock and roll for the first time. The sadly missed Liquid Blue wowed me with a selection of Wheeler/Dawson penned classics including 'Different Star', 'Lovin' It Now' and 'My Obsession'. The wonderfully talented Russell Leeming made his one and only performance on York's music scene, singing his own classic 'Wheeler's Chair' with the blue boys to rapturous applause.
Sample lyric - "Wheeler's chair / he bought it yesterday / from BHS / it's got no legs".
Almost as good as 'Dagenham Dave'. Almost. However, this was not my first true rock and roll moment - for that came around 45 minutes later with the arrival of the headline act, Instant Species.
You see that particular evening my Sixth Form history teacher made an appearance and the impact Instant Species made was huge. As the gig wore on the excitement factor grew and thus, more and more alcohol was being consumed. "This is fantastic!!" I thought to myself. "I'm getting pissed and my history teacher is here! Awesome!!". This was my first true rock moment.
And now I'm here again, feeling rather guilty. Having enjoyed the gig so much, I took my lime green Species badge and flaunted it round school - without ever listening to the band again. It felt cool to champion an 'unsigned' band, and people would come up to me and ask me who they were: "Ahh, Instant Species", I would reply. "They do a damn good cover of 'My Michelle'. You should check them out..."
It's time to put things right then, and 'Robert The Bruces Spider' certainly shows me what I've been missing in my transformation from Oasis worshipping indie boy to local music seeker. 'Waltz In A Minor' and 'The Shops Own' are two of the most immediate tracks, with the latter drawing comparisons with The Futureheads' finest moments - surely credit to Instant Species that of all the recent 'NME worshipped bands', it is one of the more unique whose influence shines through.
There are more refreshing moments that distinguish Instant Species from many of the bands more popularly well known to the public's ear. Even on their SIXTH album, Species manage to spread different styles over merely minutes of music. 'Poker Face', 'Your Brother Harry' and 'Love Hooks' is a three song sequence that intrigues the listener with an explosion of different genres, marking out Instant Species as the most forward thinking band of the moment - take 'Your Brother Harry' for example. With a mixture of upbeat sunshine sounds and interesting lyrics focusing on meeting a partners family (we've all been there), the song could EASILY be a hit single. Follow up 'Love Hooks' on the other hand, is a mysterious track that sounds like Nine Black Alps pouncing on an unsuspecting 'Parklife'-era Blur and taking their choruses through a rip-roaring rock assault. It's a journey that takes many twists and turns but still manages to be consistent.
If there is a filler here (and this is clutching at straws) it's the Ska-by-numbers 'Tax Man Funny Man'. The content of the song probably strikes a chord with everybody though ("It's not that funny / he took my money / and now he's laughing all the way to the bank") so I'll let them off. However, following track 'Hombrecide' is another would be single, a track that has a dirty Mexican disco sound. Maybe someone should play it to Ricardo Lavolpe, the Tom Jones lookalike chain smoking manager of Mexico. To see him smile would be a real treat for the poor pressured soul - it's the best track here and the ambiguity of the song title only adds to its success. There's also some "HEY"s in there too which make me want to punch the air. So that's good.
As 'You're So Right' brings the album to a riproaring close you have to wonder where Instant Species will go now. 'Robert The Bruces Spider' certainly has enough material to warrant a record deal and shows them to be a unique act, even six albums in to their careers. It has become a tedious cliché to call bands 'fresh' and 'exciting' but Instant Species really are more than this - 'Men Of The Sea' is a prime example in taking The Coral's sea shanty rhythm and developing it further. In doing so, they beat the scousers at their own game. The main ingredient that makes 'Robert The Bruces Spider' however is universal appeal. Yes, it's an album made for themselves, but it is also an album made for everyone else - a neat trick that so many acts fail to nail. All in all, If I hear a better 'unsigned' album this year I'll be very surprised.
Now, where's that badge gone?
Robert The Bruce's Spider
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Every time INSTANT SPECIES release an album I remember how good they are, and I remind myself how wi...Every time INSTANT SPECIES release an album I remember how good they are, and I remind myself how wide the gulf between serious talent and wide acclaim sometimes has to be.
INSTANT SPECIES inhabit a parallel universe (geologically similar to contemporary Huddersfield) where the unfinished nonsense of rock and roll is put to rights. Robert the Bruce's "real" spider gave inspiration to patience and precision and this album is clear evidence that the humble virtues pay off.
The general SPECIES approach is to write watertight songs with cunning lyrical ideas and to set them in glistening dollops of the purest musical invention. Their other-worldly motivation seems to be to have so much creative fun in the process that litttle time is left for self advertisement. If Domino or Mute ever persuaded them to join the Beauty Pageant of media celebrity, the world would be a much poorer place. How would they ever get the time to refine such goodies if they had to rotate their lives between tour bus, cheesy venues, personal appearances and visits to the accountant? The isolated life in a cave seems to have done their art no end of good.
The English tradition that INSTANT SPECIES have studied from their unique vantage point in the sandstone parts of the West Yorkshire hills is the intelligent lyrical observational stuff we have always enjoyed from the likes of Ray Davies, Madness, Joe Jackson, Ian Dury, Elvis Costello, the earliest Jam, Blur and Pulp.
Start, if you like with the cowboys at track 8. "Go To Your Grave in Mexico" is classic INSTANT SPECIES. There's a deft choice of Western Ballad idiom – in this case a blend of Marty Robins, Johnny Cash and Duane Eddy. The mariachi trumpet, the great clanging guitar line and the chanted chorus are all spot on – played to sound great - with no ironic fumbling. The musical self confidence is a treat. But with such good noises already there, there's a diamond of a song to go with it.
"Man of the Sea" has queasy swaying tuba with lo-fi percussion and beautifully recorded bass harmony singing. The song itself carries a familiar Species theme – the perils of sex.
"Tax Man Funny Man" has a strong (and very accurate) Two Tone feel, with lovely dancehall instrumentation and a great saxophone solo, placed accurately and sparingly where it gives that glorious emotional lift that only a saxophone can do.
"Hombrecide" could be a sideways tribute to fellow Yorkshire high-stylists FOUR DAY HOMBRE. But maybe not, with its FRANZ FERDINAND taunt and its threat of being slit apart by a vengeful brother. That perils of sex theme again, which returns for yet another twist of the gonads on "The Russian Bride" (who turns into a spy while dancing to a six eight tune to echo the "Waltz in A Minor" at track 2.
There really is no weak track among the twelve. All merit close listening, and the whole album played in a single session has an intense energy that keeps bowling along through all the swerves of style and sound. Not so much " a grower" as an invitation to obsessive-compulsive listening.
Really fine stuff.
Robert The Bruce's Spider
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The start of Instant Species' 6th album (no less) sets out their stall with no half measures. 'A War...The start of Instant Species' 6th album (no less) sets out their stall with no half measures. 'A Warning from the Spider Men sees' a rumbling deathly feedback intro break up into a raga type guitar sciffle number and then back again for the bridge. And the following track 'Waltz in A Minor' is exactly that - a waltz! And unlikely though it may sound, it has a kind of Cold War eastern European gravitas to it that expands into some kind of Cossack-hatted epic.
But all this cross-genre pollination doesn't always produce the expected results. Although ostensibly a sea shanty 'Men of the Sea' is in danger of sounding more at home in a German bierhalle. But 'Go to your Grave in Mexico' in reeks of minds that spent their formative years glued in front of spaghetti westerns.
This end result of this musical schizophrenia will probably be that you will love some tracks like a lost brother and hate others with a passion. And I get the feeling that is exactly what instant Species would like you to do - not ones for sitting on the fence these chaps.
Robert The Bruce's Spider
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Not many albums manage to mix waltz-time ska, spaghetti western country and good old fashioned, head...Not many albums manage to mix waltz-time ska, spaghetti western country and good old fashioned, head down guitar thrashing with such aplomb, which makes this, the sixth album from Yorkshire band Instant Species all the more interesting. Its not for nothing that the tale of Robert the Bruce and his spider is a story of endurance, patience and never giving up in the face of adversity, something they clearly have in spades.
Starting with the downright weird, effects heavy twiddling and guitar crashes (with a handful of ska thrown in) of A Warning From the Spider Men, things really get going with Waltz in a Minor, a song The Coral would be proud of. Heck, they'd sell their grannies for Poker Face, a mix of eccentric jittering that sounds like all the best Blur b-sides. Your Brother Harry takes an XTC approach, a no-nonsense post punk feel to a great song, taking things well into Love Hooks, which hits similar heights.
From track seven on though, things take a different slant, with an eye on the comedy - the sea shanty Men of the Sea, the Mexican stylings of Go To Your Grave, and Tax-Man-Funny-Man, shades of Topman by Blur, heavy on the ska. The winner in the comedy stakes though is clearly The Russian Bride, a song about a mail-order wife who turns out to be a KGB agent. Not the sort of thing you would expect Keane singing about, and whilst it may sound a little bit Barron Knights on paper, it is both funny and intelligent in equal measure.
This is a great little collection of songs, short and sweet, with plenty of good ideas and fine production throughout. Whilst almost unheard throughout the land, that hasn't stopped Instant Species putting together a fine collection of songs. They clearly love making music and the music they make, and long may that continue.
Robert The Bruce's Spider
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Perhaps the world's most prolific and persistent unsigned band, this is Instant Species' sixth album...Perhaps the world's most prolific and persistent unsigned band, this is Instant Species' sixth album in under a decade. First impressions are mixed: in much of the band's blurb, the apostrophe is missing from Robert the Bruce's Spider. Something which, as a raging pedant, does trouble me. Grammatical nit-picking aside though, this album is really rather good.
They don't limit themselves to one genre: we start with some dark guitar thrashing on Waltz in A Minor. The waltzing time is obviously a favourite of the band, as it crops up on quite a few of the tracks, to good effect. There are several ska tracks, the best being Poker Face, which also has some dancehall overtones. The Shop's Own is another such track, but its shouty chorus can begin to grate.
Things go a little strange on Men of the Sea, a disconcertingly creepy sea shanty, complete with working-on-the-chain-gang backing vocals. We also have some spaghetti Western influences: Go To Your Grace in Mexico is certainly best listened to whilst wearing a poncho. It's impossible to be unhappy when wearing a poncho, you know. The waltz returns on the brilliant The Russian Bride, which boasts some inspiring lyrics: She has a birthmark above her left nipple / now I look closer it's a hammer and sickle.
This album's as good as anything pushed in mainstream music magazines this year, and contains a lot more variation in style than most. It's simply nice to find a band for whom the music comes first and foremost, whilst fame seems unwanted.
Wrath Supersevens Singles Club #11 and #12
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I’m beginning to wonder whether the folk at Wrath Records invented a time machine at some stage, and...I’m beginning to wonder whether the folk at Wrath Records invented a time machine at some stage, and then went around zapping up all the best musical talent there was to offer, in order to use it to their own personal advantage. Once again, we are confronted with an Anne Boleyn’s handful of superb tracks.
You’ll already be well aware of our fondness here at AD for the remarkable Scaramanga Six, and it is this incredible band who kick off proceedings with the blistering “I Wear My Heart on My Sleeve”. Following this is the 200mph Vines-meets-the-Strokes romp of Me Against Them’s “Bad Judgement”, and then come The Playmates with a great shoutalong tune that is so reminiscent of The Buzzcocks, what with its killer hook and fuzzed up guitars, that you have to check the sleeve to make sure there’s no mention of Pete Shelley.
Probably the pick of the bunch though is Instant Species’ thumping “Hombrecide”, which seems to borrow heavily from Blur’s “Girls and Boys” for its intro but still manages to sound fresh and exciting, especially with its Hispanic sounding chorus.
Farming Incident’s “The Terrorist You Seek is in the Mirror” tells it like it is in no uncertain terms, in the style of John Cooper Clarke jamming with The Fall.
The Terminals complete proceedings with a track that sounds like The Ramones performing Doo-wop with Green Day, if you can imagine such a thing!
All in all then, another fucking great release. I want Wrath Records to have my babies… 9/10
Wrath Supersevens Singles Club #11 and #12
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A spikier version of Calexico really if I was going to strip it down to its bare bones. It has a pos...A spikier version of Calexico really if I was going to strip it down to its bare bones. It has a post punk air to it in the same vein as Wire (without sounding like it. I don't want to cause a furor) which makes it interesting listening and it's good enough to want to hear some more, making it one of the stronger additions to the compilation.
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You can't fault it. This is as good as it gets. Instant Species have fully evolved, grown to maturit...You can't fault it. This is as good as it gets. Instant Species have fully evolved, grown to maturity and had babies.
Eleven all told.
The babies, naturally, have archetypal phantasies about girls with razor teeth and x-ray spermicidal evil-eyes - just like boy babies do. They do get confused and angry about the joy of sex and they do channel it into unexpectedly wonderful hobbies with "Traces of Sublimation" on the packet. Girl babies get huffy and mature earlier. That's their problem.
But these boys play drums and bass and guitar like heroes from a New Country. They get the driving pounding power pop thing in perfect shape and buff it up till it gleams. Touches of country, touches of rockabilly and sniffs of the wicked punk powders too. No secret allegiances, no debts, no apologies. It's a perfect album, and if you don't like it. Fine. Piss off. You'll find something else to suit, possibly.
But I do recommend a longer listen. Come into "Wealth and Health" and get a bead on that chiming guitar and surging bass and then go all tingly when the voices power in. Sneak round the back of "Scott Free" and feel good about a band who can manage simple but cunning syncopation and play harmonica too. Get closer to the uncomfortable truth in "She Gives Me Nothing", and notice that a more careful reading gives you a more mature understanding than the fishnet headlines seemed to suggest. And as you're hurled round the helter-skelter of "No Centrefold", listen up carefully enough to notice the Strokes' assimilating leer. All survivors adopt the best tricks from wherever they find 'em. And mostly they fucking rock.
So. While other specimens starve in the jungle, die of thirst in the stinking marshes, or get thrown off the rope bridge by the record company tour guide, just watch Instant Species gather a crowd round them in the clearing. Marvel at how graciously they accept the ceremonial banana for keeping the spirit alive while others around them have turned to Pulp.
As with "Meat Pie Argument", this Instant Species masterpiece cherishes values like good sequencing, quality mixing and mastering, and the careful eradication of weaker songs (there must be a load, stacked up in a shed in Huddersfield somewhere). The result has a couple of hundred more listens in it than your bog standard indie pop release.
Runt of the litter, the unlisted track 11 is a weird one. But it is a sinister post liberal challenge for the HIV-AIDS Generation. Sleaze because it needs sorting. Not because it gets a cheap rise. A trailer for more experimental directions for Number 6? Can't wait.
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You can say what you like about working hard and working it up from grass roots level, but we all ne...You can say what you like about working hard and working it up from grass roots level, but we all need to luck into the geographical zeitgeist in this smutty rock'n'roll business. Now five albums in and still entrenched on their own label, this reviewer feels it's only geography that's preventing INSTANT SPECIES from making major strides forward. Should they have hailed from Hoxton rather than Huddersfield, they'd no doubt have been inlcuded in the NME'S faintly ridiculous 'London's Burning' piece recently.
Still, the capital's loss is surely our gain, and while we again wait for them to wake up, the rest of us will enjoy the new album (number five, no less) from this buncha midas touch popsters from West Yorkshire.
"Plan E" once again demonstrates just how far ahead from the unsigned/ demo-sending brigade Instant Species are. With melodies cascading through their veins and Rick Garnett's imploringly gruff tones again starring (he's added a snotty Miles Hunt-ish edge these days) it seems t'Species can continue reinventing their pop wheel pretty much indefinitely.
Besides, Rick's sure of his place in pop history regardless, as "Plan E" opens with the boys heading to Memphis via Marsden with "Elvis In Me". "I can't help it, I think I'm Elvis, king of rock'n'roll!" cries Rick as the staccato drum bursts go off all over the shop and the band make with a typically rousing opener with echoes of the Buzzcocks and Wonder Stuff at their best.
From there on, they barely put a foot wrong. Songs like recent single "She Gives Me Nothing", "Find Yourself" and the title track are archetypal Species, proffering big rave-ups of tunes, Stu Criddle's wonderfully chewy basslines and more hooks than a dozen hardware stores. The latter even cheekily appropriates the riff from The Jam's "'A' Bomb In Wardour Street", but naturally they get away with it, the blighters.
The highlights continue to come thick and fast. The sarcastic, pulse-racer "No Centrefold" is romping yob-pop of the highest order and every bit as good as anything Pete'n'Carl have delivered into our midst, while "What Makes You Think You're Worth it?" sells you a dummy with it's loops and tinny intro, but soon flourishes into recognisably emotional pop with longing, betrayal and desire all tied up in pink ribbon.
Yet even when they Rick and co head off down Departure Avenue, they aren't found wanting. To this end, try out tunes like "Wealth & Health", "Formula 1" and "Scott Free". The first is built around an echoey guitar figure, mucho longing and (I think) even an E-bow bit, while "Formula One" revolves around a monster disco beat and Garnett's heavily flanged vocals. Heck, that's not a vocoder in there, is it? "Scott Free", meanwhile, is less gimmicky, but with its' semi-acoustic majesty, gloriously melancholy harmonies and wheezy, Dylan-ish harmonica, it's just lovely, and possibly Instant Species' very best song to date.
I could go on until I'm blue in the face about the cloth-eared record companies out there who continue to miss out on one of the provinces' best bands, but really Instant Species do it all far more eloquently themselves. "This is an emergency, can't you sense the urgency? That's why we're going for Plan E" sings Rick sagely on the title track. It's the only option to take if you ask me.
So what are you waiting for? Go get. Pronto.
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The fishnet stocking fetish of Instant Species (look at the website) is slightly disturbing, but you...The fishnet stocking fetish of Instant Species (look at the website) is slightly disturbing, but you can see where it all fits in with Plan 'E' - their fifth album.
How a still-unsigned band can finance the whole production and distribution of five albums shows that these guys have spirit. And that very spirit has created an eclectic mix of 11 sleazy tracks coupled with the sound of rock, pop, disco and even country.
The slick sounding 'Elvis in Me' tells you immediately that this is no average unsigned band. The fast guitar riffs and powerful vocals do not need any time to grow on you.
'Night in the City' has carved itself out as an Instant Species anthem with its pure pop driven guitar that gives it a Strokes' Last Night feel. The only draw back is the 'man on the phone' at the end of track speaking the lyrics before they're sung - great if you want a karaoke session on the radio, but utterly confusing when it detracts your attention from the song.
These guys could momentarily be mistaken as an LA-type band, not your regular
Huddersfield export. Being their fifth album they are having pure fun - and not scared to comment on those around them with the likes of 'Wealth and Health' which reflects on their relationship with an ex-manager and their outlash at the "apathy and demands of the A&R men" with title track Plan 'E'. 'She Gives Me Nothing' could have come from a Supergrass album - everything from the woo-hooing in the background to the vocals sounding like the band's frontman Gaz.
If the other four albums have failed in their mission to grab record companies' attentions then this fashionable mix of sounds should explode on their radar.
The Plan 'E' track depcits the band's fifth assault on the unsuspecting music public, but doesn't give anything special like the other tracks - although it is powerful enough to light up the stage, especially it they sport those stockings and suspenders!
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I had a touch of déjà vu, albeit in a weaker, echo form, when I popped Plan E in the player. It took...I had a touch of déjà vu, albeit in a weaker, echo form, when I popped Plan E in the player. It took me a few minutes to realize that Instant Species reminded me of Tub Ring's Fermi Paradox. Instant Species doesn't traffic in the jaw-dropping musical and lyrical juxtapositions, nor the high-level intellectual explorations that are Tub Ring's stock-in-trade, but they share that band's sense of play, of sharing a joke with the smartest, most disaffected kids in class.
The defining trait of both of these bands is not simply a disdain for, but a seeming refusal even to acknowledge the existence of, current trends in rock and roll (both critically lauded and popular). Instant Species shares some snarling, sonically explosive traits with popular garage punks like The Hives, but it's hardly a defining characteristic. They also exude a confirmed loser's charm and confidence, a trait that unavoidably reminds me of The Replacements. Again, in neither case are these traits nearly as developed as in the bands' forebears; the excitement, when listening to Instant Species, comes from hearing a band that is clicking, that is getting a lot of things right, that is leaning and applying ideas as fast as it can. It's not perfect, but it's kind of exhilarating.
From the opening lines of "Elvis In Me" (I can't help it / I think I'm Elvis / The king of rock and roll!"), there's a tug-of-war between a traditional rock song structure and the band's unique tendencies. The verse's rat-a-tat spikes between J. Mascis-meets-some-Cali-punk-guy vocals, then slams effectively into the chorus's standard, near (dare I say it) emo chords. "She Give Me Nothing" plays a "Stray Cat Strut" card without apology, then bounces "oooh-oooh" background vocals against further lead snarls. "No Centrefold" is buoyed by a call-and-response chorus and snotty, offensive lyrics directed at someone who thinks a bit too highly of herself.
The album's most endearing moments come on some of its most conventional songs. Clearly, the band could have parlayed its sound into an edgier, critic's darling style. Instead, they include things like a totally standard acoustic shuffle (complete with harmonica) in "Scott Free". The thing is, there's no way that a song like this is aimed at selling records, either, as this style of song is no longer igniting swathes of lighters in the world's biggest stadiums. It's clearly just the song that the band wanted to write, and it's really good.
"Formula 1", with its driving drum and bass line, initially sounds as if it's going to trade on the post-punk revival, but then guitars it up on the chorus in a way that confounds expectations. I swear, the opening chords of the title track sound like a sped up version of Pete Townshend's "Let My Love Open the Door". But it's not.
While almost all of Instant Species' strengths spring from their willingness to ignore orthodoxy, the majority of their weaknesses stem from an unwillingness to completely abandon any sort of predictability. "Scott Free" works well, but there are moments in almost all of these songs where you get the feeling that the band could have thrown another curve ball or two. It certainly wouldn't do Instant Species any good simply to emulate bands like Tub Ring (if there are any), but I hope that their inventive jones takes them further into a self-defined sphere of musical creativity on their next disc.
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Plan E is Instant Species’ 5th self-produced and released album since forming in 1997. While most wo...Plan E is Instant Species’ 5th self-produced and released album since forming in 1997. While most would have lost all faith and gone back to the day job, Instant species have plugged away largely it would appear, for their own amusement, which is more the pity, because this is fab.
It is depressing that an industry seemingly preoccupied with dredging up wannabes to mould into carbon copies of the latest fad in their quest for a quick buck; can overlook those bands that do not conform to the latest zeitgeist, but instead have not forgotten that music is first and foremost about entertainment.
But such is life, which leaves Instant Species to entertain themselves, and who ever else happen to listen, which if there were any justice would be .
There is nothing ground breaking here, just a collection of great tunes, none of which can be easily pigeonholed. By releasing their own records, Instant Species are able to record whatever takes their fancy, without being concerned with the constraints of conforming with a particular genre.
Plan E ranges from the straightforward punk of Find Yourself and No Centrefold through the sweetly melancholic country of “Scott Free” (had me reaching several times for the repeat button), culminating in a charmingly perverse hidden track, which sounds uncannily like Vic Reeves’ spoof of Barry White.
She Gives Me Nothing starts out like the Kinks’ Dead End Street, before launching into a chorus that earns innumerable brownie points for its “wooo wooo wooo” backing vocals. Formula 1 dabbles with disco, while Night In The City is an infectious blend of the Strokes with a dash of, dare I say it, Shawaddywaddy minus the cheese.
Whilst it sounds like the band has had a whale of a time making this album, they haven’t cut corners on the quality; how many demo cd’s come with not one but two home produced promotional videos? Not just crappy home videos either, there is as much imagination and humour gone into these as in the music.
Instant Species’ refreshing eclecticism deserves the kind of praise lauded on that of The Coral a few years back, and I’m baffled, frankly, that they have yet be signed whilst the industry bigwigs continue to peddle dross of the highest order.
However, who cares, as long as the band continues to produce stuff of this quality on their own there is hope. In the meantime, its available from their website, treat yourself.
Meat Pie Argument
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Instant Species have been on my musical horizon for a couple of years now. The presentation always l...Instant Species have been on my musical horizon for a couple of years now. The presentation always looked professional and serious. But the music has left me unmoved. It was good, but it didn't get through to any of the bits that I was interested in.
Until the Meat Pies Argument that is. Meat Pies are where the heart is. Meat Pies are the last English pleasure from a century that brought us Freddie and the Dreamers, the Kinks and Richard Thompson. Meat Pies are the last joy in small towns like Otley and Droitwich. Meat Pies are Good.
This collection of cracklingly tasty pop songs evokes comparison with the great people of English songwriting history: Ray Davies, Martin Newell, Andy Partridge, Joe Jackson, Richard Thompson, Elvis Costello ... bloody hell, there are so many and the tradition is so rich. You can add Morrissey, Jarvis Cocker, Damon Albarn and others besides and there are still as many left out as left in. It's what English pop does best.
So how do Instant Species shape up? They're on the top of their game with this CD for sure. You can bang it on and hop about with the joy of it, or sit down and listen to the intricacies and delights of the lyrical, perfectly arranged songs.
Come in on track 4 "7 Stories High" and hear the anthemic best of breed with soaring harmonies and tingling guitar lines. Skip to the blue beat delights of track 6 with "Jamaica Park" dosing out a thoroughly masterful antidote to the incompetent "ska" nonsense of the last couple of years. Rudi's deeply in love. Go out in fired up mood with the bombastic finale of "4 Walls". Or lose yourself in the sweet melancholy of track 5 "What's the Point You're Trying to Make?" But you don't need to snack. The album is well sequenced and perfectly balanced and you can play it all the way through without the bubble bursting.
Songwriting perfection apart, Instant Species have reached that fine point in life where the band are one sonic object with a single emotional mission. Bass, drums, guitars, voices, keyboards and further added things ... they're all there and they move together like a snake in its own skin. So full marks plus some more to Carl Rosamund and his relationship with the band. The production is so meticulously good it's invisible. There are no stupid tricks, no need to blur weaknesses or gloss over faltering technique. The sound that you get is the sound that was intended and it's great. Any new young band needs to hear this and ask, if such a fantastic set of songs hasn't already taken over the nation, what chance has their weedy demo got of even getting over the road?
Instant Species : Meat Pie Argument
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Amazingly enough, "Meat Pie Argument" is actually INSTANT SPECIES' (count 'em) FOURTH album, and it'...Amazingly enough, "Meat Pie Argument" is actually INSTANT SPECIES' (count 'em) FOURTH album, and it's stuffed with so many quality tunes that it's hard to reconcile these Huddersfield boys only still enjoying local star celebrity and recording on their own label.
There again, before 'independent' became resolutely 'indie', the DIY ethic often produced some of the very best music around, and this writer for one is heartened to discover there are still those out there like INSTANT SPECIES who have the guts to stick to their guns.
Because, if there's any residue of justice breathing in the suffocating pop atmosphere, INSTANT SPECIES deserve to break through to a far wider audience. Superficially, they're certainly purveyors of great (and slightly subversive) Brit(ish) guitar pop: the type that never entirely goes out of fashion, but with enough variations to ensure your attention never wavers too far.
Certainly, there are enough gems here to fill a decent size Russian diamond mine. The swaggering guitars, unexpected feedback and psychodrama of "Better With You" is as good an introduction as any, while the yearning'n'tender "7 Stories High" and the no-nonsense Buzzcocks-knee-The-Kinks-in-the-bollocks pop of "Failing To See" suggest Instant Species can craft emotional shapes out of the air at will.
Musically, INSTANT SPECIES are a tight crew, with no one member of the team hogging the limelight. Rick Garnett's vocals still remind me of a less pretentious Brett Anderson (though with added surreality), and his imploring vocals are the making of tracks like "7 Stories High" and "What's The Point You're Trying To Make?"
You get the feeling that at this stage INSTANT SPECIES have the confidence to bring unexpected secret weapons into their sonic arsenal whenever they're called for,and "Meat Pie Argument" benefits from the inclusion of tracks like "Jamaica Park" - with its' full-on 2-Tone horns and itchy Ska rhythms - and the jazzy shuffle'n'skank of "The Boy Who Doesn't Know What's Good For Him."
INSTANT SPECIES are obviously serious about what they do, but they're not so po-faced they can't find room for knowing, well-observed humour in their best tracks of all. Indeed, the hilarious, but wise porno-mag blatherings of "Top Shelf" ("Nothing beats a real girl, can't ignore the real world" pants Garnett) and the dead-on "Lady Tennis Player" are quite possibly your reviewer's favourite things here. The latter finds Garnett lustng after the unreachable ("She's so beautiful, the way she strikes the ball") and features the sort of "do do do" chorus that even a truckload of Anadin can't get out of your head. It's begging to be a single, basically.
That INSTANT SPECIES should remain local heroes as their fourth album is released is a travesty, but as ambassadors of the cottage industry approach, they're among th best there currently is. Get your fork into "Meat Pie Argument" and devour. It's about time INSTANT SPECIES started going down well everywhere.