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Band Alternative Reggae


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"Festivalverslag Eurosonic 2010"

“A band from Manchester stole my heart over the last weekend. You may well have seen them,
outside the “Grote Markt” between Vindicat and the Grand Theatre? This band grabbed my
attention when I was unable to enter the festival due to the crowds. The band is called Shoshin
and entertains with nice catchy songs with a mix of hip-hop, rock and reggae. A short interview
was quickly arranged, the band were not invited to play at Eurosonic. They still came to
Groningen to play for two evenings, blue of the cold, in front of an enthusiastic audience on the
street. What a band spirit. If I was able to present an extra Pop prize/award, then I would give it to
them.” – Translated - live xs, NL

"Get some grit into your iTunes"

To be ‘absolutely incomparable’, in Goethe’s words, is a bit of a double-edged sword. Whilst being an accolade of the highest order, it is also a bit of a self-fulfilling prophesy. It is common knowledge among the more cynical of critics that we, as audiences, like what we already know. This is something that countless reality TV shows have cashed in on with soul-destroying tenacity. I’m naming no names but the worst offender (rhymes with Hex-Tractor) has created a culture that demands we identify and classify everything before we are allowed to consume it.This is well documented in everything from supermarket self checkout machines: “’zucchini’? I only answer to ‘courgette’”, to the hilarious struggle that iTunes has with my music collection; deeming everything ‘alternative’ or ‘miscellaneous’ before giving up the ghost entirely.

The Manchester-based band Shoshin are an excellent example of ‘alternative’ or ‘miscellaneous’, as my iTunes library would perceive it, or ‘absolutely incomparable’ as Goethe would have it. Their website describes their style as a mixture of Rock, Rap, Ragga and Soul. So, pretty much whatever you want, whenever you want it. The frontman Pete Haley sums it up in perfect ad-man style: ‘Not a collage, just more of a fine blend’.

Which brings us seamlessly onto politics, obviously. If you have ever had the pleasure of seeing Shoshin live, I’d wager it was most likely on the street rather than in ‘empty venues dried up by local mediocrity and pay-to-play scamming’, to quote Haley again. In fact, this is a point on which they are quite adamant. Determined to record, produce and distribute their music independently, their manifesto is straightforward and uncompromising: ‘We’re gonna tour to hell and back to get you people to hear our music, and we’re gonna have a blast doing it’. Wary of the hype of success that a big-budget label campaign can inspire, the band try to steer their own ship; getting their music heard by people who will appreciate it, without having to bow to the inevitable star-shaping that A&R provide. Their touring is done on a tight budget and is constantly hampered by the stringent bureaucracy of the places they play. Their powerful and provocative sound drums up incredible crowd participation, but this in itself often attracts the attention of the authorities. No strangers to the inside of cop-shops, when on tour the band have been arrested countless times and have some interaction with the police every day: this can also been seen in their youtube videos when Haley has to constantly reason with the powers-that-be and justify their presence.

Having been a fan from the start, I noticed a difference in their sound on their three-track demo. Previously their sound had been about complex rhythm and a raw finish. The demo came out and I was disappointed. Someone had taken away what Shoshin meant; in editing the drums down to a metronomically precise standard they lost some of their ambiguity and intelligence, and the bass and guitar struggled to conform to the beat. The people had been replaced by plastic. The band were just as unhappy with this development as their fans were. The studio-experience was something that they had to lash out against: as Haley says, ‘All the beautiful nuances and variables of the drummer’s natural rhythm and groove are gonein favour of machine-like precision, a precision that contains within it absolutely no human expression whatsoever’. Their debut album has no such issues. Getting back in the driver’s seat Haley says, ‘We’re diggin’ all those old Hendrix records – in our opinion thats the way a rock record should sound.. raw, soulful and totally organic! So that’s how we’re recording our album at the moment, old-school, exactly the way we play it live. You won’t be hearing machines on our debut album, you’ll be hearing us.’ This journey, from grit to plastic and back to grit again is similar to the same kind of ‘progress’ that Mr Hudson made when he cut loose from The Library in favour of Kanye and auto-tune. He hit super-stardom with a vengeance, helped considerably by his savvy American mentor, but somewhere along the way he lost what had made him magical when he was still playing Leeds Cockpit on a Sunday evening with a broken guitar. On the subject, Mr Hudson has said post- ‘Straight No Chaser’, that he wishes his next album to have an English sound, ‘a dirtier, rougher sound, so that you’ll have to get the Hoover out after you listen to it.’1

After listening to Shoshin’s debut album ‘City of Patience’ you’ll certainly be needing to whip the dusters out. The streets are back in the sound and that is what they have always been about. When talking about English music it is often a cliché to speak about the grit and growling, the scratches and imperfections, the accents and the idiosyncrasies, but they are what has made English music a worldwide phenomenon, so why give up what makes us great? Highly lauded in The Netherlands, Shoshin are hitting the road in February to take their powerhouse tunes on a European tour because the guys over there discovered the glory of Manchester’s finest long before us. And isn’t that a bit embarrassing? - Unknown..

"Shoshin - City of Patience"

City of Patience is the debut album from Shoshin, an inde­pend­ent band hail­ing from North West Eng­land. I’m strug­gling to work out what to say about the album — it’s noth­ing like what I was expect­ing. Read­ing up on the band, it becomes appar­ent that their ethos is very much in line with the punk rock move­ment. Their web­site claims that the band have been arres­ted three times, received an ASBO, and paid over £2000 in fines and legal fees for play­ing their music. Had I stopped read­ing there, I might have seen the band as imma­ture — brag­ging about run-ins with the law is rarely becom­ing. How­ever, as I read on, it became obvi­ous that the band weren’t brag­ging about run-ins with the law — they were brag­ging about their perseverance.
Their first “street gig” was at Euro­sonic Fest­ival. After apply­ing and being rejec­ted, the band decided to drive over to the fest­ival, and per­form out­side, using car bat­ter­ies to power their equip­ment. Their sets attrac­ted the music press across the Neth­er­lands, and res­ul­ted in sold-out venue tours across the coun­try. They have con­tin­ued their illi­cit tour­ing across Europe from Lis­bon to Bud­apest, test­a­ment to their self-belief.

And yet, the album sounds pro­fes­sional, per­fectly pro­duced and put-together, a mix­ture of faster, more ener­getic num­bers along­side slower tracks that sit beau­ti­fully in the track­list­ing. While I expec­ted an out­burst of raw energy — ninety second tracks and expli­cit anti-authority lyr­ics, what I got instead was an intel­li­gent, meas­ured, superbly bal­anced record that works fant­ast­ic­ally. The band play their soul­ful, slow, ska sec­tions, and then skill­fully segue into punk, which accen­tu­ates their cre­ativ­ity with energy and drive. A superb album — fin­gers crossed for their second. - Joe Innes


City of Patience (Album) 2011 available on iTunes, spotify, amazon etc



Currently at a loss for words...