Mancunian DIYers Shinies, who peddle a blend of shoegaze, rock, kraut-pop and post-punk, are streaming their debut album in full via Best Fit, and have given us an in-depth Track by Track guide to help us decipher it.
Produced by MJ of Hookworms - our Producer of 2014 - Nothing Like Something Happens Anywhere is a visceral anthology that delves deep into the nitty-gritty of life, tackling themes such as nostalgia, regret and existentialism. To accompany the deep lyrical webs, they've made equally deep and complex sonic tableaux. It's loud, often messy, but thoroughly engrossing. Read what Shinies had to say about each track below.
Pomona is a place, it's called an 'island' but it’s just a bit of forgotten industrial wasteland in the middle of a canal in the edgelands between Salford and Manchester.
There's a tram stop there which is amusing, as no one ever gets off or on. It’s in geographical limbo, a nothing place, an in-between stage. I became obsessed with it for a bit. There’s an overarching theme of being in-between that seems to run through the record, that and a sense of yearning, which I think this song does well to introduce. We were pretty conscious of making a record with a clear flow with a beginning and an end and this became the start.
Nothing Like Something Happens Anywhere
I pinched the line from a Philip Larkin poem. I'm not a big poetry reader at all but the first time I read this it sort of struck a chord. It’s about returning to the place where you grew up and not recognising it anymore, however still holding all these memories of a time that formed who you are, and then kind of relating that to where you are now and where you feel you should belong. Again, I guess it deals with that in-between stage of young adulthood and a sense of leaving something behind.
This started off as a massive jam, it was initially only two notes. We would jam it out for literally 30 minutes at a time and just build and build and get such a kick out of doing that. It was way longer until we got in the studio and MJ (the producer) told us we should cut it and stop being such self-indulgent arseholes. He was right of course.
The lyrics came a bit later. it's about getting lost in a city really. There's an existential crisis squeezed in there between all the faux-krautrock. It's named and based loosely on Michel de Certeau, who explored the theory that people use tactics to navigate themselves around environments defined by strategies of governments and institutions. We take shortcuts through the ‘defined’ streets, we make memories in places which were built not to hold memories. We express where we should be repressed. Sometimes we just get lost in the midst of it all.
Musically it's kind of a stupid 2 chord romp which I love but the rest of the guys hate. It's an open letter about being lied to and cheated to by bigger forces. Sort of a lament about being fucked over. I was obsessed with The Clash as a kid and I began to realise they took massive influence from the tradition of reggae, rocksteady and ska songs that dealt with heavy issues but sounded relatively happy on the surface. I think that comes across in most of our songwriting but none more so than in Beached.
This was an old song that was completely different, a lot faster and punkier. Tom, our drummer wrote it originally and I think we just liked the idea of slowing it down and making it this all engulfing noise. We added a chorus and just let loose in the studio. It kind of sounds like you're underwater or drowning. It’s like a loud, brash audio sorbet that baptises you for the second half of the album.
'Beached' , 'Soak' and 'Waves' are kind of like a triptych I guess. Ric wrote basically all the music to this and it initially was some weird electronic/dance track that he had recorded on his laptop by himself. It sounded so good we decided to steal it and butcher it into one of our own. (I’m pretty sure he’s still not happy about that).
A similar theme, the song is about struggle. A struggle with love, depression, debt, whatever. It's our attempt at an R&B song, as stupid as it sounds, us doing a slow jam. Rhythm and Shoegaze I guess... just made myself a little bit sick there.
This is really the only old song on the album. It’s the first song we wrote as a band and we still love it. Tom wrote the skeleton of it and then we all filled the rest in. It’s what started this accidental journey for better or for worse! It holds a lot of importance in that sense, the first time we all got a shiver down our spines from playing together in a damp basement in south Manchester.
It’s about lust, about bathroom floors and carpet burns, nails like knives digging into backs and trying to catch sparks.
Sixes and Sevens
The title says it all really. It’s about frustration and restlessness but also acceptance. Let your colours run, let relationships fall apart, let people hurt you, it’s all part of being young.
It was called ‘Dire Straits’ for ages because when we first jammed the riff we were in stitches at thought that it sounded like something you could play wearing a glittery sweatband whilst doing pelvic thrusts to a stadium sized crowd.
We won’t do that live… probably.
Made to Waste
The noise between this and the track before was made from a broken jack lead that Matt the producer made us whip around the room, it made a really odd noise, like something from a Japanese horror film. It’s things like that we get excited about when we’re in a studio.
The song became more and more to seem like a natural closer, it’s probably got the biggest chorus on the record. It’s an acceptance, telling you it’s to ok to waste your youth, that’s what it’s there for. Even if that isn’t true it’s nice to hear when you’re fucked off your face and the sun’s coming up. Sometimes you need that arm around the shoulder saying it’s going to be okay, it’s okay to stay awake for days at a time and work on a zero hour contract. It’s not healthy but you’ll get over it.
Nothing Like Something Happens Anywhere is due via Dirty Bingo on 2 February, and you can pre-order it here.
Listen to the record below. The band's upcoming dates can be found after.
13 - London, Shacklewell Arms
21 - Manchester, Fallow Café
27 - Sheffield, Great Gatsby