Janice Graham Band – It’s Not Me

This record is, for me, an ode to Manchester, its warm and garish nature, its violence and humour, its nightlife, pretentions and earthly delights. Bingo, prison, money, Celtic-soul sounds, drugs and high living; the lushness and loucheness of Cottonopolis.

 

 

Acid Jazz Records http://www.janicegrahamband.com

 

I’ve heard tell from other sources that this band is at the forefront of a “ska revival”. Well I must have cloth ears because I can’t hear it and I’d be amazed if the band is interested in being a mere “ska revival band” either. Music press, eh? This is a glossy, brassy record that draws on a hell of a lot more than a reheating of old mores, and if I was to use any artist as a reference point, it would be Barry Adamson at his most soulful and outré. Yes there are nods to the past, you can hear the menace and wit of Fun Boy Three or Maximum Joy at times but that’s never a bad thing as these artists had – like the Janice Graham Band seemingly has - a wide sonic palette and a clear focus in setting out their ideas.

This record is, for me, an ode to Manchester, its warm and garish nature, its violence and humour, its nightlife, pretentions and earthly delights. Bingo, prison, money, Celtic-soul sounds, drugs and high living; the lushness and loucheness of Cottonopolis. It’s all here on It’s Not Me and why not? Hacienda is an obvious reference and All In The Name mentions a certain hotel you can always check into free of charge.

The other thing to note is the sound the band deal in. It’s a vast, huge thing; driven mainly by the arching, blaring trumpets – which set the pace and tone on the opening Thirty Pieces of Silver - and the snarling guitar lines in tracks like the singles No Money Honey and Murder. This combination creates a deeply trippy sound at times, (SMF and All In The Name) and a very filmic one too. You could be mistaken for listening to a soundtrack of sorts with stuff like Machete or It’s Not Me, and it’s such widescreen music that the only record that gave me a similar feel is the Triffids’ Calenture: a leftfield suggestion I know, but both records share that big, adventurous colourful atmosphere. Burn It All and Crazy Solitary Bingo have the feel of incidental pieces from a play too: Granadaland indeed.

So. Not scared to mix it up or do things that more delicate souls would shy away from, this is a record with a lot of front (more than Blackpool in fact) and certainly one that doesn't rely on the admittedly killer singles that it boasts. We should be happy that there are acts that can make such infectious, daring and celebratory music without any “grooming” or “advice”. I have no doubt this band can only become better and better too, which is an enervating thought.