High Voltage, a steadily growing live phenomenon over the last couple of years, has evolved into a label and HV10 001 sets the standard, featuring four of the highest profile young Manchester bands on one 10" disc.
A fledgling label could do a lot worse than have The Sonar Yen open up its first release. Liberated from the promising debut LP 'Slow Picture', 'Decisions = Regrets' snarls and drawls in equal measures. Slacker-guitarists with intelligence, the SY are one of the most engaging bands the city possesses and as singles go, this one has no flies on it whatsoever. The guitars say 'Fuck you', but the vocal says 'I wanna fuck you', which is how it should be.
Fashion-crazed retro-waifs Performance have been on the cusp for some time now, but 'Lost Youth' won't put them over the top. The '80's production job is just too much and the pristine, airless sound doesn't suit Joe Stretch, whose nervy, thin-lipped delivery could do with drenching in guitars. The producer responsible for this might well have churned out plastic hits by the dozen, but he can add this to his pile of misses.
The Lisa Brown, meanwhile, are beyond help. Their throwback, white-boy balladeering goes straight into one ear and out of the other. Essentially, this is trad indie, blessedly not apparent elsewhere on this diverse record, but a sort of music which will always clog up a percentage of our airwaves. Thank God then, for The Longcut. All whoosh and swoosh, cymbal crashes and a death-or-glory crescendo, 'Spires' is an elegiac, languorous instrumental affair, which, whilst far from their best work, serves as a good introduction to the spacerock element of the group sound. Raw, passionate and seemingly iron-clad, they will possess your soul by some point in the middle of 2005.
That High Voltage impresario Richard Cheetham has taken this step is good for the scene. His label and clubnight send out a clear message that it's worth going for it and give our young rockers a focus. It's taken a long time for Manchester to kick away from the Oasis legacy and it makes sense for the next generation to be led by smart, skinny, sleek, pretty people with unremarkable eyebrows and no interest in trad indie whatsoever. High Voltage is the place to hear them first - and now the label which releases them first.