The Kecks “Modern Girls” – single review

Dear Readers, 

When I was a young and inexperienced female music fan, the one that would cut out articles from NME to stick them to the walls, I thought that going to gigs was being part of history in the making. Discovering artists in small venues before they conquer the world, being with like minded people, falling in love with the music.

When I grew up a little bit more and actually went to gigs, I discovered that live shows could be rough or even dangerous (my first gig seen my nose being broken by a cassette tape  thrown from the stage) while some fans were rude, crude and grouping was normal.

The Kecks

I dreamed I would hang out with musicians like all A&Rs and PRs I admired.  I thought I’d have connections, be respected in the business and help artists achieve the greatness. Once again I had to revisit my plans. Women in music were scarce, bands would quit before they achieved anything, artists would not even acknowledge your input before moving on to “better things” and sexism was rampant.

In short – if you are a female in music business – you need skin thicker than that of Anna Franklyn (do see “The Reptile” if you can), determination of Rambo and patience of a saint to do your job. I will be honest, sometimes I get sick and tired of music, gigs and lads with guitars.

But then,  you encounter a band that tears your heart out, blows your mind and you fall in love with them unconditionally – from the first note. You start believing all those things about greatness, being part of something special and history in the making.  I keep telling that as a music obsessive, I fall in love with artists twice a week. Every couple of years, I lose my head. And I don’t know what’s in the water in Yorkshire, but for the third time, it’s a band from Doncaster. Well, ¼ of the band actually. The rest is from Australia, Austria, Germany and they are based in Hamburg.

Modern Girls artwork

The Kecks have been on my radar for nearly a year now. If before they were in “the best new band on the circuit” category, after their newest single “Modern Girls”, they are elevated to being inches away from my favourite band.

Man, do they tick all the boxes!  They don’t do happy sing-alongs  for the public. Leave that to Gerry Cinnamon. Theirs is rock and roll spiked with psychedelia, raw and emotional, provocative and dangerous. Sensual even.  Music  that goes straight to the soul. They know their craft. Singer Lennart Uschmann throws himself on stage like it`s his only mean of survival. He is capable of both –  serenading the audience, whispering and howling like a mad person in the attic. There is something theatrical, otherworldly about him. Think David Bowie or Richard Hell. It`s mesmerizing. The rest of the band (Samuel Telford on guitar, Joel Phillips on bass and Kai Weidle on drums) follow closely – in their coats, flamboyant shirts, make up or dresses – smashing out bangers and kicking clichés in the balls. On the indie circuit full of post punk acts that made school uniforms out of trench coats, white shirts and black trousers, The Kecks are shining with their retro attires.

Another thing that wins me over in an artist is their ethics. I`m always in the corner of the underdogs, those who come out of the underground, the self made and the struggling.  And The Kecks have enough bravery and attitude to fill an ocean. Their press release mentions that the band “religiously preserved their DIY ethos”, they film their own videos, they support independent venues such as Molotow (including playing a special gig for the venue during lock down), they release on AWAL – a platform that functions as an alternative to traditional record labels.

Then there is the video to “Modern Girls” where the band put themselves in the shoes of every woman to protest double standards and hypocrisy. You can see The Kecks being violently forced into skimpy outfits, strong make up and then paraded out to be judged  – only to find out they do not meet “the standards”. The video hits home and is a powerful reminder that unrealistic expectations destroy lives, and not only those of women. Think the whole culture of machismo, toxic masculinity with its narrow views on gender, sexuality and identity. Although musically situated far away from IDLES, The Kecks proudly place themselves on the same side of the barrier when it comes to fighting injustice and social stigmas. Like it or not – it is a political statement of sorts. And such statements takes guts in the era where alt -right runs amok and you are branded a “snowflake” for being kind and civil.

The Kecks (again)

In these trying times, it is the artist’s duty to speak up and take action. It’s a test and The Kecks have passed it with flying colours. They know their art and their songs well, as Bob Dylan once observed.

We listen to music for many reasons, but if you strip all the layers down to one thing, it will be to find others who are just like us. We follow artists and we hope that they will be our tribe, with similar outlook on life and values. Even reviews are done from that point of view. In our naivety, we entrust strangers with a part of ourselves. Maybe selfishly, we want them to be at our disposal so we can enjoy the music, the art and the illusion of not being alone.

I can only hope The Kecks will continue for many years to come.

Please follow the band online:
https://www.thekecksofficial.com/
https://www.facebook.com/thekecksofficial/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCm0wdB5kpFtz5VjJlblmlIQ
https://www.instagram.com/thekecksofficial/
https://twitter.com/the_kecks

or listen to their music on Spotify:

 

The Kecks will be streaming their concerts online in the next weeks, so please visit their social media out to find more details.

Malicia Dabrowicz

Indieterria review – No More Moves by The Dirt

Dear Readers,

Don’t be cancelling 2020 yet. It may be a year of no festivals, virtual gigs and staying indoors but the art it produces is jaw dropping. Actually, it is a heavy weight year for creativity. Knock out after knock out from every corner – with no breather.  Just look at March alone. Two weeks passed from the release of False Heads` album (record of the year most likely) and we have a new single from Saytr Play, 20 dates autumn tour from Hands Off Gretel  and a much anticipated debut from The Red Stains on the cards.

If that wasn’t enough to make us at Vanadian Avenue sleep deprived  – an unexpected EP from Manchester duo The Dirt appeared in our inbox this morning. And we just had to squeeze it into the schedule because otherwise it would be a serious breach of Directive #1

Sachiko Wakizaka and Jack Horner aka The Dirt

What`s Directive #1 you ask? In short terms – what Manchester does today, the rest of the country does tomorrow. And if you ignore it, then you prove yourself to be a pompous wannabe with no real knowledge of pop culture.

If you don’t know The Dirt, don’t worry. Until about 11 AM today we had no clue either. But once they appeared on our radar, we quickly did the catching up.

The band consist of Japanese guitarist (and multi instrumentalist) Sachiko Wakizaka and Mancunian poet Jack Horner (known under his moniker “Leon The Pig Farmer”). On March 19th the duo quietly dropped their first EP “No More Moves” on BandCamp – a seven track (22 minutes) full of psychedelic, experimental, shoe-gazing landscapes accompanied by dark, tense lyrical verses.

The band succeeded in creating a record that can stand next to releases of Mr Bungle or The Legendary Pink Dots without feeling ashamed. If you take each track separately, they almost feel like punk songs – all below three minutes. The longest – most angry track on the album  – “Wiccan Transition” stands at 5 minutes and could easily find itself among Sonic Youth`s deep cuts.

You can take “No More Moves” as one long composition – a sonic meditation on human nature and its dark sides.


Everything on the EP is dirty, grungy and heavy. Even the logo – the band uses a kanji sign 泥 (pronounced “doro”) as its calling card. It roughly translates into “the dirt” but may mean “mud”, “mire” and “ooze” and we have to applaud them for putting a lot of thought into the vision and then trying to obscure it. You have to dig though the layers of sounds, language and symbols to truly appreciate the work Sachiko Wakizaka and Jack Horner did. You have to unearth it so to speak.

The Dirt created a very experimental,  noise, avant-garde record that nobody saw coming. They appeared out of nowhere with artistic vision, DIY ethos, rebellious spirit to mix beat poetry with psychedelic sounds and reminded everyone that the underground scene in Manchester is healthy and potent.

It would be an excellent idea to incorporate them into future Louder Than Words festivals. This duo has a lot to offer to the public.

We have spoken briefly to Jack Horner about the EP to go along this review. This is what he had to say:

The Dirt looking out into the psychedelic future

How long did it take to record the EP and where did you do it?

Jack Horner:  We did it over  a few weeks, trying not to spend much time on each track. We wanted it raw and quick takes. We recorded at my house. Proper DIY feel. Did the guitars first, then laid my words on.

So it was just you and Sachiko Wakizaka working together?

Jack Horner:  Yeah, Sachiko uses loop and effects pedals for the guitars.

So full musical partnership.

Jack Horner:   Yes. Full on partnership. It works well. We seem to have a good collaboration and creative system. Probably we will go live in autumn. I’ll keep Leon ticking along too.

You wanted to explore something outside poetry?

Jack Horner:  I used words and verses that don’t feel right on my solo spoken word set.  They may be too heavy, too dark or just not suited. But I think the guitars work compliments them.

We really like Wiccan Transition. It`s the longest track on the EP. You could nearly call it a leading single.

Jack Horner: (laughs) Oh ta!

Any story behind that track?

Jack Horner:  I went to see a spiritual healer. Crystal Therapy. I went into a crazy trance. It’s that and coming out the other side of depression!

I`m not sure which song  to put out as a single if we do.

So really The Dirt is a project to help you deal with mental health as well as creative process.

Jack Horner:  That’s how Leon The Pig Farmer started as well. Writing thoughts after a breakdown and stuff last year.  Then taking words to the stage. This is an experiment to take it elsewhere…who knows where.

That’s the beauty of my life now. I don’t set goals, plans or directions to get anxious about. It seems to work!

You can follow Jack Horner/ The Dirt on the socials:

https://www.facebook.com/LeonThePigFarmer/
https://twitter.com/leon_pig
https://www.instagram.com/leontpf71/
https://thedirt71.bandcamp.com/

It will be a very interesting experience to see the duo live in concert and we are hoping that we will have a chance to do so. If we do, please expect a full set video and a ton of pictures. And a word of advice. Do not underestimate the underground. You have no idea what lurks in one of those narrow streets behind AATMA…

Mal/Rita

**** 05.04.2020****

Just a small update to let everyone know that The Dirt published their third visual trailer announcing new material coming in the next months. It showcases the band`s interest in Manchester`s creative Northern Quarter and signals a more refined musical landscape – with the use of drum machines and beats. We knew The Dirt was unique project on Mancunian music scene but the rate it grows and changes is just stunning! Our hats are off to Sachiko Wakizaka and Jack Horner for being absolute proper legends.

M/R