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Live Review: Smudge, Lost On Landing, Eat Sleep Attack, They Sink Ships, Kyoto Drive and mynameishero - Manchester Retro Bar - 26/10/2009

A crisp, uncharacteristically dry Mancunian October night plays host to tonight’s show: an all-British affair with acts from all over the country.

Local boys MyNameIsHero step up to the plate first; there’s no doubt they’re having a ball doing their thing, but unfortunately the music is pretty uninspiring, falling roughly 4 yards short of the mark when it comes down to matching up to any of their obvious influences.


Next up are a sleepy-looking Kyoto Drive, who have legged it up the M6 from Birmingham straight from work, arriving in the nick of time. Regardless, they manage to find enough energy to deliver a passionate set, but to me they come across like a band who haven’t quite discovered what they want to sound like: some of the songs follow a fairly derivative pop-punk formula, whilst others are a much more epic proposition, hitting the ears out with a sound recalling Spitalfield at their stompiest, helped out with some Twin Atlantic-esque riffs thrown in. Stick with the latter and I’d say they’re on to a winner.


Then we have the talented Mr. Sam Little taking to stage in his present guise as Eat Sleep Attack. I literally cannot throw enough praise his way so I’ll try not to gush and go on too much: this boy has the voice of an angel and his songs are so catchy, well-written and downright marketable that there is no good reason he shouldn’t be selling out much bigger venues on his own next year. He’s born for it.


Following on from Sam are the Hertfordshire-based They Sink Ships, who have taken a hit after losing their bassist (not permanently!) to the public menace that is swine flu (doom sounds). Determined not to let it get them down, the boys get 10/10 for effort and a gold star for recording all the bass lines for the tunes onto a laptop on the long drive up, but you can tell being a man down has deflated them a little. Despite this they make the best of what they have to work with and still had me tapping my feet and singing along so all is well.


Last up on the out-of-town front are Southampton’s Lost On Landing, whose epic piano-led powerpop is initially not done many favours by the less-than-stellar PA, as they take to the stage launching into ‘Best Intentions’, the b-side from their new single ‘Sweet Talk’. Happily, by the time it gets to song two, ‘We’re Still Alive’, the sound is all cleared up. Their sound is equal parts Jacks Mannequin and Jimmy Eat World; think Andrew McMahon’s groove and vibe presented with Jim Adkins’ sincerity. Closing with It’s Now Or Never, the crowd are singing along with vocalist Chris Roberts’ every word, and the boys look happy they bothered with the long drive up.


Smudge close proceedings; now, I’m not sure how well they are doing on the nationwide front but they are one of Manchester’s biggest pop-punk acts, and a lot of people are in clearly in attendance for them tonight. The sound is polished, the hooks soar and the songs gleam, especially ‘The Thrill, The Ride’ and ‘Speechless’. The fans know every word and everything’s working out for them just like a headlining hometown show should. Smudge do not seem to be far off being the final product at all, so don’t be surprised if you see their name in lights any time soon.


Matt Sayward

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