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RAZORCAKE #101 (USA) NOV 2017 If you distilled the late-’70s explosion of punk rock into a single mixtape that incorporated the pop side, the garage side, and the experimental noise side, Freak Genes would be that mixtape made flesh. It’s a highlight reel of the genres’ finest tricks, crafted into over a dozen tunes ranging the power pop to noise rock spectrum. If you know me at all, you know I like the pop tunes more than the out-there space jams, but neither is a bad look for Freak Genes. Even when they get wild in the songwriting department, they still make sure to pump out actual songs. I think my favorite part of this record is the half-assed guitar tone. Not that it sounds like it wasn’t purposeful, but because of how weak the guitar sounds in contrast with the pounding music. These sentences typed out seem like insults, but it serves to create a unique texture to the album that I’m fucking jazzed about. Must be heard to be believed. A good addition to the punk fan’s vinyl collection. (BS)
AUDIO AMMUNITION (US) SEP 2017 “Freak Genes is all the silly ideas that would normally be ignored” according to the band members. Wow, talk about the must succinct bio ever. Boil this band down into one sentence and there you have it. Freak Genes are a duo from such bands as Red Cords, Proto Idiot and The Hipshakes. One of them lives in Manchester and the other ones lives somewhere else. Playtime, has a whole host of ideas and sounds ranging from ’77 punk to power-pop to art-pop to some psych. Imagine Buzzcocks and The Fall getting together with guests members of Wire, Devo and numerous other new wave bands for a writing session. This band is gathering attention and steam and it’s understandable why (JC)
fasterandlouderblog.blogspot.com (USA) July 2017 For me, the very best thing about writing about music is discovering a new band and falling in love almost instantly. I'm far from an authority on music, and I don't even attempt to write proper reviews. So really my for usual goal for this blog is to get so super-excited about a record that perhaps you'll be persuaded to give it a listen. Today's proverbial shouting from the rooftops concerns Freak Genes, who in less than three weeks have gone from a band I had never heard of to serious contenders for my album of the year honors. Sure, I had some indication that I was going to dig Freak Genes before I had even heard a note. Co-conspirators Andrew Anderson (Proto Idiot, The Hipshakes) and Charlie Murphy (Red Cords) are guys I admire and respect for their existing contributions to the world of garage/punk. And Freak Genes' album Playtime has come out on Alien Snatch Records - probably my favorite label of all-time. But Playtime might not exactly be the album you're expecting from this pair. Basically these two decided to take all of the crazy, discarded ideas from their regular bands and make a whole new group out of them. The result is a brilliant fusion of new wave, pop, garage, and minimalist '77 U.K. punk. The beauty of this project is that there was no specific formula or rule book for what the songs needed to be. So you can have everything from Wire/Devo strangeness ("Let's Go Slow") to pure crackling punk ("Exposed") to jaunty psych pop ("Jekyll & Hyde") to new wave garage dance rock ("Going Through the Motions") to something that sounds like Ringo Starr cutting a '70s crossover country track ("Not Alright With Me") all on the same record. And yet everything fits together so splendidly. The album has this general vibe of quirky but really catchy, and these two prove to be remarkably good at writing that type of song. They've really caught fire as Freak Genes - churning out 16 songs here with another full album already in the can. Playtime is one of those albums that just flat-out delights me. It's consistently fun, distinctively British, and quite odd in an entirely good way. Really it all boils down to it just being a terrific album, anchored by standout tracks like the jagged & cheeky "Going Wrong", the poppy lead single "Mind The Gap", and the wonderfully weird "Still Disgusting". I suppose there's a chance that a song or two on here won't click for you. But at a total of 16 tracks, that still leaves you with more than enough gems. And with no song exceeding three minutes and the majority clocking in under two, this does not seem like a "long" album at all. I'm left wanting more - which is certainly a good thing with a second album soon to follow! (Josh Rutlegde)
LOUDER THAN WAR (UK) Freak Genes are a new Manchester based band that consists of members from Proto Idiot and The Red Cords. They formed last year to release their own stuff as a supergroup concept with their own ideas. They claim they can’t play their instruments and no knowledge of recording technique. Don’t get me wrong but when I listened to this album I laughed at this quote! Their debut album is being released on Alien Snatch which is a German based label in Berlin formed in 1999 and specialise in punk, powerpop and garage rock. The band members Charlie Murphy and Andrew Anderson have got a good thing going here. They have that lo-fi punk sound off to a tee. The album kicks off with the first two tracks Going Wrong and Exposed obviously with a Buzzcocks feel oozing with lo-fi power pop and not lasting more than two minutes in the ethics of true punk ditties. Still Disgusting has hints of Syd Barrett having a pint with Half Man Half Biscuit. Mind The Gap has already been receiving good reviews in the music press and reminds me of The Toy Dolls and has a neat guitar solo added to it. Negatives kicks in with a Jam like intro but has Parquet Courts written all over it. Jekyll & Hyde harks back to Barrett again with added cheeky keyboards thrown in. Nothing’s Plain to see is pure Clash / Pistols with it’s furious guitar kicks. They slow down a bit with the apt Lets Go Slow then go back to a Buzzcocks feel with the next two songs. They go a bit Psych Punk with Not My Type and the next few songs go a bit punk rock with a bit of rock n roll blues thrown in. The last tune could easily be slotted on a Graham Coxon album with it’s infectious guitar intro. All in all a good debut album by the Manchester duo. If you like Parquet Courts, Buzzcocks, Syd Barrett and short infectious songs then this will be right up your street.
AUSTINTWONHALL.COM (US) Freak Genes is a new Manchester project made up of members of Proto Idiot and The Red Cords. The entirety of Playtime walks the fine line between old school punk and power pop, delivering these insatiable slices in quick succession that begs you to come again. There’s a bratty indifference, giving the impression that the group really is taking the title to heart; put your ear to the speaker and you can hear the band having fun. “Mind the Gap” was the group’s single for this release, but “Nothing’s Plain to See” is my personal favorite with its furious power pop tendencies. You like Dirtnap Records? Wish Burger Records had better bands? Listen to Freak Genes. The album’s available via Alien Snatch as we speak! (NL)
LOUD AND QUIT (UK) “Freak Genes is all the silly ideas that would normally be ignored,” they say, “the stuff that’s so simple it seems stupid.” We’re not really sure where Murphy lives, but Anderson is in Manchester, which perhaps accounts for ‘Playtime’ sounding like and old Buzzcocks record. It’s refreshingly daft, but also there’s more to it that the band will have you believe when they say it was made “using instruments we can’t always play, and recording equipment we don’t truly understand”.
50THIRDAND3RD.COM (UK) Andrew Anderson, brainchild behind the band Proto Idiot has started a new band, Freak Genes.freak genes They have put together a LP coming out via Alien Snatch at the end of May and here is a sneak peek with the first single “Mind the Gap”. It’s a garage rock meshed with power punk perfection. I am digging it, let me know what you think! I will definitely be posting more as the release gets closer!
It ! (FRANCE) #71 October 2017
Et on commence avec la superbe livraison du label berlinois et notamment ce
album des Anglais Freak Genes, Playtime. Seize titres de garage punk DIY, bricolé par deux Mancuniens, Andrew Anderson de Proto Idiot/Hipshakes et Charlie Murphy des Red Cords. Album quasi parfait entre mod punk 77, powerpop et trucs plus barrés à la Swell Maps, Soft Boys ("Let's Go Slow"), The Fall ("What's Your Name/ Where You From"), voire avec un côté Parquet Courts par moments. Les morceaux s'enchaînent comme un chapelet de tubes avec une production minimaliste totalement jouissive, un feeling de malade et des petits arrangements (guitare folk, synthé...) qui tapent toujours juste. Un des grands disques du trimestre ! (LS)
VOIX DE GARAGE (FR) June 2017 Comme tout ce qui vient de ce label berlinois je me suis jeté sur cet album avec intérêt. D’autant plus que je trouve leur nom très bon. Ce groupe mancunnien qui sort là son 1er album 16 titres (c’est gonflé, mais réussit) à une touche totalement anglaise ! Nous ramenant pas mal vers l’Art Punk (Swell Maps), les Buzzcocks du début, Art Brut (le groupe, mais finalement pas que), et pas mal de ce que Billy Childish fait en solo ou avec certains de ces potes dans la veine la plus ‘artiste’, et aussi ça me fait un peu penser à ce que Adam & The Ants faisaient à leur tout début (un Post Punk qui ne connaissait pas de règles, ni très fixé sur une rythmique)… Enfin vu qu’on est à Manchester (et que les Freak Genes ont déjà de la bouteille avec leurs autres groupes : Proto Idiot et The Red Cords) ils sortent de ces chansons des choses accrocheuses et un peu irritantes, car parfois elles donnent envie de se gratter tellement elles s’accrochent à votre peau ! Finalement bien actuel dans sa volonté de faire un truc loin du mainstream et du tout-venant étiqueté Garage Rock, mais tout en gardant une efficacité quasi Power Pop et avec une touche Indie actuelle. Enfin foin des étiquettes, descriptions façons pignoleur, et de longs discours, tout ce qui compte c’est que j’aime beaucoup cet album (qui m’a rappelé la fraicheur irrévérencieuse des Squares, la class quoi)
OX MAGAZINE (GER) #134 Oct 2017 Wer 1977/78 zu jung oder noch gar nicht geboren war und Nachholbedarf hat, bitte schön. Natürlich können auch alle zugreifen, die den Sound der frühen englischen Punkbands an der Schwelle zwischen frischer Bandgründung, Dilettantismus, Pop und Talent hautnah erlebt haben und weiterhin goutieren. Frischer 77er-Punk mit Garagentouch zwischen frühen WIRE, FALL, RAPED, SUBWAY SECT und Dutzenden anderen, die sich noch nicht eindeutig auf einen Stil festgelegt haben. Die beiden Herren haben ein Händchen für kleine Hits, und mit geschlossenen Augen klingt es tatsächlich so, als wäre das damals aufgenommen worden. Eine Platte, die durchaus auch auf Harbinger Sounds, oder um im Damals zu bleiben, problemlos auf Labels wie Raw, Rough Trade, Underground Records oder Good Vibrations hätte erscheinen können. Schöne Zeitreise. (7/10) (KS)