WORKIN' MAN NOISE UNIT
LISTEN TO THIS RELEASE VIA BANDCAMP BELOW
LIMITED EDITION 400 ONLY BLACK VINYL LP HOUSED IN FULL COLOUR PRINTED SPINED OUTER SLEEVE WITH DOUBLE SIDED INSERT. COMES WITH DOWNLOAD CODE. THE BAND ALSO MADE UP 50 CASSETTES AND 100 CDR COPIES TO SELL AT SHOWS
A1. With Love Supreme (3:00)
A2. Crusin’ The IDR (1:48)
A3. Icegrill 420 (2:38)
A4. Creepin’ Round (2:03)
A5. Yeah I Was Hypnotised (5:37)
B1. Black Lights (4:38)
B2. Smoke Like Hell (4:05)
B3. Hate It (3:07)
B4. Jammer (5:40)
Cassette and CDR have exactly the same tracklist
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
Our crummy band is called WORKIN' MAN NOISE UNIT. Apostrophe, no G. (Yeah, all the good names were taken, OK.) From Reading, UK. We are drums, noise, bass, guitar, vocals, sound, energy, bad jokes, the smell of stale beer on sticky floors. Break out a cold one or two, hit a few chords, see how it sounds. Live, tonight, not sold out. Since 2010.
Knocking around the UK underground toilet scene for the past 4 or 5 years, Reading’s WORKIN’ MAN NOISE UNIT have been busy playing countless gigs, releasing limited run tapes/singles and making a nuisance of themselves on postage stamp sized stages around the country. Along the way they’ve picked up some fans, including the likes of Julian Cope who dragged them to London to perform at one of his book launches, and have shared stages with plenty of the current UK underground Mafioso including Hey Colossus, The Unit Ama, Good Throb, Carlton Melton, Terminal Cheesecake, the Wharves, Sly & the Family Drone, Grey Hairs, Gum Takes Tooth, Art of Burning Water, Henry Blacker, Perspex Flesh, Wolf People etc
SOME OF THE THINGS THIS RECORD IS ABOUT
Most of the songs on this record are pretty self-evident. Creepin’ Round is about feeling like an outsider. Smoke Like Hell is about choosing immediacy, choosing the ‘right now’. Jammer is sorta the same except it’s got a beady eye on what you might call ‘basic shamanism’, you know… Cruisin’ the IDR is about Reading’s Inner Distribution Road, which is a concrete blanket that snakes around the centre of the town, holding Reading in a sort of permanent stranglehold. It’s been there since the late 60s and it’s ugly to look at. Part of the IDR has big concrete walls and all you can see whilst driving through these sections is tarmac, concrete and, if you look up, sky. We drive around it a lot. Cruisin’ the IDR is the closest thing we will ever get to a ‘hometown’ song. Yeah, I was Hypnotised is about fascination with the atomic bomb, particularly the ubiquitous ‘mushroom cloud’ image but also the small matter of the human race making this thing in order to destroy itself en masse. Hate It is about apathy and feeling powerless to change owt going on. It’s also about recognising that apathy and trying to get yourself going, find a way through it. And about lying to yourself.
CASSETTE AND CDR (TOUR EDITIONS)
WATCH THE 'PLAY LOUD' PROMO VIDEOS BELOW
'Icegrill 420' & 'Yeah, I Was Hypnotised'
Julian Cope reviewing the bands ‘DRINKIN’ STELLA TO MAKE MUSIC TO DRINK STELLA’ cassette
“Okay, now deffo the best way to commence this month’s Reviews Section is to pop on to my nearest ‘90s ghetto blaster this manky chromate yellow cassette emblazoned with the simple words ‘play loud’. Brilliantly named DRINKIN’ STELLA TO MAKE MUSIC TO DRINK STELLA TO and magnificently performed by four English nuttas by the name of Workin’ Man Noise Unit, there’s enough cunted Mithraic fire within these two brief sides of monumental midrange and Tinnitus-inducing plateaux to summon up a whole new music scene around these geezers, nay, these Pyramids of Giza. What’s it sound like? Fuck knoweth, brothers’n’sisters. How about the bastard offspring of Final Solution-period Pere Ubu plays Tight Bros From Way Back When, or even the Electric Eels performing Monoshock’s ‘Model Citizen’ into a single compressor microphone. Sweeeeeett! A classic debut, kiddies; let’s just hope nobody with a studio comes to fuck’em up.”
Summed up nicely. PLAY LOUD
Debut full-length for this UK bunch, who have led up to this release with a number of cassettes and singles that have successfully made their point of making outWorkin’ Man Noise Unit to be a band that cares only about producing no nonsense rock. With Play Loud, the title can be taken a couple ways, because on one hand this album needs to be played loud since it seems to be mastered at a bit of a lower volume…a clever trick that forces me into doing just what they want, and on the other hand the music itself is certainly of the loud rock variety that gradually finds me inching the volume higher and higher anyway. In the beginning, when I received and listened to their first cassette Drinkin’ Stella to Make Music to Drink Stella To, the music was more in the aggro/noise-rock vein of things, the notion and instruction in the liner notes to “play loud” was always there however. As the band has progressed, they’ve been edging into an area that is more of the 70’s riff-rock vein but dressed up with a larger amount of distortion/noise, kind reminiscent to stuff like Torche, Fu Manchu, Kyuss, and Karp. If anything, titles like “Smoke Like Hell”, “Icegrill 420” and “Black Lights” should give a sense of what to expect. If that’s your cup of tea, then Workin’ Man Noise Unit will likely be of interest as they are certainly capable of hanging in there with the more prominent bands of the genre and their mantra of “play loud” ends up being more than just for show
BUILT ON A WEAK SPOT
Riot Season is quickly becoming one of my favourite UK labels, not least because many of its signings seem to be snatching stoner rock back from the flagging clutches of the United States and infusing its Orange-amped phatness with more eccentrically British lyrical qualities. Earlier this year, the songs on Henry Blacker’s second LP jumped from one subject (i.e. seamen stranded on the ocean) to another (such as a “shit magus” who “stinks of cum and cooking sherry”) like a diverse collection of short stories or a succession of Monty Python sketches. Whereas their glamorously tanned Californian forbearers such as Fu Manchu sang about joy rides on sand dunes in boogie vans, Workin’ Man Noise Unit focus instead on Reading’s Inner Distribution Road. In their press release, the band describe the IDR as “a concrete blanket that snakes around the centre of the town, holding Reading in a sort of permanent stranglehold.” The runaway American dream of Highway 9, this ain’t. Born to run, we aren’t. Born to be asphyxiated by oppressive dual carriageways, are we. When not shouting at roads or confessing to an obsession with the atomic bomb, WMNU assert that “we’ve got nothing to say... but we will say it anyway” and amen to that. Sonically, Play Loud is packed with no-nonsense meat-feast riffs accompanied by a swirling background breeze. ‘Yeah, I Was Hypnotized’ hints towards a potential knack for Torche-esque poppiness before it audaciously decelerates to a sludgier wallow. Similarly, ‘Black Lights’ might have been categorized as a proper rock ballad if WMNU hadn’t buried its vocals in potato mash and black gravy and dubbed on a guitar track that resembles a distressed chimpanzee trying to screech its way out of its shit-covered cage. Another highlight, ‘Smoke Like Hell’, is basically Jane’s Addiction rewriting Oasis’s ‘Cigarettes & Alcohol’ in Clutch’s rehearsal space. It’s on this tune and the following couple of closing numbers (and particularly the bleakly political ‘Hate It’) that the band’s rowdy dual vocals start to remind you of Fugazi, which only sweetens the whole damn deal
One of the more disappointing moments of recent years in the underground music scene was the sudden split of Wet Nuns. Here was a band who promised so much, taking the parched blues of Black Keys and turning it into a blistering cavalcade of noise. It was a sign that the beating heart of rock and roll was still alive. Then it ended.
You could say that Workin’ Mans Noise Unit are the spiritual heirs to that rock and roll as their burnt out punk takes on the template set out by MC5 and updates it for a modern approach. Taking no prisoners and with tongue firmly in cheek, they hurtle headlong into a no frills approach and in doing so reinvent what it means to be a rock and roll band.
As is the wont with bands of this ilk, you barely catch a breath before you are on third song, ‘Icegrill 420’. Already you have been bombarded with the incisive ‘With Love Supreme’ and thrown back to the old terrace shouts of the OI generation with ‘Crusin’ The DR’. By the time ‘Icegrill 420’ kicks in you have been battered into wonderful submission and quite likely have discovered new muscles in your body as you hurl yourself about the room.
Perhaps the most telling factor about Workin’ Mans Noise Unit is that there is actually a rather intelligent band at work and behind all the punk bluster are songs that carry a lot of meat. As Play Loud progresses, the band explore further avenues of sound opening themselves up to a much more free form approach. Within the confines of a three minute record, they find ways to explore more progressive elements and that they get away with it is testament to how good a band they are.
Let’s not get carried away though as deep in its heart this is simply rock and roll and all the better for it. ‘Yeah I Was Hypnotised’ and ‘Jammer’ may show different sides of the band but they still pack a punch where it counts. They do show a band that may actually be in it for the long haul and at least beat the aforementioned Wet Nuns in album stakes. We could be in for some interesting times.
That’s the future though and Workin’ Mans Noise Unit are really about the now so we must celebrate this most punctual of albums which hits a nerve left abandoned for too long. It’s sheer veracity is a blast of fresh air and places itself as a prime piece of rock and roll from these shores. We need bands like this, they show us that it doesn’t have to be all humdrum seriousness. 4/5
‘Play Loud’ is a phrase that could, in this case, not only be used as a title adorning the frontage of a record as a distinctive identifier, but also as an order. An order barked at you via the greying lungs of a drunken army sergeant intent on making you rock out until you pass out. As orders go it’s pretty succinct.
It’s certainly the best way to enjoy the debut album from Reading noise-sods Workin’ Man Noise Unit, coming soon on Riot Season Records. Weeviling out of the musty Reading woodwork like some vast distorted mollusc, Workin’ Man Noise Unit are a multi-limbed, insect-like beastie consisting of dual vocalists, electronic noise warpings, scrappy guitar, bass and drums. Like Jiminy Cricket if he drank more Special Brew and listened to Sabbath.
Since 2010 they’ve released a small pincerful of limited runs and cassettes. They’ve played plenty of gigs with the likes of Hey Colossus, Good Throb, Sly & the Family Drone and Grey Hairs. Even former Teardrop Explodes singer turned writer Julian Cope is a fan, inviting them to perform at one of his book launches. Which must be a good sign.
Play Loud is nine songs of filth, coming in at about 32 brief minutes. It’s bratty, noisy and shouty, and I’m not talking about three rogue members of the seven dwarfs here. Or maybe I am. Who knows where Workin’ Man Noise Unit came from really? I wouldn’t be surprised if a few dwarfs got pissed off with Snow White’s dozy queen bee attitude and decided to fuck off and set up a noise band in the south of England.
All that said, what is surprising about Play Loud is how clean it sounds and how catchy it actually is. It has its fair share of earworms. Having witnessed Workin’ Man Noise Unit’s live raucousness I expected the album to be a whirl of abrasive electronic distortion, punky angular guitars and shouted garbles.
Yet from the off, ‘With Love Supreme’ offers a clear, if somewhat rowdy, rock cleanliness, which showcases the riffs and vocals in a fairly bright light, not the fuzzy murk I was expecting. It’s a pleasant surprise, as it allows Workin’ Man Noise Unit more space to explore and expand, rather than just get their heads down and bash away. As it were. You get the sense that underneath the aura of fun and larks lurks a rather serious band.
‘Cruisin’ The IDR’ brings to mind a more brutish Hives, if old Howlin’ Pelle and the boys weren’t so interested in pop-rock ‘n’ roll and instead sang drunkenly about Reading’s inner distribution road, which is by all accounts a very dim, concrete stretch of motorway. Not the most glamorous theme for any song, but Workin’ Man Noise Unit manage to make such a potentially dreary premise into a triumphant and invigorating chant-a-long.
‘Yeah, I Was Hypnotised’ combines Workin’ Man Noise Unit’s chanted vocals, rolling basslines and guitars into a eusocial (look it up) push towards invertebrate slacker bliss, writhing itself towards heavy drum beats and nonchalant guitar feedback. It’s like Parquet Courts sniffing glue behind the bike sheds I tell you.
‘Smoke Like Hell’ is the album’s big fat rocker. An opening bluesy riff kicks into a prime example of the band’s dual vocals interchange. It’s a standout track and perfectly captures their live experience. Like a sad drunk at a party, things inevitably turn sour: ‘Existence so futile’ cuts in one of the lyrics, echoing the themes of earlier track ‘Icegrill 420′. Workin’ Man Noise Unit are pissed & pissed right off: ‘We’ve got nothing to say but we’ll say it anyway.’
Slower tracks ‘Black lights’ and ‘Hate It’ continue this feeling of disenchantment and add a bummed out grunge sulk to the punk mix. Vocals echo about the corners of the song’s metaphorical darkroom like spiderwebs looking for a ledge to latch onto. The latter starts with a grungy Part Chimp-esque vocal leading a rallying, angst-ridden cry at the state of current culture. Well, it’s not angry necessarily, just disappointed: ‘So what’s the point of modern society?’
There are echoes of Sonic Youth and …Trail of Dead at their least pretentious throughout. Workin’ Man Noise Unit are angry at society’s unquestioning hive mind and willingness to follow a sullen path through to its own mediocrity. Not in a destructive sense though, as they ask (quite reasonably for a change): ‘No more pretending you don’t care at all.’
If that all sounds a bit Robert Smith you’ve missed the point (or I have). This is still an album to be enjoyed, like a swarm of ants kicking back with a six-pack. To top it all off the album also features excellent artwork by Tim Farthing of Hey Colossus and Henry Blacker fame. You can’t say fairer than that.
No wonder (the fictional) Workin’ Man Noise Unit wanted to get loose from the shackles of Snow White’s dwarf queen servitude and strike free via the medium of rock. Fuck being a drone dwarf like Dopey. What a cunt.
Break free, play loud and get your buzz on.
When Your debut release gets rave reviews by Julian Cope you know it will probably be mentioned by every blogger and reviewer. I have promised myself I wouldn’t do this, but he hit the nail on the head so well. Workin Man Noise Unit (WMNU) seem to have an ability to make every song sound like it needs to be played and played loud (pun not intended). Personally, I can hear everything from Hawkwind,The Heads, Minor Threat to Kyuss. ‘Play Loud’ is packed with ideas and all of them work
Opener ‘With Love Supreme’ ain’t no tribute to John Coltrane, no this is more of a tribute to ’11’ and like any good opener should do, it sets out the stall for the next thirty five deafening minutes. ‘Crusin’ The IDR’ moves things up a gear delivering a kind of Stoner Punk with a good old fashioned shouty chorus, clocking in at less than two minutes it has a genuine sense of urgency in fact the whole album races along at a pretty frantic rate. When the foot does ease off the pedal nothing is lost, it still retains its heaviness. Tracks such as ‘Black Lights’ may not race along like the previous tracks, but this feedback drenched beast sets the tone for side 2 in which a growing sense of claustrophobia starts to creep in. By the time we get to album closer ‘Jammer’ with its duel vocals, ridiculously heavy guitars and thunderous drums you realize you have just had the sonic version of a good kicking.
WMNU are going to make a lot of friends with this album and all you have to is buy this motherfucker and follow the simple instruction PLAY LOUD! Simples.
We all need balls-out hard-rock cut with a gilt edge. We first got it with the mighty Black Sabbath, who wrote the template for heavy rock; we then got our ribs rattled by Lemmy's mob and the rest is history.
Reading's own noiseniks, Workin' Man Noise Unit, draw from the blueprint of the two aforementioned bands, but before you even think about dismissing them as mere impersonators, they infuse the whole fucking thing with a love of Albini, Jesus Lizard, and Fugazi. They are agitated from start to finish as they pour their entire bodily fluids into new long-player, the aptly titled Play Loud. This is agitated, cathartic rock played at a nihilistic intensity.
The impact is instant on opener 'With Love Supreme'. A wall of soaring noise hijacked by a rising guitar and a hounding vocal bouncing between the drums and crunching bass, a startlingly good in your face opener. 'Crusin' the IDR', is quite possibly a tribute to the most mind numblingly dull piece of road in Reading with mentions of concrete and the best football crowd chant chorus you'll hear all year.
'Play Loud' has nine tracks in total all played with a barrage of inexorable heavy hard irregular punk rock albeit with hardcore leanings. There isn't a let up in the drive and tension relieving power that WMNU deliver, personified by 'Icegrill 420' but they do have the capacity to not just drive your ears into submission when the eery 'Creeping Around' threatens to slowly remove your spleen, clean it out and put it back again!
'Yeah I was hypnotised' weighs in at over five minutes and it's dark haunting arrangement is like being stuck in the middle of a circular moshpit with no visible signs of escape such is it's claustrophic cauldron.
The cloak and dagger feel continues on the brooding 'Smoke Lights', incoherent misanthropic vocals disguised by a self pitying bassline and atonal guitar. Proof that the band don't need to play foot to the floor music to leave an positive imprint on your psyche.
'Play Loud' is a stunningly good album, dark in spirit and delivery but with all the impact of a 1000 jackhammers slicing open old wounds and gleefully reslicing them again
Workin 'Man of Reading Noise Unit arrives and has a guitar (Sam Clarke), bass (Dominic James), a battery (Jon Cornwell) and an endless whirl of electronic and abrasive distortions coming to cover the skinned basic (Jamie Hobley). After a slew of cassettes and 45s (Yellow Mind), here come Play Loud, their first long format. Nine pieces thirty-two tiny minutes and a title in the form of injunction. All packaged in a pouch at once Christ psychedelic signed Tim Farthing (Hey Colossus / Henry Blacker), flanked by the venerable logo Riot Season. When told that, we all said. Well almost. Of course, we find here and there some psycho-sealed scent already crossed in the label span but they are not enough to define the music of Workin 'Man Noise Unit. At times it sounds like a Killdozer specializing in covers of Suicide, to others, like a Black Sabbath from the dead back to haunt the catalog of Touch & Go or PSMA. It also means the Mudhoney, the Part Chimp and stridency that strongly recall the Pere Ubu Final Solution. A curious mixture forms prototypical but to singular contours. It's completely punk but also very psychedelic, stoner doubt while being fundamentally noise. So, to force us to think about a lot of things that we can not put my finger on battery, one never knows what convenes Play Loud and drops the little game for categorization and influences to curl into the disc by listening hard.
It is well done.
Everything here is stretched to maximum efficiency. The riffs at once sealed and angular, the rather dirty distortion that inhabits the slightest gap, two urgent voices intertwine and rhythmic Duracell Bunny majority draw many heavy pieces but also very varied. While the first title, With Love Supreme, so lets glimpse a monolithic album and curled up on his sabbathiennes waves, the following, Crusin 'The IDR takes by surprise and leaves the heaviness in favor of a vibration uptempo punk and well on the chorus. And it is the same for everything else. The bluesy-burnt Smoke Like Hell no raised (at least in his starts) Black Lights, very doom Hate It the curious Yeah I Was Hypnotised begins as the torch but ended up snuggling in sludge swamps along the way, the album borrows several directions without ever losing its odor mingled with sweat and drain oil. "Stale beer on sticky floors" they add without one does not find anything to complain about. Sounding at once chiseled and grimey, the pieces often look in the mirror (although some frat rock riffs classic but still jubilant) whereas the synthetic inputs rather precipitate forward. These are however not there to cover an entire arty nickname veil but rather to build and reveal his great oddity. The intermingling of the two voices also brings a lot to Workin 'Man Noise Unit, stressing at the same time his resignation and urgent side. "We've got nothing to say we'll say order it anyway" they bellowed out Icegrill 420, we thank them for this profession of faith. Especially they do very nicely.
Play Loud is perfectly irresistible in his way of ogling in all directions at the same time still remaining consistent. Spinning at the speed of lightning, he is not exhausted. All this is perfectly summarized by his owl pocket on closer look. Further proof that absolutely nothing is left to chance in there. Play Loud, much more than an injunction, a prescription.
INDIE ROCK MAG (Translated from French to English online)
There’s no question that it’s easier than ever for a band to get their music out and on a platform where it has the potential to be heard around the globe. But with so much music out there, it’s perhaps harder than ever to get that music actually heard. How realistic is it to actually tap into that potential global audience? Being good, even mind-blowingly awesome simply isn’t enough. Ironically, then, as (major) labels implode, collapsing in confusion over the state of ‘the industry’ one could argue that bands need labels more than ever. But the real point here is that the big money – or even any money – simply isn’t there for any act who isn’t in the upper echelons. Small wonder that even seemingly ‘successful’ bands nowadays have day jobs. For example, Pissed Jeans might be signed to Sub Po, but judging by their lyrics, they’re hardly raking it in as progenitors of visceral grunge.
So, when it comes to the less successful bands… and I say this without wishing to denigrate the achievements of this act but…. well, I suspect the members of WMNU have day jobs, or otherwise got sacked from them for turning up late and hungover, not least of all judging by their self-effacing bio, in which they state ‘Our crummy band is called WORKIN’ MAN NOISE UNIT. Apostrophe, no G. (Yeah, all the good names were taken, OK.) From Reading, UK. We are drums, noise, bass, guitar, vocals, sound, energy, bad jokes, the smell of stale beer on sticky floors. Break out a cold one or two, hit a few chords, see how it sounds. Live, tonight, not sold out.’
Over the last five years, they’ve been busy ‘playing countless gigs, releasing limited run tapes/singles and making a nuisance of themselves on postage stamp sized stages around the country’. They’ve won a few fans and friends along the way, and Play Loud should, if there’s any justice, score them a few more.
Play Loud is rough ‘n’ ready, unpretentious. It’s the kind of riotous racket that hollers ‘release from long hours spent in shit office job’ or ‘hacked off with dealing with customers and need space to vent’. It’s hard-hitting, grimy, feedback-filled rock, rugged, sweaty and unglamourous. You could never describe it as being overproduced, but that’s a virtue: it’s all about capturing the energy and the immediacy of a band giving it a hundred per cent. It’s grungy, lo-fi, and whether it’s the sound or white or blue collar rage, the end result is a beige ring of perspiration around the somewhat worn Asda shirt collar.
This, of course, is the true essence of rock ‘n’ roll: fuck work, play it loud.
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