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WORKING MEN'S CLUB

Working Men's Club

Fear Fear

    Songs created in the shadow of terror and loss, but that crackle and pop with defiance Fear Fear is a record made for agitating and dancing, for heart and soul, for here, now and tomorrow. It’s a record that explores juxtaposition; that of life and death, acceptance and isolation, environment and humanity, hope and despair, the real world and the digital world. That top to bottom rigour, the complete vision is what makes the second album from Working Men’s Club such a stunning and unique achievement.

    Their critically acclaimed self-titled debut album, released in summer 2020, was the sound of singer and songwriter Syd Minsky-Sargeant processing a teenage life in Todmorden in the Upper Calder Valley. He was 16 when he wrote some of those songs, now 20, he had to get up and out of the Valley. “The first album was mostly a personal documentation lyrically, this is a blur between personal and a third-person perspective of what was going on.” Fear Fear documents the last two years. Yes, there is bleakness – but there is also hope and empathy. “I like the contrast of it being happy, uplifting music and really dark lyrics. It’s not a minimal record, certainly compared to the first one. That’s because there’s been a lot more going on that needed to be said.”

    Making the busy feel finessed and the dreadful feel magical – Fear Fear manages those feats, and then some. Or, as Syd Minksy-Sargeant puts it: “We just set out to make the best-sounding album we could.”

    Fear Fear was produced by Ross Orton (Arctic Monkeys, MIA, Tricky) and recorded at Orton’s studio in Sheffield.

    TRACK LISTING

    1 19
    2 Fear Fear
    3 Widow
    4 Ploys
    5 Cut
    6 Rapture
    7 Circumference
    8 Heart Attack
    9 Money Is Mine
    10 The Last One


    Working Men's Club

    X - Remixes (Paranoid London And Minsky Rock)

      Following the recent release of 'X', the first new music from Working Men’s Club since their acclaimed self-titled debut was released in the autumn of 2020, the band share remixes from Paranoid London and Minsky Rock.

      A side project of Syd from the band and producer Ross Orton, the Minsky Rock remix channels the energy of the primetime Detroit electro of Aux 88 or Cybertron while Paranoid London, the duo made up of Quinn Whalley and Gerardo Delgardo, turn in a bubbling 303 drenched acid workout.

      TRACK LISTING

      A1. X Paranoid London Remix
      A2. X Minsky Rock Remix

      B1. X Paranoid London Remix (Instrumental)
      B2. X Minsky Rock Remix (Instrumental)

      Working Men's Club

      X

        X is the first new music from Working Men’s Club since their acclaimed self-titled debut was released in the autumn of 2020, the album was the band’s perfect statement of intent, X is the delivery, the message, the action.

        X rides on a sustained attack and gives way to a glorious synth heavy release of a chorus that’s just biding its time for a summer of discontent and dancing. This is the sound of your new favourite band hitting their stride. Count the days ’til you can see them in a field or in a club again.

        Self-produced by Syd Minsky and once again mixed by Ross Orton, Y? is a synth heavy assault which picks up where X left off before venturing off into deeper acid-laced territory.

        TRACK LISTING

        A.X
        B.Y

        Robin Turner

        Believe In Magic - Heavenly Recordings: The First 30 Years - Working Men's Club Exclusive Edition

          We're super excited to be able to get our hands on some of these limited edition version of this fantastic book. 

          This edition features an exclusive 7" single
           - Angel (part 1) b/w Angel (part 2) - from Piccadilly favourites Working Men’s Club. They blew us away with their live shows last year and we can't wait for their debut album. 

          You may have heard Angel in all its 12 minute glory in WMC’s legendary live sets. Here’s the studio version, produced by Ross Orton, split over both sides of a 7”.

          Heavenly was already a state of mind. Seemed like the right time to make it something really special. We were all deeply immersed in music that we loved. None of us could believe our fucking luck, really. (Jeff Barrett) 

          It was thirty years ago today - or thereabouts - that Heavenly came to be. In celebration of this big ol’ birthday comes Believe in Magic - a chronicle not only of Foxbase Alpha, Working Men’s Club and 28 of the releases in between that got the label to where it is today, but also of the haircuts, nights down the pub, pencil-eraser-carvings, cheese toasties, acid houses, Sunday Socials and lost Weekenders - Yorkshire and otherwise - that are as much a part of its story. 

          As Jeff Barrett puts it at the beginning of the book, if there’s a continuous theme that runs through all of this, I think it’s that everything comes down to conversations with people about music. It might seem like it all starts with someone on one side of the counter who is selling you something, or someone writing excitedly in a magazine telling you about a band you need to hear, but I don’t think I’ve ever really seen things as one-way transactions. It’s more an ongoing dialogue, one that never really stops and helps to build up this growing soundtrack to our lives, something that’s passed from one person to another. That’s really the ever-present thread. That’s why we still believe in magic. 

          Though we are three decades distant from The World According to Sly and Lovechild, lineup changes, ups, downs, and a good few office cleanups under the label’s belt, the Heavenly firm continue not to believe their fucking luck; at still being here, keepin’ on keepin’ on doing what they love, and at being able to pass all of this - then, now, and next week - on to you. 

          Believe in Magic is a fully illustrated history of one of the most colourful and exciting independent British record labels; a label responsible for creating satellite communities of fans around the country and at all the major festivals.
          After several years working at Factory and Creation, Heavenly Recordings was set up by Jeff Barrett in 1990 as the acid house revolution was in full swing; early releases set the tone and tempo for the mood of the decade to come - their first release was by perhaps the most revered acid house DJ of them all, Andrew Weatherall; and this was quickly followed by singles from St Etienne and Manic Street Preachers. 

          Heavenly was always different to other labels; more of a 'club' with a defiant spirit of inclusiveness, and in 1994 they set up The Heavenly Social, which alongside the Hacienda, became perhaps the most famous club in recent British history, where the Chemical Brothers made their name. 

          Over nearly 200 releases in thirty years Heavenly have consistently produced some of the most exciting music across all genres - dance, acid house, singer-songwriter, psych-garage - and this book collects rare photographs, ephemera, artwork into a celebration of a label that is, alongside Rough Trade and Factory, one of the most beloved institutions on the independent landscape. Running though the book are thirty stories, mostly told in the form of oral history by artists like James Dean Bradfield, Flowered Up, Beth Orton, Doves and Don Letts, which capture the presiding personality of the label, its bands and the people associated with its success. 



          Working Men's Club

          Working Men's Club

            A rumble on the horizon. Gritted teeth, nuclear fizz and fissured rock. A dab of pill dust from a linty pocket before it hits: the atom split, pool table overturned, pint glass smashed — valley fever breaking with the clouds as the inertia of small town life is well and truly disrupted. Here to bust out of Doledrum, clad in a t-shirt that screams SOCIALISM and armed with drum machine, synth, pedal and icy stare are Working Men’s Club, and their self-titled debut album.

            It’s hard to believe that the three fresh-faced music college kids who bounced out of nowhere and onto the 6 Music playlist with the sweet-but-potent, twangy guitar-led ‘Bad Blood’ (Melodic Records) in 2019 are the same band who clattered back there with maddening techno-cowbellpuncher ‘Teeth’ less than half a year later — and that’s because for the most part, they’re not. Having signed to Heavenly and with the hype around them building, underlying tensions came to a boil a mere five days before the band’s all-important first London headline show, and wunderkind frontman Syd Minsky-Sargeant was left high and dry; guitarist Giulia Bonometti had decided to focus on her blossoming solo career, and drummer Jake Bogacki was against the new electronic direction Minsky-Sargeant saw Working Men’s Club taking. (“I guess WMC started off as a bit more guitar-based, tryna copy stuff in our own way, like the Velvets and stuff like that, but I didn’t want it to be that anymore. It became dancier and dancier as I tried to experiment”, he explains.) All that remained of the outfit was Minsky-Sargeant himself, recently recruited bassist Liam Ogburn, and — given the band’s indebtment to wood panelled, community-run venues for an early leg-up — a rather pertinent name. But with staunch determination burning in his belly, Minsky-Sargeant quickly assembled a lineup consisting of himself, Ogburn, and Mairead O'Connor (The Moonlandingz) and Rob Graham (Drenge, Baba Naga) — both of whom he had met at the Sheffield studio of producer Ross Orton (The Fall, M.I.A., Arctic Monkeys) — replaced the live drums with a drum machine, and rush-rehearsed the new setup before going ahead with the show. “If it wasn’t for Sheffield then we probably wouldn’t have played that gig” he says. “I was shitting myself, because I didn’t know what would work or not.” Luckily, something stuck: “After about three gigs with that lineup it was already way better than what we’d had before.” Two original members lighter and three new ones the richer, Working Men’s Club took on a new hard-edge permutation, their shows becoming ever more sweaty, pulsating and rammed to the rafters; their energy raw; their vigour renewed; their interplay as musicians growing ever-more intuitive and elastic. Their eponymous collection of songs is equal parts Calder Valley restlessness and raw Sheffield steel; guitars locking horns with floor-filling beats, synths masquerading as drums and Minsky-Sargeant’s scratchy, electrifying bedroom demos brought to their full potential by Orton’s blade-sharp yet sensitive production.

            It was at home in the town of Todmorden in the Calder Valley, West Yorkshire, feeling hemmed in, that 18-year-old Syd Minsky-Sargeant first began assembling these 10 songs. “There’s not much going on, not much stuff to do as a teenager” he says. “It’s quite isolated. And it can get quite depressing being in a town where in the winter it gets light at nine in the morning and dark at four”. It is this sense of cabin fever, of “thinking that you will never escape a small town in the middle of nowhere” on which the album opens, with the boredom-lamenting and rave-reminiscent ‘Valleys’. In a post-punk talk-sing over an old-skool beat, Minsky-Sargeant begins:

            Trapped, inside a town, inside my mind

            Stuck with no ideas, I’m running out of time

            There’s no quick escape, so many mistakes, I’ll play the long game

            This winter is a curse

            And the valley is my hearse, when will it take me to the grave?

            Fortunately for Syd and a thousand other bored-shitless, dark-dwelling teenagers, the Calder Valley boasts a burgeoning grassroots music scene, chiefly centred around The Golden Lion in Todmorden, and the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge — both of which were instrumental in the early life of the band. “Without those venues we probably wouldn’t have been able to get into playing live music”, Minsky-Sargeant reflects. Working Men’s Club’s first ever gig, at The Golden Lion, was self-booked and self-promoted, landlord Waka having allowed the band to use the 100-capacity room above the pub for free. Even before booking himself onto the stage though, Minsky-Sargeant regularly snuck into the venue to watch the internationally renowned DJs, like Justin Robertson and Luke Unabomber, who passed through its doors. This, combined with the discovery of 808 State, his stepdad’s extensive afrobeat record collection, YouTube videos of Jeff Mills making beats on a Roland TR-909, and a chance festival encounter with Soulwax, provided sustenance and inspiration for Working Men’s Club’s developing sound. Though it is songs almost entirely written and sung by Minsky-Sargeant that appear on the record, he is quick to point out the influence of the other members of his band on the record too; that “everyone that’s been involved in this band, from the old lineup to the new lineup, played on the record, contributed and shaped it in some way, through the phases”, wheedling in and around Minsky-Sargeant’s songs, embellishing them with their own bass, guitar, key or backing vocal parts. And without Orton, “it wouldn’t have been half as good a record.” Working with the producer radically changed MinskySargeant’s songwriting practice — “I tried to replicate what he was doing in his studio in my bedroom, and think more about drum sounds and making them more complicated and messing around with synths and stuff like that. It made me think about more components than just a guitar.”

            The songs following ‘Valleys’ come fast and relentless — momentum ever increasing, mission well and truly stated as the frenetic, pew-pewing ‘A.A.A.A’ speeds through to nonchalant existential groove ‘John Cooper Clarke’ — centred around the realisation that yes, even the luckiest guy alive, the Bard of Salford himself, will someday die.

            Hard holds hands with soft, and rough with smooth. On washily-vocalled, Orange Juicily-guitared ‘White Rooms and People’, there are simultaneously beautifully blooming flowers and ‘people talking shit about you’, and the hazy, ricocheting ‘Outside’, the gentlest track on the album, flips straight into the tough-as-shit, industrially-geared ‘Be My Guest’, which opens the second half of the record with markedly E. Smithian brio. The opening bars of ‘Cook A Coffee’ are momentarily reminiscent of ‘Bad Blood’, but spiral into direct and uncomfortable eye contact in song-form; a lost Joy Division number from an alternate universe, about taking a dump live on the telly. ‘Tomorrow’ glitches and glimmers, whilst outro track ‘Angel’ moves between psychedelic languidity and hardcore thrash, the album playing itself out on a 12-and-a-half-minute noodle.

            It is with war, free-fall, and re-birth already behind them that Working Men’s Club emerge, resilient; inspiration from across breadth of eras, genres and tour-mates merely strata in their very own indie-cum-dance-cum-techno niche in the crag.

            Diva Harris, February 2020

            STAFF COMMENTS

            Laura says: It's perhaps unsurprising that a band from the Calder Valley on the edge of the Pennines draws on influences from both sides of the hills. Todmorden’s WMC have done just that, splicing the synth led sounds of 80s Sheffield with doomy Mancunian post punk stylings to create a forward thinking monster of a debut album. The acidic synths and pulsing beat of album opener “Valleys” encapsulate the claustrophobia of growing up in a small town and the smothering intensity is maintained through the industrial clatter of “A.A.A.A.”. With its funk fuelled grooves, nonchalant vocals and bitter sweet chorus, “John Cooper Clarke” could easily be an undiscovered classic from early Factory days. As side one draws to a close, the mood is lifted with the choppy guitar groove of “White Rooms and People”, and on “Outside”, it feels like they’ve escaped the town for sun kissed wide open spaces. Side two reverts to pounding industrial grooves and distorted guitars on “Be My Guest”. “Tomorrow” marries monotone vocals with a super catchy chorus while “Cook a Coffee” takes a cheeky snipe at a certain TV presenter. “Teeth” is aimed squarely at the dancefloor with its relentless synth stabs interwoven with doomy guitar riffs and “Angel” brings the album to a triumphant close: Jangling guitars and crashing cymbals over a driving rhythm that morphs into a sprawling psychedelic wig-out.

            They set out to make a dance record that wouldn’t be pigeonholed as a dance record. I think they’ve nailed it.

            TRACK LISTING

            1 Valleys
            2 A.A.A.A.
            3 John Cooper Clarke
            4 White Rooms And People
            5 Outside
            6 Be My Guest
            7 Tomorrow
            8 Cook A Coffee
            9 Teeth
            10 Angel


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