Sugar-sweet and good for you – this is the sound of Manuka. These Brighton boys know their way around their instruments, although vocalist Ollie Wickham has a limited range. He works what he has brilliantly though and his voice suits the band’s sound without detracting from it in any way.
Opener ‘Public’ screams its Small Faces influences but the jaunty drums and bass line are cheeky enough to forgive the lack of originality. There is a real retro quality to this band, but with modern nuances. Imagine if the Kinks had gone forward in time to the Madchester scene and then taken those influences back in time with them… now you’re getting Manuka.
Perhaps it is because they hail from Brighton, with the sea right there in front of them, as there is a pleasing California sunshine sound to their music that forces a smile to pop into place without even trying.
All the tracks on this demo are stand-alone listenable, but middle number ‘Not by my Side’ peaks the interest the most. Gorgeous harmonies caress the ears while a sing-a-long chorus throws in an almost gospel edge – think the early Stones when gospel means rock’n’roll blues. It’s easy to picture a lovelorn A-level student wailing along to the lyrics in the privacy of their bedroom with a passion they’d never let their mates see for fear of looking uncool.
Sadly, having been inspired to check out their myspace site, Manuka have since disbanded. But you can still listen to the tracks on this demo on their myspace page, and enjoy Manuka at home.
Think of it this way, the band members have gone on to form new musical mutations but they were Manuka first, so if they crack the big time you can say you were there from the start.
Guest article from Hayley C.