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the official distractions website

Welcome to the official Distractions website. We will be aiming to record the history of one of the greatest, but least heralded, of all Manchester beat groups.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pop for people with refined taste

Another recent review (along with label mates, Factory Star's new mini LP) from the Vital Weekly webcast ("the oldest online source for music reviews") by Frans De Waard:


FACTORY STAR - NEW SACRAL (CD by Occultation Records)

Now, right now, the summer is almost perfect.  Good temperature, not too hot so you can't think anymore, but nice, a bit clouded, but lots of sunshine.  I should be out there, doing whatever people do 'out there', a holiday perhaps.  Pick a book from shelf that I already a couple of times, say 'Factory - The Story Of The Record Label', by Mick Middles and lie on the beach, listening to that 4 CD set of all the great moments of Factory Records. 

Perhaps, perhaps I would wonder whatever happened to some of those bands, certainly when Middles' book provides no answer for it.  But he mentions, extensively, the 'great lost band' of the new wave era, The Distractions.  It took them no less than thirty two years to come with a follow-up to the only LP 'Nobody's Perfect' (Island Records) and the great 7" on Factory Records.  That's something else, like releasing thirty-two CDs in a single year.  Ten songs, thirty-nine minutes: classic pop length.  With only two original members left, but with the characteristic voice of Mike Finney, this is some excellent encounter in the world of pop music - a world I hardly know anything about. 

The Distractions play some excellent melancholic songs (I am known not to pay too much attention to the lyrics, so I have no idea what they are about), but with a great breezy, early autumn atmosphere.  Not instant sing-alongs, as this is not pop for the masses, but for people with a refined taste.  Sometimes wine gets better over many years, what about The Distractions?  They are surely as great in those days, but perhaps even better?  Excellent stuff.

Which can also be said of Factory Star, the new band of Martin Bramah, a long time ago of The Fall and The Blue Orchids.  I sure liked their previous full length album 'Enter Castle Perilous' (see Vital Weekly 776) and their christmas single (Vital Weekly 808).  A band with Bramah at the helm and on vocals and guitar, along with someone playing organ, bass and drums.  Simple and effective music, be it more rock than pop, to draw a difference with The Distractions. 

Here are six new tracks, spanning the length of a 10" (in which this is also released, for Occultation CDs are effective tools of promotion) of again mild psychedelic music, with the organ playing that highly effective role, remembering us again of The Doors, although Factory Star doesn't share the jazz like feeling of Manzarek's playing of the keyboards.  It colors the music wonderfully well.  'Strangely Lucid' one of the songs is called and that's how one probably feels after hearing this.  Great stuff too.  I am about ready to book that holiday and take with me all those great Occultation releases and nothing else. 

Frans De Waard

Monday, August 27, 2012

The great lost voice of English rock

This month's Record Collector is a veritable Distractions special, with this fine review, a Q&A article with Steve Perrin, not to mention being named on the front cover.  The review is another 4-star affair, this time from Mark Brend (note the deliberate mistake regarding the move from Factory Records):

The Distractions

The End Of The Pier

4 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars

Occultation | YMIR 7 DC 017 (CD / LP)

Another 2012 Mancunian comeback

The enterprising Devon-based Occultation label is carving a niche for itself by reanimating post-punk pop outsiders.  Last time out it was Liverpool’s Wild Swans, now it’s the turn of Manchester’s Distractions, a brief and anomalous presence on Factory back in 1979, before a move to Virgin resulted in a sole album in 1980.  Fast-forward a few decades and core members Mike Finney (vocals) and Steve Perrin (guitar) reconvened in Exeter to record their belated second album, produced by Occultation boss Nick Halliwell and blessed with the considerable presence of drummer Mike Kellie (Only Ones and Spooky Tooth).

The Distractions minted a sort of widescreen garage guitar pop first time around, which survives here, as hard to pigeonhole now as it was then.  Finney is one of the great lost voices of English rock and, with a freshness and energy that belies his years, he’s the band’s ace card.  Trading lines with Perrin on Halliwell’s Wise, the album’s strongest song, he achieves a high poignancy.  Elsewhere, 100 Times fleetingly conjures up images of an English Springsteen driving a transit van on the M62, which is a good thing.  Signing off with The Last Song, Finney gravely intones, “This is the last song I’ll ever sing.”  We can only hope not.

Mark Brend

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Glorious, understated melody

This was the first review of "The End Of The Pier" to appear in one of the monthlies, by John Aizlewood in Q...


The End Of The Pier


Their second album.  Just 32 years after the first...

The runts of Manchester's post-punk litter, The Distractions disbanded a year after their debut album failed to set the world alight in 1980.  Yet such is its enduring quality that its creators' unnoticed demise has become increasingly mourned.  Now, leader Steve Perrin and singer Mike Finney have added a trio of new Mancunians and reconvened, albeit on a necessarily part-time basis, since Perrin resides in New Zealand.  Aside from the beefed-up production, it's as if they and their sunny-sounding tales of doomed relationships, quiet heartbreak and self-flagellation have never been away.  The combination of Finney's super-rich, impossibly rueful voice and Perrin's ear for a glorious, understated melody reaches its zenith on the hushed twinkle of Too Late To Change, the tearjerking Wise and the irresistible The Summer I Met You.  How we've unknowingly missed them.   
4 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars


DOWNLOAD:  Wise  |  The Summer I Met You  |  Girl Of The Year  |  Too Late To Change

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Romance and melancholy

Here is David Quantick's article in the September issue of Uncut (which may have resulted in the last few tickets for the Friday gig being snapped up - now Saturday night is selling fast):


Stop me, 
if you think you've 
heard this one before

THEY WERE ONE of the great Manchester bands, a charismatic singer and a great guitarist, and they left an enormous gap between their t two equally extraordinary albums.  Now they're back, and the fans are delighted.  I am, of course, referring to The Distractions, whose 1979 Factory single "Time Goes By So Slow" is a sad song with a happy tune that even Pete Shelley would kill to write, and whose Island album Nobody's Perfect is so wonderful that it may have failed to be a worldwide hit only because Island signed U2 on the same day and saw which way the wallet was falling.

Now they're back, with vocalist Mike Finney - post-punk's greatest soul singer - and guitarist Steve Perrin, the missing link between David Byrne and Johnny Marr, and some live dates (not quite Heaton Park; King's Arms, Salford, August 31 and September 1).  I'll be there, shouting and weeping with many other middle-aged fans of romance and melancholy.  It's not just nostalgia to go and see The Distractions because they've got a new album out, The End Of The Pier, only 32 years after the last one.

But what if they hadn't?  What if The Distractions were just another old-man new-wave band, touring minor hit singles from 1978 while the hacks at the bar say, "Of course, they lost it when the drummer joined Hambi & The Dance"?  I've spent a lot of time mocking people for going to reunion shows lately, keeping quiet about the Buzzcocks and Magazine gigs I've recently seen, and I'm aware I'm guilty of being ever so slightly massively two-faced.

I don't know.  I still play records I loved in 1979 and 1986, and I'd still love to see the groups who made them because gigs are different to records.  I'd rather see bands with new records out, but I've loved the Paul McCartney and Sex Pistols shows I've seen (not alas together).  Come on!  It's not too late!).

Nostalgia for an age yet to come," Pete Shelley rang, in 1978.  He wasn't to know that the age yet to come would itself be modern nostalgia.  These days we live in a world that's not so much back to the future as forward to the past.  Punk is to us is what World War II was to our parents. Which makes me, I suppose, Corporal Jones.  And they still don't like it up 'em.

DAVID QUANTICK, Uncut, 2012.

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