EP REVIEW/Graham Domain

Stepbrothers featuring The Honourable Ted ‘EP’
(German Shephard Records)

In his early songs Tom Waites championed the downtrodden, the underclass. Individual in both his music and character, he was a flawed human being like the rest of us, but one that would continue to evolve into a truly original artist. If Tom Waites had been born in England, he would no doubt have come from the North of England – a place where the belief in Freedom, Human Rights, Humanity and Justice for All, has always been prevalent and important. A place where Individuals can still feel valued. This three track EP has been made by two such Individuals, set up for ridicule or sainthood and not caring which! Ian ‘Moet’ Moss is singer with Manchester groups The Hamsters and Four Candles and is a serial collaborator, recording albums with a diverse rota of musicians including 2 Lost Souls, Dave Thompson, Kill Pretty and The Parasite. Like Tom Waits he is a maverick, a one-off original and someone prepared to stand up and be counted. He once took on a club full of racist Nazi skinheads on his own and won – they soon left.

The first track on this new collaborative EP as Stepbrothers is ‘Dance Like A Monkey’. A barroom Supertramp piano soon gives way to a mad lyrical dance outlining the perils of following the rules in a Capitalist society – where the majority appear to be willing to do anything (dance like a monkey) for the right price! If everyone in the West is initially indoctrinated into believing in the great God money as the way to freedom, many soon spot the ruse and see the fatal flaw in conforming to this form of societal mind control. But most are still too scared to stray far, for it’s a hard road to follow. The experts espouse that ‘Thinking for yourself’ is surely unnatural and the trail is littered with pamphlets on Mindfulness and Mental Health helplines! Anti-depressants are the order of the day and are doled out to anyone feeling uneasy with the greed, selfishness, and ‘everyone for themselves’ nature of the modern world. You must be ill and suffering from ‘Anxiety’ if you get upset so easily, YOU are sick (not society) and you need to be drugged to make you insensitive and compliant, like the rest. Yet, there are still some who stubbornly stick to their principles, won’t be told, won’t be bought – ‘chisel me down and you will not find a laughing clown’ sings Ian. Such people are literally a dying breed!

‘The Dissident’ continues the theme of the outsider with the tale of a singer, living in Russia but opposed to the authoritarian state, he is told what to sing and where. Reliant on singing for his livelihood he is forced to comply or be banished to the labour camps of Siberia. The Magadan Theatre, named after the Marxist novelist, playwright and activist Maxim Gorky, is name-checked in the song, perhaps as a symbol of the fight against oppression. Or maybe as a nod to the all-consuming nature of the authoritarian state: Magadan State Puppet Theatre is based there.

The EP ends with the song ‘Daliphant’ referencing the surreal nature of Salvador Dali’s paintings and his creation of the implausible Elephant Giraffe hybrid! Nature itself often offers up surprising and original creatures, so what may seem unlikely to a logical mind is often proved wrong. Dali embraces the possibilities of life – the ‘what if’, the unusual as normal.

A great EP of original individual songs hand-made by humans for humans! Released as a download by German Shephard Records – Buy it now!

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