Yes. All right. All right. I know. Back when I first started this blog thread, I promised it would culminate on Christmas Day with two entries representing Y and Z.
However, timing wasn’t my strong point on that occasion and the final two entries are slightly late. Sorry about that. Anyway, without further ado, let’s hasten on to the wonderful world of the letter Y.
Back in November, I posed a question: never mind the Mercury Awards, what’s the best Medway record of the year? At four nominations, I didn’t get an amazing amount of feedback to be honest. But an astounding TWO people: that’s a WHOPPING FIFTY PERCENT of those who returned an answer pointed toward Bear Vs. Manero’s Paunch EP.
With such a large percentage of people recommending the band, clearly they are overall winners, beating both KILL RPNZL and The Len Price 3 who share a measly 25% of the vote, and therefore Bear vs. Manero are worthy of a great deal more attention.
‘YRANYRBYW’ comes from half-way through the Paunch EP. It’s short and sweet, clocking in at just one minute 42 seconds. For the musical cognoscenti among you, it’s in 6-8 time (1-2-3-4-5-6) which is relatively rare in the world of rock and roll. And it’s a belter of a tune.
Given its brevity, B. vs. M. manage to cram an amazing amount of ideas – both musical and lyrical – into the song, making it a highlight of the EP. Many of the band’s other songs can be defined by the distorted bass leading from the bottom with the kind of intense rhythmic thuds that could rival fracking in their potential to cause earth tremors. But in ‘YRANYRBYM’, something different happens. The opening salvo comes from a guitar riff that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Arctic Monkey’s song.
Order is almost immediately restored with the arrival of the thunderous bass but for almost half of the song there is a battle royal between guitar and bass before the bass emerges victorious for the remainder.
Bear vs. Manero use the lyrics of the song to attack hipster, gentrified pretensions (“right clothes/especial shops in Dalston” ,”skinny mocha lattes” and an interest in “Peruvian drum ‘n’ bass”). There are sarcastic sneers of you “you’re so edgy“, “you’re so different” and “you’re so cool“.
You’ll find nods to Gil Scott-Heron’s ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’. And it’s entirely possible the band have heard Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip’s ‘Thou Shalt Always Kill’ at least a couple of times.
It’s a seething, sneering, searing triumph of a song, culminating in a final put-down of “you are right, some of you are right/cos you’re wrong”.
Fifty percent of my survey’s respondents can’t be wrong. Bear vs. Manero really are quite magnificent.
Find out more about other Medway bands, covering a period from the mid 70s to 2014 in my book, Do it Yourself: a History of Music in Medway.