ManituThis was one of those discs that turns up and is hard to work out what to do with, being neither extreme or atmospheric and not really to our tastes. It certainly remained unclaimed on our review lists and not surprising as it mentions early Foo Fighters (the most insipid and bland band ever) and Kyuss in the blurb. Even worse there’s not a fleeting hint of desert rock to their sound and I almost didn’t make it past the first track as it really was generic and flavourless. Luckily giving it the benefit of the doubt I persevered and somewhat surprisingly found that as the album progressed this Swiss rock band had some pretty good tunes and singer Manna Lia can belt things out well and has a versatile voice that at times reminds me of singers that are a lot more palatable to my tastes.

The opening beat on the first track ‘What You Realise’ actually reminded of  another godly Swiss group The Young Gods song ‘Skinflowers’ before going into a bit of a dull rocker but as I said things improve once this very commercial sounding number is dispatched and ‘Figure It Out’ gets its grunge on. Manna’s vocals expand and remind of everyone from the likes of Joan Jett through to Anne Marie Hurst and errr even Rock Bitch and are full of natural grace melodicism. Even if this still doesn’t really fit in here I can certainly appreciate it and talent is evident. Naturally there are a few tracks that are more ballad flavoured and ‘Blind’ certainly gives such an impression with its sorrowful and heartfelt acoustic start but it builds in no hurry and the voice gets stronger before it belts into a romp and rocks out hard catching me completely off guard and actually driving away at a head-banging pace. By now as the lyrics state I had ‘opened my eyes’ and ears too! ‘24/7’ is listed as the radio single and apart from the vocal harmonies doesn’t do much to ignite any passion for me but I am hardly the target audience. Some Stooges clad rocking out and vocal high points that remind of punk bands like Penetration show the flip side though and ‘Rise’ does just that and really hits the mark.

The album pretty much continues on the second half mixing shades of light and darkness and at its most whimsical there’s an American sounding touch to things which no doubt stem from the singer having apparently spent time working in L.A. and touring the States.  Again this is not such a bad thing when they pick things up and go for the faster approach on songs like ‘I Ain’t’ there’s more than a hint of riot grrrl and a punk laden snarl that reminds of bands such as L7 and Babes In Toyland. There’s quite a mix of styles going on here really and I am glad that this didn’t get picked up by another writer in the end and that I gave it a chance as Manitu clearly are a band that don’t deserve to be pigeonholed or written off.

(7/10 Pete Woods)