I’ve always been a big fan of girls with guitars. The nineties brought us a whole new generation of ladies who could rock out. The likes of PJ Harvey, Kristin Hersh and Courtney Love with her band Hole introduced us to those big fuzzy guitars that defined an era, all with added oestrogen. Twenty odd years later, and that sound is still as big as ever. We still seems to love our ladies with added rock and roll. That couldn’t be more apparent than with the release of ‘A Man Alive’. It is the brand new album from Virginian girl Thao Nguyen and her band The Get Down stay Down. In a market place full of strong female lead indie music stars all trying to get ahead (or as Lily Allen put it, they all want to be Sheezus) it takes something different; unique to stand out. Thao and The Get Down Stay Down may not be a name familiar with everyone, but with this new album it looks like they are coming out fighting. There is so much ‘girl power’ on this album, that it feels only appropriate that it should be released in the same weeks as International Women’s Day.
‘A Man Alive’ has a more indie-rock infused sound than its folkier predecessor, ‘We The Common’. Those big fuzzy nineties guitars are back, but with a modern twist. The first track to come out was ‘Nobody Dies’. A huge catchy indie track with flavours of Brit-pop bands Sleeper and Lush (indie Lush, not early shoe gaze Lush). It mixes guitars with dance beats in a way that hasn’t been done so successfully since The Rapture’s punk-funk anthem ‘House Of Jealous Lovers’. The big scratchy vocals announce to the world that they’ve arrived, and what the new album is all about. And it’s in that same manor that the rest of the album takes its lead. If you were a fan of the song, then there’s probably little on the album you won’t feel the same way about. It is essentially an album full of singalong but edgy guitar-lead tracks. Proceedings start with recent single ‘Astonished Man’ and continue into ‘Slash/Burn’. They kick off things with a bang that continues throughout the rest of the album. Each track is slickly produced, with a unique style of vocals that will become instantly recognisable. The perfect combo.
‘Guts’ sits comfortably in the middle of the album and changes the pace. Unlike anything else on the album, it adopts a more classic soul sound. Where as on the rest of the album, Thao’s ballsy vocals go hand in hand with the big guitars, they almost act as a contrast against the starker beats ofnthis track. But then it’s straight back to business again. Album closer ‘Endless Love’ (not to be mistaken with Lionel and Diana’s air grabbing power ballad) eases us out quietly, and is much lighter on lyrics than the preceding tracks.
‘A Man Alive’ is an album full of many ideas, interesting sounds, and quirky vocals. It would act as a great introduction to the band for anyone new to Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, but no doubt loved by fans as much bas their previous work. Of everything they’ve released before, this one somehow demands to be heard the most. It has a classic sound that fits into today’s music scene as much as it would the decades in which it takes its influences.
To find out more, check out there Official Site, or their social media below.