2. Topshelf Records Trading Cards

    Last year when I was putting together the Manual Dexterity X Topshelf Records issue, I was running with a “team” theme in the SIXES article and thought it would be cool to make actual trading cards featuring the bands on the frontside and some stats and a bio on the backside, like actual sports trading cards. I would’ve thrown a card in every envelope I mailed out, but unfortunately, the timing didn’t work out with these and they never really made it past the design stage. The design is based off of the 1968 Topps Hockey cards and the idea was influenced by the 90’s Yo! MTV Raps trading cards.


  3. Announcement:

    Almost 9 years ago, I started Manual Dexterity as an outlet to highlight and interview independent bands that often wouldn’t get noticed by major and semi-major publications. With as much fun as I’ve had over the last 9 years, today marks the end of Manual Dexterity.

    I always told myself that I would end this project as soon as it stopped being fun or it started to feel like work. Over that last couple issues, Manual Dexterity started to feel like an obligation and not a spur-of-the-moment act like it did early on. So for now, no new issues of the zine will be produced and mandexzine.com will only exist as an archive of the past 9 years of work (and the occasional post/reblog to share the awesome things you all do!).

    Special thanks to Will & Chuck from Tiny Engines/Beartrap PR, Keith at Count Your Lucky Stars and Kevin at Topshelf for all the support over the years. 

    I also wanted to thank all dozen of our readers, everyone who has contributed, and all the bands for making such great music and for letting me question you about it. 



  4. Gonna be making an announcement this afternoon. 


  5. Review: Late Bloomer “Things Change” (Self Aware Records / Tor Johnson Records / Lunchbox Records)

    Late Bloomer
    Things Change
    Self Aware Records / Tor Johnson Records 

    Charlotte’s LATE BLOOMER use their combined musical knowledge to their advantage on their latest album, Things Change. Made up of Lunchbox Record store owner Scott Wishart, Josh Robbins, owner of Self Aware Records and Neil Mauney, Late Bloomer are able to seamlessly move through the genres of punk, hardcore, shoegaze, and grunge on Things Change without missing a beat. You’d think with all of these different genres represented the album would feel disjointed, but the songs on Things Change lead into one another perfectly creating a solid complete album.


  6. Reviews: State Song, The Shanks, Aperiodic / Mala In Se / Joe 4 / Knife The Symphony (Phratry Records)


    State Song
    Phratry Records

    Cincinnati’s State Song most obvious comparison would be to Sparta, due to vocalist Scot Torres’s Jim Ward like vocals and the style of post rock they play. State Song uses the piano quite a bit and it adds a lot of emotion to the songs. Sleepcrawling seems a little more laid back than their previous album, Dear Hearts and Gentle People, but I feel like this band has a good chance of making a name for themselves.  


    The Shanks
    Surfing The Lexicon
    Phratry Records

    I’m kind of stumped on this Canadian guitar and drum duo. They play a style of rock n’ roll that has a 70’s rock/proto punk influence but then also sounds like 90’s alternative rock at the same time. They have a very big sound for just two guys and the songs are incredibly melodic. Check out the song and video for “Get Cut Tonight” and you’ll get an idea of what I’m talking about. 


    Aperiodic / Mala In Se / Joe 4 / Knife The Symphony
    Double 7” split
    Phratry Records

    This 4 band split comes in 2 different versions depending on if you buy the double 7” with one new song from each band or if you buy it digitally, which comes with two new songs from each band.

    This spilt covers a lot, genre wise. First up is Aperiodic, a noise/free jazz group that utilizes a myriad of uncommon instruments like kalimbas, guqins, rudra veenas, and surbahars. They also have a little bit of hardcore and improvisational influence, but it’s hard to tell from just these two songs. Next up is Mala In Se, a post rock band with quick tempo changes that kind of reminds me of Young Widows, but more technical.

    Starting off the second half of this release is Croatian noise rock band Joe 4. One of their songs on this release has a heavy distorted plodding along feeling to it with mostly spoken vocals and their other song is a bit heavier with shouted vocals. Two very different takes on this band, but they have a lot to offer. Last up is Knife The Symphony from Cincinnati, OH. They bring a Jawbox & Unwound sound that is a little more straight-forward than everything else on this release. 

    Overall, this release is pretty good. It offers a lot of different music within the rock genre from four very different, but relatable bands. 


  7. Review: Mike Bell & the Movies “Nothing Works” (Major Bear Records)

    Mike Bell & the Movies
    Nothing Works
    Major Bear Records

    Featuring ex-members of Algernon Cadwallader, Bandname and Dangerous Ponies, Mike Bell & the Movies is sort of a Philadelphia indie super group. Their music is a fun blend of power pop, pop punk with a little influence by Elvis Costello. It’s not really what you’d expect from these guys when you take their past projects into consideration. That’s part of the excitement about it though. You see those ex-bands and you think you know what you’re getting, but then you get floored by something more awesome instead. 


  8. Review: In The Whale “Nate & Eric” (Self-Released)

    In The Whale
    Nate & Eric

    Like the album title suggests, In The Whale is Denver, CO duo Nate Valdez, on vocals and guitar, and Eric Riley, on drums and backing vocals. They play an exciting brand of rock music that is incredibly melodic at times and heavy and raw at others. This release features songs from their previously released Nate and Eric EPs, and has the energy and grittiness of Direct Hit!.


  9. Review: Bad Daddies “Negative Fun 2014 Singles Club 7”” (Negative Fun Records)


    Bad Daddies
    Negative Fun 2014 Single Club 7”
    Negative Fun Records

    I can see Bad Daddies being that one really loud and noisy band at a battle of the bands competition where the moms cover their kid’s ears because they’re playing too loud and obnoxiously. While all the other bands are trying to play it safe and win the gift certificate to Applebees, Bad Daddies comes on stage with a “don’t give a fuck” attitude and completely destroy the place with their loud feedback ridden guitar squeals and Camylle Reynolds’s scathing vocal onslaught. Of course they lose, but half those young kids whose ears were covered go on to start their own bands years later. 


  10. Review: Little Big League/Ovlov “Split” (Tiny Engines)


    Little Big League/Ovlov
    Tiny Engines

    Coming off debut LPs in recent months, both bands on this split do exceptional work on these songs. I was a big fan of Little Big League’s These Are Good People and was pretty stoked on these two new songs of theirs. They fit right in with the music on These Are Good People and make me hopeful for their future materials. 

    "The Great Crocodile" is the first thing I’ve heard from CT’s Ovlov and it’s beaming with 90’s alt rock charm. It’s was good enough to persuade me to check out their previous full-length, am


  11. Review: Duplekita “The Sound Of My Name” (Kinsella Recordings)


    The Sound Of My Name
    Kinsella Recordings

    Duplekita is a Canadian, 14-member collaborative collection and new side project of Tim Batke, the co-founder of synth-pop quintet Faunts. I’d say a large part of this album is focused on the instrumentals and when the vocals do come in, they sound like something from an Owl City song. The Sound Of My Name is a fairly good album. With having 14 people collaborate on the music, instruments come and go quite frequently while the main melody and beat stays intact. I think this factor is the only minor downfall on the album, otherwise it’s fun to have on as background music. 


  12. Review: Shy Hunters “O, That I Had Wings” (Eenie Meenie Records)

    Shy Hunters
    O, That I Had Wings
    Eenie Meenie Records

    The duo of Brooklyn’s Shy Hunters have been around for years playing alongside Yoko Ono, Jolie Holland and R. Stevie Moore. On O, That I Had Wings, the music is decidedly 80s influenced with heavy focus on the vocals and guitars, both provided by member Indigo Street. To me, the music isn’t particularly intriguing and took me a while to get through, but I can see a niche group of people really getting into this. 


  13. Review: Old Monk “Posing As Love” (Eenie Meenie Records)

    Old Monk
    Posing As Love
    Eenie Meenie Records

    New York trio, Old Monk, has a sound about them that screams New York City. The music has a sort of combined New York indie rock vibe to it. You can pick up The Strokes influences as much as you can the Vampire Weekend ones. Old Monk go about their music with some heavy garage rock influences and while the music is good, Posing As Love can’t compete with past NYC bands that have done it better. 


  14. Review: Gold & Youth “Beyond Wilderness” (Arts & Crafts)

    Gold & Youth 
    Beyond Wilderness
    Arts & Crafts

    With a synth pop sound straight from the 80’s underground scene, Vancouver’s Gold & Youth’s Beyond Wilderness is a 44 minute joyride through layered electro pop landscapes. The vocals are deep and calming and the music keeps the body moving. Turn the lights down, crank up Beyond Wilderness and the party is sure to get weird. 


  15. Review: Glass Towers “Halcyon Days” (Dine Alone Records)

    Glass Towers
    Halcyon Days
    Dine Alone Records 

    Glass Towers are an Australian pop rock band that has garnered some attention in their home country and are now looking to expand their fan base with the North American release of Halcyon Days via Dine Alone Records. The closest band that I can think of Glass Towers sounding like would be The Killers, but more indie and more anthemic. Halcyon Days is youthful, full of promise and will surly turn people on to this young Aussie band.