28 Nov 2020

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Manzo - EP Review: Beatniks on Toast

01 Jul 2019 // A review by Peter-James Dries

Like every independent musician, I’ve felt the pain of checking my artist pages to find the first track is still the one with the most plays. I should be reassured that someone has put the effort in to try and listen to something I’ve spend months making. I’m not. I’m pissed off that after all I’ve given no one can give thirteen minutes in return.

What’s that saying? A dime a dozen? An idiom true for the price of a single these days, and for the amount of independent musicians trying to get to the top of the heap. What was that zombie film? The one where they’re piling up on each other to scale a wall. It’s like that, except the bottom zombie doesn’t get the pleasure of know it’s helped at least one of its brethren scale that wall to the land of leaving their government job for an artistic lifestyle

But yay. The consumer now has more choice then they know what to do with when it comes to consuming media, and for a fraction of the cost of purchasing an album in the old world. And the penniless artists will continue to line up and provide spiritual sustenance to their gaping maws.

No hey stop. We don’t need your money. We could do with a little support though. Here’s an album we spent a year on, could you maybe give us thirteen minutes of your time to listen to it? No. Well I’ll just go to hell then.

If you looked up from your phone you could see how it’s easy to be dissuaded from the artistic lifestyle of the modern age, and I’m sure many have been. It’s not glitz and glamour in the world below the Swifts, Eilish’s, and Lorde’s, or those picking their scraps.

I suppose the difference between those that hold on and those swept into obscurity is the spirit of the artist with which the few are imbued. That desire to create with every breath. Those that do it for the love of noise, or beauty, or expression. Those that need an outlet. Those like Manzo, who are releasing two albums simultaneously.

As a companion piece to their third album Attachment, Beatniks on Toast couldn’t feel more separate. Attachment was an art piece in the form of music. Layered and complex in its construction. Beatniks, however, feels more like a live gig, or a jam, or a solo show at a classier establishment than I frequent. Mostly.

For the most part it’s a little piece of country, a little bit of subdued rock, a handful of jazzy blues licks, and a pocket brimming with moxie. The lyrics are thoughtful and clever, and the vocal execution is on point. It’s almost antithetical to the experimentation with style seen on the other release. More organic. Well, More or less...Mostly... I’ll clarify that point shortly.

Beginning with a track lamenting along the lines of my above diatribe, the album ends with a tongue in cheek skipping rhyme the reiterates the sentiment. A hidden track of sorts that may have pessimistically never been expected to be heard. Between that is the emotional crux of the album Don’t Let Me Down, and the humorous and strangely relatable Footprints. There’s some powerful storytelling in the latter. It takes artistry to pull off a tale where the audience knows more than the protagonist.

And then there’s the expletive laden, This is Bullshit! The outlier to the mostly. The strangest and fan favourite Manzo track. The music is no bluesy rock. It’s the soundtrack to a cocktail on a golden beach. And the lyrics are...

Well, they’re not lyrics in the traditional sense. They’re the crap you hear in coffee shops. “Low fat vanilla soy latte, please.” It’s a hilarious piss-take of coffee culture, and a sentiment I’ve shared walking past the workplace cafe on the way to my instant freeze dried Nescafe. It’s clever in a different sense than the other tracks. Less proficiency in music performance and production, more observational comedian. Well done.

I know you’re busy. You don’t have thirteen minutes to listen to Beatniks on Toast. It doesn’t matter if you do. I have a feeling we haven’t heard the last of Manzo. There’s a well of creative energy behind this EP that isn’t tapped yet. If you were so inclined you can find Manzo on all online music retailers. Five of five stars (does the five from Attachment make this ten out of five?).

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )

About Manzo

Manzo is the musical alias of outsider artist, Alan Hodgetts. Alan has never been shy about experimenting, using any medium or channel to communicate his ideas. Music gives him a popular platform to share his observations and social commentary, whilst providing greater opportunity for collaboration.

Originally signed to the Southern Collective label. Manzo is now a self releasing artist under his own label Manzo Music a member of the Music managers Forum NZ & Independent Music NZ.

Manzo will shortly be announcing the release date of his third studio album Attachment. It’s been a relentless, year-long project, culminating in an 11 track album, with a 4 track companion EP Beatniks on Toast.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Manzo


Year: 2019
Type: Album
Beatniks On Toast
Year: 2019
Type: EP
Year: 2017
Type: Album
Year: 2016
Type: Album

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