Square Moon Release & Reviews

Square MoonWell looky what just turned up in the post :) The twitterverse also suggests many others have them too, so if you’ve pre-oredered Square Moon it should be with you very soon if not already. If you haven’t, buy it now at the Alcopop Store.

Whilst you await delivery, it’s up on Spotify in full for your listening pleasure. You’ll need a Facebook account or something, and you’ll get ads inbetween every couple songs, but hell it’s easier than trying to find a vinyl record player to play the damn thing (what, you want me to unseal the CDs? pah…). Actually, it’s up on iTunes right now too, and many other online outlets, so you’ve got no excuse.

Anyway, the few people that did find a turntable managed to get some reviews up – as always, hit more to read if they dissapear:
drowned_in_soundMusic OMH get in to detail with the tracks and some of Davey’s most recent activities.
Drowned in Sound meanwhile go back in history to give a much deeper background writeup on the band, and Davey’s, history. In Davey’s own words – “the guy at drowned in sound remembers the late 90s better than I do“.

Not the current release, but the previous limited Square Moon vinyl (the one with extra thank you notes and whatnot) has it’s details listed up at, and there’s quite a bit to read through.

The Crimea – Square Moon
(Alcopop! and Lazy Acre) UK release date: 29 July 2013

The Crimea, virtually ignored by the masses throughout their 11-year career since being formed from the ashes of The Crocketts, are finally releasing third album Square Moon; but it sadly comes as a last hurrah. Singer/songwriter Davey Macmanus is trading in his career as a musician for a greater calling in South Africa as he admirably goes about setting up an orphanage for impoverished children.

Having become disillusioned with his life, Macmanus decided to re-train as a nurse, gaining a first class degree. During two spells in Africa caring for HIV patients where there was no running water, the situation clearly affected him deeply; he returned to the UK a changed man with harrowing, first-hand stories of real life tragedy seemingly driving him to help in a bigger way.

Square Moon itself took years to come to fruition and boasts a staggering 22 tracks; initially it was to be released as a free download. Indeed, The Crimea pre-empted the much publicised Radiohead ‘pay as much as you think it’s worth’ release of In Rainbows when they unleashed, for free, second album Secrets Of The Witching Hour in 2007. Financial support from the likes of Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody enabled the band to have Square Moon mixed and produced professionally and released as a physical entity rather than just digital.

The gargantuan effort begins with Macmanus’ favourite track of the lot, the minimalistic and delicately gorgeous tale of hope Petals Open When Reached By Sunlight. It’s a quiet opening that’s unlikely to have been possible if the band had still been slaves to the demands of a record company, but those confines are long gone.

A sweet piano line opens The Last Plane Out Of Saigon and the harmonious male (Macmanus)/female (Tara Blaise) vocals complement each other beautifully. Macmanus displays his lyrical prowess all over this epic album, with poetic lines aplenty in just this one track, such as “The first leaves of autumn have fallen from space” and “Keep travelling east so it never gets dark”.

The overall impression of the album is genuine simplistic beauty, and this clearly flows from track to track; piano is a constant companion and Macmanus’ distinctive vocals provide a gentle yet occasionally desperate storytelling, like on Listen To Seashells They Know Everything with its cutting “time waits for no one/time stands still for no one”.

The Only Living Boy And Girl marks a slight departure; still built around dreamy sounding melancholy, the track contains a small, almost Mike Skinner-like (softly) spoken rap with a chorus that displays the tiniest hint of fairground ride music. Witches Broom returns to the soft, serene theme containing a gentle falling piano line chorus accompanied by strings and vocals: it’s a thing of angelic beauty with its repeated outro of “there’s a person hiding in there”.

The second disc opens with Beehive and another falling piano line; dreamy pop goes into overdrive with its sweet utterings of “you are the honey in my beehive”. Mid Air Collision is introduced by a harmonica and simple percussion before alternating with a subtle, bouncy section. Twinkling synths open the delicious Lovers Of The Disappeared, sounding (like a lot of the album) something like Prefab Sprout colliding with The Flaming Lips, Soft Bulletin era.

The exquisitely named Black Belt In Breaking Hearts is a slightly more up tempo number that oozes emotion, Macmanus giving one of his more passionate vocal performances, spouting sorrowful lyrics like “I am the silver dust you scratch off the losing ticket”.

Judas Loves You is another stand out, in which chiming guitars marry with sublime vocals and underlying piano to great effect. The spritely piano introducing the short burst of Millionaire leads into another well of lyrical delight such as “I’ll always be your Milky Bar kid” whilst Goldmine sounds like a dreamy fairytale “for the fat and ugly”.

Without a record label pushing for singles, The Crimea let their freedom reign and this inevitably renders the immediate accessibility of many tracks impossible. And, containing little variety, the full album is too long for one sitting. With this being the final calling card for the band, it needs to be digested in chunks to cushion the impact of their impending absence and, like a fine wine, the full flavour of this extraordinary accomplishment will become apparent in time.

Review by Graeme Marsh for Music OMH, 25th July 2013.

The Crimea
Square Moon

Davey MacManus is a !!!!ing hero.

Back in the late Nineties (and very early Noughties) he was the greatest frontman in British rock. Leading The Crocketts, he would hurdle madly around the stage, leap off it to sing a song or two while lying on the floor surrounded by the stunned crowd, jump up and dangle from the light fittings, headbutt the microphone ‘til his forehead bled, shake, shudder and twitch like a man possessed, and sing every single line with such conviction it was like his life and soul depended on it. Alas, fame didn’t beckon.

When The Crocketts disbanded, MacManus formed the less wild but equally passionate The Crimea, concentrating on crafting beautiful little indie pop ballads such as ‘Lottery Winners on Acid’ and ‘Baby Boom’. Despite being championed by John Peel, the band were dropped by Warner Bros. after the public disregarded their Tragedy Rocks debut in favour of Snow Patrol and that Embrace song written by Chris Martin.

Their second album, Secrets of the Witching Hour, was released as a free download before the likes of Prince and Radiohead jumped on the giveaway bandwagon. It was downloaded over 100,000 times in three days and was labelled one of the TOP 5 MOMENTS THAT CHANGED MUSIC HISTORY FOREVER by someone at Q Magazine. Alas, fame still didn’t beckon.

Recently, MacManus has been working as a nurse in South Africa and yet here he is, still bothering to bless us with the release of a new Crimea double LP for the majority to ignore completely and the remaining faithful few to cling to their chests like a child with a brand new Beanie Baby.

Square Moon is a fairly quiet, fairly understated yet emotionally raw collection of paeans to lost time, lost love, sadness, loneliness, heartbreak, heartache, and unrequited obsession. MacManus pours so much of his heart out over the course of these two discs that it’s hard to believe there’s anything left in his cardiac jug. The pianos, acoustic guitars, elegant strings and other bits ‘n’ bobs are tinkled so delicately it’s as if they were recorded by candlelight with a concern for not waking the amiable neighbours. And then there’s the voice. Davey’s blissful, soulfully cracked and battered yearning croak makes Conor Oberst sound like that chump from Maroon 5.

His lyrics are both beguiling and appealing. ‘Lovers of the Disappeared’s basic premise of “your eyes turn to mist when you think of the years you lost” are embroidered with unusual references to Crime Scene Investigation, Sitting Bull, Madame Tussaud’s and “fucking in the stars”. ‘Shoelaces’ contains the poignant appeal “you can’t live on Lucky Strike and Lucky Strike alone / You can’t play scissors, paper, stone on your own”. The dramatic ‘Shredder’ sees MacManus put himself through the (erm) shredder with its pedantic, extensive list of bitter regrets and grounds for self-loathing. There’s even a hymn to Judas Iscariot.

Despite ‘Last Plane Out of Saigon’’s sleepy Caribbean feel, ‘Witches Broom’’s foray into poorly-pronounced French, ‘Beehive Mind’’s uncharacteristically upbeat verses, and ‘Black Belt in Breaking Hearts’s lost-New-Order-backing-track vibe, there is not a massive amount of musical variation, so 22 tracks is a lot to absorb in one sitting. Yet the lullabies that pass you by on first listen contain subtle delights only revealed with further spins and may eventually triumph as your favourites.

MacManus has found a higher purpose now: to set up an orphanage in Diepsloot, Johannesburg. Sadly, this spells the end for The Crimea. Those poverty-stricken orphans sure need him more than I, but my own selfish, needy, heart can’t help hoping we haven’t heard the last of Davey.

Review by J. R. Moores for Drowned In Sound, 24th July 2013.

Crimea, The ?– Square Moon
Label: Not On Label (The Crimea Self-released) ?– CRIMEALP
Format: 2 × Vinyl, LP, Limited Edition
Country: UK
Released: 31 Oct 2011
Genre: Rock
Style: Alternative Rock, Indie Rock

A1 Petals Open When Reached By Sunlight 4:15
A2 The Last Plane Out Of Saigon 3:51
A3 Jellyfish 3:39
A4 Listen To Seashells They Know Everything 4:04
A5 If I See My Reflection One More Time 4:38
A6 The Only Living Boy And Girl 3:28
B1 You Never Smile For The Camera 3:08
B2 How To Make You Laugh 3:27
B3 Witches Broom 4:44
B4 Shredder 3:42
B5 The Road To Damascus 5:04
C1 Beehive Mind 3:20
C2 Mid Air Collisions 4:14
C3 We Stand Alone 3:08
C4 Lovers Of The Disappeared 5:01
C5 Shoelaces 3:19
C6 Black Belt In Breaking Hearts 4:45
D1 Judas Loves You 5:15
D2 Millionaire 2:57
D3 Goldmine 3:41
D4 Mountain Of Strange 4:28
D5 Lupara Bianca 6:28

Companies etc
Phonographic Copyright (p) – The Crimea
Recorded At – No-Sun Studios
Mixed At – Cranford House
Designed At – Nalla Design

Artwork [Additional Artwork By] – Joseph Udwin
Design [Sleeve Design] – Alice Saunders, Vicki Young (3)
Mixed By – Tom McFall
Performer [The Crimea Are] – Andrew Stafford, Davey Macmanus, Joseph Udwin, Owen Hopkin
Producer [Produced By] – Davey Macmanus
Vocals [Additional Vocals] – Tara Blaise
Written-By – Crimea, The, Davey Macmanus

Gatefold Sleeve housing both LPs.
A booklet with personal thanks.
Two tickets to a Crimea gig (a letter).
A code for a free digital download of Square Moon.

Printed notes:
Recorded at No-sun studios, London.
Mixed in Cranford House, Dublin.
?2011 The Crimea.

THANKS TO Tom McFall, Tara Blaise, Curig Huws, Lucy Cousins, David M Allen, Jeremy Ledlin, Tina Clark (Zildjian), Jake Cardwell (C&C Drums), Darren Henley, Ashley Tabor, Mike Walsh,
Ian Croft, Samantha Slater, Vicki Young (Nalla Design), Drummer Magazine, Paul Williams, Mary Turner, Lee Haynes, Stephen Taverner, Martha Parava, Tim Wheeler, Mark Hamilton,
Rick McMurray, Kelly Jones, Richard Jones, Amy May, Zane Lowe, Huw Stephens, Olly Hodgson, Jonathan Sewell, Gary Lightbody, Reay Grant, Sallie Fellowes, Annie Mac, Christopher Friend,
Matt Stockman, Colin Murray, Jim & Jean Stafford, Davey & Rosie Macmanus, Rod Macmanus, Eugene McElwain, Geremy Vass, Stuart Cable (RIP), Martin O’Gorman, Steve Harris, Ben Perreau.

Other notes:
The sides are labelled Side 1, Side 2, Side 3 and Side 3 and are presented on this page as part of the tracklisting as A, B, C and D respectively.

Barcode and Other Identifiers
Barcode: none
Matrix / Runout (Etching Side 1): CRIMEALP-A 94952E1/A
Matrix / Runout: CRIMEALP-B 94952E2/A
Matrix / Runout: CRIMEALP-C 94952E3/A
Matrix / Runout: CRIMEALP-D 94952E4/A

Details from, July 2013

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One Response to “Square Moon Release & Reviews”

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