The Backhanders – Campfire & Down by the River (Double A side single) review


The Backhanders are a Manchester band consisting of Stephen Chadwick, Pete Clarke, Matty Owen and Ashley Taylor.


They formed 6 months ago and so have only played a handful of gigs but their first one at Academy 3 sold out within days and last month they supported Twisted Wheel at the Kraak Gallery sessions.  If you’ve seen them live already, I am slightly, no, quite jealous.

Local radio stations have also picked up on their early demo track ‘Memory Lane’ (including Terry Christian’s N.W.A. Show giving it regular airplay) and they’ve also made it on to John Robb’s list of bands to watch in 2014.  They’ve also been booked to appear on live streaming T.V. Show Vidzta which goes out on May 11th.  There are also some high profile gig dates due shortly and the band are supporting Sounds of The City at the Manchester Deaf Institute on June 21st. For more info on this gig:
This limited edition double A side (available from the email contact above) was recorded in Blueprint Studios and showcases their talents excellently.  What is so good is that considering how short the band have been together, this demonstrates a very mature sound.  Given the heritage of music in Manchester it would be very easy to rely on this sort of sound but they don’t. They have a developed sound and the more I listen to it, the more I can hear subtle influences from the likes of Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton’s Bluesbreakers, Johnny Cash and even Creedence Clearwater Revival.  Of course this may be completely and utterly wrong but it goes to show how well developed their sound and songcraft is.

1. Campfire

The origins of this song are the stuff of legend.   It was inspired by and dedicated to Joe Strummer after the band received a photo album from Joe’s wife which included random lyrics underneath the photos.  With her permission, The Backhanders then added their own words to come up with ‘Campfire’.

There is such a brilliant opening to this track.  The track bursts forth with a sustained distorted chord straight into a riff accompanied by blues harp. We’re 5 seconds in and you can just tell something pretty special is happening.  At 10 seconds the bass kicks in and by 20 seconds there is a real groove.  The vocals sound effortless, at times are kind of laid back at other times more uptempo through some of the more spoken parts.  The track rounds off very nicely with a blues harp solo followed by a guitar solo.

2. Down by the river

This is a great contrast to Campfire and further highlights the talents of The Backhanders.  The track opens with a great jangly riff, establishing a great groove maintained throughout the track.  Vocals tell the story really well, again sometimes laid back and sometimes more urgent which really builds and releases tension.  The piano playing towards the end of the track suits it really well.  Bear in mind this track is 2:20 long yet manages to contain all the elements of a great song without feeling rushed or too short.
So in summary this is a brilliant showcase.  I think they have a very exciting year ahead and am sure that we’re going to be hearing a lot more of them in the very near future.
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