Dan Michaelson and The Coastguards
The Castle Manchester - 9.3.11

Incest is rife in London: FACT. We’re satisfied that being separated by approximately 170 miles and the industrial buffer of Birmingham is enough to protect us from any cockney retribution. We use the term ‘retribution’ loosely of course, as if Dan Michaelson and the motley crew of hirsute Coastguards is anything to go by we’re not gonna worry. Mainly for two reasons; 1 - they look like weed smokers, 2 – we know karate.

But worry not, there’ll be no fighting here as Dan and his coastguards are proud of their incestuous roots. Absentee, Wet Paint, Fields and Oli ‘n’ Clive are all accomplished bands both past and present that have coalesced to form this current incarnation of lackadaisical country. Musically they’re not a far swipe from Absentee, the same subsonic vocal and the same dry-wit prevailing over heartbreak. But, for us tonight, it’s the welcome addition of some pedal steel that re-casts an already tactile mould; giant swathes of slide guitar provide the perfect complement to Dan’s vocal deformation.

Understandably it’s latest album ‘Shakes’ that dominates tonight’s proceedings, with the welcome addition of ‘Bust’ which suffers somewhat due to the muddy mix of Dan’s vocals. In absentee this would have been the peg that quite literally hung a live show, but this new blood is agile enough to ride the dense acoustics. The sauntering smile of ‘Love Lends a Hand’, and the dreamy ‘Pick Up’ and ‘Something Awful’ may not feel out of pace with the coastguards debut, but there is definite feel of permanence to tracks on ‘Shakes’.

And whilst were certain incest in most cases is wrong, on this occasion Manchester knows it feels so very right.

Dan Pratley


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