Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Since moving from Wigan to Manchester, scuzzy two-piece Brown brogues have developed somewhat of a cult following over the last four or five years with their fusion of guttural garage rock, bluesy vibes and punk ethos. Think the MC5, jamming with The Stooges by way of The Black Keys, all wrapped up in the spit’n’sawdust surrounds of one of Manchester’s many dive bars, and you won’t be far off the mark. With Record Store Day 2014 just around the corner, it seems justifiable that such a cult band should want to celebrate the occasion by releasing Zoloto, their first EP since 2012’s Born to Lose.

At eight tracks long, Zoloto seems more of a short album than an EP. Break it down in to quarters however, and what you find instead is a collection of tracks that summarise the band almost perfectly. The first two tracks ‘Shit In Your Eye’ and ‘My Birthday’ rattle towards their conclusions, the vocals swamped with a gritty post-punk production coming courtesy of producer Ross Orton, whilst following tracks ‘Booooooom’ and ‘Getting Caned’ are almost different tracks entirely. Produced by long-time collaborator Eaglenose, both are far scuzzier than their predecessors and exhibits an almost psychedelic side to the band’s writing.

The flipside, should you pick up Zoloto on vinyl, is again broken in to two parts, the first of which being two tracks recorded in one of the aforementioned Manchester venues, in this case The Roadhouse. Rather than add to the overall value of the record though, both ‘I Drove For Miles’ and ‘Drive A Go Go’ give listeners a taste of the band’s anarchic live shows, dowsing them in feedback and tumultuous percussion. Fans of the band however, will undoubtedly relish in the chance to hear different versions of older tracks, ‘I Drove For Miles’ in particular sounding far noisier than it’s recorded counterpart. The final two numbers are previously unreleased tracks recorded by Brown Brogues’ very own Mark Vernon. Again, both add little to the EP as a whole, giving the second side of the record more of a ‘bonus material feel’. Rather than dismiss these final tracks though, it be worth noting that both would benefit from a little polish (or as much polish as Brown Brogues allow) and should they find the muddy production cleaned up a little, they could easily find their rerecorded way on to any future releases from the band.

A welcome addition for established fans of the band, and also for vinyl junkies alike, Zoloto won’t drastically change your opinion on Brown Brogues, and it won’t likely win over any new fans. What it does do however, is prove once again that Manchester’s music scene isn’t all four piece lad bands, and whilst their name might well conjure images of trilbys and vintage clothes, their music smashes any preconceptions completely out of the water.

Dave Beech

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