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"Such strange little birds!" why I love Shirley Manson & GARBAGE

“Such strange little birds!”

Why I love ­­Shirley Manson & GARBAGE

By Ian Browne Shamrock News

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I opened the door on my way out of the North Indian Diner in Newtown as she made her way in through the portal I held open for her. It was the turn of the century and we had nowhere else to go but to stop and take each other in for a spell. I knew Garbage were touring Sydney at the time, but I never thought I’d ever be found looking into the gorgeous eyes of ­­Shirley Manson! A fan since the 90's when Trip Hop and the sonic sounds of Curve ruled the indie airways, Garbage was born when three North American lads inhabiting Madison Wisconsin, a creative trio who been compiling remixes for bands such as U2, Depache Mode and Nine Inch Nails, decided they needed a talented front lady with a unique vocal approach to install an individuality which would allow them to grace the world stage. Scotland’s Shirley Manson who was touring the US at the time while singing for Anglefish, did just that.

Garbage has endured time, sold upwards of 17 million albums worldwide, and remain to dazzle all with their post-grunge explosion. As much as I loved 2012’s Not Your Kind of People, and the single itself, 2016 gave us their 6th studio album: Strange Little Birds, one that saw two of its songs listed across my social media sites as my number 1 song for 2017- IF I LOST YOU- and at number four - BLACKOUT. This album was designed to restore the darkness the band felt was missing from indie rock today. A powerful protest at the way society; it’s media, still manage to portray women as being empty vessels, dumbed down to inspire beauty without substance- BLACKOUT is bold and empowering. Apart from the post-punk angst in heavy instrumental, I feel its strength lies within Shirley’s unique hollering background vocals - lamenting the slavery of the soul into a downward spiral …“Dumb yourself down, numb yourself out - fake it till you make it break – make the world blackout”.

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Uplifting, yet remaining murky in songs like EMPTY, gentle harmonies call upon siren-like guitar and bouncing percussion to excite, Shirley’s vocals forever nourishing. A big Curve fan myself during the early 90’s, Garbage too admit this craving, and the beautifully haunting IF I LOST YOU feels every bit this UK sonic-goth genre. I love it! It weaves its magic in simple soothing sullenness, such a peaceful reckoning. Trancey dappled calls reminiscent of humpback whales; gorgeously sexy feminine pampering allows us men into the world of women’s desire and care. Gentle and wavering along within heavy trip hop beat, it could almost draw a tear from a vulnerable moment. ...“Sometimes I believe that I might die if I lost you.” Drifting into the next song NIGHT DRIVE LONELINESS tis also peaceful, and more gothic in its calling.

This album saw mixed reviews internationally but favoured well here in Oz, where it reached Number 9 on the Australian Albums Chart. It was also popular in the US, while in the UK it was the band’s least successful album. The talent spiralling within the whirlwind that is Garbage’s Duke Erikson- on guitar & keyboards; Steve Marker on guitar, and Butch Vig on percussion, and of course Shirley Manson’s edgy strength, has seen this band a stayer in the world of alternative rock. And I pray more to come, and with it some of the romantic craft which swirls within Strange Little Birds….such a winner in my mind.

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