Milky Wimpshake, Heart and Soul in the Milky Way, Fortuna Pop!
By The Girls Are’s reckoning, Pete Dale has appeared in at least 8 musical guises and is poised to release the 6th album by his longest-enduring band, Milky Wimpshake, twenty years after their first cassette (yes, we’re counting that.) That kind of longevity speaks, not only to a certain dogged tenacity but as his fan base would attest, to the steadfast quality of his songwriting and the bond it builds with his audience.
In case any readers wonder how Mr Dale registers on our radar, allow me to join the dots.
Drummer for original riot grrrl band Pussycat Trash, guitarist for spin-off agit-core band Red Monkey, joint founder of Slampt records, the north-east’s answer to KRS; since the 90s there’s been a steady flow of new material, political commitments and a parallel career in DIY activism. It’s not just the CV though; the attitude and aesthetic proclaimed therein has helped map out an alternative, post-masculine approach to maleness, resonating with all genders, and helping to explain his universal appeal.
Milky Wimpshake are Pete, Christine Rowe and friends and they write DIY-pop indie-punk anthems, with sharp, silly and soppy lyrics. Opening track ‘Chemical Spray’ lets us know exactly where we stand with daft rhymes and references to Jilted John and Jacques Derrida over a simple, perfect punk riff. Later track ‘Uncool Jerk’ casually drops a Buzzcocks steal over distinctly Shelleyan chords, influences aren’t hidden. In contrast to countless bands that regurgitate rock’n’roll cliche while claiming authenticity, this is music as tradition and celebration. If that sounds a little like the gospel according to Childish, then ‘(I’m A) Worthless Person’ soon careers past burning Medway-delta fuel to deliver a punk history (and etymology) lesson while reassuring the listener that they’ve got the point.
‘Motormouth’ broadens the sound to evoke Darklands-era JAMC guitar, while ‘Activated’ benefits from dexterous song structure. The exquisite Arctic Monkeys drawl of La-Di-Da (a Jake Thackray cover) surveys unwelcome family baggage, but represents the exception to the love songs that shape this album. ‘On Top’, ‘You Are The Bomb’, ‘I’ll Be Your Subject/Object’ and ‘Without You’ address equality, honesty, affection and communication in relationships with humour and attention to daily detail. (If you’re reading this Pete, you can have ‘More Songs About Buses And Girls’ for the next album title.)
‘Letraset Angle’ is a hilarious paean to punk graphics: ‘Oh Pythagoras, look what you have done to us, I bloody missed me bus..’ while the touching ‘Mirror Stage’ finds Pete in reflective mood, weighing up his chosen path: ‘At 22, I already knew, I was staying clear of that big stage, to make my own way’.
Intelligent and literate without pretension, whimsical without self-satisfaction, these warm, honest bulletins from the soul are ultimately nothing less than incredibly life-affirming. Like a heartfelt message from an old friend, juxtaposed against (social) media blitz. Non-profit business as usual, then. Life goes on: not with a bang but a Wimpshake
Tags: album, alternative, Buzzocks, cassette, DIY, Fortuna Pop, Heart and Soul in the Milky Way, indie punk, Jacques Derrida, Jilted John, Kofi Smith, Milky Wimpshake, new music, new releases, Newcastle, Pete Dale, punk, Pussycat Thrash, Red Monkey, reviews, Riot Grrrl, Shelleyan, Slampt Records, the girls are