I heard about Serena-Maneesh years ago, and downloaded a few songs. “Drain Cosmetics” ended up on one of my virtual mix tapes from 2006 or so. But I never really pursued my mild interest in these Norwegians. I think I got them mixed up with Autolux or possibly one of the other 10 billion bands that were doing neo-shoegaze towards the end of the past decade. It’s a great sound, but basically interchangeable. Even 15 to 20 years ago these bands were mostly interchangeable. There was a livejournal blog several years ago that was posting shoegaze albums for download and I got real excited about it for a couple days then realized that after you have listened to MBV and Slowdive there isn’t really much need to delve into the Penelope Trips of the world.
Serena-Maneesh was more Penelope Trip than MBV. But that is ok too. I hadn’t seen any shoegaze type bands in a while.
I actually enjoyed their show quite a bit, not really knowing their stuff too well going in, not even certain how to pronounce their name. What struck me the most was how European they sounded — they wore their influences on the sleeves of their Euro-style outfits, and those influences were all northern European. And great influences, too, but this band seemed to deliberately eschew American rock and roll sounds, the singer’s Steven Tyler-esque veil notwithstanding.
Obviously they sounded occasionally almost exactly like MBV but they also had a fair amount of Britpop (as did MBV themselves) in there, and also had a serious krautrock thing going too — Kraftwerk background vocals over a strong motorik beat lifted directly from Neu!:
What they most reminded me of though was Primal Scream at their danciest, freaked-out-est — watching this band made me imagine what Primal Scream shows must have been like when Kevin Shields was playing guitar. And I would have loved to see those shows. I guess this was a fun substitute.
Here’s an alternate take and some photos from BYT.