A5 zine + CDR
Mark Wynn - Singles - But They're not Really Singles, I Just Sent Them to the Screen and Said They Were Singles. Volume II
Harbinger Sound LP. Release date March 2017.
We left Mark Wynn on stage at the Leeds Irish Centre supporting Sleaford Mods. He danced around with a child’s tiara on his head and ate grapes from a plastic punnet. As ever he was stripped to the waist revealing ribs and a physique that is no doubt the results of a roll ups and Seabrook’s prawn cocktail diet. He had a small table stage right which had either a cassette or a CD player on it which he occasionally glanced at, no guitars, no drums thus making it easier to roam the stage eating grapes performing as if for himself, noticing the audience when they made a noise, as if they’re a distraction to what he’s doing which is eating grapes and singing his songs which are more like existential cum observational monologues sung in a flat voice to punkish three chord acoustic guitar riffs. A more like-able Jake Bugg only with better songs and a finer punk aesthetic, a young man’s John Ottoway, Patrick Fitzgerald for 2017 with knobs on.
I like Mark Wynn because I once saw him piss off an audience at a less than salubrious Working Mens Club in Heckmondwike and because he has a song that mentions Batley and that he channels the kind of punkish attitude last seen being delivered from the lips of oh so innocent, peculiarly English eccentric types as mentioned above. He’s from York but leads a peripatetic lifestyle meaning ‘Achin’ at the Prospect’ arrives with a Largs postmark. What the Largs folks think of this gangly, million words an album, no off switch, troubadour is open to debate. I have visions of him busking on a drizzly Largs high street much to the bemusement of the tourists and the locals except for one sad and lonely goth teenager who clings to Wynn’s legs like he’s the incarnation of Pete Murphy.
‘Achin’ at the Prospect [A Racket [That One] by Mark Wynn and his Knack-Kneed Or-Kes-Strar] the zine is Wynn’s mind as written down during long journeys that take him to and from Largs including an interview conducted by his girlfriend who reminds him that he’s living rent free at her expense. Its a proper zine crammed with tiny handwritten thoughts and musings, ephemera, cartoons and cut out pictures of himself, Elvis and a panda. The accompanying CD contains eight tracks of Wynn at his more thoughtful and less rackety including the opener ‘Doom’ where he enunciates the word ‘Attenborough’ rather peculiarly and spends thirty seconds adding overdubs of him talking to himself. During ‘Heart of Stone’ he berates himself for screwing the song up ‘You fucked that right up dint ya?’ ‘Impossible’ is a song capable of arousing the interest of Apple, Samsung and, more probably Seabrooks, such is its whimsical gentility.
Wynn’s charm lies in his basic recording technique [acoustic guitar overdubbed with fuzzy electric guitar, shouts, asides, keyboards, snare drum] his flat, deadpan delivery and his ability to knock out ridiculously catchy punk enthused tunes alongside reflective love songs. The catchy tunes are there in abundance on the eighteen tracks that vary in width along ‘Singles ...Volume II’. Starting with the glorious ‘Dave Went Mental’ where, apparently, his mate Dave went mental and ‘I Am John’ which manages to achieve the impossible and has me jumping around in front of the hi-fi with imaginary guitar. That Wynn can pen songs that are paeans to William Burroughs and Kes and tip the hat to Link Wray shows you that he's not only number one in a field of one but that he's so far out to sea his head is only just visible to those who are really looking. That's me, you and most people who've seen him live [except for those in the Comrades that night]. That he can then make a trip to the shops, a fall out with the check out staff in Tesco’s and bemoan the absent Woolworths in songs that rarely nudge the three minute mark is nothing less than life affirming.
On ‘Boy’s Don’t Cry [Massive Turn On]' he admits that he doesn't want to go to Filey, on ‘Orange’ he recounts not being able to buy oranges in a shop because he isn’t old enough [all this to a background mumblings and handclaps]. ‘I Once Fingered A Girl Who Rejected Rick Witter in Glasgow’s Art Bar - The Song’ isn’t a personal boast but a reflection on a Tweet and how he sounds like the Fall. Songs that are worth mentioning because they have great song titles and are great songs as well are ‘Day Trip to Heckmondwicke’ [sic], ‘The Beatles Hate Me’, and ‘George Formby Breakdown’. The final mad chorus from ‘I’m Mint Man Me Man Yeah Yeah’ was the first thing that came in to my head when I woke up in the middle of Sunday night. Its still with me now. I think it’ll be with me for a while yet.
Since Geoff Travis lured Sleaford Mods away with the promise of diamond encrusted Lamborghini's and gold topped canes there’s been a definite lack of top ten chart action for Harbinger Sound. Enter Mark Wynn. With his trusty cassette recorder, punnet of grapes and songs about whatever came in to his head ten minutes ago he's making 2017 just that bit more bearable. If you see him in Largs say hello.