LIVE: MANCHESTER ORCHESTRA – 11/04/2014

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- CLUB ACADEMY, MANCHESTER – “It’s nice to be back in our hometown”, are the first words we can hear from Manchester Orchestra after a couple of songs, in a marvellous night where the Atlanta-based quintet introduce their brand new album Cope. The indie-rock outfit grew out of songs that singer and songwriter Andy Hull […]

LIVE: ARCANE ROOTS – 09/04/2014

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- THE ROADHOUSE, MANCHESTER – Arcane Roots are no strangers to the road, in fact this is about their third visit to Manchester in the past year. The Kingston-based trio have been working hard on the live circuit which is not a bad thing at all, but with the Manchester shows having been modestly attended, […]

Album Review: Cleft – Bosh!

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Cleft are a turbo-prog two-piece (or that’s how they describe themselves) from grey Manchester bringing huge repercussions to the British experimental music scene. In the last few years there has been a growing instrumental scene in the UK, with a relevant number of bands supporting it such as That Fucking Tank or The Physics House […]

LIVE: PEGGY SUE – 09/04/2014

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- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – Choosing Peggy Sue as my first review for Silent Radio seemed like a safe bet having seen them a few years previously, and having followed their progress from their formation in Brighton way back in 2005. Numerous tweaks to the name, side projects, additions to the sparse line up  and […]

Album Review: EMA – The Future’s Void

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Nearly a year ago now I reviewed Little Boot’s most recent album: a spirited but ultimately doomed effort to try and provide music that has a pop sensibility with a dark, brooding electronic edge. The results were… mixed, to say the least, resulting in something far more latter-day Kylie than Kid A. However, flawed though […]

LIVE: DEPARTMENT M – 04/04/2014

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- NIGHT & DAY CAFE, MANCHESTER – There’s nothing worse than when a really original, great band call it a day. But when certain members decide  to come back with a new band, it’s always wonderful. The band in question were Grammatics, an indie rock outfit from Leeds who just wrote melodic and dramatic pop […]

LIVE: GOLDHEART ASSEMBLY – 02/04/2014

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- THE RUBY LOUNGE, MANCHESTER – Tonight at the Ruby Lounge I have a good idea of what to expect. Support comes from two bands I have already seen in 2014 and headline act Goldheart Assembly are to play their debut album Wolves and Thieves in full. There are one or two small surprises left […]

LIVE: TOKYO POLICE CLUB – 30/03/2014

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- THE RUBY LOUNGE, MANCHESTER – I must admit, I am slightly sceptical ahead of tonight’s show as Canadian indie pop outfit Tokyo Police Club play their first UK show in years in support of their new album and first in four years. Because Tokyo Police Club seem to be a band that had their […]

LIVE: BAND OF SKULLS – 25/03/2014

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- THE RITZ, MANCHESTER – In advance of new album Himalayan‘s release on 31st March, Band Of Skulls are the headline act tonight at the Ritz. As I arrive, support act Coves are already on stage playing their cover of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’. The crowd seem quite underwhelmed by the few songs I witness […]

LIVE: FRANZ FERDINAND: 22/03/2014

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- ACADEMY 1, MANCHESTER – Franz Ferdinand released their self titled first album in 2004. That’s the same year as Rammstein’s Amerika and Snoop Dogg’s Drop It Like It’s Hot. Feeling old yet? Ten years later they’re headlining Manchester Academy, supported by the Eagulls, soaring into their new single ‘Bullet,’ a raucous sing-along performed with a higher […]

Album Review: The Voluntary Butler Scheme – A Million Ways to Make Gold

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Ever since Rob Jones, under the moniker of his primary creative outlet The Voluntary Butler Scheme, released his 2009 début ‘At Breakfast, Dinner And Tea’, the market for quirky, catchy one-man-bands has been pretty much cornered. Demonstrating what would become the multi-instrumentalist’s typical eye for detail and knack for a catchy brass hook, ‘At Breakfast…’ […]

Album Review: The Hold Steady – Teeth Dreams

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I love how Brooklyn’s The Hold Steady can be enjoyed on different levels. Essentially a party band, the live shows feel like gatherings of like-minded people in attendance to drink some beers and share a love of rock. There’s a real sense of community. Look deeper, though, and listeners can quickly lose themselves in the […]

LIVE: ELLEN & THE ESCAPADES – 15/03/2014

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- THE CASTLE HOTEL, MANCHESTER – Described on their website as a “very exclusive intimate gig”, Ellen & The Escapades come to Manchester to road test some new songs. It feels like The Castle have tried to create a dual purpose gig venue and sauna this evening. I don’t think it works too well though, […]

LIVE: JOHNNY FOREIGNER – 16/03/14

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- GULLIVERS, MANCHESTER – Gullivers is fast becoming one of my favourite Manchester venues. With its chandelier-esque light fixings, deep red walls and mustard coloured drapes, it feels like I’m in a David Lynch movie every time I go in. Today, it plays host to an all-dayer presented by Manchester based lo-fi label Cheesus Crust […]

Album Review: The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dream

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It’s worth starting this review by quoting a fairly lengthy passage from the press release: “Lost In The Dream is the third album by The War on Drugs, but in some ways, it is the first album by the Philadelphia band The War on Drugs. Ahead of and after the release of the 2011 breakthrough Slave Ambient, Adam Granduciel spent the bulk of two […]

LIVE: LEE ‘SCRATCH’ PERRY – 15/03/2014

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- BAND ON THE WALL, MANCHESTER – Read anything about Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry and you will undoubtedly encounter the words ‘genius’ and ‘insanity’ and with good reason; Perry is credited as the catalyst of dub music, wrote and produced hits for The Wailers, The Congos and Max Romeo (amongst others) and has maintained a prominent […]

LIVE: THE NOTWIST – 15/03/2014

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – “Ve Are Notvist” are the first words from lead singer Markus Acher, who sports glasses along with a host of other members from the German veteran band. Expectations are diverse tonight , varying from those expecting skull-crashing drums often associated with German bands, to those expecting the glacial calm […]

Live: Metronomy – 16/03/2014

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- THE RITZ, MANCHESTER – If Metronomy’s primary lyrical concern is the closed-mindedness of the parochially trapped and entrapping, then music, their music, is the escape route. Even as the protagonists in songs like ‘The Look’ and ‘Corinne’ turn their woes over and over without resolution, the music tears off in a direction that is […]

LIVE: WE ARE SCIENTISTS – 09/03/2014

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- THE RITZ, MANCHESTER – It’s Sunday night at The Ritz, and a pretty much packed house are eagerly anticipating effortlessly cool American indie rockers We Are Scientists. Then it happens. Out of the speakers blares the distinct 80′s stadium rock styling of soft rock aficionado’s REO Speedwagon, with their smash hit ‘Keep on Loving […]

LIVE: PATTERNS – 07/03/2014

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 - ST. PHILIP’S CHURCH, SALFORD – Any gig in this venue, which sparkles with beauty, takes on a certain significance but none more so than one, that is the culmination of what has been in preparation for over a year, and truly sees the launch of a debut album by a band in their home […]

LIVE: HAIM – 08/03/2014

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 - ACADEMY, MANCHESTER – I’ve got a good marching pace on with Days Are Gone firming planted in my ear holes. Hmm… there’s something of ironic justice happening as I stride across Trinity Way and a group of lads jeer out of their car. God knows what they’re shouting at me. The thought goes through […]

LIVE: POSTCARDS FROM JEFF – 08/03/2014

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-  SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – The French, cigarette smoking, beret toting sock puppet poet that greets me as I enter the Soup Kitchen (though he wasn’t literally working on the door) is not the same one that finishes the support slot around 20 minutes later. Oh no, we are treated to a merry-go-round of comedic […]

Album Review: Metronomy – Love Letters

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It is a seldom seen occurrence when a band – over a period as long as the best part of a decade – achieves the critics’ holy grail that is a steady progression to mainstream success without sacrificing what was originally considered their original, signature sound. Even more of a surprise is when – somewhat […]

LIVE: TRASH KIT / SEX HANDS / ILL – 26/02/2014

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- GULLIVERS, MANCHESTER – The best and most interesting bands demonstrate free, just will like the rest of us,  and make their decisions according to their own vision, for good or ill.  Relying on formula is clearly not on the agenda of for Ill, who are already on stage as I arrive at Gullivers.  First […]

LIVE: DISCLOSURE – 06/03/2014

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- THE APOLLO, MANCHESTER – 2013 belonged to two brothers, known to their parents as Guy and Howard Lawrence, but known to the world as thrilling electronic duo Disclosure. Their incredible debut album Settle went to number one in the UK, they had a number two single with the Aluna George featuring ‘White Noise’, they […]

LIVE: RADKEY – 03/03/2014

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- NIGHT & DAY CAFE, MANCHESTER – Radkey are three brothers from Missouri who have so far released two EPs, both in the second half of last year. They come to Night & Day Cafe as part of their first ever headline tour and are already building a solid reputation for putting on a good […]

LIVE: BRETON – 04/03/2014

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- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – I remember hearing London-based indie dance outfit Breton a few years ago and being blown away by how many great artists they managed to sound like in one piece of music. With Foals-esque vocals, Tom Vek’s grooves and the weirdness of Late Of The Pier, Breton made an eclectic debut […]

Album Review: Real Estate – Atlas

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There’s something bizarrely unfathomable about Real Estate, and third album Atlas especially. There’s nothing overwhelmingly striking about their sound, we have a classic jangly guitar dynamic, eschewing any Zeitgeist leap towards electronica. There’s a distinct lack of choruses, at least in the traditional sense of reaching a musical, emotional, vocal pinnacle. Previous album Days‘ carefree languidness […]

Album Review: Wild Beasts – Present Tense

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The beasts are back and the beasts are burdened. Charged with following up the success of their previous three long players – Limbo, Panto, Two Dancers and Smoother – the Leeds based indie-electronic four-piece are back with their latest – Present Tense. Is there a pun to be found in that title… is it ‘present, […]

LIVE: I LIKE TRAINS – 28/02/2014

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- ST. PHILIP’S CHURCH, SALFORD – To celebrate their 10th anniversary as a band, everyone’s favourite Leeds-based epic post rockers I Like Trains (they’ve dropped the ridiculously structured iLiKETRAiNS thankfully) are doing a jaunt around the UK playing their debut EP Progress Reform in full. Their Manchester stop (actually in Salford), is the beautiful St Philip’s […]

LIVE: GERARD AND THE WATCHMEN – 26/02/2014

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- KRAAK GALLERY, MANCHESTER – Hidden away almost as though it’s meant to be a secret, Kraak Gallery is a strange little venue, but it has a level of charm. The bill for this evening has 5 acts, unfortunately my arrival is delayed and I only catch the last three of these. The first of […]

LIVE: JOHN MURRY – 26/02/2014

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – Phew! It’s warm in The Deaf Institute again tonight. What’s the deal with that? I was here last week for a gig and was actually quite pleased when a lad carrying a couple of beers overhead through the crowd accidentally tipped half of one down my back. Never has […]

LIVE: MIDLAKE: 20/02/2014

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- THE RITZ, MANCHESTER – “I know I haven’t said much, Manchester’, says Midlake frontman Eric Pulido.  And you know what… he hasn’t. We’re a good few tracks into their set at a respectfully packed Ritz and yes, it would be good to hear more from the hirsute bear-like character, newly crowned Daddy Bear to […]

Album Review: Mark Morriss – A Flash of Darkness

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“To be honest, I didn’t know what I was going to do. So I threw a lot of irons into the fire”. Since the break-up of the Bluetones in 2011, a band with an enviable career span that largely managed to avoid the Britpop roll call of the 90s, front man Mark Morriss has been […]

LIVE: JAKE BUGG – 23/02/2014

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- THE RITZ, MANCHESTER – It seems that Jake Bugg is becoming, if not already, a household name. Everyone appears to know at least a couple of his catchy songs, and rightfully so. It is almost still surprising to know that he is about to reach his 20th birthday, and yet his voice and songwriting […]

LIVE: OF MONTREAL – 19/02/2014

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- GORILLA, MANCHESTER – Entering the room for tonight’s gig at Gorilla I’m struck by how smoky the place is, I think someone has just had an accident with the smoke machine. Thankfully the smoke clears quickly, the room fills up and we get to the time for of Montreal to enter the stage. Five […]

LIVE: THUMPERS – 17/02/2014

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- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – Opening acts are often overlooked, sometimes even skipped. But boy, am I glad that I caught Thumpers when they pumped up the stage for Chvrches last October. The London-based duo consists of Marcus Pepperell and John Hamson Jr., who have been friends since secondary school. A cast of supporting musicians […]

LIVE: PARQUET COURTS – 15/02/2014

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- ACADEMY 2, MANCHESTER – New York’s Parquet Courts have ruined my ears. If there’s one thing to take away from the gig, it’s that this band are LOUD. Tonight, upgraded to the Academy 2 after playing at Gorilla last year, they are absolutely ferocious, tearing through a set with so much energy and fervour […]

Album Review: Nina Persson – Animal Heart

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The return of the delightful singing voice of Nina Persson, this time on her first solo album, is accompanied, certainly as far as this reviewer is concerned, by a strong feeling of eager anticipation. As the singer and lyricist of the Cardigans, Nina has an impressive record of musical achievements. With that occasionally slightly husky […]

LIVE: KESTON COBBLERS’ CLUB – 10/02/2014

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- DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER -  Coming out onto stage to open with ‘For, Words’ tonights headliners Keston Cobblers’ Club have attracted a crowd with a good mix of ages, though since this is the Deaf Institute the lower limit is of course 18. The opening song gets the performance off to a good start and […]

LIVE: FANFARLO – 09/02/2014

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- DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – I’ve been listening to Fanfarlo since their debut album in 2009, so this gig has definitely been a long time coming. The indie/alternative electro-pop band are based in London and was formed by Swedish musician, Simon Balthazar. Throughout the years, Fanfarlo has racked up an impressive discography of three studio […]

LIVE: MODERAT – 07/02/2014

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- ALBERT HALL, MANCHESTER – Moderat made one of my favourite albums of last year, the delightful II which also contained what could be my favourite song of last year too, the beautiful ‘Gita’. So to say I’m pretty, pretty excited about this late night gig presented by the Warehouse Project guys at the recently re-opened stunning […]

LIVE: FOREST SWORDS – 08/02/2014

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- DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – It is typically busy upstairs at The Deaf Institute and with good reason; Forest Swords, aka Matthew Barnes, is in town for a rare headline show. Fresh from supporting Mogwai in Europe, there is a sense of anticipation in the room long before a note is played.  Fortunately, punters don’t […]

LIVE: MODERAT – 07/02/2014

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- ALBERT HALL, MANCHESTER – Another great electronic night organised by the lads of The Warehouse Project hosting Moderat, one of the biggest names from the last few years in the European dance movement. WHP may not need much presentation, but they have now been programming shows like this one since 2006 when they started […]

LIVE: SEX HANDS / THOSE ROTTEN THIEVES / MISTOA POLTSA / FRUIT TONES – 06/02/2014

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- NIGHT & DAY CAFE, MANCHESTER – My arrival at Night and Day cafe on a rainy Thursday night coincides with that of a group of lads, all clearly in good spirits, bearing guitars & snare drums wrapped in plastic bags to keep out of the rain.  Their good mood and familiar greetings to friends […]

LIVE: LITTLE COMETS – 05/02/2014

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- CLUB ACADEMY, MANCHESTER – Club Academy is the underground venue in the Manchester University Student Union. It is a venue with a huge amount of seating space at the back and it is sold out this evening for Little Comets. Unfortunately for tonight’s support act Catfish & The Bottlemen, the space at the back […]

LIVE: MOGWAI – 27/01/2014

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- THE BRIDGEWATER HALL, MANCHESTER – It seems to be another rainy night in Manchester, but with a small difference: Mogwai are in town, and for an instrumental music lover like me, it is a MUST to go and see them. The ‘plan’ is organised at the marvellous Bridgewater Hall, home of many classic instrumentalists […]

Album Review: Breton – War Room Stories

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At the moment, the DIY ethic that is so essential for exciting new bands is as abundant in the underground music scene as it ever was. With the likes of Manchester band PINS and Leeds groups Menace Beach and Department M – amongst others – all creating their own merchandise, cultivating their own distinct image […]

LIVE: ALGIERS – 31/01/2014

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- FALLOW CAFE, MANCHESTER – Fallow Cafe is the venue for this evening’s gig headlined by Sheffield duo Algiers. This is my first visit to the venue, opened after the people behind the The Ruby Lounge took over and rebranded what was the original Trof site in Fallowfield. I arrived to learn technical difficulties would […]

LIVE: JAMES VINCENT MCMORROW – 24/01/2014

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- MANCHESTER CATHEDRAL, MANCHESTER – One of the first things that catches my attention and makes an impression is the name of a band or an artist. And James Vincent McMorrow’s name is among the loveliest ones I’ve heard. The singer-songwriter from Dublin, Ireland released his second album, Post Tropical just this month. He kicked […]

LIVE: DAN LE SAC VS SCROOBIUS PIP – 19/01/2014

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- ACADEMY 2, MANCHESTER – On arrival at the Students’ Union, I’m greeted by the sight of tonight’s headliner’s Dan Le Sac and Scroobius Pip manning their own merch stand. I would guess that it’s partly born out of necessity, but I admire the personal touch; it is nice to see a hip-hop act who […]

Single Review: Department M – Miscellany

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Department M shoot a large portion of intriguing sounds straight to your ears as soon as ‘Miscellany’ graces your speakers. The industrial electro-synth tones partnered with a cleverly syncopated hard-hitting drum beat combine to create a sound that leaves you wanting more. The instruments initially jar, but as the track progresses it all makes sense. […]

LIVE: CASS MCCOMBS – 10/01/2014

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – I rarely ever mention support acts in a review, but only one man has led me to break that mould – Frank Fairfield. With a barely comprehensible Southern American accent, baggy trousers and a belt buckle which would take Alex Turner’s belt buckle efforts to town, he sits on […]

LIVE: GOGOL BORDELLO – 14/12/2013

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- ACADEMY, MANCHESTER – When Pura Vida Conspiracy was released this summer, I didn’t agree with a lot of the blogosphere hype that surrounded it. Sure, the New York gypsy punk’s sixth album had maybe a handful of memorable hits, but it fell short of comparable in positive light to the likes of their previous […]

LIVE: PEACE – 11/12/2013

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- THE RITZ, MANCHESTER – It’s about this time in the musical calendar that everyone starts looking to the New Year; from new bands to new records, everyone’s getting their tips in. This time last year, Brummy-based quartet Peace were one of those tipped for big things with their retro blend of indie and pop […]

MERCHANDISE REVIEW: MetzJumper

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There’s a lot of tension in the air:  It’s hard to define, but the sense of expectation this evening has been building for some time, and no-one really knows what to expect.   Before I arrived at the Deaf Institute, I confess I was unaware of MetzJumper, and I’m only at the venue that night to […]

Album Review: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Live From KCRW

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Live albums are an acquired taste. What you usually get is a collection of your favourite songs jumbled together and performed inferiorly to their originals. Furthermore, a live album isn’t live per say, you have to be there for it to be live, and if you’re not it’s a bit like reading a live review […]

LIVE: HAIM – 8/12/2013

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- THE RITZ, MANCHESTER – It was early 2012 when I was introduced to Haim, a three-piece family affair from Los Angeles, California. “You gotta check this out. I’ve been listening to it on repeat.” So sayeth my elder brother as he emailed me a link. The opening bars of ‘Falling’ played through my speakers […]

LIVE: JAMIE LENMAN – 7/12/2013

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- NIGHT & DAY CAFE, MANCHESTER – So, if you weren’t into the British rock music in the early naughties, they you probably may not be familiar with the work of Jamie Lenman. Basically, Jamie was in one of my favourite bands, Reuben, a post-hardcore trio from Surrey who were super heavy and riffy but […]

LIVE: DUTCH UNCLES – 6/12/2013

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- ACADEMY 2, MANCHESTER – At the very start of this year, I was lucky enough to catch Manchester’s bravest indie popster’s Dutch Uncles dazzle a small yet packed out crowd at The Castle in Manchester, the day they released their excellent third LP Out Of Touch In The Wild.  It’s been a good few […]

LIVE: MARK MORRISS – 30/11/2013

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- TIGER LOUNGE, MANCHESTER – Mark Morriss was the front man of Brit indie outfit The Bluetones (1993 – 2011 RIP) and most fondly remembered for making a duffle coat look well hot. Probably equally so, the band were responsible for some of the best loved songs that helped to shape one of the most […]

LIVE: METZ – 22/11/2013

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – The first time I saw Metz, in the Soup Kitchen basement, was a very memorable gig indeed. Since then I’ve been counting down the days until I could go see them again.  For this gig, not only did I make a ticket purchase weeks in advance to minimise things that […]

LIVE: JONATHAN WILSON – 28/11/2013

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- GORILLA, MANCHESTER – With his second album Fanfare newly released Jonathan Wilson is a busy guy at the moment, well into his tour that’ll take him into the New Year. I’m eager to hear him play some of his new stuff, at Gorilla. Arriving and seeing the stage set up and lots of patient and […]

LIVE: HALF MOON RUN – 22/11/2013

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 THE ALBERT HALL, MANCHESTER – There’s much excitement and lure around the newly reopened Albert Hall as to the Canadian four-piece Half Moon Run. At least for me. Since a short run of shows for MIF, I’ve been keen to see a live performance here and it’s incredible. Like a gilded frame; bands perform against […]

LIVE: CRYSTAL FIGHTERS – 23/11/2013

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- ACADEMY 2, MANCHESTER – Unexpected, crazy, eclectic – are just several of the adjectives that describe Crystal Fighters’ gig at Academy 2. The five-piece come from London and are known for the mad live shows they throw. It’s almost half-carnival, half-rave. The band plays a total of 16 songs from Star of Love and […]

LIVE: QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE – 20/11/2013

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- PHONES 4U ARENA, MANCHESTER – Though in recent years we may see Josh Homme hidden under the radar as a family man with his two children and rock prom queen Brody Dalle by his side, most of us dreamt of the day we would see ‘Ginger Elvis’ take the stage again. True Rock n’ […]

Album Review: Eric Clapton – Give Me Strength

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With the expensive Italian suits, perfectly trimmed beard and collection of exotic girlfriends (and even more exotic cars), it’s perhaps easy to fall into a trap, forgetting that Clapton was once one extremely cool bluesman.  As the graffiti put it: ‘Clapton is God’.  For a while it seemed the celestial one had indeed returned, and […]

LIVE: WHITE DENIM – 19/11/2013

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- GORILLA, MANCHESTER – It’s actually impossible to categorise White Denim, which is what makes them such an uncompromisingly brilliant live band. I saw a tweet from someone who had been to their London gig which said ‘White Denim are without doubt the finest rock-soul-jazz-punk-AOR-funk-garage-prog band I’ve ever seen.’ This is about as accurate a […]

ISSUES & TISSUES: AN EVENING WITH BLACK FRANCIS AND DAVE HASLAM – 20/11/2013

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THE ALBERT HALL, MANCHESTER The Albert Hall is certainly an apt venue for an evening of conversation with one of the most admired alternative music figures over the last 20 years, and more. Black Francis / Frank Black or Charles Thompson is an icon of the alternative music, yet there is still so much to […]

LIVE: STRFKR – 17/11/2013

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – STRFKR and I go way, way back – to my college days, to be exact. ‘Julius’ was one of the many anthems blasting through my car speakers at half six in the morning and four in the evening. The electronic band hails from Portland, Oregon and started off as […]

LIVE: THE FAMILY RAIN – 18/11/2013

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- THE RUBY LOUNGE, MANCHESTER – These guys haven’t had it bad supporting some of the UK’s finest musicians Miles Kane and Jake Bugg earlier this year. But this trio have their own stuff to offer, three brothers from Bath, hanging out playing rock. It is as simple as that, but their sound is something […]

Single Review: The Black Waterside – Cold Night, Dark Ground

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Best-suited to the underground dive bars of New York or overground blues/rockabilly Nashville backdrops, this gritty Kent-based revival of rock ‘n’ roll is an interesting one. The Black Waterside is a five-piece band hailing, surprisingly, from the ‘Garden of England’, yet their sound is something unexpected. The band are tight, the instrumentation and the vibe […]

LIVE: QUADRON – 13/11/2013

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- THE RUBY LOUNGE, MANCHESTER – Quadron, although it sounds like an experienced campaigner’s Xbox Live username, is actually the name of a crystal-clean pastiche soul act who have more star supporters than you can shake a stick at, see Prince, James Murphy, Pharrell and Jay-Z. Stranger than that, the Danish duo, with two extremely […]

LIVE: RADICAL FACE – 10/11/2013

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – Radical Face is the pseudonym of musical act Ben Cooper, who hails from Jacksonville, Florida. I’d been listening to him since his 2007 release Ghost, which contains a song (‘Welcome Home, Son’) that most of you have undoubtedly heard while watching a Nikon advert either in the cinema or at […]

EP Review: King Kartel – Not Done Fighting

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Having formed in September 2012, the success of King Kartels first single ‘Stone Cold Killer’ was enough to see them do a nationwide tour – an impressive feat for any new band. Now a year later, they release their debut EP Not Done Fighting. This four-piece, Manchester-based indie-rock band are recommended for fans of Oasis, […]

LIVE: MARK LANEGAN – 07/11/2013

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- RNCM, MANCHESTER – ‘Chameleon’, ‘Maverick’, ‘Man For Hire’ – whatever you would like to label Mark Lanegan, he is an artist in demand and a man of unique talent. Tall, snake-thin with a wide-screen face seemingly grafted from granite, he takes to the stage at the reverential ‘sold out’  Royal Northern College Of Music […]

Album Review: Midlake – Antiphon

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Having started in 1999 and already been through a roster of line up changes, Antiphon is the fourth album from Midlake. Arguably with the most important line up change to date, this album is the first without frontman Tim Smith. Unlike many bands who lose a front man, Midlake have not broken up and fallen […]

Album Review: Connan Mockasin – Caramel

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The first thing I heard about New Zealand’s Connan Mockasin was the fact that he listened to  his own music exclusively, the one exception from this habit being a Metronomy single given to him by his manager. This was then listened to at the wrong speed for a prolonged period of time due to the fact […]

LIVE: LOCAL NATIVES – 26/10/2013

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- THE RITZ, MANCHESTER – I missed Local Natives before. I promised myself never again. So imagine my excitement as I stand in The Ritz, proper chuffed with my splendid view of the stage. The only downside is that I am wearing a sweater. Outside, it’s sweater weather. Cold, chilly and icy. But inside, it’s […]

LIVE: PORTICO QUARTET – 27/10/2013

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- GORILLA, MANCHESTER – In almost darkness at Gorilla is a stage covered in instruments and leads. You can’t see the floor through drum kits, synths, saxophones, keyboards, guitars, a double bass and a hang (swiss steel drum). And it is a quartet we’re here to see – Portico Quartet – not a 12 piece […]

LIVE: GHOSTPOET – 19/10/2013

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – There are three types of gigs: those you wish you hadn’t been to; those that are exactly the same as listening to the album in your front room; and those that blast away your expectations. Ghostpoet at Deaf Institute most definitely falls into the latter category. Speaking of categories, […]

LIVE: THE GROWLERS – 26/10/2013

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER -  On a dark October evening as Manchester slides into winter, who wouldn’t want to take one last chance to reflect in a Californian sunbeam before it’s too late? There’s a storm warning on the radio, the clocks turn back tonight, and yet all that fills the Deaf Institute air […]

Album Review: The Wave Pictures – City Forgiveness

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The infamous double album…there are not many other things in the music industry that tend to be so hit and miss. They normally come about after an extra special spark in creativity or are written in tribute to something close to the band. The Wave Pictures 5th long player is a mixture of both. Whilst […]

LIVE: BILL RYDER-JONES – 22/10/2013

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – Taking to the stage with a four-man band, who Bill branded as “the most under-rehearsed band on the planet” on his Twitter page just hours before the concert in an unashamed honest use of social media, with no view to ticket sales. This unashamed honesty was soon reflected in […]

LIVE: WASHED OUT – 22/10/2013

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- GORILLA, MANCHESTER – Well I wasn’t expecting this. Washed Out’s Ernest Greene bound on to stage with four other people as his backing band, and after the first song is done, a great version of ‘It All Feels Right’ from his new album Paracosm, we end up in full on euphoric, Tuesday night rave […]

LIVE: DAUGHTER – 21/10/2013

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- THE RITZ, MANCHESTER – Daughter – a trio from London are on their first headline tour. Placed arbitrarily in the “Indie rock” camp, they specialise in loud beats and echoey guitars, over which Elena Tonra shares her languid, melancholy vocals. They broke into the industry with a selection of well received EP’s in 2011, […]

LIVE: ROYAL BLOOD – 17/10/2013

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- THE ROADHOUSE, MANCHESTER – I’m not sure whether its because I’ve really submersed myself in it this year, but 2013 sure has been a great year for new music, particularly bands coming out of the UK. There has been a slow rise in the amount of two piece bands too, proving that you don’t need […]

LIVE: TUNNG – 15/10/2013

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- BAND ON THE WALL, MANCHESTER – Tunng return after an interlude of nearly three years to perform at Band on the Wall,  as they are promoting their widely reviewed new album Turbines. Known for their mix of upbeat polyphonic folk, complemented with electro keys and multi-part harmonies; they’re not quite Full-folktronica but they’re still […]

LIVE: FUN ADULTS – 18/10/2013

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- THE CASTLE HOTEL, MANCHESTER – Standing, as if to attention, the drummer lifted a clarinet to his mouth enchantingly joining forces with the trumpet of the co-lead singer, spiralling mournful notes around the fittingly haunting back room at The Castle, with its wooden-clad tremulous chandelier and high roof, which amputates and ghoulishly echoes the […]

LIVE: LANTERNS ON THE LAKE – 15/10/2013

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – My introduction to Lanterns On The Lake was a few weeks back, when I reviewed their latest album, Until The Colours Run. I thoroughly enjoyed the majority of the tracks and made a mental note to catch them when they play Manchester. So naturally, I was pretty stoked to […]

LIVE: DEPTFORD GOTH – 17/10/2013

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – Daniel Woolhouse aka Deptford Goth, is a downbeat kinda guy. Cut from the same cloth as Active Child, How To Dress Well and Perfume Genius, he makes what I’ve come to term as ‘mopey RnB’. And lord knows, I like me a bit of mopey RnB. I saw him […]

LIVE: LIAM FROST – 4/10/2013

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – OK, cards on the table… I am a Liam Frost fan.   A huge Liam Frost fan.  As huge as he once himself, was, when I saw him play at the opening of the 235 Casino…. Many moons, and many drained bank accounts past.  What he has lost in weight […]

LIVE: EVERYTHING EVERYTHING – 11/10/2013

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- THE RITZ, MANCHESTER – It’s a rarity within the contemporary music scene that one can actually escape the world of fashion bands and “rich kid” gigs and actually have the chance to see a band that are genuinely engaging and passionate. Everything Everything are the band to watch when it comes to live music. […]

LIVE: DRENGE – 15/10/2013

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- THE ROADHOUSE,  MANCHESTER – Let’s not ‘fuckabout’…Drenge totally, completely, 100 percent rule tonight. The Loveless brothers (amazing name) from Castleton tear through their debut album, imaginatively titled Drenge, with all the exuberance that youth brings at The Roadhouse, a fitting venue for their down and dirty music. The room is packed to the rafters, […]

EP Review: The Growlers – Not. Psych!

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The Growlers are one of those rare bands that just don’t give a shit; they play the kind of music they want to play and do it in their own way. Any band that has a record called Greatest Shits and a single named ‘Gay Thoughts’ is destined for stardom in my eyes. Made up […]

Album Review: Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip – Repent, Replenish, Repeat

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For those of you who don’t know, Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip (or dlsvsSP, as I will incorrectly refer to them) are a pair of lads from Essex, who collaborate to make some form of urban. The ignorance at the end of the last sentence is only partly feigned, though there is enough spoken […]

LIVE: JUNGLE – 10/10/2013

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- THE ROADHOUSE, MANCHESTER – During the opening dramatic instrumental which shakes yet innocently chimes around The Roadhouse, it is clear what the audience are thinking; “Any minute now those green-tracksuit clad, roller-skating guys are going to dash enthusiastically on stage.” A thought which takes on deeper significance when ‘The Heat’ begins to jive around […]

LIVE: NO AGE – 10/10/2013

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – I am prepared for a No Age show. Or at least I think I am. I have heard about their ferocious live reputation, Dean Spunt and Randy Randall melting the eardrums of everyone in attendance with their incredibly loud drums /guitar combo, sending punters home covered in sweat and […]

LIVE: JOHNNY FLYNN & THE SUSSEX WIT – 7/10/2013

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- CLUB ACADEMY, MANCHESTER – Promoting his new album Country Mile, Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit return to Manchester after a two year interlude from, where he has been delving into the delights of theatre. Support was provided by the delectable Marika Hackman and Cosmo Sheldrake. Manchester’s Club Academy; that drab, slimy host, the Uncle who […]

LIVE: CAVFEST – 21/09/13

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- CAVENDISH PRIMARY SCHOOL, MANCHESTER – Now normally when primary schools have fundraisers, the most exotic it gets is throwing soggy sponges at the headmaster in the playing fields outside.  However, this is Manchester and at Cavendish Primary in Didsbury, they do things a little differently.  The school site manager was once a guitarist in […]

LIVE: SPACEHOG – 6/10/2013

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER -  Many things were lost in the noise of Britpop and grunge – bands that otherwise would have stood out as special were overlooked in the search for the next Oasis, the next Nirvana. Spacehog are a band who straddled the Atlantic with a toe in each of these scenes, […]

LIVE: SCHOLARS – 4/10/2013

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- SOUND CONTROL, MANCHESTER – The last time Watford based outfit Scholars hit Manchester was back in April at The Roadhouse just as they were about to drop their long awaited debut album Always Lead, Never Follow. Business has been pretty normal since then as the band have pretty much been constantly on the road, […]

Album Review: Anna Calvi – One Breath

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I recall a pub conversation with a friend at Christmas time. I believe the year was 2011, and we were each naming our favourite gig of the year and attempting to explain what it was that we liked so much about it. I think I used the words “hands down” in declaring that Calvi’s gig […]

LIVE: LIVERPOOL INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PSYCHEDELIA – 27/09/2013 – 28/09/2013

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- FRIDAY – Liverpool’s third eye opened for the 2nd annual International Festival of Psychedelia over the weekend of September 27-28, drawing in crowds from countries as far as Mexico and as close as Europe, to interconnect in all things psych-otic. Over 2,000 committed ‘PZYKonauts’ gathered in Liverpool’s most cultural quarter, The Baltic Triangle, to […]

LIVE: LIVERPOOL INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF PSYCHEDELIA – 27/09/2013 – 28/09/2013

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-  SATURDAY – Saturday only begins for us around 4pm, kicking it all off once again in the Blade Factory to catch the shimmering guitar riffs of Psyence, Stoke-On-Trent’s four-piece who right now are fuelling off the kaleidoscopic vibes in the air with tracks from their new 7” release Zebra. Psyence are a lesser known act […]

LIVE: SKY LARKIN / BAD GRAMMAR – 30/09/2013

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – “Do you know who the support act are tonight?” “Radstewart.” “ROD STEWART?!” “No, Radstewart.” I can’t pretend I’m not slightly disappointed that the support act for tonight’s gig isn’t Rod Stewart. Sadly he’s headlining arenas in Glasgow for fifty quid this week, not playing the support slot at Manchester’s […]

EP REVIEW: STUBBORN HEART ‘PENETRATE 12”’

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A batch of remixes normally act as a subtle reminder that ‘THIS BAND STILL EXIST’ ahead of a more important release, and tellingly on the day Stubborn Heart’s ‘Penetrate EP’ is released, announcements have been made about the release of a new 27-track deluxe edition of their well-received debut. I am not suspicious. Deluxe editions […]

LIVE: BC CAMPLIGHT – 28/09/2013

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- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – I love a good story me, and boy, does Brian Christinzio aka BC Camplight, come laden with a whole heap of baggage. Namely the few the suitcases he packed in 2011, when he upped sticks from Philadelphia to set up home here, in Manchester. “Someday the press will awake to […]

Album Review: Haim – Days Are Gone

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The three Californian sisters that seem to be everywhere right now have finally dropped their long awaited debut album Days Are Gone. They already have a string of hit singles, massive tours and a Glastonbury main stage set under their belt, and since their debut three-track EP, Forever, Haim has been the word on everyone’s […]

LIVE: WIRE – 26/09/2013

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- GORILLA, MANCHESTER – Wire are one of those bands that you discover through reading reviews of other bands. For me it happened in the earlier 2000′s, when ‘art-rock’ was making big waves through bands such as Franz Ferdinand and The Futureheads, and every review seemed to reference these bands from days of yore called […]

LIVE: JON HOPKINS – 24/09/2013

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- GORILLA, MANCHESTER – I’m a little dubious about tonight’s gig at Gorilla, the main reason being that Jon Hopkins’ recent Mercury Prize nominated album ‘Immunity’ has been played to death since I got hold of it a few months ago and I’ve never listened to it with anyone else around. For me the whole […]

Album Review: Cuushe – Butterfly Case

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For a pianist to adopt a chillwave sound for her sophomore album, a form of music often associated with amateur bedroom musicians, would seem like a dumbed-down shot at accessibility, and ultimately this album follows that lead, with sprinklings of beautiful musicianship along the way, just increasing the frustration of what could have been. To put […]

LIVE: SAMARIS – 24/09/2013

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- GORILLA, MANCHESTER – After walking in Gorilla to find Samaris’ lead singer of just nineteen rushing through her homework, it was hard not to expect an uptight performance tonight, mirroring the Icelandic band’s young age, with the three-piece barely touching twenty. However, clarinet player, Áslaug Rún Magnúsdóttir, explained to me after the gig, how the […]

Album Review: Au Revoir Simone – Move In Spectrums

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Generally in the music press, writers love the idea of ‘genre’. The desire to pigeonhole and categorise artists is an instinctive one: it give us the ability to compare and contrast similar artists, which in turn allow us to grade them based on their individual merit. However as we plough ever further into the 21st […]

LIVE: ELIZA AND THE BEAR – 20/09/2013

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- PHONES 4U ARENA, MANCHESTER -  It’s a pretty big deal when a young British band, who have spent years playing every toilet venue in the UK and beyond finally get a break and get to play some bigger rooms. So it must feel pretty good to be in Eliza And The Bear right now. After […]

LIVE: JAMES BLAKE – 20/09/13

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- THE RITZ, MANCHESTER – James Blake. Not to be confused with the James family of bland, Blunt or Morrison. Blake is a producer and musician of incredible skill and flair. He crafts his songs from a rich array of sounds and electronic production techniques; with nods to bass, dub step, hip hop, R&B and […]

LIVE REVIEW: FESTIVAL NO. 6 – 14/09/2013

- SATURDAY – I’m sure just like ourselves everyone here has checked the weather for the weekend and noted that today is going to be the best of the three days in Portmeirion, so we decide this is the day to make the most of the village and its surroundings. First port of call is […]

LIVE REVIEW: FESTIVAL NO. 6 – 13/09/2013

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- FRIDAY – Last year’s festival wristbands cleverly had ‘I am not a number’ written on them, a nod to The Prisoner, the sixties cult sci-fi show filmed at Portmeirion. This gave you a bubbling anticipation of what lay beyond. But this year’s wristbands are different, gone is the ‘I am not a number’, and […]

LIVE REVIEW: FESTIVAL NO. 6 – 15/09/2013

- SUNDAY 15/09/2013 – It’s half five in the morning and the wind has now been giving our tent a bit of kicking for the last hour or so, so I decide it’s time to go outside and make sure all the tent’s guy ropes are still intact. As it turns out most of them […]

LIVE: THE BLACK ANGELS – 17/09/2013

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- GORILLA, MANCHESTER – Considered by many these days to be among the top tier of neo-psychedelic bands, there are some who look no higher than The Black Angels. Well worthy of this type of lofty praise, their style of late night psychedelia is good enough to impress on first listen – or to put […]

Album Review: Mark Lanegan – Imitations

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Mark Lanegan has never been busier, but the abundance of projects he has taken on over the last two years hasn’t diluted the downtrodden intensity of his work. If anything, his identity as a musician has flourished, and despite much of his work being collaborative he still manages to make his presence felt alongside equally […]

LIVE: CATFISH AND THE BOTTLEMEN – 18/09/2013

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- NIGHT & DAY CAFE, MANCHESTER – One of the great things about radio is being able to switch it on and listen to a new band. Actually, even to listen to an old song from a classic band is what can make you feel great. It’s all closely linked, as you know each band […]

LIVE: YOUNGHUSBAND – 17/09/2013

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- THE CASTLE HOTEL, MANCHESTER – Younghusband or Young*Husband as they sometimes like to be called was initially a bedroom project of Euan Hinshelwood.  Hinshelwood had been in a number of bands but when these failed to develop, he began to write and record his own music and after a few low-key releases , lead […]

LIVE: THE ORWELLS – 13/09/2013

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- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – Looking around, there is no shortage of garage rock crawling out of the bins in every suburb and back alley of America, infecting itself among the fuzz-demented noise craving youth.  That being said, barely legal Chicago five-piece The Orwells fit this mould of what you might call yet another “underground […]

LIVE: GIANT DRAG / BAD GRAMMAR – 13/09/2013

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – I’ve been wanting to see Manchester based duo, Bad Grammar for quite a while now and somehow it just never happens, so I’m glad to finally make it to the building of their gig.  Upon entrance my attention is immediately diverted to the merchandise stand where I find some […]

LIVE: LOS PORCOS – 13/09/2013

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- KRAAK GALLERY, MANCHESTER – “Welcome To Pork City” written on a newspaper stand ahead  of the dark back alley where Kraak Gallery is situated is about as ambiguous a notice as the band’s online surfacing, which carried with it a similar secretive obscurity. Signing to Caledonian records, the same label as upcoming Blaenovon, the band […]

Album Review: Nightmares on Wax – Feelin’ Good

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A great artist releasing an album is always a good thing, but when new material comes at a machine-gun pace (hello Ryan Adams), it can sometimes detract from your relationship with their art. Listeners need time to acquaint themselves with an album, to let their perception of and relationship with the tracks evolve. Some days […]

LIVE: FUCK BUTTONS – 09/09/2013

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- GORILLA, MANCHESTER – Tonight Gorilla is darkly intense and chaotic, a quasi-bestial atmosphere collecting in anticipation of the sound explosion that Fuck Buttons promise to hurl. Touring their latest album Slow Focus after a near four-year hiatus, the Bristol duo recently headlined Glastonbury’s Park Stage and are on the brink of a world tour […]

Album Review: The Strypes – Snapshot

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The debut album from The Strypes, Snapshot, is a fast paced nod to the 60s rhythm and blues era. The preceding EP, Young, Gifted and Blue, came out in 2012 causing quite a stir. The timing of this record couldn’t be better, with the rise of stars such as Jake Bugg, the reemergence of The […]

Album Review: Lanterns on the Lake – Until The Colours Run

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Lanterns On The Lake is a five-piece band hailing from Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Consisting of Hazel Wilde, Paul Gregory, Ol Ketteringham, Sarah Kemp and Andrew Scrogham, they have had a successful debut album and are now signed to Bella Union. They have performed at numerous music festivals, including Glastonbury, SXSW and Bestival and even toured with Explosions […]

LIVE: JETPLANE LANDING / DOCTRINES – 04/09/2013

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- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – Nine years. It’s been nine whole years since Jetplane Landing were last in town, nine whole years since they last toured at all, in fact. Time flies, times change, but with their ‘Don’t Try’ comeback album, Derry’s finest are proving to still be as vital as they ever were. Twelve […]

ALBUM REVIEW: SNIPPET – DIY

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Reviewed by: Nat Lyon. Johnno Casson is Snippet.   And Snippet is a DIY project band that creates lush sounding productions in a mythical garden shed somewhere in Colchester.  In that magic garden shed, Casson builds and shreds a number of different personalities.  He also writes and self-records arrangements that match the complexity of the characters […]

Album Review: Money – The Shadow of Heaven

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Money, The Shadow of Heaven, wealth and religion, the twin asteroids of humanity’s destruction, grand topics for an equally grand album. When you listen to this debut from the Manchester 4-piece it certainly seems that they are looking to encompass the city, the earth and stars and everything inbetween. Money mainman, Jamie Lee, expands in […]

LIVE: CROCODILES / KULT COUNTRY – 28/08/2013

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- THE RUBY LOUNGE, MANCHESTER – As I enter the musical cave that is The Ruby Lounge I can say that I haven’t seen it this busy in a long time. The atmosphere is great, people queuing for the bar, waiting for the band to start and the loud noise of chatter. Once Kult Country […]

LIVE: WIDOWSPEAK – 27/08/2013

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- NIGHT AND DAY CAFE, MANCHESTER – There’s an American feel about this venue, and so Widowspeak should feel right at home. The support band come from Wigan but sound very Country indeed. The stage is set. It’s dark in here and I’m not wearing my glasses… but I can hear drumming and can’t see […]

LIVE: BLONDES – 24/08/2013

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- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – The bunker beneath one of Manchester’s finest bars, Soup Kitchen, is the perfect place for Blondes and their brand of ecstatic, build, build and then build some more repetitive house (I think it’s mostly house, with about a million genres of dance music that all merge into each other, who […]

Album Review: Drenge – Drenge

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When asked to think of Derbyshire, you may conjure up images of coal mines, the luxurious home of Jane Austen’s swoon-inducing Mr. Darcy and now angsty, two-man blues/rock duos who make The Black Keys sound dangerously close to irrelevant, plodding dad-rock. Indeed, Derbyshire’s latest export, Drenge – formed by the aptly named brothers Eion and […]

Album Review: Out Cold – Invasion of Love

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Out Cold is a side project of Simon Aldred, the frontman of Cherry Ghost. Aldred’s work with the Bolton band, such as on minor hits ‘Mathematics’ and ‘4am’, has an organic sound with a widescreen feel, and Aldred’s warm, northern vocals might easily be capable of bringing comfort to any homesick Lancastrian. With Out Cold, […]

ALBUM REVIEW: TY SEGALL – SLEEPER

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As they do, musicians will wander off their path of what we’re used to and surprise us with something that separates itself distinctly from the rest. Like a sore thumb, Ty Segall’s latest album Sleeper stands out as something completely out of his realm. Differentiating itself from the likes of last year’s thrash-and-roll efforts Slaughterhouse, Twins and Hair with Cali pals […]

Album Review: Washed Out – Paracosm

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In 2013, it’s easier than ever before to find new music. The advent of Spotify and the omnipresence of the Internet as a whole means that any new artist can record something with a reasonable degree of competency, and instantly expose it to millions of people with the click of a mouse. Despite the recent […]

LIVE: OWEN PALLETT – 12/08/2013

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- BAND ON THE WALL, MANCHESTER – Owen Pallett is an extraordinarily talented man. As well as his stellar solo work under his own name and the Final Fantasy moniker, he has also worked on string arrangements for many a band including Beirut, Arcade Fire and Last Shadow Puppets. And it is his strings that […]

Album Review: Crocodiles – Crimes of Passion

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With summer almost over, it’s a shame the new Crocodiles album Crimes of Passion has arrived in August as it would have provided the perfect soundtrack to soak up those boozy afternoon sessions in the park. Formed after their previous punk bands had split, Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell decided to continue on their musical […]

Album Review: Laura Veirs – Warp and Weft

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With her last album comprising a collection of songs for children and having recently given birth to her second son, it would be an easy assumption that Laura Veirs’ latest material is characterised by more insular themes. However, this is hardly the case at all. After the lofty, scientific subject matter and metaphors of Carbon […]

LIVE: TEXAS IS THE REASON – 03/08/2013 (MANCHESTER) & 04/08/2013 (LONDON)

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Journey – An act of travelling from one place to another. The past weekend has been that journey. One that has spanned nearly two decades of waiting, one that has been filled with emotion and one that ended with sheer beauty and happiness. Texas Is The Reason released one album, one EP and two split […]

LIVE: MATTHEW AND THE ATLAS – 30/7/2013

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- THE CASTLE HOTEL, MANCHESTER – Almost 45 years ago, to the day, outraged folk fans booed throughout Bob Dylan’s performance at the Newport Folk Festival. Allegedly, the crowd were a little miffed that Bob had dared go all electric and spoil their folky fun. Tonight, about 3,000 miles east, just 70 people were privy […]

LIVE: JOHNNY FLYNN – 30/7/2013

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – Roughly 4 years ago, I conceived an article extolling the virtues of the burgeoning folk scene. It would focus on 4 bands, namely, in order of quality, Laura Marling, Johnny Flynn, Noah and the Whale, Mumford & Sons. It didn’t get written largely because I’m a bit of a […]

LIVE: BRAID – 25/7/2013

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- ALTER EGO, MANCHESTER -  There’s a fizz in Alter-Ego. A rare air of anticipation bordering on the non-belief that Braid – no, whisper it -  Braid, are in town. In this very building. Tonight. The very idea that this could happen was preposterous even a few months ago, after all, they split up in […]

Album Review: Mayors of Miyazaki – Holy Cop

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In the opening 30 seconds of Holy Cop, I relate the sound of Mayors of Miyazaki to At the Drive In, Biffy Clyro (Puzzle) and Coheed & Cambria, but vocally they are very much apart from all of the above. To pull one from left field, Holy Cop is like a super-tight, atonal, staccato version […]

Album Review: Alunageorge – Body Music

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The eagerly awaited debut album Body Music by AlunaGeorge (aka Aluna Francis and producer George Reid) is a collection of smooth tones, dance basslines and sweet vocals. Despite this being their first LP they have already been around for over a year gracing every ‘ones to watch list’ of 2012 and touring throughout Europe. The […]

LIVE: NYPC – 19/07/2013

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- NIGHT & DAY CAFE, MANCHESTER -  I arrive at Night & Day on Manchester’s trendy Oldham Street wondering why one of my favourite bands and 2007 Barclaycard Mercury Prize nominees are playing a small venue normally reserved for up and coming bands. It turns out this is a warm up before the release of […]

Album Review: Gogol Bordello – Pura Vida Conspiracy

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In the off chance that you haven’t heard of Gogol Bordello, I’ll let this one slide. For almost fifteen years, this eight-piece NYC gypsy punk outfit have blended a range of global influences, mainly circling around Eastern European and Latin music, into one big “clusterpunk” of hustling and bustling ethnic sound. With an orchestra of members […]

LIVE: FLUME – 18/07/2013

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- GORILLA, MANCHESTER -  My expectations for Flume were pretty high. The Australian producer’s debut eponymous debut album is full of Gold Panda-esque chopped up vocals and snazzy beats, and makes for an engrossing, exciting listen. I walked into Gorilla, one of the best venues in Manchester, with my head full of thoughts about this […]

LIVE: YOUTH LAGOON – 16/07/2013

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- GORILLA, MANCHESTER – Trevor Powers, aka Youth Lagoon, is a mystery unto himself. With Tim Burton-esque hair and a slight hunchback at age 23, this is the kind of guy who wanders down the street with a glass of wine in hand, dreaming up existential lyrics (kudos from a fellow wino). It’s not just […]

LIVE: MONEY – 13/07/2013

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- ALBERT SQUARE, MANCHESTER -  I first read about Money about six months ago in the music press. There seemed to be a buzz about the potential of this five piece from Manchester, renowned for holding exhibitions in unusual buildings around town, and being artists as well as musicians. So when they popped up on the […]

ALBUM REVIEW: THE VOLTAIRES – THE VOLTAIRES

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Putting this CD on the stereo and hitting play is like pressing “open” on an automatic garage door clicker, the metal grill peeling back to reveal The Voltaires within, thrashing out the abrasive, snapping garage rock that forms their debut album. This is not any garage. The Voltaires’ magic garage might be located anywhere from […]

Album Review: Eat Lights, Become Lights – Modular Living

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Modular Living is the latest album from Eat Lights, Become Lights. This London four-piece have been going strong since they started attacking people’s senses in 2007. They are certainly an interesting band. Writer, performer and engineer Neil Rudd  formed ELBL from his love of German avant rock and 70s electronica that in turn create this sound […]

SINGLE REVIEW: DISCLOSURE – F FOR YOU

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The duo that smashed their way into the ears of the nation but a few months ago have brought out yet another ‘banger’. The follow up to their last single ‘You & Me’, which included the sultry tones of Eliza Doolittle, on the garage throwback track F For You (F actually stands for Fool) is […]

LIVE: TEMPLE SONGS / THE BELL PEPPERS – 06/07/2013

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 - BAND ON THE WALL, MANCHESTER -  In a DIY sixties garage surf fashion, The Bell Peppers don’t waist any time jumping off the high dive straight into a pool of the instrumental ‘Bell Pepper Hop’, serving as the perfect ice cold refreshment on a heated summer evening at Band On The Wall. Building surf […]

LIVE: TWIN FORKS – 02/7/2013

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- NIGHT & DAY CAFE, MANCHESTER – If anyone went to or watched the Glastonbury Festival coverage of Mumford and Sons last week it is quiet clear that another genre ‘pop-folk’ is pretty big at the moment. The difference between a band that headlines a massive festival and tonight’s Twin Forks is that Twin Forks, […]

Single Review: John Wizards – Lusaka By Night

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Having recently surfaced on the scene from out of nowhere, John Wizards – aka South African production duo John Withers and Emmanuel Nzaramba – have wangled themselves a debut release on legendary electronica label, Planet Mu. Here, in the space of just two tracks, the pair manage to pogo through a myriad of influences and […]

LIVE: SSION – 26/06/2013

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– ISLINGTON MILL, SALFORD – The Bummer camp crew should be proud of themselves for putting on two great events over the last week. The only problem being that they were nowhere near as well attended as they should be. First off they put on Christeene, the dirge shock tranny act whose antics have been […]

LIVE: DAVID THOMAS BROUGHTON – 24/6/2013

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- THE KINGS ARMS, SALFORD – “Performance” is le mot juste tonight. To introduce the evening is the charming Rachael Dadd, with her softly-softly folk tunes delightfully embellished by foot bells, a clarinet, and an infant child strapped to her back who peeks at the crowd cute as you like. Rachael is followed onstage by […]

LIVE: JAGWAR MA – 20/6/2013

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER -  Strange openings: a postponed gig date, no support band and a low-key DJ opus by Jono Ma from far back in the darkness. But these chaps are Aussies mate so they like to do things a little differently. Which is interesting when you consider their inescapable Madchester influences, with […]

LIVE: BIPOLAR SUNSHINE – 21/6/2013

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- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – It’s Friday and it’s the longest day of the year. The sun is shining and I’m descending into the depths of the Soup Kitchen, airless and dark, filled to the rafters by an animated hubbub of hot revellers. “Why would you want to do that?” I hear you ask. Well, we’re here for Bipolar Sunshine, a solo project fronted by a Mancunian, hailing from […]

Album Review: Teardrop Explodes – Wilder (Deluxe Edition)

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Minus context it would be easy to assume that Wilder was released during the mid to late 80s, the natural conclusion to the decade’s luminaries The Smiths, The Jam, Bruce Springsteen, The Clash and Talking Heads. The Teardrop Explodes – a most memorable band name – explodes with ideas. It’s an endlessly meticulously crafted, varied […]

Album Review: Tunng – Turbines

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This is a band that is producing music of a genre that is gaining a lot of success at the moment, and they are doing it to the highest quality. Ten years in and now on their fifth studio album, Tunng have created a warm, flowing journey on Turbines. Founding member Mike Lindsey has described this […]

LIVE: THE FRESH & ONLYS – 12/6/2013

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- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER -  Maybe it’s the three day recovery from Parklife Weekender, but inside I hardly feel top for tonight’s Fresh & Onlys gig, a band who have been on my list of who to see live for quite a while now…so I have to power through. And is it me or has […]

LIVE: PARKLIFE WEEKENDER – 08/6/13 – 09/6/13

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- HEATON PARK, MANCHESTER – With over 40,000 tickets sold, Parklife’s fourth year is off to a big headed start. Headlining acts such as Plan B, Example, Disclosure, TNGHT and Johnny Marr have certainly helped ticket sales sore to new heights, bringing an official start to the British summer in style..but can the festival live […]

LIVE: AMONG BROTHERS – 13/6/2013

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- NIGHT & DAY CAFE, MANCHESTER -  “This is the first time I’ve played the Night & Day while it’s still been day,” jokes Glass Ankle frontman, Greg Jackson, in what turns out to be the highlight of the duo’s set. Greg’s clipped vocals aren’t a million miles away from Paul Heaton’s, but as each […]

Album Review: Dinosaur Pile-Up – Nature Nurture

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Leeds rockers Dinosaur Pile-Up are back with newbie Nature Nurture, which aims to rock your socks and Y-fronts off. After a number of lineup changes, singer/guitarist and bandleader Matt Bigland has settled on drummer Mike Shiels and James Sacha as the bassist to help him continue on his merry way. I remember these guys getting […]

LIVE: TROPHY WIFE – 10/6/2013

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 - NIGHT & DAY CAFE, MANCHESTER -  In the last couple of the years, the music scene in Oxford has become a hub of activity and creativity. This is mainly thanks to The Blessing Force collective; a talented group of friends working together to create exciting projects, releases and club nights. Three piece Trophy Wife […]

LIVE: MUDHONEY / MEAT PUPPETS – 07/06/2013

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- ACADEMY 2, MANCHESTER – “I’ve been waiting 20 years for this,” says a guy at the bar as he pulls his 25th anniversary Mudhoney t-shirt over his head. Now don’t get me wrong its great that he is seeing them at last but where have you been???? Mudhoney are the godfathers of garage / grunge […]

LIVE: JACCO GARDNER – 8/6/2013

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- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – On a summers day such as this, psychedelic 60′s baroque pop is as good an idea as ordering a tall glass of iced lemonade. The Parklife festival is in full swing just north of here; Netherlanders Jacco Gardner’s stage, however, is in a basement in the centre of town. Patrons […]

LIVE: FAIR OHS – 04/6/2013

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 - THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER -  It’s always a wonderful feeling when you finish work on a sunny day. I’ve rolled up virtually every item of clothing I’m wearing and I don’t intend on taking off my sunglasses until it’s real dark. My soundtrack to this glorious afternoon? The tropical pop grooves of London based […]

LIVE: ALLISTER – 30/5/2013

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 - SOUND CONTROL, MANCHESTER -  About 10 years ago as a younger, thinner gig goer I saw Allister play in Manchester supporting their then new release Last Stop Suburbia. A decade later Allister are playing that album in full, plus more. It’s at Sound Control, a venue I’ve heard about but actually not been too […]

Album Review: Tribes – Wish To Scream

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Tribes are a relatively new band, forming only in 2010 in Camden, London. They released their first EP in 2011, first album in 2012, and their second album Wish to Scream in 2013.  The band plan on releasing a new record every year, and despite their constantly hectic touring schedules and the fact this album […]

LIVE: IRON & WINE – 30/05/2013

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 - THE OPERA HOUSE, MANCHESTER – Everything about this gig was luxurious, from the opulent setting of the grand Manchester Opera House, through the twelve musicians on stage, to the two hour, 22 song running time of the set, it was an old school occasion, the likes of which we don’t see much any more. […]

LIVE: GHOSTPOET – 28/05/2013

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- GORILLA, MANCHESTER – Things are really moving fast for Obaro Ejimiwe, a.k.a Ghostpoet. His bedroom produced debut album ‘Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam’ was nominated for the Mercury Prize, which thrust him into the limelight with a little help from Gilles Peterson’s label Brownswood. Two years on, he has released his 2nd album (through […]

Album Review: Trigger Effect – What’s Left To Eliminate?

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What’s Left To Eliminate? is the fourth studio album from Montreal Punk/Rock/Metal band Trigger Effect. They have already toured as an opening act for Iron Maiden, Queensryche and Rob Halford. This album doesn’t just start, it lurches into a loud, violent, attack from the very start that doesn’t stop until they are finished. Every track flows into the next in […]

LIVE: THE BESNARD LAKES – 23/05/2013

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- THE RUBY LOUNGE, MANCHESTER -  Formed in 2003 by Québécois husband and wife team Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas, The Besnard Lakes are something rather special live. With earlier albums The Besnard Lakes Are The Dark Horse and The Besnard Lakes Are The Roaring Night erring towards the intellectual indie side of indie rock, over […]

Album Review: Little Boots – Nocturnes

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You know that feeling that only arises as a result of watching Eurovision? That nauseous glee that accompanies a man from Belarus singing like he’s got a pineapple in his colon; or the haughty guffaw at a trio of leather-clad Moldovans babbling over some mimed sub-Rihanna dance-pop. This, combined with the schadenfreude developed as a […]

LIVE: MOUNT EERIE – 23/05/2013

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 - SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER -  I’ve only relatively recently gotten into Mount Eerie, the moniker adopted by Phil Elverum after he stopped the incredible Microphones (seriously, if you never have, check out The Glow Pt 2 album…all sorts of amazing), so this show at the ever brilliant Soup Kitchen was my chance to see an […]

LIVE: NOMEANSNO – 22/05/2013

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- SOUND CONTROL, MANCHESTER – There aren’t many bands that have been playing to mosh pits around the world for longer than I’ve been alive, but NoMeansNo are one of that distinguished few. Having formed in 1979, and released their first record in 1980, NoMeansNo have been a dark undercurrent in the world of rock […]

LIVE: LORD HURON – 23/05/2013

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – The punters inside the city’s most opulent venue tonight are at the more mature end of the gig-going spectrum, and they’re stood in rapt silence at Nataly Dawn. Her short blonde hair is swept forward from left-to-right while she flicks at a decrepit looking guitar which could have been […]

LIVE: CHARLIE BOYER AND THE VOYEURS – 21/05/2013

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 - SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER -  I think we’re all starting to lose count of the number of bands like Charlie Boyer & The Voyeurs who have emerged in the last 2 or 3 years. You know the ones – bands in a perpetual haze of smoke, with brightly coloured imaginations and great swathes of static […]

LIVE: THE POSTAL SERVICE – 18/05/2013

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 - ACADEMY 1, MANCHESTER – This year, electronic pop gods, The Postal Service celebrate the 10th Anniversary of their 2003 release Give Up, the band’s only album. Tonight’s gig at Manchester Academy is the first of only 3 UK gigs on this special tour to mark a decade’s hiatus from the much revered state-side duo. […]

Album Review: The National – Trouble Will Find Me

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Early reports of The National’s long-awaited follow-up to 2010’s acclaimed High Violet talk of new directions, fresh diversions. Indeed, singer Matt Berninger himself talks of these songs as more “immediate and visceral” than those of previous albums. I have to say, I don’t see it, nor I do it hear it. For me, the songs that start […]

Album Review: Just Handshakes – Say It

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The Leeds-based quartet Just Handshakes formed at university over a shared love of the C86 music scene. After a series of low-key singles and DIY cassette releases, which have finely honed their sound, they have now, via the Californian based label Bleeding Gold, delivered their debut album, Say It, which sees them drop a little […]

Album Review: Cloud Boat – Book of Hours

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Book of Hours is the debut LP from Cloud Boat. This London based duo already has quite the buzz building up around them and their forthcoming release. If you are a fan of The XX, Bon Iver, James Blake, Zero 7, Alt-J or any other group that emulate pure magic on record, then read on. This […]

LIVE: THE SPECIALS – 15/05/2013

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- THE APOLLO, MANCHESTER -  So picture this. Mass unemployment, disappearing high streets, strikes and burning effigies of Margaret Thatcher alight in crumbling pit villages. No, it’s not 1980. It’s 2013, and The Specials have never felt more relevant.  Given the political tension of the last few months, there’s a sense of adrenaline throughout the venue. […]

LIVE: PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING – 14/05/2013

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- SOUND CONTROL, MANCHESTER -  Over ten mock TVs are set up around the stage of Sound Control tonight, each hidden beneath vintage drapery, giving away any and all clues that this gig is going to be so much more than just an audio experience. Surfacing the unearthed propaganda material of the yesteryears, Public Service […]

LIVE: HOW TO DRESS WELL – 15/05/2013

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 - WHITWORTH GALLERY, MANCHESTER – I’m a relative latecomer to the stylised, lo-fi R&B sounds of How To Dress Well. At first listen, I was all “I really like this boy band”. And there are hints reminiscent of Boyz II Men and R Kelly but not in a bad way.  Rather, he is Chicago-born Tim […]

Album Review: Mark Lanegan and Duke Garwood – Black Pudding

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Some musicians have forged such an enduring image and reputation that they have somehow achieved an untouchable, passé-proof status. Possessing their albums garners you untold points in the taste stakes, whether you’re looking for them or not. Mark Lanegan is one such artist – an enduring figure across respected genres, like a Machiavellian prince adapting to the […]

Album Review: Hunter Valentine – Collide and Conquer

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Hunter Valentine are a three-piece female rock band with catchy songs and a lot of attitude. Setting the bar for other girl bands, they hail from Canada, but more recently have been taking the NYC scene by storm. Now on the leg of their European tour, the band present us with their second album, Collide […]

LIVE: BEACH FOSSILS – 15/05/2013

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 - THE ROADHOUSE, MANCHESTER -  In the past few years there has been a rise in bands, in particular American bands, making guitar driven pop music that’s heavy on the reverb and dreamy in its delivery. Brooklyn-born outfit Beach Fossils seem to have been there from the start of this lo-fi invasion, as frontman Dustin […]

LIVE: THE COMPUTERS – 11/05/2013

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 - THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER -  I find it hard to be critical of any band that manages to ad-lib ‘Surfin Bird’ into their live set (as part of Rhythm Revue) and so it is with The Computers. I think the term ‘reinvention’ would be a fair description of how they have changed or developed […]

LIVE: JOHN GRANT – 14/05/2013

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- THE RITZ, MANCHESTER -  **WARNING** This review will be two things: 1) quite gushing, and 2) a bit sweary. Please do read on if you are comfortable with both those things. This is because tonight the magnificent John Grant is in town, and this gig is very, very special indeed.  In fact, I’d go […]

Album Review: Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds – Haunted Head

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After well-known spells in respected bands such as The Gun Club, The Cramps and Nick Cave’s The Bad Seeds, American singer/guitarist Brian Tristan looks set to continue his solo adventure under the guise of Kid Congo Powers. Backed by his band The Pink Monkey Birds, the group are set to release their third album, Haunted Head, […]

Album Review: Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

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Alarms bells rang the moment I read Ezra Koenig’s interview in the NME a few months back. “People tried to pretend we were rich idiots ripping off African music”, he said defensively. But such statements belie the truth, that the revulsion Vampire Weekend inspires from certain people is getting to them. I was shocked to […]

LIVE: VONDELPARK / BLOOM – 09/05/2013

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- ISLINGTON MILL, MANCHESTER -  Islington Mill tends to be home to the more freaky, experimental end of the live music spectrum in Manchester, so this visit of London-based indie-electronic trio Vondelpark is a little against type. Their music is vibey and textured rather than intensive or otherworldly, but on this occasion the setting works […]

Album Review: Mikal Cronin – MCII

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For those who closely follow the fuzzy haze of the lo-fi scene, Mikal Cronin is no stranger. Having collaborated with garage rock god Ty Segall over the past decade, our eyes have spiraled as the pinching hum of the sixties revival generation has been taken over by the likes of these two Californian musicians. Already labeling itself as […]

Album Review: Small Black – Limits of Desire

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Ah Brooklyn, that supposed musical paradise in a land far away. I am always a bit sceptical when checking out any hyped band from The Big Apple. I admit that there must be something in the water there that helps produce incredible music, however you also seem to get your fair share of shite that […]

LIVE: LAURA MVULA – 07/05/2013

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- GORILLA, MANCHESTER -   Laura Mvula steps onto Gorilla’s stage, its backdrop a strange assemblage of archaic audio equipment, apparently salvaged from the recently deconstructed BBC building on Oxford Road.  The equipment looks almost steam-powered; incongruous perhaps, when set against the gorgeous, rounded voice that proceeds to part drift, part erupt, from the soul of […]

LIVE: UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA – 06/05/2013

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – Rushing over from Salford’s Media City following a live set for Marc Riley’s BBC 6 Music radio show, Unknown Mortal Orchestra appear unsurprisingly hurried as they check their equipment in front of tonight’s sell-out crowd. Frontman and New Zealander Ruban Nielsen apologises for any inconvenience caused… Axel Rose and […]

EP Review: Death To The Strange – Sign On

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As someone who grew up with the screams of Kurt Cobain in one ear and a stream of brilliantly unpredictable Radiohead albums in the other, I’ve reached an unfortunate plateau of boredom. I’m bored with bands that bafflingly become increasingly popular for being vaguely ‘vintage’ and ‘indie’ without being either vintage or indie at all. […]

LIVE: THE STAVES – 03/05/2013

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- GORILLA, MANCHESTER -  Not knowing too much about The Staveley-Taylor sisters before tonight, I must admit that I was expecting some delicate folky characters with wispy hair and long floral dresses to take to the stage. But happily, that was not to be the case with this Watford trio. After a timid start, Emily […]

ALBUM REVIEW: SAVAGES – SILENCE YOURSELF

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The return of punk and riots seemed inevitable when this government took over. Calmly listening to acoustic folk and uplifting indie while being financially squeezed and in constant fear of redundancy, simply doesn’t tally. If you still receive as much as £10 working tax credits per month, you should seriously consider spending it on this […]

LIVE: LOW – 25/04/2013

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- CENTRAL METHODIST HALL, MANCHESTER – Manchester’s Central Methodist Hall is a most appropriate setting for Low, for this is a call to the devoted. The hall is an intimate, low-key and tee-total venue due to its Methodist origins, so with a pure emphasis on the band there is a sense of divine captivation among […]

LIVE: KATE NASH – 20/04/2013

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- GORILLA, MANCHESTER -  Kate Nash is back, but not how we know her! This is my first visit to Gorilla and as a long time Manchester resident I become excited when new venues open, being the sister of the Deaf Institute my hopes are high. After a few false starts getting lost, I am […]

Album Review: Nick Drake – Bryter Layter (Remastered and Boxed Vinyl Edition)

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John Martyn laughed when Nick Drake died, that was the first thought that came to mind when I read about the reissue and mastering of Drake’s sophomore album Bryter Layter. It was something for which his wife never forgave him. 18 months before Drake died of an overdose of antidepressants, Martyn released the acclaimed album, […]

LIVE: TEMPLES / DRENGE – 23/04/2013

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  - NIGHT & DAY CAFE, MANCHESTER -  With the sun about to set at half eight, we’re here to witness tonight’s double feature: a co-headlined tour by Temples and Drenge. Temples’ psychedelic tunes have put them in high demand since the release of their seven-inch back in November, which ultimately pushed them headfirst into the […]

LIVE: THE FRONT BOTTOMS – 22/04/2013

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 - THE ROADHOUSE, MANCHESTER – In recent years there seems to be something exciting happening with the punk pop world. Having it taken somewhat of a back seat in the mid to late noughties as the UK were under an indie invasion, it seems that punk pop is back on top with an abundance of […]

LIVE: THE LEISURE SOCIETY / KESTON COBBLERS CLUB – 21/04/2013

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   - THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – The Leisure Society are an often overlooked, UK folk-indie outfit.  Formed in 2009 and twice Ivor Novello nominated, the band count Brian Eno and Guy Garvey as big followers (not present tonight). The line-up includes the super talented Nick Hemming and band-mates that include members from stellar indie […]

LIVE: CHARLI XCX / YADI – 19/04/2013

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – One of my favourite places to watch a gig in Manchester is The Deaf Institute and it is nice to be back realising it has been a year since my last visit. The venue is fairly small which makes gigs intimate, which I prefer. The walls have parrots on […]

Album Review: Crystal Fighters – Cave Rave

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If you have been searching high and low for what your summer album could be, look no further; Cave Rave (out May 27th) is the new album from Crystal Fighters and it is a magical, summer anthem record. Their first album, Star of Love, was released in 2010 to critical acclaim, and they have taken […]

LIVE: NIGHT BEDS – 17/04/2013

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- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – Having watched Night Beds somewhat brief appearance the previous evening on Later…. I  was expecting a more lengthy performance tonight at Soup Kitchen. A double debut really. Night Beds first Solo UK tour, and my first time at this venue. From Jools to a damp Manchester cellar, a real baptism of fire […]

LIVE: FINDLAY – 19/04/2013

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- THE RUBY LOUNGE, MANCHESTER – Findlay, the newest face of rock n’ roll in the UK is quickly gaining notoriety as one of Manchester’s best-kept secrets. The 21 year-old singer toured with Jake Bugg in November and thrilled audiences with what can only be described as an electrifying stage presence. Before I endlessly compare […]

LIVE: A HAWK AND A HACKSAW – 19/04/2013

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- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – It’s Friday night and the Soup Kitchen crowd is itching for a musical tussle. Jeremy Barnes and Heather Trost of New Mexico walk quietly onto the stage and without any introduction, shift the collective mood up an intellectual notch. Trost leads the opening piece with a gentle chorus that reverberates […]

THE WAVE PICTURES – 17/04/2013

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- TAKK COFFEE HOUSE, MANCHESTER – Having only found out the location for this secret gig the day before, I enter Takk, a coffee shop on the edge of Manchester‘s Northern Quarter, with a  little trepidation. The most common adjective used to describe this area is ‘trendy’. Well this is the closest physically I’ve ever […]

Album Review: Junip – Junip

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In a musical environment where ‘new bands re-doing something already established, but really well’ is the norm (think recent big-names Peace, Palma Violets and the fantastic Savages), Junip are something of an anomaly. Their debut album Fields exhibited an unusual blend of mellow classical guitar, accompanied by well-timed drums and sweeping synths, combining to create […]

Album Review: Mudhoney – Vanishing Point

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9 albums and 25 years later, Mudhoney provide an album of psychedelic alternative rock that keeps them at the pinnacle of “that sound”! Usually lumped in with grunge, Mudhoney were always a little bit more and this album shows why. From the opening scatter drums, bass driven, riff monster that is ‘Slipping Away’ the gentlemen […]

LIVE: STEVE MASON – 10/04/2013

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- GORILLA, MANCHESTER – Well, well, well, what do we have here then? Gorilla is tuning its dial towards a club night. I think this is my first gig preamble that feels more like post gig excitement. Bouncy, upbeat tunes and a nugget of Fool’s Gold cracked out before the main man gets on stage. […]

Album Review: Iron & Wine – Ghost on Ghost

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Wow!!! On a beautiful day with a chilled glass of whatever your tipple is, Iron and Wine have provided the perfect soundtrack to this summer and summers to come. This album is steeped in sublime folk with a pop feel; yeah it’s the most radio friendly album that Sam Beam (Iron and Wine) has done, […]

Album Review: Peace – In Love

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Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past six months (a particularly deep cave, underwater, on Neptune, with a wi-fi connection that even Virgin trains would condemn as “poor”) then chances are you will have heard at least something about Birmingham based quartet Peace. The hype that’s followed this band is bordering on […]

ALBUM REVIEW: UNCLE ACID AND THE DEADBEATS – MIND CONTROL

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The previous long player from Uncle Acid and the Deadbeats, Blood Lust, became something of a cult classic almost overnight on its release, partly due to the very limited vinyl version (only 400 copies) that had vinyl junkies foaming at the mouth. Linking that exclusivity with gorgeous artwork and packaging resembling the giallo genre of […]

LIVE: BRITISH SEA POWER – 12/04/2013

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- GORILLA, MANCHESTER – “Is that a Polar Bear!!!” There is a subtle beauty that British Sea Power have always commanded and a fan base that understands this beauty and what it means. The opening ‘quiet set’ affirms this beauty with a warmth of songs like Salty Water that make you feel all fluffy inside. […]

LIVE: JAMES BLAKE – 10/04/2013

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- ACADEMY 2, MANCHESTER – Manchester Academy 2 is not a particularly majestic venue, in fact, it looks almost identical to a high school assembly room, so it seems odd that such a place should host an artist like James Blake, a musician who could no doubt fill a space at least three times as […]

Album Review: Kurt Vile – Wakin On A Pretty Daze

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Smoke Ring For My Halo was my favourite album of 2011, and though, in retrospect it’s now eclipsed by M83′s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming and Slave Ambient by former bandmates the excellently named The War on Drugs, it remains an album I return to from time to time with real relish. What I like most […]

Album Review: Vondelpark – Seabed

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I took the review for Vondelpark’s Seabed on a bit of a whim – I know nothing about the band; I just know that Vondelpark is also an expansive public open space in Amsterdam*. I spent this morning listening to Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel and the Rolling Stones and Seabed is something […]

LIVE: THE SHEEPDOGS – 05/04/2013

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- NIGHT & DAY CAFE, MANCHESTER – Oh Canada! Tonight’s the night Saskatchewan’s blues-rock four piece The Sheepdogs grace us Mancunians with their bearded presence. Having missed the opportunity to catch the boys live in Vancouver over the Christmas holidays, I was more than thrilled to find out they’d be on tour throughout the UK […]

LIVE: HOOKWORMS – 05/04/2013

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- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – According to the bastion of truth that is Wikipedia, a hookworm is ‘a parasitic nematode that lives in the small intestine of its host, which may be a mammal such as a dog, cat, or human’. A parasite, something that sucks the life out of whatever unfortunate host it happens […]

Album Review: James Blake – Overgrown

James Blake Overgrown

Following the critically acclaimed self-titled debut album, James Blake is back with Overgrown. An undeniable buzz surrounds this release. Blake himself has been teasing his fans, releasing previews and giving away free digital downloads of ‘Digital Lion’ creating an excitement that should surround release dates. Overgrown has more of a soulful tone than Blake’s debut […]

Album Review: Bleached – Ride Your Heart

bleached

Jennifer and Jessica Clavin are the two sisters that together make up Bleached. Hailing from LA, and with the help of drummer Jonathan Safley, the trio release their 12 track debut record, Ride Your Heart, on Dead Oceans label. A fast-paced, all-American album, this brings to mind the LA punk-rock scene of the 80s with tones […]

Album Review: The Flaming Lips – The Terror

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As a writer of sorts, I use the advice of others when writing. One quote which I come back to again and again is from George Orwell and it is, ‘If it is possible to cut a word out, cut it out.’ And for me I find that this helps me produce more accurate and […]

Album Review: The Shook-Ups! – Bad Reception

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Let us forget about the deplorable strip that is King Street, and perhaps the amplified success of The Verve, to wipe our slates clean for Wigan’s next honourable mention – The Shook-Ups, a band whose repertoire includes past/present members of Moco, The Stags, Doktor Combover and The V.Cs. 1960s garage rock is back and, I’ll […]

Album Review: Public Service Broadcasting – Inform – Educate – Entertain

PSB

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when this début album from Public Service Broadcasting popped into my inbox recently. Frustratingly, it turns out that I missed them playing in Bolton by a week or so (review here), and I’m certain that the added live audio visual dimension would’ve enhanced my feelings towards it. From the couple […]

LIVE: BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB – 24/03/2013

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- THE RITZ, MANCHESTER – There is an undeniable feeling of heaviness in the air tonight at The Ritz as San Francisco alternative rock trio Black Rebel Motorcycle Club are about to begin a sold out gig in Manchester in promotion of their seventh studio album Specter At The Feast.  At best, the new record […]

LIVE: KID CONGO AND THE PINK MONKEY BIRDS – 22/03/2013

Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds

- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – Oh what a sexy night. From the moment the first chord reverberates through the dark, expectant air Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds are on a trip to crazy town, and they’re taking no prisoners. Brian Tristan of The Gun Club, The Cramps and The Bad Seeds infamy […]

Album Review: Port St. Willow – Holiday

Port

Port St. Willow is the poetically named brainchild of Nicholas Principe, a solo multi-instrumentalist working out of Portland, Oregon. He released his first EP, entitled Even // Wasteland in November 2010. It was a record that, albeit only an EP, carried and conveyed the ambition that we would come to expect from Holiday. This is […]

Album Review: Cold War Kids – Dear Miss Lonelyhearts

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American Indie also-rans Cold War Kids have been knocking around for a while now; long enough for them to be considered veterans by any rate. 8 years have passed since they first emerged onto the scene with their spiky yet soulful début EP Mulberry Street, in which time they’ve… well, they’ve continued doing just that: putting out […]

Single Review: Charge Group – Run

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Sophomore releases are a thing of beauty. They can either make or brake a fledging act – whether it’s a disappointing follow up to a smash record or a momentum builder which keeps the fans on side. It’s been over 4 years since they dropped their début record Escaping Mankind, but Sydney 4-piece Charge Group are back […]

LIVE: WILD NOTHING – 19/03/2013

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- SOUND CONTROL, MANCHESTER – Nocturne was one of my favourite albums of last year, and is certainly my favourite jangly-American-indie album of 2013. I only heard it in about October, so for such a summer-y album the climate at the time felt a bit at odds with the tunes within, but I fell hard […]

Album Review: Diamond Rugs – Diamond Rugs

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Match a group of dudes from different bands who each hone gritty vocals and a love of beer with borderline vulgarity in lyrical ascension, and you may just have yourself a trailer park indie super group. Diamond Rugs is the newest blue collared engaging side-project between John McCauley (Deer Tick), Robbie Crowell (Deer Tick), Ian […]

LIVE: THEME PARK – 15/03/2013

theme park

- THE RUBY LOUNGE, MANCHESTER – There seems to have a lot interest surrounding London based outfit Theme Park since there formation back in 2011. Even before the release of their debut single they were already all over the press and all the underground indie scene kids were also getting far too excited. Since then, […]

LIVE: SCHOLARS – 13/03/2013

Scholars

- THE ROADHOUSE, MANCHESTER – Scholars are five chaps from London who make passionate indie rock music and deserve to be massive! Having formed about 6 years ago, the Hemel Hempstead based outfit have watched their peers get to an almost arena bothering status, and although everyone loves an underdog, with a live show as […]

LIVE: PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING – 13/03/2013

Public Service Broadcasting

- THE RAILWAY, BOLTON – I really couldn’t believe it when I saw that PSB were playing at a little known venue in Bromley Cross just outside Bolton. The Railway is located on the main line between Manchester and Blackburn. The last time Bolton saw anything of this kind was 1990, when baggie Manchester band […]

LIVE: MMOTHS – 07/03/2013

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- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – Almost exactly a year ago I saw electronic musician Mmoths (Jack Colleran) play in the small, dark, hidden backstreet venue that is the Kraak Gallery. The progress that he’s made over the past 12 months now affords him a climb onto the next rung of Manchester’s trendy venue ladder. In […]

LIVE: CONCRETE KNIVES – 08/03/2013

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- THE CASTLE HOTEL, MANCHESTER – The blue icicle lights of the Castle Hotel cast a gaze over indie-pop rockets Concrete Knives, a French band who are currently romanced on stage in a group hug before they begin their first ever gig in Manchester. We are all pushed closely together in the crowd, our elbows […]

LIVE: SAN CISCO – 04/03/2013

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- NIGHT & DAY CAFE, MANCHESTER – I asked a friend to accompany me to San Cisco, and he thought I was asking him out to a fancy restaurant. But San Cisco is actually a BAND (you might have guessed… this is Silent Radio after all) with a name that also apparently in no way […]

Live: Sigur Ros – 04/03/2013

Sigur Ros

- THE APOLLO, MANCHESTER – For the majority of the noughties, Sigur Ros transcended being Iceland’s most successful export to characterising everything that was best about the country. The band did that rare, seemingly impossibly feat of not only recalling Iceland’s wild, rugged and beautiful landscapes, but of providing a direct musical portal to the […]

LIVE: MAPS AND ATLASES – 03/03/2013

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- THE RUBY LOUNGE, MANCHESTER – Sunday. The day of rest. And with it being the first Sunday of the month, there’s a hazy, hungover vibe around the centre of Manchester as people realise how much of this month’s pay cheque they’ve already spent. So, there is a somewhat sigh of relief as the small […]

Album Review: Caitlin Rose – The Stand-In

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Anybody that fell for 2010’s ‘Own Side Now’, the first full-length from Nashville singer-songwriter Caitlin Rose, will be aware that sheer force of personality was the key ingredient that separated her from the countless other country-tinged starlets vying for your attention. And it wasn’t confined to her live shows – the ten tracks on that […]

LIVE: FOALS / THE INVISIBLE – 02/03/2013

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- ACADEMY 1, MANCHESTER – I think it’s always exciting when a band that you’ve been following since their beginnings, released new material and go out on tour to support it. Particularly when a band challenge themselves with each record and know how to kick it live. It’s also even better when said band take […]

LIVE: CAITLIN ROSE – 01/03/2013

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- THE RUBY LOUNGE, MANCHESTER – Caitlin Rose first began to grab our attention a few years back when she arrived on the scene with her debut album Own Side Now, which heralded her gorgeous ‘country-velvet honeyed’ vocals backed by an intelligent country-soul sound.  Now on her follow up The Stand-In completed with ramped up […]

LIVE: ELIZA AND THE BEAR – 28/02/2013

Eliza and the Bear

- THE CASTLE HOTEL, MANCHESTER – As someone who has spent the winter months living on a diet of dubstep and dark electronic beats, this evening definitely offers me a change in tempo. We’re at an evening at The Castle Hotel (ace pub, great wine) entitled Thank Folk For That.  The evening’s genre needs no […]

EP Review: Joe Banfi – Nomads

Joe Banfi

Joe Banfi’s Nomads is the second EP to come after 2012’s Iron EP and it is evidence of how far he has come since then. Banfi is a relatively new artist, but this is in no way clear – the production (Ian Grimble of Communion) and feel of this EP is outstanding. “Please don’t let […]

LIVE: REEL BIG FISH – 27/02/2013

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- THE RITZ, MANCHESTER – “A little faith goes a long way” It only seems like 5 minutes since Reel Big Fish played Manchester. They are a band that tours and tours and tours yet still entertain, changing their set list to suit, yet still providing a night of smiles, skankin’ and high quality musical […]

LIVE: CHVRCHES – 25/02/2013

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- THE RUBY LOUNGE, MANCHESTER – So, It’s a bitterly cold Monday night and I’m keeping out of the cold in the lush surroundings of The Ruby Lounge, hoping to be uplifted and warmed by Glasgow based outfit Chvrches. Having only formed in 2011, Chvrches have caused quite a stir with their retro electro tones, […]

LIVE: EVERYTHING EVERYTHING – 22/02/2013

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- ACADEMY 2, MANCHESTER – Everything Everything are one of the great success stories to emerge from Manchester since the turn of the century. The band themselves reflect on their earliest days as fledgling art-rockers in and around the city a few times during the night, and here they are riding high on the wave […]

Single Review: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Jubilee Street

JubileeStreet

I always had a bit of a gripe with the TV series 24 – which claims to be a drama screened “in real time”. Fair play, one hour after it has started, the story has moved on by an hour – but you have actually only watched 42 minutes of action. In fact, a bit […]

Album Review: Kavinsky – OutRun

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The end is so often embedded in the beginning – so it is with Kavinsky. Clocking up 30 million views on Youtube thus far due to the song’s Drive cameo, ‘Nightcall’ has propelled this French 80s cinematic throwback act into a very modern overnight sensation (a cross between the Terminator and Beverly Hills Cop soundtracks […]

LIVE: WOLF ALICE – 21/02/2013

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- TROF FALLOWFIELD, MANCHESTER – It’s my first time at Trof in Fallowfield and I’m not quite sure what to expect. Here to catch North London’s garage pop-four piece Wolf Alice on tour in our fair city, I stumble up the awkwardly narrow staircase into a room full of well-dressed music enthusiasts decked in their […]

LIVE: MAZES – 19/02/2013

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- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – Flannel shirts, member only jackets and Levi jeans bring back distant memories of the 90s and I am expecting more of the same tonight with London’s shoe gaze specialists Mazes stopping off at Soup Kitchen before continuing along on their nation wide tour. I’m pleasantly surprised to find Pierre Hall’s […]

LIVE: COSMO JARVIS/RUBY-ANN PATTERSON – 14/02/2013

Cosmo Jarvis

- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – As you are all aware, today is the trashy commercial day often called Valentines, so I thought there would be no better time to lose my Soup Kitchen virginity and head to the venue for the first time. Good beer on tap, fun toilets and an eclectic mix of a […]

LIVE: DARWIN DEEZ – 15/02/2013

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- SOUND CONTROL, MANCHESTER – A few years back I was reading an article about this up and coming artist called Darwin Deez; a 20 something hipster living in New York, working in a well respected vegetarian restaurant making lo-fi pop hits with jazzy guitar tones, quirky vocal hooks and jittery electro beats. Intriguing, right? […]

Album Review: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away

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There is famously a darkness to everything Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds create. Sometimes it’s glaring, violent, in your face darkness, like the bubbling anger and mystery of ‘Red Right Hand’, or the title of their ninth album ‘Murder Ballads’. Even Bad Seeds songs that seem harmless enough on the surface always have something […]

LIVE: VILLAGERS – 13/02/2013

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- GORILLA, MANCHESTER – The first time I encountered Connor O’Brien’s Villagers was almost too perfect. They were first on the Park Stage on the Sunday of Glastonbury 2011, a festival that was bathed in unusually hot June weather, a glorious weekend that had lead to an almighty cumulative 3 day hangover on the Sunday […]

LIVE: ESBEN AND THE WITCH / EMBERS – 09/02/2013

ESBEN & THE WITCH

- THE BUNKER, SALFORD – So, I’m currently sat in a taxi on my way to an unknown venue somewhere in Salford. I give the taxi driver an address I found online and he takes me down an almost pitch black alleyway which leads into a derelict industrial site, I’m a little worried. Two men […]

LIVE: NME AWARDS TOUR – 08/02/2013

NME Awards Tour 2013

- ACADEMY 1, MANCHESTER – The NME Awards Tour is one of the most prestigious events in the music calendar. Renowned for launching the careers of some of the most influential bands in the past century; fromFlorence+ The Machine to Coldplay, many highly anticipate what is yet to come from the headliners Django Django and […]

LIVE: PURE LOVE – 06/02/2013

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – So one of the many things I love about The Deaf Institute and why I think it’s one of Manchester’s best live venues is their conveniently placed seated area. Situated towards the back of the room in tiered blocks, it is perfect for those wanting to sit and enjoy […]

Album Review: Veronica Falls – Waiting For Something To Happen

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In the week that My Bloody Valentine have crashed back into the collective musical conversation, it’s particularly intriguing to listen to the sort of new record that Veronica Falls have created. Where the Valentines use their endless list of hip references to find some new path forward of their own making, Veronica Falls are more […]

LIVE: THE HISTORY OF APPLE PIE – 04/02/2013

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- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – It’s fair to say that it’s a pretty miserable night in Manchester tonight. But the few that are brave enough to battle through the wind, rain and snow are to be rewarded by catching two ace up and coming indie bands that we’re hoping will warm up our cockles with […]

LIVE: DINOSAUR JR – 01/02/2013

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- THE RITZ, MANCHESTER – There’s something metaphorical about the thirty-something Gen X-er, bearded but with his long hair cut off in favour of something more employment-friendly who shows up at a concert wearing his faded Dukes Devils, baggy t-shirt just about hiding a muffin-top and a hairy belly. Despite all that, I don’t care […]

LIVE: MATTHEW WHITAKER – 31/01/2013

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- THE CASTLE HOTEL, MANCHESTER – The Weekend is here at last (who actually does any work on a Friday anyway?) and local promotion company Hey! Manchester has agreed to help kick start my festivities by putting on a stellar night of music at the Castle Hotel. First up on stage is John Ainsworth, a […]

LIVE: METZ – 28/01/2013

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- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – There is a moment roughly 10 minutes into Metz’ set, not long after the call-to-arms opening salvo of ‘Knife in the Water’ has jolted the Soup Kitchen into a frenzy, and just as the first circle pit of the night materialises, that you could just take a moment’s pause and […]

LIVE: DROP THE MUSTARD PRES. SBTRKT 25/01/2013

drop the mustard

VICTORIA WAREHOUSE, MANCHESTER Usually, Manchester’s Warehouse Project season finishes on the 1st of January, a bleak time of year that forces the city’s population back into normal sized clubs just to get their regular bass fix. Back they go in their sad masses to low-key venues like Joshua Brooks, The Roadhouse, Kraak Gallery and Antwerp […]

Album Review: Fionn Regan – The Bunkhouse Vol. I: Anchor Black Tattoo

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There’s a belief amongst some musicians, that more – not less – is more. The more singers, instruments, harmonies, the better. But Fionn Regan’s latest record, The Bunkhouse Vol. I: Anchor Black Tattoo, proves that music served raw can be equally powerful. Armed with just a guitar, voice, microphone and a 4 track recorder, this […]

Album Review: Speck Mountain – Badwater

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There are certain bands that demand attention, whether good or bad, whilst others (which personally I much prefer) draw you in gradually and seep under your skin. Speck Mountain are very much the latter and their melodic, dreamy soundscapes have been critically lauded over their previous two albums, Summer Above and Some Sweet Relief. The band centres around […]

LIVE: PAUL BANKS – 22/01/2013

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- SOUND CONTROL, MANCHESTER – ‘This is not an Interpol gig. This is not an Interpol gig. This is not an Interpol gig’. That’s my mantra as I walk towards Sound Control for tonight’s show. I’m on my way to see Paul Banks do a solo gig in support of his latest effort, the simply […]

LIVE: SERAFINA STEER / PADDY STEER – 16/01/2013

Serafina Steer

- THE CASTLE HOTEL, MANCHESTER – We arrive a bit late to a full Castle and, lingering by the door, we hear music but can’t figure out where it’s coming from. The crowd seems to be collectively looking towards the floor to the left, and as we shuffle around trying to find a view-hole, Steve […]

ALBUM: MASAYOSHI FUJITA – STORIES

Masayoshi Fujita Stories

There’s something about winter – gazing at blankets of cold, soft snow – that invites introspection. Maybe it’s the human urge to hibernate, or perhaps its nature imposing on the 9-5 bustle that makes us stop and become happily enveloped in the wider picture. Nothing goes together quite so well as reflection and music – […]

LIVE: DUTCH UNCLES – 14/01/2013

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- THE CASTLE HOTEL, MANCHESTER – So it’s fair to say that I’m pretty excited ahead of tonight’s events! Not only is today the day that the first albums of the 2013 have been released but I’m also at my first gig of the year at one of my favourite venues in Manchester for an […]

OUTSIDE BROADCAST: EUROSONIC 2013 – DAY 3

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- Friday 11/01/2012 – Day 3 - Final coverage Right. I think I finally caught up with everything that went down in that crazy student town in the North of the Netherlands. Sure is clear that even 3 years after my last SXSW visit, the industry still knows how to work hard, play hard. As part […]

ALBUM: YO LA TENGO – FADE

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‘Fade’ is the 13th studio album to be released by Yo La Tengo since they formed in 1984. Hailing from America this three-piece band has worked on a multitude of projects, from charity singles, to soundtracks, to covers for compilation albums. Originally started by husband and wife duo Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley, the band […]

LIVE: 15TH CAREFULLY PLANNED ALL-DAYER – 12/01/2013

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- THE CASTLE HOTEL, MANCHESTER – After a quiet few weeks for gig goers, the Manchester based live music promoters Carefully Planned helped wreck our New Years resolutions of a sober January by hosting the 15th CP All Dayer at Oldham Street institution, The Castle Hotel. I’m eager to see what the day has in […]

OUTSIDE BROADCAST: EUROSONIC 2013 – DAY 2

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- THURSDAY 10/01/2013 – Day 2 - Let’s see what we stumble across So as a Dutch resident myself, I’ve been bombarded with dozens of great sounding Belgian bands that make it across the border and invade our radio playlists. Therefore, whenever there is a Belgian neighbour, whose music is described to be inspired by The […]

OUTSIDE BROADCAST: EUROSONIC 2013 – DAY 1

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- WEDNESDAY 09/01/2013 -  DAY 1 – Less is more and more is better Kicking off with a quick visit to the European Border Breakers Awards, which culminates in French DJ quartet C2C pick up the ‘EBBA Public Choice Award’, we are off into the cold northern night to crawl our way from venue to […]

Album Review: Ólöf Arnalds – Sudden Elevation

löf Arnalds - Sudden Elevation - Artwork

Sudden Elevation may be Icelander Ólöf Arnalds’ third album, but it remains a landmark, being her first sung wholly in English. For this I’m awkwardly grateful as reviewing it is my first encounter with her otherworldly brand of folk. However, as a latecomer I find myself trailing behind an influential admirer of Arnalds who has already hit […]

Album Review: Nils Bech – Look Inside

Nils Bech

Look Inside is the second album from Norwegian artist Nils Bech. His first critically acclaimed album Look Back, released in 2010, catapulted him onto the world stage. His music is indefinable by any one genre. It is the coming together of art, performance and music, giving birth to the hauntingly beautiful, concept that Nils Bech […]

LIVE: CHAMELEONS VOX – 15/12/2012

Chameleons

- SOUND CONTROL, MANCHESTER – My boss insists that I need to go and see a band called The Chameleons (I have to admit I have never heard of them) as part of my essential musical education.  A reformed 80’sManchesterband.  I am surprised that when we arrive at Sound Control at around 9pm a tout […]

LIVE: THE CHEMICAL BROTHERS – 08/12/2012

The Chemical Brothers

- THE WAREHOUSE PROJECT, MANCHESTER – For those of you unfamiliar to the vast, maze-like cavern that is Manchester’s Warehouse Project circa 2012, it’s essentially 3 brutally undecorated rooms linked together by a series of equally bleak corridors. Throw in some monstrous sound systems, a mind blowing lighting rig and a few thousand (very) wide-eyed […]

LIVE: Scroobius Pip, Kate Tempest and Polar Bear (ft. Thick Richard) – 04/12/2012

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- The Ruby Lounge – Scroobius Pip (Scroob) ventures from his long time contender Dan le sac for his first spoken word tour, accompanied by the long anticipated re-release of his 2006 album No commercial breaks, of which only a 1000 copies were produced. Descending into The Ruby lounge, I’m struck with the feeling that left with me the […]

LIVE: YEASAYER – 03/12/2012

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- ACADEMY 2, MANCHESTER – Waves of hype often place bands at their crest and leave them floundering in the shallows once they die down. Such is the case with the Brooklyn-itis that thrust those such as the Dirty Projectors, MGMT and Das Racist into the spotlight in recent years, the latter having announced their split this week. The propensity for the more […]

LIVE: BAND OF SKULLS – 05/12/2012

Band Of Skulls

- THE RITZ, MANCHESTER – Southampton based trio Band of Skulls sure have come a long way since their formation back in 2004. They created quite an underground buzz with their 2009 debut ‘Baby Darling Doll Face Honey’ in all its sassy rock ‘n’ roll glory, touring up and down the country quietly building an […]

LIVE: LUKE ABBOTT – 30/11/2012

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- KRAAK, MANCHESTER – Occupying Manchester’s rapiest looking venue tonight is Border Community signee Luke Abbott. After maneuvering through a dirty ginnel and up a set of grimy looking stairs, a battered wooden door opens up to a warm and relatively lush room filled with hulking rhythms pounded out by Manchester locals, Ghosting Season. With […]

LIVE: ADMIRAL FALLOW / OLYMPIC SWIMMERS – 03/12/2012

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – As the rain howls down outside of The Deaf Institute, the need for some heartfelt Scottish warmth intensifies. Having seen Admiral Fallow upstage many a band earlier in the year as part of the Dot to Dot festival, my expectations are pretty dam high. The 6 piece band from […]

LIVE: WILLY MASON – 02/12/2012

Willy Mason

- THE RUBY LOUNGE, MANCHESTER – A relaxed Sunday night atmosphere awaits American singer songwriter Willy Mason who sings his heart out to a packed Ruby Lounge. The son of folk singing parents, Mason is currently touring around the UK promoting his third album ‘Carry On’ which is due to be released on the 3rd […]

LIVE: THE LOVELY EGGS / BAD GRAMMAR – 30/11/2012

The Lovely Eggs

- THE ROADHOUSE, MANCHESTER – After a one-minute walk from the tram stop, I’m out of the cold, foggy night, down a flight of stairs and into the relative warmth of The Roadhouse. A hand stamp from the friendly door staff and the purchase of an Irish stout later, and I’m all set for the […]

LIVE: SHEARWATER – 26/11/2012

Shearwater

- ST. PHILIP’S CHURCH, SALFORD – I love gigs in unconventional venues. Almost equally, is having to set off five minutes before this evening’s Shearwater gig starts. Tonight’s proceedings take place right on my doorstep, in the gorgeous, St Philip’s Church. Dating back to 1825, it’s a hidden gem, poking out onto Salford’s Chapel Street. […]

LIVE: THE NORTH SEA SCROLLS – 26/11/2012

The North Sea Scrolls

- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – We are here at the Deaf Institute to experience the performance of a peculiar conceptual album and academic lecture with Luke Haines (The Auteurs), Cathal Coughlan (Microdisney and The Fatima Mansions) and narrated by Andrew Mueller. They describe themselves as a “dauntless trio”. The North Sea Scrolls, written by […]

LIVE: ADAM ANT AND THE GOOD, THE MAD AND THE LOVELY POSSE – 25/11/2012

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- THE RITZ, MANCHESTER – So Adam Ant is back – still or, again- this time with his band The Good, The Mad and the Lovely Posse. In his heyday, Ant – real name Stuart Goddard- was a very subversive kind of pop star, a British “pop glam-tinged” star. He began by riding that (new) […]

LIVE: THE NEIGHBOURHOOD – 15/11/2012

The Neighbourhood

- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – As The Neighbourhood take to the stage they ooze an effortless cool.  The LA five-piece rocketed in popularity after being selected as Zane Lowe’s Hottest Record in the World on Radio 1, with their infectious single ‘Sweater Weather’. As a band bathed in anonymity in their beginnings, and with […]

LIVE: TURBONEGRO – 22/11/2012

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- ACADEMY 3, MANCHESTER – Turbonegro must (never) be destroyed! The Turbojunged are out in force this evening in Manchester. The classic Denim jacket emblazoned with the leather cap and the area of fan base below. On the stairs up to Academy three there are Jungeds from Aberdeen, Stoke, Lisbon, Oslo, Lemmington, Madrid and of […]

LIVE: FATHER JOHN MISTY / NO – 23/11/2012

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – Tonight, Father John Misty, supported by No, is a sold-out show at The Deaf Institute, probably my favourite gig venue, and one whose glitter ball seems to have grown each time I visit. Either it’s a trick of the mind or just maybe that mysterious sparkly sphere that ominously […]

LIVE: THE VACCINES – 21/11/2012

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- THE APOLLO, MANCHESTER – The foyer of the Manchester Apollo is bristling with young teenagers, middle-aged indie throwbacks and entire families, all there to watch The Vaccines. I make my way onto the upper balcony. just as the 1st of 3 support bands are shuffling onto the stage. Their name? I don’t remember. Their […]

LIVE: THE SPINTO BAND – 21/11/2012

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- THE RUBY LOUNGE, MANCHESTER – You might not want to read on much further when I say that I have NEVER seen the Ruby Lounge this empty. But don’t despair! I blame this anomaly on the fact that the support band Casablanca were…oh let’s not be mean: not stupendous. So put that into the […]

LIVE: FUCKED UP – 14/11/2012

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – Canadian punk rock outfit Fucked Up are more than a force to be reckoned with. Since their formation at the start of the noughties, the Toronto based six piece have released an impressive back catalogue of forward thinking punk rock records, including the award winning ‘The Chemistry Of Common […]

Album Review: Sekou Kouyate and Joe Driscoll – FAYA

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Sekou Kouyate and Joe Driscoll present us with their first collaborative album, Faya, a collection of songs, which span genres from around the world. Communicating through music they have produced an album, which incorporates Kouyate’s sounds of Africa and Driscoll’s eclectic mix of New York bedroom-music styles. It’s an easy-listening reggae-funky-hiphop-afrobeat-rap-rock cocktail that’s refreshing and […]

Single Review: Liz Lawrence – Bedroom Hero

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The melodic beauty of Laura Marling meets the atmospheric rises and falls of Florence + The Machine. Liz Lawrence’s new single ‘Bedroom Hero’ is the first track from her début album (out 2013) with the same title. At only 22 Lawrence has already been receiving rave reviews across Ireland, and it’s no wonder why. ‘Bedroom Hero’ has […]

LIVE: HALLS – 12/11/2012

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- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – Having been a huge fan of Halls’ ever since their debut single, Solace, I came to Soup Kitchen in Manchester tonight with high hopes and a particular hankering for a spot of blissed out, ambient 2-step. Upon entering the venue however, said hopes were subsequently dashed as I noticed the […]

LIVE: TY SEGALL – 08/11/2012

Ty-Segall

- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – There are times when it can take until the morning after for all the dust to settle on an evening’s events before you fully recognise how much you enjoyed a gig or not. Some of the times, it can be incredibly useful to mull it over, and writing a […]

LIVE: HEY ROSETTA! / RICH AUCOIN – 08/11/2012

Hey Rosetta

- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – Thanks a bunch Canada, for Celine Dion and environment-boning Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. Fortunately some Canadians have a sense of decency, and tour the world trying to make amends by entertaining us all. Tonight, I am at Soup Kitchen to see some of those good people. I’ve never heard of […]

LIVE: WHP X RBMA – 09/11/2012

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- THE WAREHOUSE  PROJECT, MANCHESTER -  My disappointment at The Warehouse Project’s relocation is short lived after just a few minutes in the new venue. The Store Street car park served it’s purpose well for a number of years, and it was just up the road from my flat… though the place did have some […]

LIVE: SAVAGES – 07/11/2012

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- GORILLA, MANCHESTER – Arriving for the first time in Gorilla since its refit from the Green Room I am surprised and impressed at the rather cavernous space they’ve opened up towards the back of the building. With its curved archways, bare brick and cool décor it’s perfect as a new gig venue. Having already […]

LIVE: JESSIE WARE – 08/11/2012

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- SOUND CONTROL, MANCHESTER – Jessie Ware is very much your girl next door pop star. It was only a few years back that the South London based vocalist was just beginning her musical career as a backing singer for mid-noughties indie king Jack Penate. A few low key but seminal collaborations later and Ware […]

LIVE: DEATH GRIPS – 06/11/2012

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- SOUND CONTROL, MANCHESTER – Death Grips are probably the closest thing we have to actual punk these days. For those not aware, the story (roughly) goes: mysterious hip hop/hardcore band release a widely praised mixtape, play some intense shows. Band signs, somewhat bizarrely, to Sony backed major label Epic, announces that two albums will […]

LIVE: HOW TO DRESS WELL – 03/11/2012

how to dress well

- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – There’s a rare down moment during How To Dress Well’s exposed performance when someone nervously shouts for a drum solo. Eyes turn to the nominal ‘drummer’ of the trio on stage, and what emerges as he tinkers with his magical toolbox is nothing like a drum, rather a highly strung […]

LIVE: UN-PEELED – 27/10/2012

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- THE NIGHT & DAY CAFE/GULLIVERS, MANCHESTER – Un-Peeled is part reverent nod, part push forwards for the music the great man championed #Keepingitpeel Keepitpeel . The set is an all dayer at Oldham Street venues, Night & Day Cafe and Gullivers. I arrive at Night & Day round 7.30 at the tail end of The […]

Single Review: City Reign – Ahead of Ideas

city reign

Manchester based trio City Reign’s new single ‘Ahead of Ideas’ is a guitar heavy tribute to the indie bands of the North. A well-written track with that iconic ‘Northern Sound’ sets this song up to be a success within its genre. Not only has the band produced a great new single, but they also manage […]

LIVE: TWO GALLANTS / THE HICKEY UNDERWORLD – 31/10/2012

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- ACADEMY 3, MANCHESTER – It’s All Hallows’ Evening and folk/blues rock duo, the Two Gallants are in town. There’s a spooky atmosphere in the air tonight, as hoards of young ‘uns line the streets, screeching and clutching each other from the freezing cold. Girls with thick make-up prance around in short, ripped skirts and devil horns. The […]

Live: Beach House – 31/10/2012

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- The Ritz, Manchester – It’s hard to say why some shows work and others do not. Rewind two years and Beach House, a previously unknown (to me anyway) Cocteau Twins-esque act hailing from Baltimore steal my heart in Manchester Cathedral. The setting, the sound and the light show gel completely, and the band, riding […]

LIVE: THE WALKMEN / WILD NOTHING – 30/10/2012

The Walkmen

- THE RITZ, MANCHESTER – Drinking my first beer of the night, I thought of my chumbuttlies with whom I would soon be road-tripping to the gig, singing nursery rhymes and drinking from stolen pint glasses as we went. On the road, we joyfully reminisce about the Ritz of our whipper-snapper days and had a […]

LIVE: EIGHTIES MATCHBOX B-LINE DISASTER – 29/10/2012

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- CLUB ACADEMY, MANCHESTER – An 80′s Matchbox B- Line Disaster gig is like cuing for a ride at a theme park. You wait ages and then you’re rewarded with a forty second or in this case, forty minute thrill. As is their want, 80MBD (sorry abbreviations necessary) like to wait for as long as […]

LIVE: TOY – 28/10/2012

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- THE RUBY LOUNGE, MANCHESTER – When Joe Jean & The Jing Jang Jong – the band more memorable for their name than their records – finally split up after a year of empty hype in 2009, you might have assumed that their members would spend their time in exile from the music industry ever […]

Album Review: Cody ChesnuTT – Landing On A Hundred

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Soul singer and funk guitarist Cody Chesnutt is back with his second album, a decade and a few EPs separating them both. Landing On A Hundred is a neo-soul and funk album with all the musical flex of a 70s classic. The sound he’s gone for is BIG in every sense –with bold melodies, a […]

Album Review: The Velvet Underground & Nico – The Velvet Underground & Nico 45th Anniversary

Velvet

It’s not for nothing that Rolling Stone magazine named The Velvet Underground & Nico the most prophetic album of all time. If the hippies hoped that universal fraternity, peace and love would be the basis for some teleological, utopian future, it is Lou Reed’s vision that – however unhappily – dominates contemporary society. 60s counter […]

LIVE: ROLO TOMASSI – 27/10/2012

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – Rolo Tomassi are a band that have to be seen to be believed. The Sheffield based quintet have been messing with our heads since the mid-noughties, using hardcore as their base then combining it with every musical genre known to man to become one of the UK’s most eccentric […]

LIVE: LUCY ROSE – 25/10/2012

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – ‘CDs, T-shirts, Tea, Jam, Tote Bags’ is the list of merchandise on sale at Lucy Rose’s sold out Deaf Institute gig tonight, and it’s clear it’s going to be more of a tea and jam event than it is rock n’ roll as fans file in under the giant […]

LIVE: PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING / CYRIL SNEAR – 27/10/2012

Public Service Broadcasting

- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – Well. Soup Kitchen. It’s a pleasure to meet you at last. I stand a few yards from your doors at five-ish most nights waiting for the bus to take me home and frequently wonder what the venue within is like. And now I know. You’re ace. Bare, flakey-paint walls and […]

REVIEW: THE UNTHANKS PRESENT SONGS FROM THE SHIPYARDS – 25/10/2012

the unthanks

- GORILLA, MANCHESTER – I confess I don’t gravitate towards folk music on a day to day basis, but when I hear it live I’m reminded how life affirming and quite wonderful it can be. Afterwards, I’ll vow to pay it more attention in my own time, but never do. So I’m here to see […]

LIVE: DJANGO DJANGO – 23/10/2012

Django Django

- THE RITZ, MANCHESTER – The night is brisk and the age range trickling into the Ritz are almost as many balding heads in number as there are sprouting ones, at least at first. Django Django are following up the release of their long awaited, self-titled album, with a UK tour. The second night of […]

LIVE: DOG IS DEAD – 23/10/2012

Dog Is Dead

- ACADEMY 3, MANCHESTER – Since their formation back in 2008, Nottingham based outfit Dog Is Dead have certainly put the time in with several single/EP releases and a large amount of gigs under their belts. It seems that all of their hard work is paying off though, as the quintet are now signed to […]

LIVE: THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM – 18/10/2012

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- THE APOLLO, MANCHESTER – Diners, jukebox Romeos, diamond Sinatras, Elvis, Audrey Hepburn, Bette Davis, Miles Davis, Hollywood nights, Manhattan, New Jersey, New Orleans, high top sneakers, sailor tattoos, blue jeans, white T-shirts, party dresses, ribbons, classic cars, movie screens, parking lots, pay phones, ferris wheels, old haunts, forgotten ghosts, broken dreams, wild young hearts, […]

LIVE: LITTLE COMETS – 16/10/2012

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- THE RITZ, MANCHESTER – It’s fair to say that the Little Comets aren’t so little anymore. Since the release of their sprightly debut album ‘In Search Of Elusive Little Comets’, the Newcastle based outfit have been flying up festival bills and packing out bigger rooms on every tour, so it comes as no surprise […]

Single Review: Jessie Ware – Night Light

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After the success of ‘Wildest Moments’ earlier this year, now comes Jessie Ware’s fourth single of the year, ‘Night Light’. This song is from her album, Devotion, which made it to number five in the UK charts upon its release in August and has now been nominated for a Mercury Prize. It starts as a promising, […]

LIVE: THE NIGHTINGALES – 15/10/2012

the nightingales

- NIGHT AND DAY CAFE, MANCHESTER – “The best thing about this band, is we turn up”, growls frontman Robert Lloyd in the opening number. He has no reason to be so self-deprecating – cutting an intimidating sight on stage: A tall, suit-wearing, static figure looming over the audience with a leer veering between nonchalant and menacing. […]

LIVE: BO NINGEN – 17/10/2012

Bo Ningen

Some gigs are difficult to write about. The band turn up, they fly through their set sounding exactly as they do on the album, and then they walk off and do it again somewhere else. Bo Ningen are not like that at all. ‘Psychedelic Japanese rock band’ is another genre that I can now happily […]

LIVE: THE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART – 15/10/2012

the pains of being pure at heart

- THE RUBY LOUNGE, MANCHESTER – The nights are drawing in, the students have taken control of the city, and we are back in the full swing of the live music season. Each night of the week, there is an exciting variety of bands and artists offering their services, and tonight a healthy number have […]

LIVE: TAMARYN – 14/10/2012

Tamaryn

- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – A Tamaryn press release featuring ‘I’m Gone’ from the forthcoming new album ‘Tender New Signs’ made an instant impression on me. Some bands just press all the right buttons, 5 seconds worth of listening could be all that’s needed to make you aware that a certain band is about to feature heavily on […]

LIVE: RED DEER CLUB SECRET SESSION – 14/10/2012

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- ?????, MANCHESTER – “Secret gig” How much do these two words excite me? Am I actually going to be taken to Narnia? Am I going to see Tumnus jam with Morrissey under the Printworks, for a stripped-down version of ‘The Queen Is Dead’? I have no idea where I’m going or what I’m seeing. […]

LIVE: NADA SURF – 14/10/2012

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- ACADEMY 3, MANCHESTER – It’s a mostly 30+ crowd in for the opening night of Nada Surf’s European tour, but old habits die hard, and half the early birds are still sat splayed across the Academy 3′s tacky floor by time Ezra Furman makes an appearance. He stands alone at 45º to the mic with just […]

LIVE: FOSSIL COLLECTIVE – 13/10/2012

fossil colective

- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – I’m standing at the back (or the back of the standing area, in front of the steps/seating area) but am drawn to the front when Leeds based FOSSIL COLLECTIVE begin by a strong urge to check out a rather intriguing bass instrument.  It looks, is played and also sounds […]

Album Review: Tamaryn – Tender New Signs

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American dream-pop, shoegaze combo Tamaryn are named after New Zealand-born Tamaryn, who provides soft girlish vocals, and guitarist Rex John Shelverton (Vue, Portraits of Past), who does the instrumentation and plays the role of producer. Tender New Signs is the follow up to their first full length album, The Waves, and in making this album […]

Single Reviews: Fruits de Mer Records – October Releases

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I look forward to Fruits de Mer records coming through my door. In some ways it seems strange that nobody else on the Silent Radio team seems to get jealous that I end up reviewing a good chunk of them – but it does make sense, because what Fruits de Mer (FdM) do is not […]

LIVE: ERRORS – 10/10/2012

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- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – It’s Wednesday night and Errors are playing at Soup Kitchen I have my name on the guest list with a plus one, so have my own purchased ticket to sell. Thankfully, on cue, a group of ‘revellers’ come round the corner “I haven’t got a ticket” a revel (er) announces, […]

LIVE: NZCA/LINES – 04/10/2012

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- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – A white backdrop adorns the wall and before it stands three figures resplendent in white shirts. Being projected onto the backdrop are shapes in monochrome hues, and then the band name ‘NZCA/Lines’ flashes sporadically.  Yet there is no need for an introduction. Through the entirety of support act, Jonquil’s performance […]

LIVE: REN HARVIEU / LEWIS WATSON / THE SUNDOWNERS – 09/10/2012

Ren Harvieu

- THE RITZ, MANCHESTER – The Ritz seems like a wholly appropriate venue for tonight’s gig by Ren Harvieu. The Grade II-listed building’s art deco features, red velvety curtains, glitter ball and sweeping horseshoe balcony are a suitable setting for a singer whose cinematic songs hark back to an era of iconic Brill Building pop […]

LIVE: WHY? – 10/10/2012

Why photo by Phoebe Steblow

- CENTRAL METHODIST HALL, MANCHESTER – “Is this the right place?” A gent with a check shirt enquires from beneath the overhanging bristles of his russet beard. We’re between a pawn shop and a gigantic wig emporium on Oldham St, just facing Afflecks, and yep, we really are in the right place. Plenty of others […]

LIVE: EGYPTIAN HIP HOP – 09/10/2012

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- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – Looks can be deceiving. I remember seeing a picture of Manchester based outfit Egyptian Hip Hop before hearing them and with their angular haircuts and flamboyant vintage outfits I was expecting to hear something loud, noisy and full of youthful exuberance. Instead, I heard perfect pop songs with electro tinges, […]

LIVE: SBTRKT / FOUR TET / TNGHT – 06/10/2012

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- THE WAREHOUSE PROJECT, MANCHESTER – This is the second weekend of Manchester’s pop-up club nights which span September to New Year’s Day. Having outgrown the cavernous car park under Piccadilly station, The Warehouse Project has now relocated to an actual warehouse in Trafford Park. Its growing popularity since its opening in 2006 is no […]

LIVE: RADIOHEAD – 06/10/2012

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- MANCHESTER ARENA, MANCHESTER – The Manchester Arena is packed out to resemble a gladiatorial stadium, which is rather appropriate as being just a little above five feet tall I am preparing to fight like a ninja to catch a glimpse of the band I have paid a small fortune to see. But despite the […]

Album Review: Ty Segall – Twins

Ty-Segall

Psych rock maverick Ty Segall is a man in a hurry. Not content with releasing two excellent albums already this year, namely the collaboration with White Fence’s Tim Presley, Hair, and Slaughterhouse, coming under the Ty Segall Band ‘nom de plume’, we now find ourselves with a third, Twins, which is officially a follow up […]

LIVE: TWISTED WHEEL – 04/10/2012

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- SOUND CONTROL, MANCHESTER – Playing to a sold out venue, Twisted Wheel are bound to go down a stormer when being so close to their avid followers, but more importantly their hometown; Oldham. After recently changing the shape of the band, Jonny Brown’s new look trio do not fall below expectations. Suited a like […]

Album Review: Errors – New Relics

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As someone who loves music, but isn’t a musician, I often wonder what inspires musicians to make music, and what they aim to achieve from making it. Errors always seem ambitious, yet understated, making music that sounds vast and sprawling, but with meticulous attention to detail. As a dance music fan, I love the range […]

LIVE: DAN DEACON – 28/09/2010

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- ISLINGTON MILL, SALFORD – Here in this intimate Salford venue, with a tangled mess of wires and boxes on the table in front of him and two live drummers either side of him, stands the husky frame of Dan Deacon, a man, who from behind his jam jar glasses, seems to have a permanent […]

LIVE: NOW NOW – 30/09/2012

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- THE ROADHOUSE, MANCHESTER – It’s the typical Mancunian night. The rain is unremitting and miserly, the drains are kicking up a stink outside One Piccadilly, and to make matters worse, we’re off to The Roadhouse. It’s slipped down the pecking order of the city’s gig venues, and thanks to the rise of the Ruby […]

LIVE: THOMAS TRUAX / SONGS FOR WALTER / SILVER – 28/09/2012

Thomas-Truax

- THE CASTLE HOTEL, MANCHESTER – I’m not really sure what support would be fitting for a Thomas Truax gig when I think about it, but for some reason I am quite surprised to see this shy, sad seeming girl with purple hair and a red top playing some sort of ultra reverb guitar with […]

LIVE: JOSHUA RADIN – 27/09/2012

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- ACADEMY 2, MANCHESTER – “You can hear a pin drop…….” Joshua Radin is a talented man. That’s a fact. In times gone by he made his way as an artist, a teacher and a screenwriter. Then he picked up a guitar and began to write songs that capture the mind, body and soul. If […]

LIVE: VENETIAN SNARES – 25/09/2012

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- SOUND CONTROL, MANCHESTER – If you see the name Venetian Snares in print somewhere, you usually won’t have to look very far before you start seeing words like ‘God’ and ‘Legend’ being thrown about. Aaron Funk’s long standing commitment to putting out records and his dedication to experimenting with his sound has garnered him […]

LIVE: FRIGHTENED RABBIT – 19/09/2012

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – With a name like Frightened Rabbit, you could be mistaken that this bunch of Glaswegians are all about the self-indulgent, emo vibes; the type you have a good old cry to when your parents don’t understand you or your homework’s dead hard. Frightened Rabbit are helping to fly the flag […]

IN-DEPTH REVIEW: FESTIVAL NO. 6

Festival No.6

Well it’s after lunch time on Friday and we’ve just arrived at Porthmadog Football Club, as this is the nearest parking for the park and ride facility for getting to the festival. It would appear that we have arrived at roughly the same time as many others and there is a healthy queue of eager […]

IN-DEPTH REVIEW: FESTIVAL NO. 6 – DAY 2

After a sleep of sorts it’s a new day and the weather is holding out again as it did yesterday. First things first and it’s time for breakfast then time for me to see what all this Portmeirion Village fuss is all about. From where we are camped it’s maybe a three or four minute […]

IN-DEPTH REVIEW: FESTIVAL NO. 6 – DAY 3

As we all know, all good things must come to an end, and not only is Sunday the last day for Festival No 6, but also the dry weather has decided to pack up a day early and head elsewhere. The rain isn’t leathering it down, but it’s enough to warrant that the waterproof coat […]

LIVE: JENS LEKMAN – 19/09/2012

Jens Lekman

- THE RUBY LOUNGE, MANCHESTER – “This album was a cycle that I had to go through.” That, explains Jens Lekman before the final song of an emotionally resonant night, is the most satisfying way to describe this confusing point in his career. Having built up a passionate following from his first two albums proper, […]

LIVE: EUROS CHILDS – 05/09/2012

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- THE KINGS ARMS, SALFORD – Well there’s tension in the air. Something of a first is happening to me tonight, I’ve bagsied the chance to see one of my musical heroes. He maybe an unlikely candidate for many, but Euros Childs was lead singer in one of my favourite bands, Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci. Let […]

LIVE: ALLO DARLIN / BUTCHER THE BAR – 07/09/2012

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – I really like the Deaf Institute.  To me it’s a nice intimate little venue and I want all its quirky decorations in my house.  Whilst having a drink downstairs I am surprised to hear that this gig has sold 200 tickets already, and that’s not even a sell out.  […]

ALBUM REVIEW: TOY – ‘TOY’

Toy

Googling Toy was a fruitless task at the start of the year. There was a certain buzz around the band after a successful support slot with The Horrors, but internet presence was otherwise non-existent. Their headline tour in spring attracted many curious enthusiasts who had their ear to the ground, and they were very much rewarded […]

Album Review: DJ Shadow – Reconstructed: The Best of DJ Shadow

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He sounds like a dark superhero nemesis haunting the alleys and sidewalks of some fictional North American future city. Or perhaps the murky pools that lie within the darker recesses of our psyches. In fact, he is Josh Davis, ironically from the Northern Californian town of… Davis, and for the last 20 years he has […]

ALBUM: CAT POWER – ‘SUN’

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It has taken 3 years for ‘Chan’ Marshall to write, produce and play all that you hear on this new Cat Power album. An impressive undertaking indeed. The result must prove to be her most personal release to date, I assume that was the intention. Her talents with various instruments will be scrutinised due to […]

LIVE: ESBEN AND THE WITCH – 30/08/2012

Esben and The Witch

- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – Haunting and spellbinding songs  in a basement as it draws close to midnight.   The Brighton trio’s band name acts like a book title, alluring to its contents, which stray uncompromisingly away from anything mainstream. Grimes are playing a sell-out gig at The Ritz tonight across town, and so I […]

LIVE: GRIMES – 30/08/2012

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- THE RITZ, MANCHESTER – On arrival at the Ritz, I‘m quite puzzled by the apparent appeal of the ‘Vagina Rings’ on sale at the merch desk – replicas of Grimes’ very own lady parts [“one size fits all” but it’s a bit tight for me, natch!]. I feel a little bit uncomfortable just browsing, […]

Calexico – Algiers

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“We were talking about wanting to go to Europe and record,” Burns says, “but we never get our shit together in time to make plans that far in advance. So where do you go…? New Orleans.” Collaborator, Producer – Craig Schumacher Algiers is the sixth studio album from Calexico, recorded in and titled after the […]

Album Review: Easy Star All-Stars – Thrillah

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It’s almost thirty years since the release of Michael Jackson’s Thriller – now the best-selling album of all time. It’s hard to forget the saddening procession of Jackson’s life after the success of the videos and (seven!) singles from Thriller propelled him into mega-stardom, through circus sideshow, disgrace and eventually to an untimely end, the […]

EP Review: Bird – Shadows

Bird

Liverpool ‘s musical renaissance continues aplenty with the recent emergence of Stealing Sheep and a thriving local live music scene to rival Manchester. One of the latest talents to emerge is the three piece band Bird, who comprise of Adele Emmas (singer, songwriter), Sian Williams (guitar, harmonies) and Alexis Samata (drums). Their press release talks […]

LIVE: DARK DARK DARK – 19/08/2012

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- SACRED TRINITY CHURCH, SALFORD – Half a dozen weeks before the release of their third album ‘Who Needs Who’, Dark Dark Dark come to Salford for an intimate set in the cosy Sacred Trinity Church. Nancy Elizabeth is playing solo when I enter the space, I’ve no choice but to wait just outside the […]

Single Review: Minus The Bear – Steel And Blood

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The first time I heard Minus The Bear was on a beach and it seemed their thoughtfully composed yet totally chilled out style of music was the perfect backing to an afternoon in the sun – whether that be on the white sands of Hawaii or, in my case, the somewhat darker sands of a […]

ALBUM: Don Niño – In The Backyard Of Your Mind

Don Nino

Don Niño (in reality a French chap called Nicolas Laureau) has a voice resembling Devendra Banhart, a drum sound evoking David Bowie’s Low, acoustic guitars reminiscent of  Love’s Forever Changes, and an album title that evokes the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band’s 1968 ditty ‘Canyons Of Your Mind’. However, to suggest that this album is as good as […]

LIVE: BRITISH SEA POWER – 03/08/2012

British Sea Power

- THE RUBY LOUNGE, MANCHESTER – Krankenhaus Mankenhaus! British Sea Power take the fun and frivolity of their monthly Brighton residency on tour as they venture north for the first Krankenhaus to be staged outside of East Sussex. The intriguing line-up includes a DJ set from Duncan of Dutch Uncles, a ventriloquism act from locally based BBC 6 Music radio hero […]

ALBUM: WILD NOTHING – NOCTURNE

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To me, Jack Tatum’s music has always seemed contradictory. On his 2010 album, Gemini, Tatum used the stylistic devices of pop music as a stencil to aid his vision. Verses sunk into choruses perfectly, bridges obligingly followed and earworms were unearthed in their masses. As if Tatum’s song writing was akin to slotting together pieces […]

ALBUM: JOHNNO CASSON – WINDOW SHOPPING

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Ah, Coinstar Day. £21.47 redeemed from jean-pocket oblivion, all thanks to your charitable counting-machine friend. Know the feeling? Well, stand by: the improbable satisfaction that comes from just such little victories fills Johnno Casson’s delicate, quirky album, Window Shopping. Colchester singer-songwriter Casson, armed with previous self-releases under the name Snippet, delights a growing internet fanbase […]

LIVE: PLANK! / HOOKWORMS – 27/07/2012

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- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – It’s certainly the night for a mind-altering statement. At the very same time as one great Mancunian artist is subverting all expectations in front of a global audience, another group of them are tapping into the dark recesses of our imaginations on a far smaller scale. But whereas Danny Boyle […]

ALBUM: MOEBIUS + TIETCHENS

MOEBIUS + TIETCHENS

There comes a time when most music lovers will claim to have heard it all before. Of course, the battle against jaded apathy is constant, and must be fought on all fronts. However, unctuous press releases try hard to extol the virtues of their offering, pitching it as the Third Coming and a cure for […]

LIVE: SAVAGES – 24/07/2012

Savages

- The Deaf Institute, Manchester – The blow of missing the first two local Savages gigs this year – in a cage in a bunker in Salford and at Islington Mill in June – has been eased now that I can witness ‘everyones favourite new band’, in my favourite venue. Parma Violets are the main support, I saw them at […]

SINGLE: MAJOR LAZER – ‘GET FREE’

Major Lazer Get Free

The pioneers of booty shaking, reggae fuelled, dancefoor smashers; Major Lazer, rope in the talents of Amber Coffman from Dirty Projectors in their latest release; “Get Free”. A much more downtempo outing than their previous material but by no means lacking in quality. The track kicks back at a dub-paced flow with light smatterings of […]

Single Review: Richard Hawley – Down In The Woods

Richard Hawley

It’s been 3 years since Sheffieldite, Richard Hawley, released an album. Even though he teased fans with guest vocals on an Arctic Moneys track earlier this year, Hawley returns with his punchy, rock ‘n’ roll fuelled 7th album, Standing On The Sky’s Edge. And fuelled with Rock ‘n’ Roll it certainly is. ‘Down In The Woods’, […]

SINGLE REVIEW: Electric Guest – Awake

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As one of the showcasing artists at this year’s SXSW festival, a great deal of attention has been thrown Electric Guest’s way. In May, I saw Electric Guest perform to a sparse crowd during Liverpool Sound City and it’s their newest single, ‘Awake’, that has the potential to rouse the music aficionados and create a […]

Album Review: Laetitia Sadlier – Silencio

Silencio

Laetitia Sadlier, erstwhile singer with 90s influential experimental krautrock pop band Stereolab and main member of Stereolab side project Monade, follows up her debut solo album, The Trip, with her second album for Drag City, Silencio. On first listen, Silencio immediately comes across as a more fleshed out sound with more nuanced textures than The […]

LIVE: OF MONSTERS AND MEN – 11/07/2012

Of Monsters and Men

- ACADEMY 3, MANCHESTER – There are few more cherished moments in a band’s career – the breakthrough song has found a handle on a niche audience, the underground buzz has begun to filter out, the debut album will drop in less than a month. The band rock into town, and play upstairs in the attic of […]

LIVE: THE BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE – 08/07/2012

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- THE RITZ, MANCHESTER – Dangerous, unhinged and unpredictable are all words I would have at one time used to describe The Brian Jonestown Massacre. An opinion I had formed after hearing numerous fan’s accounts of the band’s on tour antics and more so after watching the 2004 documentary ‘Dig’, which until now was my […]

LIVE: NO CEREMONY/// – 05/07/2012

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- SACRED TRINITY CHURCH, SALFORD – There is without doubt a veritable buzz surrounding tonight’s performance. Over the past few months Manchester locals, NO CEREMONY /// have been steadily building up steam for this, their first ever headline show. Singles, Hurtlove and Heartbreaker have both done the rounds on major radio stations XFM, Radio 1 […]

LIVE: REGINA SPEKTOR – 04/07/2012

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- THE APOLLO, MANCHESTER – The beauty of Regina Spektor, is that you never know what to expekt. The quirky Russian-American redhead is known as much for her crazy musical experimentalism as she is for her heartfelt, melancholic piano ballads. But tonight at the Manchester Apollo, rather unexpectedly, Spektor performs a set which is far […]

ALBUM: PURITY RING ‘SHRINES’

Purity Ring

Searching for Purity Ring‘s discography seemed a logical idea at the time, as I kicked myself for letting their back-catalogue pass me by… before discovering that ‘Shrines’ is in fact a debut album. 4AD guarantee quality with a roster full of forward thinking artists who seem to have something in common, and yet all produce their […]

LIVE: JESCA HOOP – 28/06/2012

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- LEAF TEA SHOP, LIVERPOOL – As you arrive at the venue for this much anticipated show you can sense, even at the bar that something big is going to happen. There is an aura about Leaf this evening and that is clearly down to the queue building up well before doors. First to the […]

SINGLE: THE WILD EYES – I LOOK GOOD ON YOU

I Look Good On You

The debut single from The Wild Eyes “I Look Good On You b/w Too Much” features Huw Robert’s (vocals, guitars), Sam Gill (drums) and Neal Johnson (bass), who were nurtured and stifled in equal measure by the small towns of their youth.  They now reside in Liverpool and the trio have recently earned a fierce […]

LIVE: EASTER – 22/06/2012

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- KRAAK, MANCHESTER – This is my second night in succession at Kraak, the schedule here this month isn’t all that busy but quality seems guaranteed. Hey! Manchester have put together tonight’s lineup to celebrate the launch  of Easter‘s debut album ‘Innocence Man’, which was released a few weeks ago through White Box recordings. Gladly, it’s […]

LIVE: GHXST – 21/06/2012

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- KRAAK, MANCHESTER – One of my favourite scene’s in cinema history: Fight Club – Tyler and Co. walk through the bar down to the hidden, dark and dingy basement where grown men choose to punch each other for fun… Tom Waits ‘Goin’ Out West’ is on the jukebox. Entering Kraak when a rock band […]

LIVE: BEST COAST – 17/06/2012

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THE HMZ RITZ, MANCHESTER Now Wave gigs regularly promise plenty of bands and no fillers, as with tonight’s quadruple bill. The thankfully renovated Ritz is starting to get a little sticky underfoot again, due to spilt beer. At £4.35 for a pint of Guinness, I’m not wasting a drop. Psychedelic dark punk pop rock band […]

LIVE: FEAR OF MEN – 17/06/2012

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- THE RITZ, MANCHESTER – I had the pleasure of catching Brighton based outfit Fear of Men as part of the wonderful Sounds From The Other City Festival which took place in Salford last month, and it was their simplistic indie pop melodies that won over my heart and have refused to leave my head […]

ALBUM: TY SEGALL BAND ‘SLAUGHTERHOUSE’

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There’s no stopping Ty – releasing singles and EPs under various names, playing in numerous bands and hopping from record label to record label as if they were bars on a pub crawl. He started in 2005 with Epsilons, then joined Party Fowl as well as The Traditional Fools, The Perverts and Sic Alps as […]

Album Review: Levellers – Static on the Airwaves

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Grab your fiddles and dust off your digeridoos, folk-rock veterans Levellers are back with their tenth studio album Static on the Airwaves – their most polished but traditional album to date. Opening with white noise reminiscent of our very own Silent Radio, and an electro sequence Gary Numan would envy, you could be forgiven for […]

Single Review: The Lucid Dream – Hits Me Like I’m Stoned

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What’s not to like about the crazy kids* at Fruits de Mer records? They are a small, independent UK label; they only release on limited edition vinyl; they have a sister label called ‘Regal Crabomophone’ (whatever that’s supposed to mean); they even send their press releases on shiny silver 200gsm paper… Fruits de Mer are […]

Album Review: Smoke Fairies – Blood Speaks

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The signs of Smoke Fairies’ newfound maturity are there from the very start of second album, Blood Speaks. As muscular drum crackles join moody guitar, the trademark dual vocals of Katherine Blamire and Jessica Davies announce their presence with a heavy confidence: “You got the power to bring me down, but I’ve got some sense, […]

LIVE: DOT TO DOT FESTIVAL – 04/06/2012

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- VARIOUS VENUES, MANCHESTER – Back for its third year in Manchester, Dot to Dot has come along tremendously since it started in Nottingham in 2005. Ever since then they have continuously created compelling line-ups, bringing some of the best new and upcoming talent to an exciting inner-city environment. This year’s line-up is certainly no […]

LIVE: CURSIVE – 04/06/2012

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- THE RUBY LOUNGE, MANCHESTER – While the rest of the nation is bopping away to the legends of pop strutting their stuff outside the Queen’s gaff, we’re in town’s most luxurious subterranean pit for something altogether less bombastic. “Hey, I’m Kevin Devine from New York…” the slender troubadour onstage announces, “did you guys revel […]

ALBUM: SQUAREPUSHER – ‘UFABULUM’

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With the 90′s dance music scene very much making a comeback, the likes of Squarepusher have the perfect opportunity to show the young pretenders how it’s done. Another of  Warp’s electronical wizards, Tom Jenkinson, has been producing mind-bending sounds since 1994, along with label mates and veterans Aphex Twin and Autechre. ’4001′ kicks things off […]

LIVE: SAVAGES / HIGH PLACES / DIE HEXEN – 30/05/2012

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- ISLINGTON MILL. SALFORD – I’m not usually one for forward planning but I felt quite gutted that I couldn’t go to the SAVAGES gig at the beginning of the month due to it being sold out (how does a few months old, pretty unknown, four piece all female band sell out in a city […]

LIVE: THE MELVINS – 30/05/2012

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- MOHO LIVE, MANCHESTER – After discovering the latest release of The Melvins EP ‘The Bulls and the Bees’ (a free download by the way) I was on the hunt to find the tour that follows, and to my delight they were coming to Manchester’s Moho Live, four long years since their last visit to […]

LIVE: TENNIS – 25/05/2012

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- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – Tonight, in the dark underbelly of Manchester’s Northern Quarter, a cluster of like-minded music fan poseurs are readying their Friday nights with a low-profile offering from Denver’s most cherished lo-fi indie poppers. The crowd is modestly sized, given the relatively established nature of the night’s headliners – Tennis released their […]

ALBUM: DEPAKOTE – ‘I LIVE TO DIE AND I DIE TO LIVE’

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Depakote is a drug used to treat depression and bipolar disorder. Apparently, this has relevance to the Californian producer who also goes by the name of Count Chopula. The latest offering from the rather prolific Depakote has been released on the Manchester/LA based record label This City Is Ours. His first album ‘It’s Not ’94 Anymore’ […]

LIVE: DUKE SPECIAL – 25/05/2012

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – Getting into the Deaf Institute a bouncy, pub sing along atmosphere hits me. The upstairs’ room is rammed. There’s a packed turn out for tonight’s gig from a slightly older, dare I say more refined audience. The sing along atmosphere is coming from Duke Special, with band and on […]

LIVE: THE HANDSOME FAMILY / TINY RUINS – 24/05/2012

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- ST.CLEMENT’S CHURCH, MANCHESTER – It’s such a beautiful, warm evening (I don’t even need a jacket, hooray!) and I’m stood in the grounds of St Clements church surrounded by trees and greenery forgetting that I’m in a city.  I’m here on the recommendation of a friend and considering the facts: a husband and wife […]

LIVE: POND – 26/05/2012

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- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – England are playing a pointless friendly in Norway and the Eurovision circus is on the hypnotic light box, making my journey to see an Australian psychedelic rock band in a sweaty basement all the more satisfying. The Soup Kitchen is, as always, pretty busy. The extended, repetitive soundcheck gives a […]

LIVE: JAPANDROIDS – 23/05/2012

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- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – Rewind to November 2009, and a certain SR scribe is cursing his luck after only catching the vinegar strokes of Japandroids’ début Manchester show at Moho Live, so he makes a solemn oath that night that he’ll definitely, 100%, without any shadow of doubt catch them on their headline tour […]

EP Review: Protect-U – Motorbike

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Here is something new from Planet Mu with this latest EP from Protect-U, the brainchild of Mike Petillo and Aaron Leitko, two of the “new breed of dance music producers” presently emerging from Washington DC. ‘Motorbike’ opens with a half drunken metallic coated bassline pulsing its way through the track, kept in check by the […]

Album Review: Tenacious D – Rize of the Fenix

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Kyle Gass, half of the core duo behind Tenacious D, has gone on record to argue Rize of the Fenix, third longer player from this most awesome of rock acts is “much like Nirvana’s first album Bleach or the Beatles first album Help. Rough and yet a masterpiece.” And how could a humble music reviewer […]

SINGLE: THE GRAVELTONES – ‘I WANT YOUR LOVE’

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Sure, it is easy to look at The Graveltones and quickly compare them to The Black Keys. Both bands compose of two men playing drums and guitar, both bands play fuzzy modern blues, and both bands draw their influences from the great rock legends of John Lee Hooker and Led Zeppelin. But unlike The Black […]

LIVE: MICHAEL KIWANUKA – 15/05/2012

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- THE RITZ, MANCHESTER – Heading to The Ritz on a damp Tuesday night makes me wonder if strappy wedges and a gust sensitive skirt are a good combo. The weather isn’t dampening the spirits of folks up for a piece of the recently touted Michael Kiwanuka appearing tonight. This one is an eagerly anticipated […]

LIVE: GAZ COOMBES – 17/05/2012

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- THE RUBY LOUNGE, MANCHESTER – At twenty to ten it seems like an age since the support act went off.  The Axl Rose complex finally shows signs of lifting when people we assume to be in the band appear on stage one at a time.  Something’s happening as a couple of notes emerge on […]

ALBUM REVIEW: Lettie – Good Fortune, Bad Weather

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The weather over the past few weeks has been fairly bad, but stumbling upon the latest release from Lettie will certainly give you good fortune. The London singer-songwriter’s new offering, Good Fortune, Bad Weather, is an album with the potential for plenty of hits with its great electro-pop sound and sublime songwriting. Lettie is a […]

LIVE: ∆ (ALT-J) – 18/05/2012

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- QUAY HOUSE, MANCHESTER – As part of the annual audio/visual festival Future Everything, Now Wave have brought us to a disused office block situated next door to The Opera House, to see no fewer than six (that’s 6) bands. We’ve become accustomed to dirty industrial warehouses and basement venues in Manchester, so this is […]

LIVE: SHARON VAN ETTEN – 17/05/2012

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – I first heard of Sharon Van Etten though a press-release, back in December. It was one of those moments where it became apparent this artist was going to be a regular feature on my MP3 player for the foreseeable future. Names dropped into that news item such as The […]

LIVE: DZ DEATHRAYS / EMBERS / FAWN SPOTS – 16/05/2012

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- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – When I hear word that FAWN SPOTS are coming to Manchester I cancel plans and jump at the chance to go see them.  Fawn Spots are Lee Bowden and Jonathan Meager; based in York where they are proactive in the music scene being heavily involved in truly great projects such […]

LIVE: TRAILER TRASH TRACYS – 10/05/2012

Trailer Trash Tracys

- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – I haven’t been upstairs at the Deaf Institute before and I’m struck by the glamour of the place.  For some reason it’s really unexpected and I like it!  It’s got big steps going up at the back for sitting on that creates a theatre kind of feel and a […]

Single Review: Wildeflower – Good Girl/Amazing Discovery

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“Good Girl” is the debut single from Wildeflower, a six piece folk-rock band from Englefield Green. This single release offers a modern folk style with close three-part harmonies as well as coupling rich layered instrumentation with lo-fi production. Led by Max Kinghorn-Mills, the psychedelic folk group marries influences from rivals/progressives Nick Drake, Bert Jansch and […]

Single Review: Django Django – Storm/Skies Over Cairo

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After the release of their self-titled début album, Django Django, the Scottish art-rock band, have released a perky little ditty titled ‘Storm’. Although some bands take inspiration from the headline names of the past, Django Django take theirs from the now defunct Scottish indie “semi-legends”, The Beta Band. The rigid drum beat, metronomic in style, keeps the track […]

Album Review: Beach House – Bloom

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The Wire, widely regarded as the best TV series of all time, is particulalry celebrated for its complex story lines, slowly coiling plot, use of authentic slang (only understandable via subtitles), and the way it mercilessly dissects a self-annhilating society from the bottom, with its petty drug dealers and tenement tower blocks, all the way […]

LIVE: PERFUME GENIUS / CATE LE BON – 09/05/2012

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – The buzz of a full-bodied Deaf Institute is never anything less than thrilling, but tonight is special. We are blessed with a venerable safe pair of hands to open proceedings – Cate Le Bon is such an established and cherished figure in the national music scene that she actually […]

LIVE: FRIENDS / ALUNAGEORGE – 08/05/2012

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- ACADEMY 3, MANCHESTER – Disco. It’s a dirty word. People are scared to be associated with it, and I often find myself breaking down the locked doors of people’s closets, and saying, “you don’t have to hide!” Now is the best time for disco, it is a burst of decadence without the calories or […]

LIVE: JAMES BLACKSHAW – 04/05/2012

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- SACRED TRINITY, SALFORD – There are two possible reactions to the suggestion of spending a Friday night in a small Salford church watching a prodigious, virtuoso acoustic guitarist perform a number of solo, instrumental pieces. Sure, it may sound a little on the arduous side to some. Indeed, more often than not, it would […]

LIVE: NHAM QUARTET / HELMUT LEMKE / BRIDGET HAYDEN – 04/05/2012

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- ST. MARGARET’S CHURCH, MANCHESTER – I read an article on The Guardian website this week about a venue in London called Cafe Oto which puts on experimental music, free-jazz etc. There was the option to comment after the article and there were lots of disparaging remarks about this kind of place being for ‘hipsters’ […]

LIVE: WE ARE AUGUSTINES / MY GOODNESS – 02/05/2012

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- ACADEMY 3, MANCHESTER – In less than two months since a shimmering set in the Night & Day Cafe, We Are Augustines have returned home from their first European tour, galvanised neutrals at South By Southwest and Coachella, delivered headline sets from Hollywood to native New York, and released their debut album, Rise Ye […]

LIVE: NEDRY – 28/04/2012

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – Catching a band for the last gig of a tour is a good idea. They’ve had a chance to perfect their setlist, they know exactly what they’re doing, they’re (I would presume) keen to go out on a high note, and there’s a chance of scooping up some of […]

LIVE: VARIOUS CRUELTIES – 25/04/2012

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- THE RUBY LOUNGE, MANCHESTER – Tonight I find myself skipping down the steps in to what feels like a musical cave that is The Ruby Lounge. Personally I have never seen it heaving in here, (tonight is no exception) which I can’t understand as it has a decent sound system, and good gig listings. […]

Album Review: Billy Vincent – She

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Building on the country-folk-rock template laid down in their King Island Coyote and Once on the Grand Union EPs, London quintet Billy Vincent are set to launch their debut album, She. A vivid, well-observed collection of songs, the five-piece capably bring together a range of big-hearted influences on this lively LP. One of the more […]

LIVE: OF MONTREAL – 22/04/2012

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- SOUND CONTROL, MANCHESTER – Ahhhh. You know that feeling you get when you’ve been at work early, taken an afternoon nap, and wake up to find you resent the effort of going next door to fix yourself a coffee, let alone getting dressed, stepping out your front door and trudging to a gig? The […]

Album Review: North Atlantic Oscillation – Fog Electric

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It’s been two years since North Atlantic Oscillation crashed into this planet of ours and tackled the preconceptions of the different musical amalgamations that were already lingering about. Back then, I found Grappling Hooks to be a triumph. One of my first experiences with their music was set to the background of a beautiful sunset […]

LIVE: MAPS & ATLASES / TALL SHIPS – 18/04/2012

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- THE NIGHT & DAY CAFÉ, MANCHESTER – I’ve set out early to make sure I catch Tall Ships who are tonight’s support act. Having supported Maps & Atlases on their previous UK tour last October, the boys have been invited back, which I couldn’t be happier about. Tall Ships are one of the most […]

LIVE: ODONIS ODONIS – 18/04/2012

Odonis Odonis

- KRAAK GALLERY, MANCHESTER – I discovered Odonis Odonis by accident last autumn when a stray link unexpectedly took me to a download of their debut album (all above board). I thought I’d give it a go… 10 seconds into the title track ‘Hollandaze’, I was hooked. Shimmering, reverb laden guitar chords pulsed and cascaded like […]

LIVE: JOSH KUMRA – 16/04/2012

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- ACADEMY 3, MANCHESTER – I have a confession to make, one that I probably shouldn’t tell, but there is a reason behind it. I am late, only about 5 minutes but that’s enough to miss the best bit of the gig. Me and my friend are running up the stairs and I hear the […]

LIVE: ANDREW WK – 13/04/2012

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- ACADEMY 1, MANCHESTER – I’m not a fan of parties. On the rare occasions that I fail to worm my way out of an invite, you can pretty much guarantee than I’ll be one of the beer guardians in the kitchen or back yard, grumbling about the forced gaiety of it all. I even […]

EP Review: Dream Continuum – Reworkz EP

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Dream Continuum is the coming together of two artists, Machinedrum (aka Travis Stewart) and Om Unit, (Jim Coles), also known as Philip D. Kick. The partnership formed when the two realised they’d both been working on the same concept separartely, and so naturally put their heads together to produce this phenomenal EP. The concept in […]

LIVE: TOY – 10/04/2012

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- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – Having never entered the basement of the Soup Kitchen before I am pleasantly surprised! I get in very early and there is about ten people inside, which makes the room look huge. I decide to leave and come back when the bands are due to start. As I walk down […]

LIVE: ORBITAL – 05/04/2012

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- ACADEMY 1, MANCHESTER – The return of Orbital has been long overdue. They told people in 2006 that they were over and went their separate ways, but in Take That- esque fashion they rose like a phoenix out of the ashes to provide the world with their new album Wonky. It has been album […]

LIVE: SLOW CLUB – 08/04/2012

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 - THE RUBY LOUNGE, MANCHESTER – So it is Easter Sunday and I am waiting. Jesus did a lot of waiting, but on Easter Sunday he spectacularly came back to Earth and most people turned around and said, “Oh… well that was worth the wait.” So you see it is good to make people wait, […]

LIVE: 2:54 – 04/04/2012

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – 3rd time lucky. 2:54 have a habit of playing in Manchester when I can’t be there to see them. Their 4 track Scarlet EP has racked up an obscene amount of plays in a relatively short space of time, my only hope is that this lengthy buildup isn’t met […]

LIVE: REN HARVIEU – 01/04/2012

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- THE RUBY LOUNGE, MANCHESTER – Tonight’s Ren Harvieu gig at the Ruby Lounge is a sell out. Her history reads like one of those true life stories you get in the middle of Closer Magazine. “A shy girl is born and raised in a gritty Northern town.  The daughter of a singer father, she discovers […]

ALBUM: SALIM NOURALLAH – HIT PARADE

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“Listen to it once, you’ll get it.” This was the closing line of the press release to Salim Nourallah’s latest release, Hit Parade. With such an outlandish comment I was intrigued to listen to what musical delight the American singer-song writer had produced. Sadly, I didn’t get it. Not the first time anyway. But after […]

ALBUM: ALASDAIR ROBERTS AND MAIRI MORRISON – URSTAN

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If you had asked me a week ago my thoughts on Gaelic folk music, I would have to be honest and say that it isn’t exactly my cup of tea. But this album is something a little different; Urstan is one of those collaborations that makes so much sense that you have to wonder why […]

LIVE: AFTERSHOCK 10 WITH NITIN SAWHNEY – 24/03/2012

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- BAND ON THE WALL, MANCHESTER – Band on the Wall are playing host to a pretty special night. Tonight is close to the 10 year mark of the original Aftershock event that began in Manchester during the Commonwealth games. Aftershock represents a collaborative smorgasbord of musical talent, with the sense someone shook up the genres, threw […]

Album Review: Fruits de Mer Records – Sorrow’s Children

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The Pretty Things’ 1967 album ‘S. F. Sorrow’ is the tragic story of the life of Sebastian F. Sorrow (“nobody knew what the ‘F’ stood for, and nobody really cared”); from humble beginnings, interrupted by war and destroyed by the death of his life-long love. It has been referred to as “the first rock opera” […]

Album Review: Hal – The Time The Hour

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After a 7-year hiatus that apparently saw main man David Allen ply his trade around the US on his own, Hal returned in February with a 4-track EP, Down In The Valley. Their second album, The Time The Hour, combines that EP’s best track and worst track with eight other new songs. It’s my sad […]

ALBUM REVIEW: ORBITAL – WONKY

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‘Wonky’ is the work of true masters in their field. Or in any field (speaking geographically). Many will be familiar with Phil and Paul Hartnoll’s story, as prominent producers of early 90′s ambient techno. Lying on an Ibiza beach as the sun comes up, listening to ‘Belfast’, was high on everyone’s list of things they’d […]

LIVE: BBC MANCHESTER INTRODUCING LIVE – 30/03/2012

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- THE RUBY LOUNGE, MANCHESTER – So the premise: get unsigned acts, the undiscovered and under the radar talent to bigger audiences. The Beeb do the filtering and venues get the benefit of seeing something different to what PR types and labels might be promoting. Great! We’re in the Ruby Lounge and expecting to do […]

LIVE: THE STRANGE BOYS – 29/03/2012

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – The Deaf Institute is the home to all things band at the moment. I find myself checking their online diary to see who is playing, and then immediately checking them out and sorting out heading to the gig. This last week I discovered Strange Boys, listened to a few […]

LIVE: BRETON – 29/03/2012

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- ISLINGTON MILL, SALFORD – By going through these doors, we agree to let ourselves be filmed for a commercial. I was under the impression that this gig would be a little shy on punters tonight, so the scenes inside the mill come as a complete surprise. Breton‘s debut album ‘Other People’s Problems’ was released through […]

LIVE: BBC PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA – 24/03/2012

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Images (part of the series ‘Reflections of Debussy in the Mirror of the East’) – THE BRIDGEWATER HALL, MANCHESTER – This show is based on the theme of musical representations of the visual, as part of a wider series focussed on the works of the influential turn-of-the-(20th)-century French composer Claude Debussy, his influence by the […]

LIVE: DRIVER DRIVE FASTER – 23/03/2012

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – They arrived like a breath of fresh air, last summer. The hidden trendy rough gem of a venue Kraak Gallery played host to the launch of their debut album ‘Open House’, while a number of high profile muso’s were liberally throwing their name around the airwaves, providing enough favourable […]

ALBUM REVIEW: IMPERIAL LEISURE – DEATH TO THE ONE TRICK PONY

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Not sure what the One Trick Pony ever did to Imperial Leisure, but this sophomore album forms a riotous call to arms. That poor pony is punked. I grew up in the same part of the capital as the band and remember their early gigs in various, nefarious down-at-heel North London pubs. They’ve come a […]

SINGLE REVIEW: BILLY VINCENT – BOTTLE TOP

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London five-piece Billy Vincent blend folk with a touch of rock and a dash of country on this, their first single release. Just as their name fuses those of the band’s best-friend vocalists Billy Barratt and David Vincent, so the quintet’s sound brings together that of Ed Harcourt, Jeff Buckley and James Morrison. With début full-length She […]

LIVE: KINDNESS – 22/03/2012

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- SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – I am underneath a kitchen. Upstairs they’re serving soup. On tonight’s menu: Kindness, the creation of London lad, Adam Bainbridge. His name has been floating about the online music atmosphere since 2009, but now in 2012 he has released his debut album, ‘World, You Need A Change Of Mind,’ produced […]

LIVE: JONNY KEARNEY & LUCY FARRELL – 18/03/2012

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- THE CORNERHOUSE, MANCHESTER – I would like to think I approach most new experiences with an open mind, but I have noticed a little bit of pre-judgement creeping in where certain events loom on the horizon. Unfortunately for ‘folk nights’ this genre has fallen into my room 101 of predictable nights out. All too […]

LIVE: THE FELICE BROTHERS – 18/03/2012

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- ACADEMY 2, MANCHESTER – It’s Sunday at The Academy 2 and it’s sure to be sordid. I’ve always imagined The Felice Brothers as this band of rough-as-old-boots American country boys with their tales of violence and alcoholism and impregnating peoples daughters, and despite the fact that they’re actually all fairly young and handsome fellas, […]

LIVE: MISSING ANDY – 15/03/2012

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- MOHO LIVE, MANCHESTER – You know how you have your preferred music venues and your jaunts, which you would like to avoid at all costs? Well, tonight is one of those nights where it takes a special band to convince me to go to Moho. I could go on a rant right now, but […]

LIVE: THE RUMOUR SAID FIRE – 13/03/2012

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- THE CASTLE HOTEL, MANCHESTER – I normally like to go into gigs ‘blind’, so to speak, to have no preconceptions, but as I planned to review this one I thought I ought to do some research.  My research brought up some mellow, yet lively sounding songs sung in English that suggested they were written with […]

NEWS: RICHARD HAWLEY – NEW ALBUM DETAILS

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Following the success of his award-winning, hugely acclaimed 2009 album ‘Truelove’s Gutter’, Richard Hawley will release his sixth studio album, ‘Standing At The Sky’s Edge’ - his first for new label Parlophone - on 7th May. Recorded at Sheffield’s Yellow Arch Studio in 2011, ‘Standing At The Sky’s Edge’ marks a seismic shift in direction for Hawley. The album is a euphoric, […]

LIVE: NATURAL SNOW BUILDINGS – 08/03/2012

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- THE CONTINENTAL, PRESTON – Boldly venturing north tonight to experience some premier psych-drone-folk direct from France. After last year’s appearance at the Tusk Festival in Newcastle (supposedly only the duo’s second gig in the UK), Mehdi Ameziane and Solange Gularte of Natural Snow Buildings must have caught the live performance bug as they are in […]

Album Review: Performance – Red Brick Heart

REDBRICK

Rarely do you find a band that makes you want to take the singer to the best indie disco in town for a drink and a proper chat and then dance like an idiot for the next ten hours. This is that band. By all accounts Performance have been through the wringer: record label misdemeanours, […]

LIVE: MAYER HAWTHORNE – 09/03/2012

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- THE RUBY LOUNGE, MANCHESTER – Well this guy has been on my radar for quite some time now. I first stumbled onto Mayer Hawthorne when he was due to play at the Pukkelpop Festival in Belgium last summer. Unfortunately, there was the quite apocalyptical storm that destroyed the festival site on the first day […]

LIVE: NEW BUILD – 09/03/2012

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- THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER – As I saunter into The Deaf Institute tonight I hear a unique electro sound, and as I make my way to the bar (priorities) I then also hear a familiar voice. When I look up I see Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip on stage filling this evening’s support slot for New […]

LIVE: GANG COLOURS – 07/03/2012

Gang Colours

- THE CASTLE HOTEL, MANCHESTER – Gang Colours (Will Ozanne) falls under my personal classification of dark, underground, glitchy beat, mood music. The shoegazing electronic Southampton lad was brought to the attention of Gilles Peterson and his Brownswood label by Ghostpoet, resulting in the February release of his debut album ‘The Keychain Collection’. Heavyweight endorsements […]