Northern Quarter festival
There’s always talk of where the next wave of great Manchester bands is going to come from.
The spotlight is usually on the city’s Northern Quarter and the hipsters who hang out there. there’s plenty of good bands in this interzone but history has taught us that the key Manchester groups come from the less fashionable parts of town like ‘Europe’s biggest housing estate’ Wythenshawe a massive sprawling beast on the south of the city.
Johnny Marr and Billy Duffy came from here, the early Stone Roses coalesced near here and now there is a tight and cool little scene of bands who combine a scuzzy grit with a demon musicianship and short, sharp songs that are touched by the gold dust of genius like Frazer King, Dirty North and The Janice Graham Band.
These bands are perverse, not in a sex way (although even that may be true in some cases), perverse in the way that they could have it all but wilfully strike out on their own paths. Dirty North made one of the greatest demos I’ve ever heard- 21 killer songs and then opted to release their own records when they could have been the band to sound track this tumultuous year, luckily they are young enough to get back on track. Frazer King are so brilliantly eccentric that they will be massive, they have just signed to Blast First who brought the world Butthole Surfers and all those loopy post hardcore American bands- it’s a marriage made in heaven and they will be big news by christmas.
That leave Janice Graham, who are of course a band. The Wythenshawe madness means that they have name that is misleading in a perfect way. When they play, though, they make total sense, stripped down scruffy punky ska where every song is perfect. If punk ever did return this would be what it looked like, normal kids making brilliant music, unassuming odds n sods of youth in just so clothes playing brilliantly thought out and melodic tunes with sharp lyrics and great hooks.
Signed to Acid Jazz their debut singles, ‘No Money Honey’ was released earlier this year and they are starting to stretch out from the their hometown base, seeking an audience in the confused landscape where council estate kids just don’t fit into the media take on things.
They mash up the adrenalised rush of beat, the space of reggae, the bounce of ska and the urgency of punk rock into a thrilling rush of music and a re great live. It doesn’t take long to get the whole street at this outdoor gig jumping.
Musically they are like a machine with that natural loose feel of people who have grown up playing tother and spend every waking hour walking and talking their music- the perfect bands, the bands that live it, making magic out of the mundane and soundtracking their lives with bitter sweet two minute songs of pop perfection and all the time fronted by this skinny, underfed kid who sings and plays the most amazing complex bass lines that it is mind boggling to watch him do it.
Anyone who ever loved the thrill of normal kids making extraordinary music then Janice Graham are for you…