Manchester and Salford certainly are emitting an eclectic range of raw and resonant new sounds. Consider recent successes such as the album ‘Columbia’ from The Blinders and slightly earlier in the year the highly regarded ‘We are ILL’ from ILL, who are now supporting The Lovely Eggs and going on a UK tour.
There are plenty of releases to check out too, with German Shepherd Records issuing a wide range of new material, including the debut from Dominic Carlton Jones ‘Salford Punk Poetry Sadness Death New Life’ and Poppycock with ‘Iggy Pop’. And from the masters of spoken word and blistering beats STOCKSNSKINS, there’s a new 3 track EP ‘Dizzy Heights’ out on the 2nd of November, available for pre-order now.
A number of exciting celebrations of music and words are also upcoming in and around Manchester, including the innovative WAM festival at The Night & Day Café this 18th – 21st October (8 live acts, 5 DJs, and almost a dozen spoken word performers in total) curated by Dave Haslam and featuring the likes of KAZE, LIINES, The Orielles, Fujiya & Miyagi and a spoken-word Sunday from the city’s much-loved Verbose. This is set to be a unique event of fresh creativity, cutting-edge music and a great showcase for the wonder of words. Another gig the city is certainly looking forward to is Brix & The Extricated bringing their album launch to Night People on the 25th October.
Brix & The Extricated
Another date to watch out for in Manchester is the 8th of November, as the legendary ex-CAN frontman Damo Suzuki returns to Manchester for a very special one-off improvised performance at Aatma supported by local ‘sound carriers’ ILL and Trianglecuts, with doors from 8pm onwards. The legendary Louder Than Words festival is also taking place in November from the 9-11th at Oxford Street’s Principal Hotel, with a packed range of special guests and speakers including Eliza Carthy in conversation, Ian Rankin tracking his life in 10 albums and much more.
Foundations Festival is also coming to The Peer Hat and Aatma in the last month of the year (14th -15th December), a gathering of cutting edge music, artistry and creative community with ‘The Community Action Stage’ chaired by John Robb and featuring a whole host of panellists, plus there’s live music from ILL, HUSK and many more, as well as a headline DJ set from Max Tundra, immersive installations and HAUNT Manchester presenting ‘Black Christmas’. And that’s just a small example of what’s on offer.
And if that wasn’t enough, here are some releases to set your sights (and ears) on too…
KAZE – Conversation (Single)
Manchester duo KAZE – Amy Webber and Graham McCusker – serve up emotive and uplifting slices of prog-pop which certainly do not shy away from delving into deeper themes and feelings. Their latest track ‘Conversation’, out on October 12th arrives in the same week as World Mental Health Day (10th October), and appropriately so, considering this track opens up the importance of reflecting on our own thoughts and taking time for ourselves. The point seems emphasized and articulated thanks to a crisp, clear rhythm topped with Webber’s stand-out vocals which weigh every word with felt importance.
The song speaks of over-saturation, unfurling over situations like ‘every time I sit down, there’s music on the radio’, though followed through with the realisation that sometimes a moment to ourselves can be the most soothing thing: ‘I need to have a conversation with myself’. Warm harmonies, jazz-tinged keys, soaring voice and plush guitars, all with some welcome variations and aspects of the unexpected in the song structure. This is a catchy piece with a moulded message, all within a perfectly formed song that lasts just over three minutes. With a luscious guitar solo to boot, let this sound surge around you.
Factory Acts – ‘Are You the Singer?’ (EP)
Photo: with thanks to Shay Rowan
In their latest EP release, Salford-based, Anglo-Irish dark electro duo Factory Acts are facing up to the question typically asked of female artists and instrumentalists in the industry – ‘Are you the singer?’: said so often out of prejudice, ignorance or in an attempt to belittle. Instead, the title track of the EP turns that question upside-down through enchanting electro-dance beats along with vocal contributions from talented women and trans individuals. Here stories of condescension, confusion and kicking-ass can be heard in an utterly unique 15.44-minute tour-de-force, with contributors including the likes of Rose Niland, Whitney Bluzma and Una Baines.
On the EP, which will be released on October 13th via AnalogueTrash, just in time for Cassette Store Day (with cassettes available of course – and they are orange!), the title track stands as a profound piece of recalled experience made resonant, even more moving, through music. The voices always retain their volume above the intense yet eloquent electronica, both meshing together to emphasize the irony and injustice of the question ‘Are you the singer?’. This a track which challenges, changes minds and charges up the body to dance, all in one impressive unit. The EP also includes an ‘Are You the Singer?’ Radio Edit (4.39mins) and a brilliant remix of Factory Acts’ politically punchy and profound ‘Leave the World to Us’, originally from their 2017 ‘Second Amendment’ EP. This is a valuable piece of social documentary as well as a skilled piece of music. Give it a listen.
ARGH KiD – FRANK (single)
Photo: with thanks to Paul Husband
An urban worder meets edgy, emphatic music with an almost ska-like feel – Manchester’s much-loved Cult Poet ARGH KiD is releasing a track ‘FRANK’: the first smash single from his upcoming (March 2019) album ‘Haven for Heathens’. This track, released on 26th October, stands-out as a celebration of the articulate ability of the spoken word approach to convey meaning with crafted attitude, irony and the ability to stick two fingers firmly in the face of ignorant elites. In the words of ARGH KiD: “Frank is a toast to the people I know that despite their social status won’t be held back from “living their best life”, As the song says they’re plastic spoons trying to get a taste of this Eton Trifle we live in.”
Frank means business – political and punchy with brilliantly layered beats, lashings of style and an uproarious, urban pacing which makes the listener move. Recorded at the legendary Blueprint Studios, this is a unique and exciting release fizzing with working class insight, well-weighted wordsmithery and music which makes it even more of a hit. Love it! For a sneaky preview visit twitter: @arghkid
Springfield Elementary – Get Off and Smile (Single)
The pulse of punk channelled into a four-piece band bristling with energy, intensity and yet still an intriguing sense of humour – it’s Springfield Elementary with their latest release ‘Get Off and Smile’, out now. Billy Goodwin (Vocals/Guitar), Brad Lewis (Lead Guitar), Liam Moffat (Bass) and Chris Tomkinson (Drums) deliver a deft dose of guitar-led gutsiness. Following on from their earlier snarling single of ‘Ready Salted Psycho’, the lads are back – and bringing something even more sped-up and zany: in a good way. ‘Get Off and Smile’ sounds a little bit like something unravelling: all lived experience, foot-felt rhythms and visceral vocal drawl, wrapped up in a succinct and satisfying track.
The video complements this well – a kind of spliced together series of live footage, showing the band in various ventures and mishaps. Nothing is overdone, this is deliberate, wholly-enjoyable music. The single was recorded by Jay Temple of Locean and can be found on Spotify, as well as across other retailers. Fancy a dose of them live? Catch Springfield Elementary gigging at Manchester’s much-loved Oldham Street venue The Castle on Friday 31st October, with Slow Knife.
Brix & The Extricated – Breaking State (Album)
A new album from the brilliant Brix & The Extricated, ‘Breaking State’ is out on the 26th of October on the Grit Over Glamour label – a sonically sizzling, socially stripping smash of an LP following on from their debut ‘Part 2’ in 2017. From the icy opener of ‘Alaska’ which bristles with a bold charge of bass and a ‘total blackout coming down now’ to the tactile, visceral voltage of ‘Dog Face’ and the slow, synchronised skill weighting the emotion behind ‘American Skies’ before an almost militaristic upbeat opening reflection: this is an eclectic album.
The group contains former members of The Fall, but rather than noodling over nostalgia, this band turn reminiscence into resonance: unfurling intelligent, intense music which is unapologetic in its past, present and future relevance. There are resonant spaces to reflect, as well as post-punk punches of tracks which rally an outcry: think ‘Sleazebag’ and ‘Going Strong’, as well as the brimming bathos behind the final number ‘Unrecognisable’. This is an album that doesn’t just get into your head but will be surging through your veins. Brilliant. The album launch takes place in Manchester at Princess Street venue Night People on the 25th of October, followed by a UK tour. Get your order in now, or even better, get a ticket. The band will also be playing on BBC 6 Music’s Live in Session with Marc Riley on the 16th of October, from 7pm.
St Lucifer – Music is Violence (Album)
It’s certainly been a turbulent few years for this Manchester-based unit, throwing together post-punk with amplified electronica, majestic metal riffs, deep delving basslines and a naughty Nord to boot. And all that’s besides personal upheaval and a line-up change of half the band: goodbye lead vocalist Alex Lee and percussionist Charlie Bergmann and hello Charlotte Winchcombe (formerly of Action Directe/Syd.31) on Lead Guitar and Alice Class on drums. With this change St Lucifer has developed a significantly heavier feel, Winchcombe’s guitar gripping the guts of the tracks and lifting a throbbing core of driving sound above those satisfying electronic pulses – after all, music is violence. For a flavour, check out the Crucible EP.
The album – out on the 23rd of November on AnalogueTrash – is a genre-warping wonder of incessant beats and intense instrumentation: the kind of sound which should drip from surfaces, a liquid weight of longing and lust. From tracks like ‘All Lines Lead Forward’, based on a song written almost 20 years ago by the original members David Fox (now also lead vocals, as well as Nord, guitar and arrangement) and John Mitchell (blistering bass and TECH), to the gripping guitar and synth of ‘Raise The Dead’ (featuring the vocal flair of Still Forever’s Amy Griffiths), plus pieces of pop-meets-perjury-smashed out in ‘6 Bathyspheres (I’ll Never Get Used to This)’ and ‘Crucible’. Describing this album is more than a challenge. Be the victim of some wonderfully voluminous violence unlike anything out there at the moment and get it pre-ordered for your ears – keep an eye out for it on The AnalogueTrash website https://www.analoguetrash.com/releases. Or even better, get along to the album launch on November 22nd at Manchester’s Sandinista.
Words by Emily Oldfield