Thursday, July 08, 2010


Since it first opened it’s hard to find anyone with a bad word to say about Manchester's The Deaf Institute. Now I’m usually one of those indulging in the drooling love-in but c’mon let’s admit it – it’s far from perfect. The gents toilets are a whole two floors away from the Music Hall (and the wooden-then-stone steps are a killer for my decrepit knee-joints). And there’s no real ale on draught (true bottled ale is available and Sand Bar is only over the road) but these are serious failings.

Other than this the Deaf Institute is a model in tasteful architectural renovation, mixing period detail with effortless contemporary cool. The 300-capacity Music Hall has charm, character, a mirror-ball AND great sightlines and sound. And you can either sit OR stand. Since my first visit in summer 2008 a few months after it opened (Sweet Baboo, The Voluntary Butler Scheme and Walton Hesse) it's always struck me as "welcoming and decadent" at the same time.

Now to make good even better, The Deaf Institute has started a record label. Club night Suffering Jukebox has stealthily expanded operations into a label with recent and upcoming releases on vinyl and cassette tape (thus being as retro-futurist as its host building). The club night/label's great name alone (from a Silver Jews song) would probably deserve inclusion here. But then there’s the music.

Suffering Jukebox have made six songs available as a podcast (steam or download below) acting as part label-sampler, part statement of intent. And what fuzzy-edged lo-fi joys await: all unashamedly diy, delightfully spacey and big on melody. Excited about the new Best Coast record? Then check out Colleen Green immediately - you will not be disappointed. The VU-referencing simplicity of Milk Maid makes me melt. The initial rawness of Mazes is doused in bags of woo-hoo charm and fuzzy guitar. Former Bullies offer a subterranean field (or down a well?) recording and the previously applauded Brown Brogues finish off these seventeen and a half minutes with their primitive garage-thump. That's some statement.

I'm hooked - I hope will be too. If so, join me in investing in the (all-strictly-limited-edition) Suffering Jukebox forward catalogue.

Suffering Jukecast by Suffering Jukebox

1. Worship You - Colleen Green
2. Not Me - Milk Maid
3. Cenetaph (Slow Jamz Demo) - Mazes
4. Planeterium - Former Bullies
5. M&Ms - Colleen Green
6. You're Not Mine - Brown Brogues

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