Friday, November 30, 2012


Deck the halls with... No, no, no. The only seasonal offerings to expect from music in Manchester this festive month as far as I'm concerned is the many servings of art-rock with side dishes of noise-pop, alt-folk, a new all dayer festival and the now traditional Cloud Sounds Xmas Bash. Christmas carols just aren't on the menu.

Y Niwl are a regular but thrilling fixture for the Cloud Sounds Xmas Bash. This year the Welsh surf-rockers are co-headlining with ace Liverpudlian flute-and-loop wrangler Laura J Martin ably supported by the cut-up alt-pop of Magic Arm, the country-grunge of The Wobbly Hearts and the Leicestershire folk-pop of The Junipers. Today is the last day to grab tickets at £4 before they go up to the still-recession-busting price of £6.

Shebeen is a new all-dayer festival across five venues in Withington with stages programmed by Comfortable On A Tightrope, Denis Jones, Folklore Tapes and others. An excellent mix of the outré, the outsider and the original. Tickets are just £8 early bird rate.

As ever a mixtape of bands playing Manchester this month to help inform your gig-going decision-making - link in the post below this one

Manchester Gigs In Music Mixtape: December 2012 [65 mins / 74 MB] - download here.

Golden Grrrls New Pop [1.48] (16 Dec Shebeen Festival BUY TICKETS)
Allah-Las Don’t You Forget It [4.51] (13 Dec Night & Day BUY TICKETS)
MiSTOA pOLTSA Niagra Falls [8.02] (16 Dec Shebeen Festival BUY TICKETS)
U.S. Girls Jack [10.29] (8 Dec The Castle BUY TICKETS)
Boris Spoon [14.53] (5 Dec Islington Mill BUY TICKETS)
Waiters Vacillate Wildly [18.26] (16 Dec Shebeen Festival BUY TICKETS)
The Junipers Song To Selkie [21.06] (14 Dec Night & Day BUY TICKETS)
Magic Arm Move Out [23.46] (14 Dec Night & Day BUY TICKETS)
Buke & Gase Hiccup [28.12] (5 Dec Night & Day BUY TICKETS)
My Brightest Diamond Reaching Through to the Other Side [31.49] (10 Dec Islington Mill BUY TICKETS)
Lower Dens Brains [36.48] (12 Dec Deaf Institute BUY TICKETS)
Slim Twig Young Hussies [40.45] (8 Dec The Castle BUY TICKETS)
Crooked Fingers Typhoon [45.28] (6 Dec The Castle BUY TICKETS)
Olympian Change Will Come [49.57] (19 Dec Night & Day BUY TICKETS)
Woodbine & Ivy Band Gently Johnny [55.01] (7 Dec Sacred Trinity Church BUY TICKETS)
Trevor Moss & Hannah-Lou A Proud Surrender [58.53] (9 Dec Salford Lad's Club BUY TICKETS)
Bridget Hayden Waste [65.15] (16 Dec Shebeen Festival BUY TICKETS)

And not forgetting:
1 Dec Marika Hackman The Castle / 1 Dec Brown Brogues Secret Location / 1 Dec The Raveonettes Sound Control / 2 Dec Willy Mason Ruby Lounge / 2 Dec Quiet Loner The Castle / 2 Dec Mono Sound Control / 2 Dec Matthew Dear Deaf Institute / 2 Dec Chilly Gonzales RNCM / 2 Dec Evan Dando & Juliana Hatfield Academy / 3 Dec Admiral Fallow Deaf Institute / 3 Dec Yeasayer Academy / 4 Dec Martha Wainwright The Ritz / 4 Dec Karima Francis The Castle / 4 Dec Stars Sound Control / 5 Dec This Is The Kit Night & Day / 6 Dec Mark Mulcahy Night & Day / 6 Dec Fidlar Soup Kitchen / 6 Dec James Blake Gorilla / 6 Dec Wild Beasts Sound Control / 6 Dec Temple Songs + Sex Hands Dulcimer / 7 Dec The Wave Pictures Night & Day / 7 Dec Beans On Toast Kraak / 8 Dec Death To The Strange + The Suns Kings Arms / 8 Dec Stealing Sheep Deaf Institute / 9 Dec Dawes Ruby Lounge / 9 Dec Josephine The Castle / 9 Dec Jo Rose & Monroe Hips Dulcimer / 12 Dec St Etienne The Ritz / 12 Dec Chris Cohen Trof Fallowfield / 13 Dec Beth Rowley The Castle / 13 Dec The Slow Show The Roadhouse / 15 Dec Slow Club Gorilla / 15 Dec The Hives Academy / 16 Dec Pete Roe + Emily And The Woods The Castle / 16 Dec Natives Sound Control / 19 Dec Ren Harvieu Ruby Lounge / 19 Dec Tim Wheeler + Emmy The Great / 20 Dec Hookworms + Kult Country Soup Kitchen / 21 Dec PINS + Female Band The Bunker


Manchester Gigs in Music Mixtape: December 2012

Or download mixtape [65 mins / 74 MB] here.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


The exquisitely monikered electronic duo of Adrian Anthony Flanagan and Dean Honer have created a beguiling, gritty, poetic beauty of a record that is part psycho-geographical field-trip, part history lesson and part contemporary state-of-the-nation address. “Practical Electronics enthusiasts from Sheffield, make spooked out spoken word LP with Maxine Peake” is how The Eccentronic Research Council underplay their achievements on “1612 Underture” an album based around “the mistreatment and memory of the Pendle Witches” in this the 400th anniversary year of their deaths.

There are musical backdrops and interludes of library music corruptions, Kraftwerk-like machine pulses and windy drones over the course of this 37 minute journey o’er hill and back in time. But in the foreground is the narration – and latterly singing - from stage and screen actress Maxine Peake. You only need to listen to scene-setter ‘Autobahn 666 (Travelogue #1)’ to know that this is neither opportunistic celebrity casting nor novelty but a match made in rain-swept heaven (“Welcome to the all beautiful flowers, we need our rain”). By your third listen, it’s inconceivable anyone else could deliver this front-woman role that pulls all the time and space dimensions of “1612 Underture” together so well.

Peake brings a flinty, hard-edged Northern attitude to the record whether it’s a road-trip into the heart of Lancashire in the travelogues (the elegiac ‘From The Grave To The Freshcos Late (Travelogue #4)’ is particular moving), the bitter, first-person re-telling of the biased trial and persecution the ‘witches’ (‘Trial By Jiggery Pokery’ and others) or the angry, final condemnation of contemporary mores and celebrity obsessions in ‘Ghost Of Old Lizzy Southerns Returns’. There is a rich eloquence to this demotic poetry whether modern or ancient, whether condemnatory or conversational (“tourism is a funny old fox-trot in Pendle Town... how do we market the loss and hanging of women?”). As well as the anger and observational sharpness that ridicules David Cameron, the EDL, Jeremy Kyle and Matthew Wright, there is also a winning humour (“curse the Twentieth Century Yorkshire versus Lancashire bread-cake versus barm-cake debacle...[pause] it’s a barm-cake”) to off-set the analogue spookiness worthy of Broadcast at their most occult and morbid.

“1612 Underture” is released on Jane Weaver’s Bird imprint which to date has concentrated on female folk singers either current or overlooked from earlier decades. At first the shadowy and bearded Eccentronic Research Council appear unlikely bed-fellows with the label. But their collaboration with Maxine Peake not only has strong feminist leanings in its uncovering of injustice and prejudice both then and now, it also fulfils a definition of folk as music of the people. I saw some Twitter shock that this album wasn’t included in Top 100 albums of the year from Manchester’s Piccadilly Records. The more I play it, the more I agree. It’s a fascinating listen and one that deserves to reach far beyond its hard graftin' Northern patch.

The Eccentronic Research Council 1612 Underture [BUY]

Monday, November 26, 2012


If this is your first encounter with Glaswegian singer-songwriter Yusuf Azak, your initial reaction may be who has cruelly committed this poor emphysema sufferer to tape? Yes his distinctive husky rasps, often double-tracked to emphasise the breathless wheeziness, may take a moment to adjust to, but once you've done this you'll find a man not only in rude health but definitely worth spending time listening to. Also if this is your first listen to Azak, this is actually his second album in addition to (at least) two EPs. But where you start is less important. Because in many ways “Go Native” is only a notional development to “Turn On The Long Wire”; “lighter, cleaner and more straightforward” as label Song, By Toad puts it.

Solo guitarists can fall into two distinct camps - intricate finger-picking folkies keeping it clean and authentic or those who drape everything in loops and effects and multi-instrumental trickery. As with his debut long-player Azak steers his own particular course between these poles.

‘(I Would Sooner) Fade To Love’ on the one hand is as sparse as an antique Alan Lomax folk-blues recording. ‘American Eyes’ on the other has a honey-golden glide to it created by a restrained string section-like hum behind the sharply plucked, acoustic guitar and the double- (treble-?) tracked vocals which create a cotton-wool embrace. ‘Sanctuary’ has an engaging elegance with the acoustic guitar rolled in with aching violin, and ripples of concert grand piano. Yusuf Azak doesn’t often sound like a man smiling when singing in his thoughtful knotted brow kind of way but I challenge you, once you’ve embraced that vocal style, not to be heart-warmed by the resonant yearning of ‘Smile Tactics’ or the mellotron-like friendliness of ‘Immunity Or Rescue’ or the relaxed swing of ‘Move Me Starlet’ even though the latter is quite lyrically cryptic.

IMMUNITY OR RESCUE from Salome Oggenfuss on Vimeo.

It’s a doom-sayer’s view / salvation is nil” is the opening couplet of the title song; the following tune ‘Losing My Aim’ dances around a complex, cloudy relationship (“I’m the enemy, you’re my saviour”) but even this pair sonically never sound overly gloomy. Intense pregnant pauses and with some wild gypsy violin in the former yes but both are curiously captivating rather than engaged in certificated hopelessness.

“Go Native” feels a more confident as well as cleaner record – it is still relatively brief at 34 minutes but several of its eleven tracks leisurely stretch to 4 minutes and it adds two tracks and seven minutes to its predecessor’s running time. Like-minded and familiar to its forerunner it is true but on balance maybe the first-time listener should here. Sadly I suspect there are too many first-time listeners to Yusuf Azak out there. Please help rectify this – wherever you start.

Yusuf Azak Go Native [BUY]

Monday, November 19, 2012


For a record named after a city shoe shop, this EP from Laura J Martin and Mike Lindsay (Tuung/Cheek Mountain Thief) sounds strangely maritime. Salty tales with a mysterious, bobbing allure from somewhere out amid (or under) the Atlantic waves that sound very distant from a dry-land Reykjavik boutique. The recording session in Iceland, now home to the ex-Tuung man, that produced these songs was intended I think as work on the second Laura J Martin album but instead led to Bónus Skór. ‘No Soul's Treasure’ is like floating in a sealed bathysphere: a lullaby-like opening leading to dreamy murmur and hum with child-like wonder, reflective flute and unsteady violin that then decays into a solemn frazzle of fuzzy wheezes before ending with field recordings of conversing Icelandic voices (which re-appear to link each of the following tracks too).

‘Salt Hangs Heavy’ ripples and ebbs, with Laura J Martin’s voice at its most Kate Bush-like over a bubbly bass bounce whilst ‘Fish's Tail’ is a duet, with Lindsay and Martin trading alternate, short lines complicitly over a Portico Quartet-like nautical pulse. ‘Applecart’ feels closest to a companion song to this year’s “The Hangman Tree” and the most land-locked song of the EP: a halting, steady rhythm work song for orchard hands or a song about blame? Even this most lucid of numbers holds its mystery tight. If many of songs on Laura J Martin’s debut album were mini globe-trotting narratives and modern fairy-tales, this collaborative EP is not only more leisurely but also more about mood and brackish atmospheres.

I haven’t heard Mike Lindsay’s Cheek Mountain Thief project so I don’t know is this four-track EP due on Static Caravan at the end of this month (so expect it in December?) is a midpoint between the two artists. But whether a midpoint or biased towards one or the other, the duo are certainly bringing out the best in each other. This is a continually fascinating EP, both familiar and foreign, that feels like the magnetic call of the mermaid (and mer-man). No track to embed yet but as soon as one is available I’ll add it below. But if you trust my judgement, or even if you don’t, you can pre-order Bónus Skór now.

Bónus Skór Bónus Skór [BUY]

Sunday, November 18, 2012


"I'm not very good at ending songs". Apostille aka Michael Kasparis manages the intense parts before those abrupt endings well though. In ripped silk shirt and over pre-programmed industrial beats and shrill stabs of noisy drones, he paces the stage and sings (rants) about reputations, appeasement and contempt. It is not Swans loud but is still shaking the denim of my jeans with its concentration of dark rage. The final song introduces some tuneful melody to proceedings – would have liked to see more of this light-and-dark rather than just the bleak, threatening blast.

La La Vasquez are a three-piece from the South of England (they seem a bit hazy as to exactly where) who’ve played Manchester (and Salford) six times, were featured on the June 2011 mix tape but this is my first time seeing them live. And boy are they good. Unassuming, head-down indie-pop which blends equal parts Vivian Girls, Sarah Records and The Chills but sounds distinct and fresh not derivative. My only complaint was it was an all too brief seven song set. Looking forward to their seventh visit already.

How to describe Verity Susman’s set? Well it was more audio-visual performance art than straight music set, reminding me of Laurie Anderson’s multi-media live shows that investigate and play with identity and gender. Against a backdrop of cut-up video and wearing a 70s drop ‘tache, the Electrelane singer alternated between eerie effects on a sax (breathing/talking/sucking into it), distorted vocal loops, washes of noisy keyboard and voice recognition software renditions of pulp fiction (“agitated groping, agitated groping”). She may have finished with a five minute song that could have come from “Rock It To The Moon” (maybe it was an Electrelane song?) but the proceeding thirty minute piece was of a very different and experimental bent. If found it compelling viewing even with a degree of repetition musically, visually and thematically.

Islington Mill can be unforgiving. Bands have to sound-check in full view and close-up proximity to the crowd. And Veronica Falls do not appear happy with the sound in their monitors – it is all way too quiet. An off-stage band discussion with the sound engineer ensues before the quartet take to the stage. Thank goodness they did, even if sound issues were not resolved to their liking – we would have been robbed of an excellent set including four new songs.

Roxanne joked about messing up early song ‘Found Love In A Graveyard’ and I’m not sure the band were ever fully happy with the sound – I also found the drums too low in the mix from the other side of the monitors – but the contrast between the airy almost carefree boy/girl vocals and the intense, tight thrum of guitars, bass and drums tonight was superb. The single from earlier this year ‘My Heart Beats’ plus other four songs from forthcoming album “Waiting For Something To Happen” sounded as essential as those on their debut. Plus in the encores we got their cover of Roky Erickson’s ’Starry Eyes’. Yes they’ve been together since 2009 but each time I see or hear them, Veronica Falls go from strength to strength.

The Set List:
Beachy Head
Right Side Of My Brain
Buried Alive
Bad Feeling
My Heart Beats
The Box
Found Love In A Graveyard
Broken Toy
Wedding Day
Come On Over
Starry Eyes
New Song

Tonight was part of the eighth birthday celebrations for promoters-publishers-label Comfortable On A Tightrope: a weekend of eight bands at Islington Mill with other gigs to come this month. What a way to celebrate. There was some stiff competition on the gig front this Saturday night but Islington Mill was sadly not full. With strong line-ups and headliners of the stature of The Pastels and then Veronica Falls, this should have been a packed sell-out. I’m sure Comfortable On A Tightrope are not going anywhere but make sure you support their future label and gig endeavours. We need their astute and artful musical selections.

Friday, November 16, 2012


A record attempting to capture the sound of “the ghost of a robot child”? Now that was always going to pique my interest in the maudlin and the odd-ball. But songwriter Michael James Hall, who together with arranger/producer/collaborator Mark Estall is Ghost Carriage Phantoms, has made a record that maybe one of the most mainstream sounding that will appear on these pages. Or maybe that’s has the potential to be mainstream. Either way, this assertion may strike you itself as odd when you learn this nine track debut record swings from Red House Painters sadcore (‘Heart Of A Boy‘ or ‘Woody Allen Movie’) to a single wordless song containing both distorted hall-of-mirrors gauziness AND pummelling Battles-like math-rock wigout (‘Good Luck And Good Bowling’) and then to a spoken word romance set in a condemned cinema that recalls the dramatic verse of ‘Under Milk Wood’. Now there’s diverse for you.

Despite this apparent eclecticism, downbeat murmur-pop is the foundation of ‘The Boy Lives’. And I think what makes me say ‘mainstream potential’ is Hall’s voice – yes he’s murmuring but it’s a friendly mumble, rather than off-key whining infected by terminal depression or adenoidal dysfunction (a recent comment thrown my way: “I like most of the music you listen to... until they start to sing”). So it’s not difficult to imagine the quiet emoting of ‘Videotape’ appealing to an Elbow fan or to hear an echo of Jarvis Cocker in the husky and conspiratorial ‘A Special Kind Of Cold’. And even where there is a Kozelek gloominess it is often cheerily embedded into an affable electro-folk shuffle (Babybird also springs to mind). The glorious ‘The Psychedelic Furs’ pushes this further: its fantasy world reveries (“Paul Westerberg is a household name / and we still love him / even though he sold out”) and self-deprecating humour demands a rotating mirror-ball to accompany its carefree spin across the ballroom of dreams.

It is a varied record as the list above suggests but it hangs together well; it undoubtedly feels the careful vision of one man (supported by his arranger/producer) rather than a too-many-chefs, over-cooked broth. It keeps its drones and quirkiness in patient check so that yes this is sparse bedroom pop but of a clever, likeable and quite sophisticated brand. Will "The Boy Lives" sell in its millions to the masses? Who knows - but I’d definitely move quick to get one of the 500 hand-packaged and numbered CDs.

Ghost Carriage Phantoms The Boy Lives [BUY]

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

KEMPER NORTON Collision/Detection v6

This sixth release in the Collision/Detection series is by Brighton resident Kemper Norton, once part of "the moribund Cornish slurtronic folk scene". Where do you go from there? How could anyone pen a better - or even an equal - description to capture the mood of these four tracks? As you will remember Collision/Detection is a collaborative series of releases throughout 2012 – version 4 with Hong Kong In The 60s featured here in July. But as the year progresses, it’s the stark differences not the overlaps that are becoming more and more apparent with each edition.

Kemper Norton’s contribution to the series is a dark, tense, head-messing listen with the four tracks – all sparsely titled by single-word pronouns – seamlessly flowing into each other. It makes an unnerving listening experience in which rural isolation and domestic violence become a frighteningly real and intimidating presence.

‘Him’ marries a stark folk tale of wife-beating narrated via ominous David Tibet-like spoken word passages with overlapping spooky drones and library music corruptions that recalls the sculptured noise of Coil. It finishes with snatches of villager voices – whether genially carousing in the pub or planning a lynching it’s difficult to discern, which only adds to the sense of threat. The anxious instrumental ‘Us’ would fit on an Autechre record: it’s built on distorted car-alarm pulses, spacey glitches and longwave interference. It is relatively the most becalmed of the four tracks but its restlessness does not bring calm. ‘Them’, another instrumental, is all swirling, spectral foghorn groans and creaks before the final ‘Her’ which contrasts mechanical grind with sing-song lullaby about vanquishing the devil (”he can’t have a harbouring here”). The track fades out, the tension subsides, but there’s little sense of relief or conclusion. A shadowy, austere record but a powerful and all-consuming listen. Recommended - but not too close to bed-time.

Kemper Norton Collision/Detection v6 [BUY or BUY]

Monday, November 12, 2012

R. SEILIOG Shuffles

I first came across R. Seiliog as the drummer in H. Hawkline but solo slots supporting his band at Green Man Festival and in Manchester, showed his own music taking a different direction. Rather than the raucous acid-garage-rock of H. Hawkline live, R. Seiliog favours experimental minimalist compositions, swapping the drummer’s stool for the boffin’s analogue laboratory. So this five track EP (10" vinyl and digital download via Peski Records) updates Cluster and other Seventies Kraut technicians with a series of rippling metronomic instrumentals.

Whereas the friendly, glassy clockwork whirrings and found sounds of ‘Ty80 Legmelt’ are closest to the shuffles of the EP title, other tracks have an edge and more precise movement. The celestial trills and motorik beat of ‘Sturdy Seams’ is not unlike a more experimental off-cut of early Stereolab. In ‘To Be A Sgerbwd’ Geiger counter crackle and frantic oscillations give way to pleasing Neu! komische chimes which indeed suggest the - fragile dancing - skeleton of the title. ‘Gee Geffyl Sbaeneg’ opens with twanging guitar reverb that frays into a mysterious shimmer and ‘Crawl Back Butterfly’ moves from gently overlapping micro-loops and pulses to foreground one impatiently loud and intense loop for its second half. As well as German groups, I’m also reminded of Chicago post-rockers Tortoise, particularly the sparser, quieter moments of “Millions Now Living Will Never Die”.

R. Seiliog cites avant-garde pioneers Terry Riley and La Monte Young as inspiration and it could be easy to locate this EP as simply cryptically titled cerebral exercises and tributes. But its subtle mutations and circular patterns - much-like the illustrated cover by Sion Alun – coalesce into something original, multi-dimensional and charmingly compelling.

R. Seiliog Shuffles [BUY]

Saturday, November 10, 2012

JOHNNY 5TH WHEEL AND THE COWARDS Music To Shake 'n' Shuffle To

‘Happy Clappy/Doom Jazz’ is the third track on the second collection from Lancashire's Johnny5thWheelandthecowards. Well, if the cap fits... the title of that breezy brass-and-harmonica party hoe-down doubles nicely as a musical summary of a good part of this rum collection of vaudevillian cabaret pop. But it’s not all rag-time japes - said song also contains the line “Bad juju on the rise / feels like Crowley is pissing in my eyes" neatly demonstrating how everything is not as straightforward as it first appears in the looking glass world of Mr 5thWheel and his merry troubadours. This dark-and-light album follows earlier singles including the AA side ‘Nancy/In My Laboratory’ (“Jacques Brel quietly rakish with a folky air” and “a nifty piece of boffin-pop” respectively was the opinion here back in May) and is a piquant smorgasbord of tall tales, askance observations and relationships-with-a-twist delivered with some fine enunciation (no lyric sheet needed here).

So this 36 minute, 12 song sojourn includes stop-overs for the tipsy piano-and-barbershop apology (to a son or family pet?) of 'Spike' and the 3am agree-to-disagree relationship soft-shuffle duet/duel of ‘Conversations With You When You're Not There’; the smoky suburban crime jazz-blues of ‘Where Did I Sleep Last Night?’, the cafe accordion waltz of self-doubt ‘My Finest Hour’ and the bowed saw wail of country lament ‘Blame In Campodia’. Maybe not as deviant or wildly maverick as their copy book suggests, the knotty moods and assorted settings for songs are as varied as the appropriated styles.

As the skiffle-calypso of ‘Yes We're Stealing Your Soul’ admits: “Yes we're stealing your soul / but you were pissing it down the drain”. For a nation of time-wasters listening to too much mainstream earnest ‘indie’ ear-drool, Johnny5thWheelandthecowards should be a “stout and red wine mixed” antidote of clever, engaging pop. Sadly their sweetly companionable if not wholly soul-stealing tune-smithery will probably go over-looked.

Johnny5thWheelandthecowards Music To Shake 'n' Shuffle To [BUY]

Monday, November 05, 2012

MOWBIRD The Quiet Despair Of The Starship Enterprise

There are six EPs or singles by Mowbird already up on Bandcamp and to add to that impressive list out this week is a new EP from the “surf-punk quartet from Wrexham” available as a digital download and limited edition CD. After the raucous rattle of May’s “We Sell Maternity Swimwear” EP, freshly re-pressed as a CDR in hand-stitched slip case (“some packages may contain high quality Welsh air”), this November EP draws from a broader musical palette. That’s not say they’ve lost their lo-fi bite in their fine re-working of 90s and 00s US alt-rock but there’s some neo-psych moodiness in there too.

‘Aufladen! Aufladen!’ flicks from Malkmus meander to Times New Viking distort-pop racket in a neat sub-two minute tale of a killer girlfriend. Second track ‘Hey Athena’ seems to be taking said murderous sweetheart on holiday (“Let’s vacation!”) in a gleeful Mazes-meets-Black Lips garage-pop sunshine party blast. ‘And We Have A Winner’ slows things down with a delicious combination of woozy analogue sway and underwatery chug before the tumbling-down-the-stairs fairground organ and repeated questioning of ‘Volunteer’ deliriously speed them up. ‘The Quiet Despair Of The Starship Enterprise’ does indeed sound like the lonely reflections of a planet-destroying space captain built upon strange, gliding sci-fi pulsations (with the gentlest of mournful nods to Grandaddy?).

Mowbird were one of the live highlights of Green Man for me this year. And I am utterly besmitten with the ‘We Sell Maternity Swimwear’ track. But this new EP shows are they are continually developing beyond that surf-punk sound. With this prolific yet quirky progression I cannot imagine it is not too long before one of the more adventurous major indie labels (Fatcat?) were to take an interest. However I’m not sure if Mowbird would be that interested. As these tunes and their email announcement for this EP shows, I think they are having too much fun in charge of their own lo-fi and hand-crafted destiny.

Mowbird The Quiet Despair Of The Starship Enterprise [BUY]

Friday, November 02, 2012


This mini-album is Kaatskill Mountains' third digital name-your-price release this year. On the cover of second release the EP “Soul Acceptance” from August, the duo (I’ve not been able to find any names anywhere thus far) appear as a loved-up cartoon boy-girl couple, all flower garlands and entwined octopus limb arms. Sweet. However the music of “50th Dead World”, my first encounter with the Manchester band, is a thunderous collision of Swans-like apocalyptic noise, crypto-Medieval spelling and bursts of dream-pop gospel elation.

Songs can finish abruptly, some are little more than sketches in quarrelsome noise (the 60 second shuddering mini-tantrum of ‘Dygnyty’ or the insistent angry threats of ‘Leave Her Alone’ ) and at 19 minutes long their first ‘album’ can feel like a cursory introduction. But it’s a memorable one. Even in the precious few months since the two earlier EPs you can hear how Kaatskill Mountains have developed their “gospel-pop-garage-noise” and how cleverly they deploy (just?) drums and guitar to create a weird array of sounds. The hypnotic instrumental ‘Praeyr’ is built on blacksmith anvil clang and what sounds like the noisy, whirring flutter of angel’s wings. ‘Lammas Tyde’ opens with warbling vocals, muezzin- like calling the faithful to prayer before fierce cymbal crashes and distorted waves of metallic guitar come in. The range of tempo on the record is marked by the rattling garage-punk urgency of declaration-of-faith ‘True Vyne’ and the sedate(d), soulful ‘Azryal's Tomb’, the album’s longest track and its most atypical. But it’s the clattering, spiritual clamour in between that sticks in the mind even when the subject matter is not devotional: listen to the angelic choir-boy delight in which the lines “I’m a murderer / can’t you tell?” are sung in ‘Murderer’.

If “I’m a lyar / there’s no heaven there for me” is how Kaatskill Mountains open the record, they close it with ‘Aryval To The Dead World’: the sound of the Rapture, the glorious transportation of souls to a better world, in one minute of shimmering, wordless ecstatic howls and golden splashes of cymbals. Whether this is true faith put through its pace over eleven brief songs or the band’s spiritual dimension is an aesthetic one, doesn’t concern me: musically it works. Noisy, distinctive and joyous: praise be.

Kaatskill Mountains 50th Dead World [BUY]

Thursday, November 01, 2012


And if you thought October was busy... there's more gigs, more clashes and more all-dayers in November. This month Comfortable On A Tightrope is Eight so is putting on several gigs including an excellent eight band weekend at Islington Mill. Same venue and others around Salford play host to Orbit: A Show In Seven Parts this weekend which promises choirs on roofs and outlandish far-out sounds from the team behind Sounds From The Other City. A band from each event featured below.

As ever a mixtape of bands playing Manchester this month to help inform your gig-going decision-making - link in the post below this one

Manchester Gigs In Music Mixtape: November 2012 [60 mins / 68 MB] - download here.

Hooded Fang Clap [2.41] (9 Nov The Castle BUY TICKETS)
The Soft Moon Die Life [6.13] (26 Nov Ruby Lounge BUY TICKETS)
Fucked Up Queen Of Hearts [10.50] (14 Nov Deaf Institute BUY TICKETS)
Schwervon American Idle [12.35] (1 Nov The Castle BUY TICKETS)
Owl Babies Come Down [15.22] (2 Nov Dulcimer BUY TICKETS)
Sea Pinks A Pattern Recognition [17.35] (16 Nov Islington Mill BUY TICKETS)
DIIV How Long Have You Known? [21.06] (20 Nov Deaf Institute BUY TICKETS)
Holograms Chasing My Mind [23.35] (10 Nov The Castle BUY TICKETS)
Planningtorock The Breaks [28.06] (4 Nov Islington Mill BUY TICKETS)
Halls Roses For The Dead [32.01] (12 Nov Soup Kitchen BUY TICKETS)
Golden Fable Sugarloaf [35.32] (9 Nov Kraak BUY TICKETS)
Hey Rosetta Yer Spring [40.23] (8 Nov Soup Kitchen BUY TICKETS)
Great Lake Swimmers Easy Come Easy Go [44.48] (30 Nov Night & Day BUY TICKETS)
Arbouretum False Spring [50.23] (6 Nov Kraak BUY TICKETS)
Kaatskill Mountains Murderer [52.29] (6 Nov Kraak BUY TICKETS)
Ty Segall Band I Bought My Eyes [56.45] (8 Nov Deaf Institute BUY TICKETS)
Richard Youngs Sky Is Upon You [60.23] (3 Nov Kraak BUY TICKETS)

Not forgetting:
1 Nov Julia Stone + Paul Thomas Saunders RNCM / 1 Nov Tame Impala The Ritz / 1 Nov 2:54 Soup Kitchen / 1 Nov The Heavy Deaf Institute / 1 Nov Pale Seas Trof Fallowfield / 2 Nov Kult Country + Peace Signs Islington Mill / 2 Nov Pandora's Box: Johann Jóhannsson Ensemble RNCM / 3 Nov The Dreaming Spires + Walton Hesse Ducie Bridge / 3 Nov Reptile Youth Night & Day / 3 Nov How To Dress Well Soup Kitchen / 3 Nov Polica Academy 3 / 3 Nov Jesca Hoop Deaf Institute / 4 Nov Orbit Islington Mill / 4 Nov Darkstar Soup Kitchen / 4 Nov Ringo Deathstarr Night & Day / 5 Nov Darren Hanlon The Castle / 5 Nov Laetitia Sadier Deaf Institute / 6 Nov Crowns The Castle / 6 Nov Death Grips Sound Control / 7 Nov Julian Cope Ruby Lounge / 7 Nov Savages Gorilla / 8 Nov Easter The Black Lion / 8 Nov Jesse Rose + We Are Willow The Castle / 9 Nov I Am Kloot st Philips Church / 9 Nov Sea Of Bees Night & Day / 9 Nov The Wedding Present / 9 Nov Still Corners Soup Kitchen / 10 Nov Post War Glamour Girls Roadhouse / 10 Nov Lau Deaf Institute / 11 Nov Jonny Kearney & Lucy Farrell Kings Arms / 11 Nov El Perro Del Mar The Castle / 11 Nov Saint Saviour Trof Fallowfield / 11 Nov Simon Scott + P Jørgensen + riverrun Kraak / 12 Nov Exitmusic The Castle / 12 Nov Dingus Khan Night & Day / 12 Nov The Crookes Sound Control / 12 Nov Buck 65 Deaf Institute / 12 Nov Alabama Shakes Academy 1 / 12 Nov Broken Hands + Deaf Club Trof Fallowfield / 13 Nov Haim Deaf Institute / 14 Nov Saint Lou Lou Soup Kitchen / 14 Nov The Revival Tour Academy / 15 Nov Neil Halstead Kings Arms / 15 Nov Moulettes Soup Kitchen / 15 Nov The Neighbourhood Deaf Institute / 16 Nov Glissando + Fieldhead + The Rustle Of The Stars Sacred Trinity Church / 16 November The Pastels + Former Bullies + By The Sea Islington Mill / 16 Nov Destroyer Sound Control / 16 Nov La Shark The Castle / 16 Nov BEAK> Deaf Institute / 16 Nov KXP + Plank! Soup Kitchen / 16 Nov Supersilent RNCM / 17 Nov Swans Sound Control / 17 November Veronica Falls + Verity Susman + La La Vasquez + Apostile Islington Mill / 18 Nov Gravenhurst Night & Day / 19 Nov Meursault Night & Day / 20 Nov Goodnight Lenin The Castle / 20 Nov Matthew Collings + Focal Gaol + Ryoko Akama Kraak / 20 Nov The Revival Hour Band On The Wall / 21 Nov The Dirty Three Manchester Cathedral / 21 Nov The Spinto Band Ruby Lounge /21 Nov Paatos Night & Day / 21 Nov Stubborn Heart Trof Fallowfield / 22 Nov First Aid Kit The Ritz / 22 Nov Jupiter + Juveniles + Yan Wagner The Castle / 23 Nov Lucero Night & Day / 23 Nov Father John Misty Deaf Institute / 23 Nov Shinies The Castle / 23 Nov Iceage Soup Kitchen / 24 Nov The Sundowners Soup Kitchen / 24 Nov Purity Ring Sound Control / 24 Nov Juan Zelada Deaf Institute / 25 Nov Heart-Ships The Castle / 25 Nov The Fall FAC251 / 25 Nov Martin Rossiter Deaf Institute / 26 Nov Dead Sea Scrolls Deaf Institute / 26 Nov Chain And The Gang Trash Kit Kraak / 26 Nov Shearwater St Philips Church / 26 Nov Kodaline Night & Day / 27 Nov The Staves Deaf Institute / 28 Nov Dan Mangan Deaf Institute / 29 Nov BC Camplight The Castle / 30 Nov Luke Abbott + Ghosting Season + Pye Corner Audio Kraak / 30 Nov The Lovely Eggs Roadhouse / 30 Nov Chew Lips Deaf Institute


Manchester Gigs in Music Mixtape: November 2012

Or download mixtape [60 mins / 68 MB] here.