Manchester – so much more to be proud of…

Local music, you would be forgiven for thinking it was all about a band from Stockport at the moment, or Oasis/Stone Roses revivalism,  nothing could be further from the truth. There’s a fundamental inter-connectedness at such a local level of course, and there’s so much going on it’s hard to keep up. I’m talking about Greater Salford of course, or Manchester, as it known by the inky press or the BBC.

So let’s start with Salford, as I take you on a short musical tour of the conurbation. Back when I was doing the local radio stuff one of the first bands I chanced upon was called The Souls, indeed we facilitated the release of a collection of early  songs. They became Stalagmites of course and have a new EP out called “Between City & Cellar Door”. Brad Lynch has been a great hidden Salford treasure of a Salford songwriter for too long and hopefully this new four tune collection will get some of the much needed attention they deserve.  There’s a growing strength to the bands’ work and the songwriting is just as strong. I guess you could call it epic indie but Lynch’s tunes are always something a little more than that. You can grab it at:

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/48sz58nJKAO63hyNynRaj6
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/…/between-city-cellar…/id1167317627

Here’s featured track Binary…..

And while I’m at it check out Brad’s excellent solo project “Bedroom Abyss” which comprises two tunes at the moment but promises a great deal more in the future.

North to Moston, and I reviewed the launch of the new EP from The Madding Crowd a couple of weeks back. It would be remiss of me not to mention the actual EP itself, the locally referenced “The 78th Bridge on the Rochdale Canal”. The connected thingy here of course is that the four song selected has been expertly produced and engineered by Sam Smith who appears on German Shepherd Records as Franco Bandini and The Parish Church Fire. The Madding Crowd have always had an epic sound, which bursts out of the North Manchester suburbs with a swagger and bravado, however Sam has moved it up to eleven with this set. The potty mouthed opener, which  will struggle to get day time radio play due to the Ofcom rules, sets the scene, but it’s the massive “January Begins” that hits you like a Roman Reigns spear and slaps you around a bit until you sink into it the sound. Impressive. Sav Patels drumming on “Sinking Low”is an impressive bedrock to a bluesy chunk of pop music with a field hollar chorus, meaty guitar, and silky bass from Claud Corry. Closer “Where’s The Glamour” offers another side of the band and gets props for mentioning Failsworth (an area in north Manchester), there’s an interesting structure which is a more defined “Madding Crowd” sound, which indicates an impressive development and future direction.

Down to south Manchester now and The Speed of Sound who have their debut album “Everything Changes” out now. The connection here is one of the two vocalists is Anne-Marie Crowley, who is also a member of Poppycock, who just happen to be on German Shepherd Records as well. A mammoth one hour sixteen minutes 20 song endeavour it took some time to absorb what is a fascinating collection. It is hard to find a neat little genre box to put this band into, which is always a good thing. They’ve been described as “atmospheric alternative rock” which is partially true but there’s a great deal more going on. The songs are lead by hooky guitar sounds which are both 60s and post-punk in their sound. John Armstrongs’ vocals have a an early Zimmerman edge to them, the lyrics are both rich and complex, and Anne Marie’s vocals add a haunting cinematic feel to the songs. Kevin Roache, bass, and Paul Worthington, drums, provide a sympathetic and driving rhythm section. Lucy Power, also of Poppycock, amongst other things, provides flute on “Little Miss Restless”. You’ll find a lot of good things here, and it’s great to hear Anne-Marie taking the lead role especially on the excellent “The Moment Is Now” which has a great pop feel and sounds like something Dusty Springfield would have sung in her pomp. The variety on this album is impressive, with nods to a Californian sound at times, especially the occasional snippets of Stills/Young guitar breaks,  This album has all of the elements of great Manchester pop as well, you will have to invest time in it, as it deserves to be listened to as a whole, but that time will be well spent. Quality stuff!

One that slipped through the net earlier in the year is the delightful collection from Parent who are essentially Jason Brown, who has of course been plying his trade with Brix and Extricated more recently, and Rachel Kern, who has a superb voice. Comparisons have to be made with Nick Drake in that it’s all about guitar and voice but there’s the superior use of cello, viola and violin which harks back to “Five Leaves Left” especially on the exceptional “You’re Not Broken”. A marvellous collection of acoustic treasures, and looking up their Facebook page it appears that a pile of my chums are already aware of them, I wonder why they didn’t share the information?

And finally east to the rural idyll of Glossop where my erstwhile colleague Mr Moss has been busy with his new band Four Candles and a debut album is in the can. I’ve heard it and it is rather special, but I can’t say any more at this stage or I’d have to ostracise myself. Keep your ears peeled for 2017 especially a gig at Fred’s Ale House in Levenshulme in January with Poppycock (them again) and Patchwork Rattlebag. To dangle a large carrot here’s a fine video from Rick Sarko which includes a number of German Shepherd alumni and features the heady delights of Oldham Street in the city centre.

Until the next time….

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