The Advertiser Articles

I used to write a fortnightly music column for the Salford Advertiser – here is the text of some of the articles I had published…..there are some others but I can’t track them down on my hard drive at the moment

The list of bands/artists featured to date is

  • AAAK
  • Dead Sea Apes
  • Kill Pretty
  • Kingdom Lost
  • Kit B
  • Monkeys In Love
  • Mr Heart
  • Positronik
  • Rapid Pig
  • Salford Media City
  • Saturday Morning Cartoons
  • Soul Saboteur
  • Stalagmites
  • The Ascension
  • The Fall
  • The Nankeens
  • Velocets

Cutting Edge Music Releases

A couple of excellent new releases this week

 Soul Saboteur  is a new band featuring exceptional songwriter  James Stone, who is currently studying at Salford University. They have just released a debut EP   “Clip Your Wings” which is available from the usual digital outlets. Physical  copies of the CD will be on sale at gigs. The band’s first video  accompanies the EP release and gigs are booked through to August 2013

The EP  is a significant shift for Stone with a move towards a more blues/soul sound than his previous band The Loaded Dice which was more rock oriented. What remains though is his ability to craft strong tunes and the band have produced a quartet of memorable songs, with strong lyrical content.

Their  website is at : http://www.soulsaboteur.com/ and you can catch them at the Castle on Oldham Street on March 16th.

Art rockers Monkeys in Love  also release their second album “The Monkeys In Love Will Pet & Cuddle You” this  week. Stalwarts of the Salford Music Festival, this highly regarded band mix a variety of styles behind  the twin vocal talents of Steve and Laura Simms-Luddington. Their sound is hard to pigeonhole, but could be described as a -cocktail of film soundtracks,  glam funk, eighties British indie, and hard rock .

The band have a memorable live act with Laura donning a number of costumes throughout the set to create a stunning visual impact to support the fine music.

More information at www.monkeysinlove.co.uk/

The unique and eclectic sounds of Rapid Pig

My album of the week is from Rapid Pig. Their debut release is called “Wildlife”.

The band originally formed in 2000 and gigged around the Manchester scene until 2006.. Founder member   John Paul Moran had always wanted to reform the band, and after hiring Salford music legend Tim Lyons, the group began gigging again last year.   They have an eclectic range of elements making up their sound including folk, metal, prog-rock, punk, electro and rock and roll.

Band members are Eoin O’Connor – Vocals, John Paul Moran – Keyboards, Phil Lewis – Guitar, Tim Lyons – Bass, Trumpet   and Simon Mawson – Drums. Their recent gig at Islington Mill had the crowd dancing wildly to their infectious rhythms, and mesmerised by front man O’Connor’s   unique and unforgettable performance style.

The album comprises six tracks built around hypnotic rhythms, rich textures of sound from Moran’s keyboards and Lewis’s guitar and the stand-out vocal presence and lyrical richness that O’Connor delivers.  Key tracks are the incredible “The Happy Valley”, which effortlessly shifts from a funky work out into a manic barn dance, the intense “Super Jura”, and the thought provoking “To The Mountain”. The whole release is a fascinating and unique listening experience.

There will be a limited number of ‘pre-release’ CDs on sale at gigs and the band aim to have a vinyl release in early 2013. You can listen to a preview track at  www.soundcloud.com/rapidpig/the-happy-valley. Rapid Pig play at the Bay Horse in  Manchester on November 15th.

The Fall  – headline Salford Music Festival

One of Salford’s most famous musical sons returns to the City this weekend for three gigs as part of the Salford Music Festival. However he hasn’t got far too come – he lives just over the border in Prestwich.

The Fall are recognised as the most important and influential group of their generation – with 30 studio albums made since 1978, and hundreds of other releases, including live albums, videos, box sets and singles.  Their constant member and leader is Mark E.Smith – originally from Broughton.

The Fall are playing two gigs at the Lowry Centre, on  Thursday  and Sunday,  and a further gig at the   Lower Kersal Social Club on Saturday.

The band is famous for involving  a  large number of different musicians over the years and it is not surprising therefore  to find that some ex-Fall members  are also playing  at this years Festival. Examples include original “Dragnet” era drummer Mike Leigh who will be playing with “Kill Pretty” at The Crescent  on Saturday, and,  Simon “Ding” Archer, who was in The Fall in 2003/4 and  produced their last album “Ersazt GB”, whose band AAAK will be at The Crescent  on Friday and The Lowry on Saturday.

The Fall are one of our  most enduring bands with over 1500 gigs played since 1977. They attract   fanatical followers and there will be Fall fans from around the world visiting Salford this weekend to see the group.

For more details of the Festival go to http://www.salfordmusicfestival.co.uk

The Heart of the Matter

The 2012 Salford Music Festival  looks like it is going to be even better than last years. It runs from 20th to 23rd September at 18 venues with well over 160 different bands and artists playing. Over the next few weeks I will be featuring some of the bands that will be playing on my radio show (Tuesdays at 10pm on Salford City Radio).  You can find out more about the Festival at www.salfordmusicfestival.co.uk

One of the highlights will be the appearance of Mr Heart at the “Saturday All Dayer” at the Lowry. The appearance coincides with the release of their  new album “The Unspeakable Mr Heart” in October.

Mr Heart have been active on the local scene  since March 2009. They released their EP ‘The Hide’ in December 2010. 2011 saw  original bassist Kin leaving and Salford University student  Sophie Lord  replacing her. The  band resumed their live appearances  in 2011 with 2 successful  support slots for The Fall in  November .  The band comprises Sophie on bass,  Tamsin A – on guitar and vocals and Helen Suzy on drums. The album, their first, was recorded at 6dB studios in Bexley Square.

It is a stunning debut album –   packed with powerful independent rock music in the spirit of  , Yeah Yeah Yeahs, PJ Harvey, and, The Pixies. The  six tracks from the Hide EP have been re-recorded plus  there are six new songs and  two bonus  remixes by Kin and AAAK. You can pre-order  the album via the bands website at www.mrheart.co.uk/

Lanky Mancs deliver cutting edge Indie

Self styled “Lanky Mancs” indie band Velocets are relatively new to the music scene.  2012 was a promising debut year for the band. The band consists of Adam Walsh (bass, vocals), Elliot Berriman (guitar)  and Dominic Allen (drums)- all three have previously played in various bands across Greater Manchester.

Salford City Radio picked up on their debut track ‘Sophie’ in summer 2012, and the band constantly gigged throughout the year, including a number of major summer festivals.  After headlining a hometown gig at Kraak Gallery, Manchester in November, they were invited into Salford’s Blueprint Studios – where Bury superstars Elbow record their albums – to lay down two new tracks. For a good introduction to the band check out “Sophie” on their Soundcloud page at http://www.soundcloud.com/velocets. They write memorable songs, produce a big sound for a three piece and are a great live act.

2013 is already shaping up well for the band with an appearance at the Big Bear Festival, as well as a gig at the National Tattoo Convention in Liverpool.

For  information and videos by the band, you can check out www.facebook.com/Velocets and www.youtube.com/velocetsofficial .  Their self-titled EP is out now, available from the bands at gigs or online if people get in touch via Facebook.

Upcoming gigs for the band include January 25th – MPTV Live at Kraak Gallery, Manchester, February  8th – Friars Court – Warrington with Clint Boon, and March 9th – Ruby Lounge – Manchester with Orphan Boy.

Pretty Good!

Kill Pretty are a must see live  band from around Greater Manchester – with a spiritual home in Salford.

Two band members –  Ian “Moet” Moss (vocals)  and Chris Dutton (guitar)  were in a group  called Sicknurse which played its’ last gig at  at the Old Pint Pot  in December 2010. In the audience  was ex Fall drummer Mike Leigh.  Several months later – Moet had revived legendary group  ‘80s The Hamsters  –  featuring Chris on guitar, and Chris’s son Josh, on bass. Several gigs were played and on one occasion Mike Leigh sat in on drums.

Subsequently Moet, Chris and Josh joined up with legendary Fall guitarist Craig Scanlon, and producer/engineer  Simon “Ding” Archer at 6dB studios to lay down three tracks.  Airplay on Salford City Radio  soon followed and led to a session being booked for Stephen Doyle’s Sonic Diary Show.

The Hamsters played their final gig at Crescent 20  in July 2011 which allowed Moet  to concentrate fully on Kill Pretty and with Mike Leigh  joining on drums the line-up was complete. Their first gig was played in  October 2011 in Hyde – and since then they have played twenty gigs and released an album “In 80 days”.

The band  have recently signed to the All The Madmen record lable and will be releasing their first official single “Rob A Bank/Raining Blood”  – featuring Larry Gott from James –  – this month, with a second album  “Dark Heart” to follow in November.

Check them out on their website – www.sites.google.com/site/killprettyuk/

Knowledge Is The Bomb!

“KIT B”, or Knowledge is the Bomb,  is the brainchild of Salford based singer-songwriter and guitarist Danny Cusick. Originally from Hulme, Danny moved into the city a few years back, and lives in the Trinity area.  He was the brains behind popular band “The Hidden Gem” who regularly featured on the local gig circuit. When that band split two years ago Danny decided to start a new project to feature his songs.

Also featuring Monty, from “Positronik”  on bass and backing vocals, Mike Powell, from “Exchange”  on keyboards, the band has recently recruited Mike Leigh, from “Kill Pretty” , on drums. All in all a local “super-group”!

The band has not played any gigs as yet as they have been looking for a drummer for live work – this has now  been made possible with the addition of Mike Leigh, they  intend to start playing local venues soon as well as recording an album.  They have already recorded demos of  a number of excellent songs – three of which featured on a Salford City Radio download in July  last year –  still available at  www.scrfreebies.bandcamp.com/album/beat-those-drums

On their recorded work Paul Smith features on guitar/backing vocals/harmonica and Craig Bodell plays the drums and produces the tracks. Both Paul and Craig were in The Hidden Gem  with Danny.

The KIT B sound is best described as Salford/Manchester Indie – with a focus on strong melodies, great rhythms and powerful lyrics.

Keep up to date with the band via their Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/kitbband

Epic Indie?

Are The Nankeens the next big thing from Salford for 2013?

Originally members of two separate bands, this four-man group, led by two brothers, started gigging in 2012 and are building up a strong reputation as a must see band in 2013.

Their manifesto is pretty clear. “our sound has no time for local heroes of days gone by. Instead the focus is on contemporary song-writing about personal experiences, not to mention powerful arrangements that make feet and heads move”.

There have been no releases by the band yet but you can hear their music on Soundcloud at www.soundcloud.com/thenankeens.   There are a variety of styles on offer  from the  memorable “Ukelele Song” which was a jam recorded using just a Ukelele, bass guitar, and a drum pad machine, via the bass driven “Reaper” with its surging guitar and triumphant vocals, through to the spacey sounds of “Here We Go” with an epic indie sound.

The band have influences ranging from The Joy Formidable and Arcade Fire back to the punk sounds of The Clash however they have developed their own unique sound which is  emotionally strong, well-played, and in singer and rhythm guitarist Adam Darby, they have a front man who demands your attention.  Brother Simon plays the drums, Mark Barlow is the bassist and lead guitar is delivered by Adam Tattershall.

Forthcoming gigs Academy 3 – Manchester on February 9th, Bakers Vaults, Stockport February 21st, Night and Day , Manchester March 16th. The bands website is at http://www.thenankeens.co.uk/

Climbing High

Salford based The Ascension’s third EP “Blood upon the Rose” demonstrates a faultless progression from their initial recordings.

Their muscular bass driven, polemic ridden, sometimes intense, post-punk electronica, comes to the forefront on this release – recorded by Simon “Ding” Archer at 6dB studios on Bexley Square –  the band are in full flow on this EP as banks of synthesizers float over busy and insistent rhythms to create a fascinating, and modern,  set of tunes. That’s not to say that guitar does not feature – the last four tracks in the package are full of intense riffs and plenty of feedback.

This is their most potent release so far lyrically – although the last EP “New Renaissance” was brutally frank, angry, and politically astute, things have moved on since then. The band articulate the despair of hard hit communities and they expertly capture the anger and hopelessness of life , and they do it without the obvious political badges, which I find to be particularly appealing. This is social commentary in rock at it’s very best. You can dance to it and it makes you think.

The band comprises Doug – Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals,  Neil  – Bass, Keyboards, Vocals and Aaron – Drums.

They are one of the featured bands at the next “Helmets for Men” promotion at the Kings Arms on Bloom Street, Salford on December 8th along with Death To The Strange, The Suns and Stalagmites. The promotion starts at 7:30 and costs £4.

Read more about the band at http://www.theascension.net.

Exciting Salford Band releases new EP

Originally from Walkden,  but now living in the Chapel Street area,  Stalagmites are an indie rock  band consisting of Bradley Lynch (Vocals/Guitar/Bass), Alex Hardman (Guitar) and Daniel Jones (Drums ). Originally known as The Souls, they gained immediate support and interest with airplay on Salford City Radio and a session  on Tony Thornborough’s show in 2010. After finding out there was a band in America with the same name they decided to call themselves Stalagmites. It has not been easy for the band to get to a settled line up with two bass players being hired and fired in the last two years, so they eventually decided to carry on as a three piece with Bradley taking up the bass duties.

They have recently released a four track  EP on Bandcamp called “Be An Animal”  – their best work to date – with searing indie anthems  and thought-provoking lyrics the band has all  the elements to achieve wider success. With a great sound built around Bradley’s   impressive  vocals and Alex’s epic guitar sound the band are reminiscent of Echo and the Bunnymen,  but they also have their own  unique Salford sound. The EP was recorded by Simon “Ding” Archer, at 6dB studios on Bexley Square,  and is available now from www.stalagmites.bandcamp.com/album/be-an-animal

You can catch the band live this month – 2nd Carsons, Middleton , 16th Gullivers, Manchester, 24th Ducie Bridge, Manchester. A collection of early songs under The Souls name is available free from  www.scrfreebies.bandcamp.com/album/introducing-the-souls

The “other” Salford Media City

There is another Salford Media City  around at the moment, a musical collective from the Chapel Street area, which has been exciting audiences across Salford and Manchester for the last couple of years with its’ excellent live sound.

With a revolving membership which features two or three guitars, bass, keyboards, drums, one or more saxophones and percussion,  the band creates a big sound built around lengthy   groove oriented  numbers, similar to  80s New York down town music , where funk, jazz, soul and blues melt with a rock edge to create danceable tunes.

They have had two releases to date the “Tonight Matthew, we are going to be Salford Media City”  EP and an album entitled “@Futureworks” which comprises three studio and six bonus live tracks recorded at “Futureworks” in Manchester.

The band’s sound is unique but there are elements of the off-kilter funk of TheTalking Heads and the spacey dance sounds of The Happy Mondays. Live the band delivers a melting pot of repeating vocal chants,  saxophone solos, jangling guitars and hypnotic  tribal rhythms.  Lyrically the band cover a wide range of issues, sometimes with a political edge,  but mostly it’s about having fun and working the grooves as exemplified by crowd pleaser “Doing Stuff Is Fun”!

The band will be playing Night and Day Café Manchester on February 7th along with Yossarians, Rapid Pig and John Ainsworth. The album is available from Bandcamp at http://salfordmediacity.bandcamp.com/ and you can check them out on Facebook.

Dance – the Salford Way

This week I’m featuring two indie bands from the city who have a dance edge to their music. History shows us that like to do music a little differently in Salford, and these artists are further examples of that unconventional approach.

Positronik were formed in 2011. Vocalist MzDee, bassist Monty and Guitar/Synthesizer maestro Jeff Black  played their first gig at Islington Mill in May 2011. The band mix indie, soul, pop and electronica into an infectious and danceable new sound – they have been described as a mix of the Pet Shop Boys and New Order with soul diva vocals. Their latest release “Don’t Come Crying” is available on  I-Tunes. More information is on their website – https://sites.google.com/site/positroniksalford/home. Positronik will be playing at the  Salford Music Festival at The Hope on September 22nd.

Similarly Kingdom Lost create a mix of dance and indie, but with more of a rock edge. Formerly in the bands Push Kodi and The Lazy Two ….Nick Bolan -Bass  and Chris Mather – Guitar- began the group as a studio project . However as the tracks in the studio grew so did the desire to take the music to a live setting and they began the process of hiring musicians. They brought in pianist Reece Vigelskas and young drummer Adam Rogers in December 2011.  The band have been gigging steadily since then and have recently released an excellent album “Desire Lines” on The Manchester Lable. More information on the band via their Facebook page…..https://www.facebook.com/kingdomlost

AAAK – Totalitarian Tip-Toe (Electric Tremor Records)

At the end of the 1980’s the duo  of Simon “Ding” Archer  (instruments) and Paul Rawlinson (vocals)  formed   industrial  rock band  – As Able As Kane – also known as AAAK – however after two  album releases, and some success in Europe, the band split up in 1992.

Following interest from a German record label, the duo reformed, re-recorded and released a compilation of their previous work  ‘The Collection’ in June 2010. They also returned to live performances for the first time in nearly 20 years with a comeback gig at Sacred Trinity Church followed by further shows in Europe. Performances were well received, with the band employing a stunning video and light show.

2011 saw more live shows and the writing and recording of a new album. The core of the band is still Ding and Paul   but on this latest release   Tamsin, from Mr Heart, features on  vocals  and Neil , from  The Words, plays guitar.

Recorded at   6dB studios on Bexley Square,  the album is best described as hard electronic dance music  with massive  riffs,   high tempo percussion and many layers of synthesizers .

The stand out track on the album is “Re-generate” featuring the husky tones of guest singer Kim  F   it is intense, moody  and  anthemic.  If the   Mayor of Salford wants a new official tune for the City of Salford then this ought to be it!

All in all an essential album – available from their website – www.aaak.co.uk

The next big thing?

Your Community Radio Station aims to promote and support local musicians and regularly checks out the new and upcoming bands in the city – one of which is Little Hulton’s Saturday Morning Cartoons. They are a three piece band comprising of Luke Kupinas-Guitar/Vocals, Tom Carney-Bass and Stickz McDade-Drums.

It is always refreshing to hear a band that steps outside of the narrow confines of the current indie pop genre and adopt a broader approach to their music. The trio describe themselves as  “Progressive Blues Funk with a melodic feel and a touch of grunge”.

When I first listened to the band’s music I was very impressed with their ability to manage loud and soft passages within their songs and create a really fresh dynamic sound. The band all share in song writing and composition duties, blending each of their talents to create a great sound – pretty remarkable for a trio of 18 year olds.

The group have been gigging regularly around the city over the last 12 months and recently played three gigs at the Salford Music Festival . The band have just announced the release of a new   EP  titled ‘Grease Stains and Monkey Claws’. This will also be their first physical release. Tracks are currently being recorded and they plan for the EP to be released sometime around New Year. They will also be competitively priced at around £3.

Pending that release the band have put some great tracks on their Facebook page  – http://www.facebook.com/SaturdayMorningCartoonsUk

Space Rockers

 “The Sun Behind The Sun” album is the first  collaboration between local band Dead Sea Apes and Godalming’s Black Tempest.  The release fuses  Kosmiche”  Synth with Dead Sea Apes otherworldly psychedelic-rock to create a unique sound.

Opener ’ Grey Alphabets‘  takes a basic four note phrase and repeats it hypnotically over rhythmic pulses and slow synths which are both menacing  and  brooding. The second track  ‘Wilder Penfield’ continues the mood with serial synthesis interrupted with shards of guitar developing into pulsing rhythms in the spirit of German rockers like Can and Neu!. Guitarist  Brett Savage conjures a wall of shuddering sound as the rhythm section continues a relentless and hypnotic dance to propel the piece forward

Heliopause‘,is  an excellent 20+ minute piece of soaring synthesis, reverbed guitars, pulsing bass and martial percussion. Again Savage uses the guitar to create a range of sounds to support the synthesis – moving from squawling wah-wah to searing echo with ease.

In my review copy is also the non-album mix of ‘Wilder Penfield’ (Penfield’s Mood Organ Mix)  which has a heavier synth feel and is an interesting variation on the original version.

The album is due for release this month  on limited edition vinyl, (coloured & black) – and limited CD edition from the Cardinal Fuzz record lable.

This album is highly recommended for lovers of space rock and psychedelic music – once again Dead Sea Apes demonstrate that they are the pre-eminent band in this musical form in the Greater Manchester area. www.facebook.com/CardinalFuzzwww.deadseaapes.com

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