Jerk it International - Jerk It With Friends Vol 1
Jerk It have rose from strength to strength over the last two years releasing a variety of great singles whilst working with and promoting the best in DJ/Producer culture in Manchester and beyond. Their latest offering 'Jerk It WIth Friends Vol 1' highlights the efforts they have made to create a like minded community of music lovers within their roster including some local legends like Mystique and Aiden Francis. Vol 1 combines a lushious mixture of house, garage, breaks, minimal and oldskool to showcase the best in electronic music from Manchester to Berlin and beyond.
Robbie N4HC opens up with a minal disco tune, something you would expect as a backing track for an early Streets cover until the ghostly vocals swoon in and a melodic bass riff takes on a life of its own. 'Roster' by Sparkly Pony seems to carry on that minimal dancehall sound from the previous track with swirling electronics and abrasive live drums fading in and out of of the background sounds. Sparkly Pony's background takes them to Berlin and Malmö where they have co-created a DJ collective and club night for and by queer and trans* people, happening in Copenhagen, Malmö & Stockholm.
Mystique takes the reins next with a bass fueled track 'Shadow Ban'. Mystique has been making lots of waves throughout Manchester's DIY music scenes from co-founding Shifting Spheres, a DJ collective providing DJ training for women, trans and non-binary people, to their monthly show on Melodic Distraction 'Hot Bar Snacks'. Playing show at Stank Face Radio, Cosmic Roots, Hope Works, Balamii and so many more, they are the DJ to keep your eyes on!
Edo, Effersay and SR20, both newcomers come in with hot dance floor ready party pleasers that get your head bobbing up and down and side to side, ones to definitely keep watching out there. Next up is Aiden Francis with an upbeat, frantic track of hypnotic simulation, I can already feel the sweat drip from my brow. AIden is on the up and up with success popping up everywhere, from having tracks played on BBC Manchester to supporting Nite School and Stage & Radio under the watchful eye of Wakil aka Korzi.
Dred Eric excites us for the penultimate track of the VA with deep, smooth bass lines wrapped around illegible, warped vocals lines that peak your interest and really get you tuned in to the track. The Leeds based artist has been supporting everyone from Yusuf Yellow, Di-Vincent and Otis Mensah so keep an eye on the fantastic electronic and hip-hop coming out of Yorkshire, it's fire.
Dulha closes the VA with the track 'Prince of Bengal' a dirty, industrial track that feels full of sexual innuendos, opportunities to dance and a real opportunity to be played loud to a full dancefloor. The glitchy percussion throughout gets your blood boiling and hair on end as the track swims through the canyons of space created by the reverberated industrious notes.
Cal from Jerk It has truly created something beautiful, a glimpse into the alternative culture of young DJ's and producers throughout Europe that are inclusive, expressive and diverse. We are excited to see more from the label coming very soon.
Unweather - Materialise
Unweather is a project by prolific musician Will Robinson who recently had his Original Soundtrack for the online game Methuselah snatched up by South Carolinan label Sound As Language.
This release however is one that has been lying semi dormant for years. Materialise feels as though the name was specifically chosen to represent the change, the evolution and the birth of Unweather as a complete project that represents the music iconoclasms inside Will's mind, away from his other project Farfisa.
This release is a selection of musings from across 2019 and 2020 -which of course know was the year of discontent but also the year of reflection- and I think you can tell that isolation was a key moniker in all this creation. Whether it be guitar based noodling, Moog based modular wormings and swirling overdriven bass lines or gentle acoustic field recordings of life outside of normality. The body of work feels at once minimal, textured, emotional and mature with its use of varied instruments, tempos, recording styles and visual language. From the white noise crescendo of 'The Secret Lake' to the Thundercat-esque warmth of 'Cordial' and the contemporary Radio 6 ready 'Waterfront' this is consistently brilliant.
Very excited to see and hear more of the promised full body of work to follow this project 'BODY MAGIC'.
Vieux - Sprectraphobia
After the momentous 31DEC1999 album by Vieux I was very very excited to see that new music was coming out and I was not disappointed by the new single 'Sprectraphobia' a dirty electronic track with notes of The Prodigy, Underworld and yet something fresh and modern with low level Björk-esque vocals drifting on top of the 90's sounding reverberations. Their use of 'outdated' kit and tech only lends itself to my ears, sometimes the new stuff has no soul, whereas this feels like it's overflowing.
The only bad thing about this track is that it is 3:40, I want more!
The single is supported by the otherworldly and psychedelic 'Nightjar', a track that feels like the angelic come down of yesterday's mushrooms, am I floating? Until, the bass kicks in. Then this feels like a Eurovision winning track with definitive Euro-Trash inspiration throughout the highs and the lows. The duo have done it again, does this mean another album is on it's way, lets hope!
Out on streaming platforms 20th October.
Natalie and the Monarchy - Angeline
Natalie and the Monarchy follow up this years sexually dominant track 'Envy the Villain' with a more personal and autobiographical track 'Angeline' a rock based thematic ballad full of wonderful vocal displays but also middle of the road instrumentation.
'Angeline' follows the story of a character on a journey of self discovery, sexuality and dominance that feels like it can only come from the mind of Natalie. Her visual language throughout this project has been fantastic with supporting photography and imagery that perfectly set the scene and of course, gets your heart beating. The clear theatrical inspirations of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Meatloaf truly shine through the post production used throughout this track with overlaid laughter, screams and extended vocals spilling over sections into excellent horror filled bridges of haunting murmurs.
The exquisite vocal capability of Natalie is clear to see and is used throughout this track and their discography however I found myself drawn to their acoustic material rather than the rock releases. Looking at bands like REO Speedwagon and the importance of Dave Amato's guitar solo's solidifies the rock thematics of that band and the raunchy brass and wind of Richard Hartley's 'Sweet Transvestite' really pull them apart from other projects and I feel like that is what is missing in 'Angeline'.
Oort Clod/Priceless Bodies - Split
A very exciting project released by Alphaville Records offers us up some virtuoso's and some newcomers to Manchester's vibrant music scene.
Oort Clod are compiled of well versed musicians within Manchester's music scene including Bruce Sargent (Jeuce, Hipshakes), Rhys Davies (The Early Mornings, ALAN), Matt King, Matt Fortunati and the well versed guitarist Patrick Clod. Their sound combines 50 years of indie and alternative music with notes of Sonic Youth, Ween, The Raincoats and the alternative 80's sounds of Miaow and A Witness. Chorus laden guitar bobbles throughout Patrick's Steven Albini-esque spoken lyrics with tight instrumentation from the band behind coming. Their side of the split comes to a flying high point with their cover the infamous Question Mark & The Mysterians track '96 Tears' which elevates both the original and the bands sound. They bring a whole life of their own to the track enveloping it in guitar laden wizardry, quirky northern squeaky vocals and chorus laden guitar.
The second half of the split comes from Priceless Bodies, twin sisters Viv and Bianca Pencz who hail from Vancouver. Their music covers a spectrum of genuine DIY industrial pop that feels like it closely references the Swans album 'Soundtrack For The Blind' which incorporates 808 backing beats with dissonant guitar and synths to produce a haunting tone that is one of a kind.
Their use of digital tech and sampling shines through in their live show where you can hear the use of knives and sleigh bells in the backing interwoven with angular guitar licks that draw you in to the warm vocals offered by both sisters. Use of found and field recordings gives depth to this release as well and a rhythm section which feels fresh and new especially the guitar on 'Small Beautiful Flooded Palace' sounds like a rip from The XX's first release or any of Jarboe's albums. Considering the release party for this split was their first gig I was blown away with how tight and experimental their approach really was.
Super excited to hear more from the duo!
The Red Stains - Smile!
The Red Stains are an actual punk band, maybe 35 years too late, but they still are. Their name is plastered everywhere from the toilets in The Peer Hat to Piccadilly Gardens Bus Station, they look like a cliché and everyone thinks they are annoying, so I ask, have they succeeded? I think the plain answer is yes. Everyone in the city knows their names, knows what they do, has made their mind up and their following has formed.
Their previous singles 'Mannequin' and 'Freezer Jesus' cemented that they were a mediocre and naive band in my mind, with a sound rhythm section but nothing of interest besides the screeching Polystyrene style vocals of Natalie Emslie, it all sounded a bit hollow and pointless. The track 'Smile!' feels like a ready meal punk track that follows the bass riff that 70% of all punk does with the same enigmatic Delta 5 vocals as ever but nothing else going on. You can hear that there are some electronics going on in the background, but what it is or what it's supposed to be I'm not too sure.
However when I went to the live show I witnessed something new and something interesting. 'Smile!' was recorded with their old electronics player on it but now they have a new one, the fantastic Pussystamina. I went in to the live show already knowing what I would think but I was wrong. I am a massive fan of punk throughout the ages, from the original moanings of mid 70's London, later 70's Manchester, 80's Washington DC and the subsequent 90's movement in 90's Tokyo and there are some constants, 4/4 timing, 3 note bass riffs and riotous guitars. The Red Stains have the 4/4 timing and 3 note bass riffs and we all subconsciously like it because it feels normal and natural however we also know that it's got really boring and outdated.
The Red Stains are without guitar and instead have opted for electronics. So we have the basis of 4/4 rhythm of drums and bass (that we know), Delta 5 vocals and electronics. The inclusions of these electronics is what makes this band different, they have become somewhat punky synth-wave now that Cesca is behind the keys. A sort of nouveau goth perhaps. The crowd was certainly a mixture, of goths, e-girls, queer students and a old men, that to me sounds like a fan base. Not one that fights and pits at gigs but one that has fun and can share feelings of anxiety, mental health, troubled upbringings and try and bolster each others individualistic personalities. Maybe this band is here for that over any sort of musicality or virtuosos training. Maybe that's what the 'people' need. Only time will tell. Maybe they should cover Delta 5's 'Mind Your Own Business' or Le Tigre's 'Deceptacon' as a sort of on the nose nod to the genre, their influences and their likes?
I will look forward to what gaps Pussystamina will fill for the band in the studio going forward, as for now there is still a lot missing.
Mogan - FEED
Mogan is a queer electronic artists new to Manchester who I first saw supporting Grove at The Castle for Fair Play and they blew me away. They make digital work that incorporates what you may consider indie/alternative elements like Oneohtrix Point Never but they then subvert this generalisation by including harsh noise, thumping bass tones, industrial percussion and beautifully textured arrangements.
'FEED' is the second EP from the artists after the exciting dancefloor filler of 'Gutter' and it does not disappoint. It opens with two dreamy tracks full of bliss and subtly fantastic production, 'In Some Near Place' and 'Crease' lull us into this false sense of security, as if this EP will hold us close in this fairy tale neverland. Wrong. 'Fall In' slaps you in the face with what sounds like dancehall straight out of Berlin with a trembling bass line that literally rips your skeleton through your back. Mogan's vocals and arrangement throughout this track remind me of Tom Yorke's 'Tomorrow's Modern Boxes', some would say that's an insult but I think it's very apt. Industrial production overlaps throughout the lo-fi 'Onus' and 'MD5' with ease, once again bringing us into this safe place of synth pop and then we end with 'Angry Baby' a minimal ambient track that relaxes your mind and body after the onslaught.
At their live performance they wore a wonderful headpiece made of living moss, it was a sight to behold. That level of ingenuity, individualism and improvisation is why I now regard Mogan in high regard.
Nikki and the Waves - At the C Side
Jangly, summer washed guitar roll in from the opener 'in a cloud' that comfort deep inside, a sweet offering from the new additions to Manchester's music scene, Nikki and the Waves are here to make waves and to make it in the music industry.
Originally based in Liverpool but now Manchester, Nikki from the Netherlands has landed with a thump in the rainy city and harboured a band of young talent to create this group that have already played The Isle of Wight amongst local spots like M1 Festival and have started the process of becoming stars.
'At The C-Side' is a 2 track release of previously unreleased music that started to pile up over the drawn out phase of lockdown. Both are dreamy songs that slowly welcome you in to the indie pop extravaganza that are Nikki and the Waves with jangly guitar, sultry trombone and angelic vocals. This is a beautiful little view into the their world.
Only available on cassette so go get your hands on one of the very limited numbers!
Battery Farm - Dirty Den's March of Suffering
'Dirty Den's March of Suffering' is the second release from the self made, local band The Battery Farm. Considered 'Gutter Punk' by a variety of other media outlets feels unsolicited and their 'pain and suffering' seems to be the moniker of all of their musical output. Generally people go to music for escapism however this release throws you straight into territorial anxiety.
The release sways between the generic punk sounds to the ambient/industrial instrumentals filled with guitar feedback and child like de-tuned piano. Tracks like 'The Whip Goes Crack' and 'Roy Keane Isn't Real' feel like tracks that could take the band to a Kerrang style stardom with the middle ground instrumentals and annoyingly local vocal squirms from the band's frontman Ben Corry. These tracks have the opportunity to be real crunchers but they seem to fall short of the excellent energy they show at their live show. The track 'I've never Been To Gorton' flops on this release, more of a comic attempt at advertising where you are actually from but once again this felt like more of a bolstered Ian Dury-esque comic opportunity at their live show. This clear difference between the live show and the recording leaves me with questions around the production and engineering this EP has had or even if their management informed them on toning down the record. I feel a mistake was made there.
Tracks '(Don Brennan's Lament)','(Sunita's Last Gasp)' and '(Michael Rodwell Dies Alone) are the tracks that show real alternative promise to us, a truly sonic emotional representation of loss, rather than shouting about it. These tracks imbue real emotion and makes the anxiety even more unbearable than before with the child like piano and industrious notation in the background.
The track 'Drowning In The Black' is my favourite track from the EP, this one has the raw power that the live show has. The previous track '(Sunita's Last Gasp)' merges straight into the aforementioned track which incorporates that industrial background noise and really bolsters the atmosphere created by this track. WIth undoubted notes of IDLES, Nun Puncher and Serj Tankien hyped vocals, this track is ready for the radio.
The whole release needs a little tightening after watching their live performance as what I saw there does not fit to what I'm listening to at home. however what this EP shows is massive promise. NME and Kerrang would be places that we will see these guys in years to come.
We will follow up this review with a full review of their RGM Live show supporting this release.
Ombudsmen - Lovely Steroid User
In their press release the band made these comments, 'The track is a two and a half minute perversely rhythmatic journey, granting an ideal insight into the microcosm of the Ombudsmen', 'The song was based on the absurd notion that in each gym, there will be a lovely steroid injector' and 'Lovely Steroid User will be released on all good streaming platforms and some rubbish ones, Bandcamp included'.
Just a few things before we begin, Bandcamp is the financial support for many artists actually including all but one artists that we have talked about on this article. The absurd notion of a steroid injector was not actually spoke about in the song however the dizzying 8-bit Sega backing track did make me think of a panic attack. Lastly an Ombudsmen is " is an official who is usually appointed by the government or by parliament but with a significant degree of independence." I'm not sure what an insight into that microcosm really means?
The track, like we said, is a 3 minute look into an 8-bit Japanese backing track for a 2D game in an alternate 1981. On paper that sounds great and in a gig atmosphere it also may be great but on this recording it flops. The varied synth work feels oppressive on top of the digital bass and drums and you simply can't get into the rhythm however I cannot overlook the exquisite work on nearly all the instrumentation on this release, clearly the people behind the music know what they are doing.
Maybe they just want to fuck with us? Maybe I like that? I'll have to see them in person to be sure and I am assured that their on stage outfits are not to be missed. A word of warning, their social media accounts is a large portion barely clothed, hairy man and cute cat, yin and yang? Even so, this is what they look like on stage.