Crimewave - Haemoglobin
Soundscapes of glitch pop, shoegaze and breakbeats fill a room with this latest single from Crimewave. Jake has truly outdone himself with the track and the visuals that go alongside it highlight his black Fender Jaguar and his classic stage get up of firefighter pants.
The song opens up with a Kevin Shields-esque guitar riff that paints with such large, thick paint strokes washing over you and preparing you for the glitched out chorus. When listening you can't fully understand what you are listening to, guitar, electronics or percussion? That beautiful thing alone is what puts Haemoglobin in high stead for me.
The track ebbs and flows throughout with the glitch pop being highlighted and dampened to bring forward Jake's vocals 'I feast...', then bringing you to a stop, sitting back in your chair like you've been slapped for 2 minutes and now you are wondering how you got here.
It's also been a track I've loved at his live sets, it never fails to get a room swinging!
Slap Rash - Holy Smoke
Slap Rash's latest single 'Holy Smoke' highlights how the duo are really growing as a band and how far they have come from their inception.
The track opens with a Swans-esque noise warm up before the asymmetrical Sleigh Bells style fuzz laden guitar riffs rolls right into us. Vocals wash over this track throughout with much applause at the ease and calm when stuttering lines such as "The temptation to caress the decaying wet flesh". You can certainly tell that bands like Blood Red Shoes and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have flooded into this band and their typically indie sound, however this track goes deeper, darker and scarier.
The guitar tone in parts goes closer to Steve Albini over the years, either in Schellac or Big Black, but I think I want more of it in there. The track does flow between the more industrial notes of minimal post rock with the singers vocals coasting in and out but I think I want this track to either be two minutes of being beaten to music or a good extended post rock GYBE! style track.
Pyncher - Dirty Feet
Pyncher are a brand new indie alternative band that are opening their proceedings with their first single 'Dirty Feet'.
The track opens with a Casablancas scream through fuzzy treatments, 'I think I'll join the freak show' which sets the scene for an indie pop gem. The first phrases build up the pressure in us all as we stand looking bewildered at this track.
By 1:40 the track properly kicks in with a QOTSA/Arctic Monkeys riff straight out of 2008 and this continues throughout the highs and dips of distorted vocal screams and scowls.
The band sound tight, the production is neat and they look positive to be getting slots across the city in the burgeoning indie scene moving forward.
Good luck to you!
Madrush MC & Ethan Hill - Corrupt Clarity EP
This release is yet another special and important release from Rhythm Lab Records, the offshoot label from Reform Radio.
For Black History Month their team brought about a special project to celebrate Black historic music in Manchester by bringing together a local legend Madrush Mc and up and coming producer Ethan Hill.
You can watch this video to see them all having a chat together with Iyun at their studio space.
Madrush MC was an innovator of DnB and Jungle music in Manchester when he moved up here from London he started to play Jungle in the more classic and straight and narrow clubs such as Vogue on Portland Street. Throughout the 90's he worked closely with many influential musicians and to this day is still highly celebrated in the city and country.
The label put Madrush and Ethan together to make a track to celebrate their city, their culture and to open up the conversation about passing information between the generations.
The whole Corrupt Clarity EP feels like a rebirth of a legend and an uprooting of a young newcomer. The vocals and instrumentation are both laced with nostalgic yet modern sounds touching on classic dub, reggae and soul and this represented in no better way than on the track 'Dem Ah Gwan Bad'.
Other track 'Clarity' feels like a perfect opportunity for symbiosis between both musicians by bringing together the vintage piano sound with heavy, crisp bass lines that are riddled with drill bass in the modern muses. The final track on the EP 'Open For a Chat' feels like Ethan Hill has gone all out in his style and truly taken control. Opening up in the classic DJ Khalid way, "Ethan Hill, Madrush MC, Rhythm Lab linkup" feels like a real celebration to the project that they have all worked on together. This track is much more slick and smooth in it's production and gives us notes on modern artists like Frank Ocean and the whole OFKTA crew.
The project and release both glow bright, the music is crisp, clean and meaningful and the project as a whole highlights the importance of black music and culture in Manchester and shows how far back it really goes within the story of the city.
I hope to see many many more passion projects that can create positive change for communities in Manchester, for that we have Rhythm Lab Records to thank.
Dubbul O & Jointhedots - What Ya Missin'
This track is a melding of contemporary and well respected musicians in Manchester's jazz and hip-hop musicians. Dubbul O is a celebrated rapper and vocalist who you'll know from The Mouse Outfit, Voodoo Black and Mothership Connection and Jointhedots is a new live hip-hop band project from Defty who was one of the founding members of The Mouse Outfit.
The band create a warm, smooth track for Dubbul O to strut around on. His strong vocal prowess creates tensions and movement throughout that feels like it's from out of the city and further up a bill then their current standings. Defty and Dubbol O are joined by Liviu Gheorge and Aaron Wood (Live at the Deli Lama and many many jazz bands) which give real legitimacy to the whole project.
A smooth jazz/hip-hop track that all can enjoy throughout the year has been gifted to us.
Moby Dickless - Live in the Boat Room
After over a year of quiet from releases the band we all know and love have been working hard, real hard. Their live shows have gone from jams to tight showcases of their raw unrelenting talent up to the point that they open up the audience to decide a key for them to jam in, on stage, unprepared. This new release 'Live in the Boat Room' is to showcase that excellent live repertoire in crisp form and show what they have done superbly.
The band consists of Sloth (bass), Maria (guitars) and Freddie (drums) and together they have created a fuzzy, trip pop world of European exploration, you can tell that they all love Portishead. All members of the band are well versed in their instruments and each have opportunities to shine on this EP, Freddie on 'Shorn', Maria on 'Triple Glazed Stare' and 'Daffodils' for Sloth as he shows his skills on both bass and trumpet.
The four songs of 'Live In The Boatroom' follow their journey from looser jams to the tight sequences of 'Shorn'. The track is dark and twisted and yet the positive outlook of 'Shorn' really highlights the fantastic instrumentation and interweaving nature of the bass and guitar lines with ease. Throughout the EP I feel that Maria's guitar has a very modern yet well know sound and elements can be picked up in more modern guitar music such as Khruangbin and Kikagaku Moyo which highlight the instrument whilst clearly leaving space for others.
The other three tracks all sit in balance with each other showcasing everyone's talents. the sound of the rest feel closer to 90's bands like Up, Bustle and Out where the beautiful minimal space created by the trio is what grabs you rather than anything else.
After seeing the band live I know they have songs like 'Zoo' and 'Birds' that I still wait to see in a full recorded session and this release gives me hope for what's to come with the band, especially with the tutelage of Nick Barber as their manager.
David Curington - Mind Maps
'Mind Maps' is the first release on David Curington's new label Square Ears, the artist himself has released 19 albums of oddball ambient/noise/experimental music that combines art/photpgraphy and art photography in ways I have never seen before. In essence Curington is a composer, his formats of creating are of creating worlds for the listener to be lost in and he has been successful in that area with this latest release.
Like in all experimental noise projects there is an element of confusion, over saturation and dissatisfaction but that only comes from the listener and not the performer. The precision in instrumental, recording and creative formats bewilders in this release. From the overdubbed vocals in 'monet money mahogany' with the inclusion of Debussy piano recorded on a tape machine in his bathroom, you begin to see the rumination of the artist.
The release runs a whole 29 minutes with 3 tracks starting with 'monet money mahogany', 'maths mattes masks' and 'mimic mattock mythic' which all follow a theme of cryptic scepticism that runs in circles of art, robotics, religion and parks.
Throughout the tracks you feel as though you get an insight into the somewhat 'crazed' mind of Curington and what makes him tick. Clearly the more intellectual side of life is what gets David going.
The third track on the release is the my personal favourite that uncovers raw emotions within me. Whereas other tracks may have felt somewhat confused or over layered, this one hits the nail on the head with a very ambient landscape painted out in front of me with an unreliable narrator working and worming away in the background.
The whole of Curington's back catalogue is worth listening to and this one feels as though it collates all the ideas and instrumentation together. Very excited to see what comes from Square Ears next with artists like Kaproww and Die Die Kill bolstering the experimental scene within Manchester.
Tigers & Flies - Among Everything Else
Tigers & Flies began their musical life in their hometown of Brighton, which to any Mancunian seems as foreign as Acapulco, however their charm and indie/jazz sound has pushed them to the forefront of Manchester's burgeoning indie scene and even further afield.
Their latest release and first full album release 'Among Everything Else' has solidified them as a genuine contender for 'proper' band within the city. Generally indie music within the city puts you into deep water with many bands such as The Lathums and Blossoms gatekeeping that genre and spilling over into anyone trying to get in. Tigers & Flies instead are changing the presumed by bringing in much brighter sounds, brass sections and -joyous- guitars. The mixture of all of above feel like an updated -dare I say- Squeeze and Orange Juice, something smarter and joyous than them and alone just great.
The album feels like a real summer of love album so I do feel slightly sad that it has come out in late autumn but what can we do about that? It will be summer album for next year!
The lead singles 'Half' and 'Bat and Ball' are powerful tracks that give you a great insight into the melodic capabilities of the band as well as their ability to be more than expected. Those tracks feel like bonafide classics akin to early Bombay Bicycle Club and the whole alternative indie scene that has taken hold of the UK throughout the teenies. Especially the track 'Half' feels like a very mature track that is both comfortable, nostalgic and very natural and when it's played live it's the track that gets the room going.
As cliche as the comparisons become I feel as though they are justified. Listening through the album again and again they do sound like an 80's band that would have supported The Cure whilst having elements of The Cribs. I do feel that Arthur's guitar playing is beautiful and well thought through with off-kilter chord progressions and playing but it's the brass. The inclusion of trumpet and sometimes sax and tuba bring about a whole new creative sound to this group that bring you closer to bands like CAKE, Neutral Milk Hotel and Beirut.
Tracks like 'Pretty Good at Doing Fine' and 'Don't Let Her Walk Away' both sound like they should be the B-Side for 'Let's Dance' by David Bowie, bringing together that pop sound to guitar music once again.
I think I could go on and on about this release but instead you should go and listen for yourselves. If you want some beautifully upbeat guitar based indie jazz then look no further, Tigers & Flies have you covered.
Rainy Miller - A Choreographed Interruption
Since the release of 'Limbs' in 2019 Rainy has been on a journey - like most of us- of pain, self discovery, loss and acceptance and his new release 'A Choreographed Interruption' tackles all of these issues head on and brings us along for the ride.
This new release feels mature, self aware and dedicated the cause.
Over the last year Rainy has travelled back to his homeland of Preston where relationships were rekindled and childhood sites revisited. This release bares all for us to see, a true vulnerability created in ambient noe-soul greatness allows the shortest of glimpses into the life of Rainy. The title of the release references Keith Harrison's art installation of Rainy's home bus station Preston bus station, which is a large brutalist building well renowned as one of the best looking in the country. The installation saw 30 bus drivers create 'A Choreographed Interruption' in the station under the name of 'Conductor | 8 movements'.
Opening track 'Yellowman' truly starts us off on an emotional note with drawn out ambient piano soaring high over us as the multi-layered auto-tuned vocals pierce through us all. The track stays on a plateau of discovery until reaching the anxiety inducing minimal crescendo of sharp tones and a heartbeat. This feels like a mysterious opening with the other tracks posing as more obvious singles.
'Meridian, 1520' is much more soulful than the opening track, underpinned by a melancholic acoustic guitar that nods to Nirvana's 'Something In The Way'. With angelic backing vocals and minimal post production this song feels bright and reflective whilst clearly based in the horror of real life. As the song moves on the white noise of life takes over this track and none other than Rainy can deliver that with the fantastic compositional skills that he harnesses.
Closing track of the EP 'Death at a TV Dinner' feels like it has been pulled out of L.A. or Tokyo, not Preston or Manchester. The textures in this track are exquisite with building multi layered vocals, some auto-tuned and some clean whirling and swirling around your head as the beating drums build to the break. The 'chorus' then brings back that minimal clean guitar that we saw in the previous track but it's now layered again with all the different vocal tones the track has already sampled before that heartbeat comes back in.
The heartbeat element of this release is what strikes me as most important. This release feels real, living and existing. The release before this one 'Limbs' is a very similar sonic release to this one but without as much 'soul', of course Rainy has matured in his outlook but it feels truly emotional and bare.
This release has come at a very important time in music in Manchester and for Rainy for so many reasons. Rainy has solidified himself within other works along with Space Afrika and Blackhaine through working together and with Rainy producing tracks from those artists, those artists who together are raising the bar and even headlining shows in Berlin and showcasing videos in Tokyo. The legitimacy of this DIY experimental scene in Manchester is real, fruitful and hopeful.
All of this is alongside the rise of other artists like Louis Culture, Aya, Jadasea, GAIKA and Dadras that are bolstering this sonic movement across the world.
Blackhaine - And Salford Falls Apart
Blackhaine aka Tom Heyes has been on quite the journey this year whether that be working alongside Space Afrika and Rainy Miller on 'B£E', choreographing for DONDA or working with Manchester Collective, Tom is putting Salford and the North West on the map and I congratulate him for that.
'And Salford Falls Apart' solidifies the bleak melancholic world that Tom has created highlighting the austerity of young people in this part of the country through industrious, visceral ambient, drill noise. The public can be seen to be totally behind this release with the whole community and culture of The White Hotel backing every move made by the dancer and MC.
Usually I'd review the release but too many have already done that so instead I want to talk about the community that this release has brought together and what that can really do.
On this release we have work from Rainy Miller, Croww and Raw Tape and creating this realistic cinematic world for Blackhaine to be central in is key to its success. Rainy has reach beyond all others it seems and Croww is pushing the boundaries with DJing and production by going one step beyond merging industrial noise and breakbeats which can be heard no better than on the track 'And Salford Falls Apart'. The skill of making audio feel like a claustrophobic panic attack is a skill that I have respect for.
Throw in a pair of Josh's aka Space Afrika, a mover like aya and a massive DJ culture with people like Mystique, D.Clemente and anz at the centre then you have a bonafide movement within the city, something that has really been missing since the mid noughties.
Then add in the place for this culture and this community to thrive, no other than everyones favourite club, The White Hotel, a genuine place for diversity, creation and acceptance. This venue has allowed a community to thrive by allowing them freedom of curation and of safety, it is hard to find in a city with many indepedant venues however this place has nailed it.
The release makes you feel the desperation of Tom and the cries for help that have been ignored or is it death at the centre of this release? With the album cover showing us a hospital monitor with Tom's name on it I feel that we may be missing some context to this but maybe that is the point, could this be the last thing you see before eternal slumber or the saviour that brings you back from the dead, maybe this album answers those questions for you.
With so many artists like Another; Country $$$, Rainy and the Josh's really uncovering the ideas of death experienced over the last few years there does feel to be an honest vulnerability to this music and that honest emotional output is what brings people together, musical empathy made clear for us.
Put that all together and you have a movement that can put Manchester, Salford and the North West back on the map and this release is at the tip of the spear, gliding through the air ready to pierce the bubble of cultural austerity and wake us all up from our forgotten slumber of naivety, something I feel the video for 'Hotel' prophecies'.
This is the most important release of this year....