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Hannah Tinker

LIVE: Lily Allen @ Albert Hall

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER      PHOTOS BY JACK KIRWIN

She’s the comeback kid who’s won the heart of a (liberal) nation. Lily Allen has self-admitted that she’s been to the lowest of lows and the highest of highs (literally). She’s an icon, with a career behind – and ahead – that stands on its own. Lily’s fourth studio album ‘No Shame’ was out earlier in 2018, followed later by the release of her tell-all autobiography ‘My Thoughts Exactly’. Haven’t got a copy yet? Written by the woman herself, it’s a frank and open book that washes away any thoughts that the reader may have had, that Lily Allen had been swallowed by the false celebrity culture.

With the success of both book and album, Allen’s dedicated fans swamped upon the announcement of her December 2018 UK tour. Tickets were snapped up early on and eager fans awaited the date they’d catch the iconic British singer. Manchester’s Albert Hall made for a prime location in the North of the country, which sold-out months ahead of the Sunday evening set.

As the songstress takes to the stage, a fan screams that it’s her birthday. To which Lily gleefully responds by encouraging the room to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to the delighted audience member. After a quick “I hope for your sake that you filmed that”, she opens with the first track from ‘No Shame’ which follows the lines of 2009’s ‘Fuck You’ in that it’s a finger-poke at her critics. The track, ‘Come On Then’ calls out her haters and touches on topics she mentions in her book: that she often feels scrutinised by the media and disparagers. Lyrics like “I’m a bad mother/I’m a bad wife” points out that some tabloid publications have made attempts to defame Lily by making clickbait headlines from supposed atrocities she’s committed, creating a false image of her for viewers who simply skim headlines.

Followed up by ‘Waste’ (which features Lady Chann on the album, but the singer isn’t a guest for the live show) which relates to those who have double-crossed her in the past. Be it, ex-friends/lovers/collaborators, the path to fame often seems to see people cross the line of trust, and divulge their celebrity story to the media if it results in a shiny penny.

In amongst tracks from the new record, Lily Allen plays classics that established her fame, including the unforgettable ‘LDN’ and ‘Smile’. The singer is clearly not planning on forgetting her roots any time soon, as shown by the candid words in ‘My Thoughts Exactly’ and the whole reason she’s produced it – to set the record straight.

 

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And this goddess 💞 We luv u

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As often is, songwriters share tracks that are almost a story-telling of their own lives; sharing their own antics, experiences, and vices. Lily is no different. ‘No Shame’ harmoniously works hand-in-hand with her autobiography, soundtracking different chapters of her life / the book. For the finale, Allen speaks to her crowd: “there’s something in the air…” and mentions the current political climate, hostility, and judgment that seems to be common these days. Before closing with the time-honored favourite ‘Fuck You’. It’s a track that calls out racism, misogyny, and sexism along to a quirky, care-free pop backdrop that echoes the words: “…there’s a hole where your soul should be/You’re losing control a bit/And it’s really distasteful.”

The live set isn’t all middle fingers and ‘screw the patriarchy’ angst, it humanizes Lily Allen as a grounded figure. Part way through the set, a member of the audience seemingly faints, at which point Allen pauses the show and waits whilst medical staff access the situation. It’s an act of kindness that she could have overlooked by simply continuing and assuming that crews were on-hand, but she duly chose not to ignore.

Tucked in amongst the setlist is a cover of Lykke Li‘s ‘deep end’ from her 2018 album ‘so sexy so sad’. It’s a hit which traces similar themes yielded by Lily, it presents us with a double entendre; going “off the deep end” is a figure of speech that relates to irrationality, especially when referring to strong emotions such as infatuation and romantic lust for others.

There’s also a promise of more to come from the melodist. On this tour, Allen shares a new track – “which might end up on an album or whatever it is people are doing these days” – ‘Party Line’ that speaks of the relatable topic of ‘beer-fear’ or ‘hangxiety’. It’s that quaking feeling that you tipped too far over the edge the night before, said or did things you never meant to see day (or night) light. Currently unreleased, the song discusses that feeling of “crossing the party line” and that it’s a persistent issue – once you get into the habit of “losing it”, the problem is often recurrent. With all cards now laid on the table and the promise of new endeavors in the works, her fanbase befittingly awaits the next chapter from Lily Allen.

Read more about the latest music news and reviews over on our blog 👀

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PLAYLIST: GET FESTIVE

WORDS & PLAYLIST BY HANNAH TINKER

It’s that time of year. You know the one. Festivities are underway, the Christmas parties have changed your opinion on Susan in Accounts and you’ve got a fiver to your name but still haven’t got any presents for anyone. The question is, are you sick of Mariah Carey yet? Whether you’re a Scrooge or a Saint-Nick-enthusiast, we’ve pulled together a selection of the very best alternation Christmas tracks just for you.

The classics are all well and good – who doesn’t love a little bit of Bublé? – but with Whamageddon now a full-time occupation, we decided to deviate from the expected and offer you a selection of tracks that shouldn’t just be played during the festive season. (Spread the Christmas cheer!) With no particular genre theme but dictated by Christmas/festive titles, it’s all to play for and there’s bound to be something to suit your Yuletide antics.

A quirky title is something we can all get on board with; combine that with everyone’s favourite cuisine and you’re all set for a hit. Liverpudlian dream pop act Pizzagirl brings ‘Pizza For Christmas’, a modern-day twist on Mud‘s ‘Lonely This Christmas’ classic. Keep your eyes out on our social media to catch the live session of the track that he did exclusively for MCR Live, as well as a cover of a classic Christmas song!

If you’re feeling some angst this season or just not acclimatised to the festive cheer, punk faves No Doubt and DZ Deathrays are slotted in there (amongst others) with some gloomy lyrics medleyed into Christmas anthems. Kate Nash presents  ‘I Hate You This Christmas’, the soundtrack for those feeling scorned yet powerful this holiday – think ‘D**khead’ but with a merry shake-up.

Taking lead from the disheartening state of the news and the political climate, Palma Violets predict the dystopian future with ‘Last Christmas On Planet Earth’. It’s a hit that reminds you of your Uncle Derek slurring his words about the “daft ex-wife” but the festive glow of too many mince pies and a few glasses of Port have engulfed you in their warmth.

Going back to that satirical take on a Christmas track, current scene-stealers Shame take on the typical Christmas sing-along ‘Feliz Navidad’, whilst Cabbage share ‘Smells Like Christmas’. A witty tale of the typical actions taken during the modern Christmas holiday, it’s up there with Palma Violets offering and one you’ll have on repeat – Derek will surely join in with this one.

Read more about the latest music news and reviews over on our blog 👀

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UPCOMING: FREE VIBES x MCR Live | 05.01.18

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER

You read that right, we’ve got another Free Vibes for you! The monthly slot at Band On The Wall pulls together a host of talented new acts and sets them up on one of the city’s most renowned stages. Muses of the Manchester music scene often reign in and present collaborated versions of the gig including SabotageAmazing Radio and of course our good selves. Last time we hosted Honey Moon, URFÉcru and Saint Ivy, this time we’ve got a similarly eclectic set of acts for you.

With such a wide selection of talent across the country, it was nigh on impossible to narrow down the number of acts we had available to us – the choice was nowhere near easy! But our curated lineup sees a selection of artists that we’re sure will whet the appetites of many an attendee.

In the headline slot on Saturday 5th January are hometown Mama Racho, the recently formed quintet blends the folkloric rhythms of cumbia music with a modern twist of psychedelic electronica. Expect groovy percussion, trippy synths and a calamity of guitars for the peak of the evening at Band On The Wall. Also on the bill are dream pop-sters Sequin Sally. Sultry dream pop oozes from the single track that they’ve thus far presented, and we can’t wait to see what they’ll have in store for us when they return refreshed from their Christmas break.

Earlier on in the evening are the genre-fluid pioneers that are Yang (find out more about their ultimate influences, here). With an underground online presence as they’re still “newbies” on the scene, we’re looking forward to your thoughts on these but we can inform you that they’re similar to the likes of XX and TVAM  with visuals that are just as up to scratch.

Last but certainly not least are Manchester based garage-punk trio Bleach Body who make the kind of music that’ll “make you feel as if your bones are shattering and your mind is being blown”. These guys might just be the loudest trio in Manchester. Brutal. Eclectic enough? Sign up for your FREE tickets and we’ll see you at the door!

Read more about the latest music news and reviews over on our blog 👀

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IN CONVERSATION WITH: The Twilight Sad

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER       PHOTOS BY HUGH RUSSELL

Scottish punksters Twilight Sad recently supported The Cure at their edition of the British Summertime Festival; announcing their new album ahead of performing in front of a legendary Brit rock band, was nothing short of epic. Add to that the commemoration that they gave to their long-standing friend and ally Scott Hutchinson of Frightened Rabbit, who sadly committed suicide earlier this year, and you’ve got an act with a heart – and mind – of gold. Since the loss of the late singer/songwriter, Twilight Sad have included a welcome, masterfully executed cover of their compatriot’s track ‘Keep Yourself Warm’ (from ‘The Midnight Organ Fight’ album, 2008) into their sets.

After touring with the honourable English band, Twilight Sad set about writing their fifth studio album. Set to be realeased in 2019, vocalist James Alexander Graham says the album comes from some dark spaces that the band have recently entered due to personal circumstances and events. These particular events have given the act a need to get back to normality, to ground themselves. To let the dust settle. “Lyrically each album is a snap shot of time and a reflection of who I am and what I’m going through at that certain period of my life. Whilst writing the album I went through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, I think that’s reflected in these new songs.”

Having met through different paths – with Andy and James meeting in high school, then Brendan and Johnny arriving through friends and finally drummer Seb through their aforementioned friends Frightened Rabbit – they’ve had an incredible journey along their career. With the gritty streets of Glasgow at the heart of their story, Twilight Sad is a family in so many more ways than one. Speaking of Glasgow, James mentions that the city is a community for musicians and creatives, it boosts them up and treats them well, that is if they’ve got something worth treating. Whilst working their way up the ladder, Twilight Sad have been lucky enough to have received support and guidance from bands that they admired and were fans of themselves, including: Mogwai, The Delgados, Arab Strap, Idlewild, Teenage Fanclub to name a few. 

Mogwai in particular are a key band that they’ve made a connection, the experimental work ethics of both working hand-in-hand with each other. “We quickly became friends and realised that we both had the same outlook about music and why we were doing it. We also have the same type of humour and bad Scottish patter.” Their friendship set them up for alongside one another, with Mogwai having had Twilight Sad on tour with them four times, cementing their clear appreciation of the band that’s also come from Glasgow. Further still, each and every Twilight Sad track is now released on Mogwai‘s very own record label  – Rock Action Records – what more of a nod of admiration can you give between two bands. 

You’ll know who Robert Smith is. The front-man and only consistent member of The Cure is a fond fan and colleague of Twilight Sad, as mentioned, it saw them take the support slot on one of the iconic acts biggest gigs, at British Summertime Festival, as well as on tour with them across the globe. It was TS favourites Mogwai that introduced the maestro to the Glaswegian act and it’s started a perfect mentor-type relationship between the two. Now each Twilight Sad track, demo or album set to be released is sent over to Smith, who critiques and sends back with notes if improvements are needed. For James, Twilight Sad have so much to owe to the legendary front-man – “People say ‘don’t meet your heroes’, in this case that saying is very wrong” – he’s thrust their music into the hands of a new audience, the world of The Cure fans, and it’s allowed them to blossom.

Speaking of their new album which is incoming in 2019 – we’re promised – it has themes of love, loss, self doubt, self hatred, not understanding the world, seeing the good and bad within people, trying to be a better person. It’s emerged out of a roller-coaster year for all members, that’s seen them reach soaring heights, but also the deepest of lows. James mentions, “I think it’s very dark in places but there’s always some hope within the songs. The title of the album can be looked at in two ways. It can be a positive or a negative. ‘It Won’t Be Like This All The Time’ can be a positive as in “it won’t be like this all the time so try and embrace the good things/times and make the most of things as life can change in an instant” or a negative if you are going through a dark time “things won’t be like this all the time and round the corner something beautiful might be waiting for you, stay strong”. We’re eagerly excited to see what the future holds for the quintet but we’re assured that they’ve plenty of strength in them yet, to pull them through any low. 

Read more about the latest music news and reviews over on our blog 👀

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LIVE: HINDS @ Manchester Academy

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER       PHOTOS BY MANC WANDERER

They’re the Spanish senoritas spear heading the revolution of rock music; HINDS are head and shoulders above the rest, bringing an element of playfulness to a music scene that is fast sinking into gloominess. When thrown with this moniker that they’re “the happiest band in the world”, the humble four-piece proclaim their adoration for their fans, who spur on their positive attitude. It’s low-fi indie with a nod to the 60s girl-group revolution and there’s no signs of their spirits being dampened any time soon.

You say there’s ‘no rest for the wicked’? With a 26-date UK and EU tour ahead of them, we’ll take that as the modern-day slang definition of the word. Joining HINDS on tour for the long haul are Cambridge graduates, now London based Sports Team with their unapologetically British sound that reverberates choruses that pack a punch, accompanied by a live performance that’s fast becoming folklore.

As a six-piece, they fill the stage with hardly any space left over, the audience set for a spectacle of a show. Composed whilst they attended the Russell Group University, there’s is a high octane set, concocted with the need to present something new to the student groups they were involved in. It’s fitting then that Manchester Academy was cast as the setting for the performance; on Manchester’s busy Oxford Road, it’s ‘student central’, fully equipped with a plethora of cheap pints and DIY music venues in amongst halls and lecture theatres.

Sports Team

Matching their environment in a chameleon like manner, Sports Team set about in their comradery with witty charisma; sure of themselves in an early Stone Roses style approach but with a charming edge. They’re a band that have risen quickly through the ranks, which transpires through their reception – the audience are clearly eager to catch the band in the limelight.

Their recent hit ‘Kutcher’ uses Hollywood protege Ashton Kutcher as a metaphor for entangled relationships, whilst ‘Margate’ tip-toes the lines of “millennial praise”, saluting a heady great British Summer where you lose yourself to youth. Whilst the majority of Sports Team remain relatively stationary – besides the odd jovial nod and quip to one another – lead singer Alex Rice catapults himself across the stage, limbs thrust about, his voice and movements boldly running alongside one another.

 

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@hindsband at Manchester Academy. . . . . . . . . . . . #shotoniphone #manchester #gig #livemusic #indie #photography

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There’s a stab in the dark when in he asks an audience member where they’re from and with the answer ‘Halifax’ he wears a Gallagher-esque mask and jokes that The Orielles (from Halifax) are “doing alright but the drummer has room for improvement”. If you didn’t know their circles you’d perhaps mark this as arrogant, but in a flippant, aforementioned Oasis brothers manner. In fact, the two bands are allies; fond fans of one another’s work.

So often nowadays female bands are slotted into ‘girl group’ as a genre but of course it isn’t, it’s by default just a gender. With HINDS it’s no different, they’re unique, they’re unashamedly garage rock, they’re your friends, they’re on your wavelength, they’ll have a can with you, they’ll blister in the Summer sun, they’ll laugh at themselves. They’re “HINDS as f**k”. Originally a duo named Deers in 2014, before a legal dispute and a re-grouping brought them to be the HINDS quartet, it’s been a triumphant climb. Featuring two albums which have both met critical acclaim, they’ve toured the world multiple times now, perfecting the art of season-long tours year in and year out.

Hinds

Joyous and positive in their attitude, the room at Manchester Academy lifts. Though no spirits were dampened, it’s as though HINDS take you to a vivid new level – all worries are dispelled and you’re in the moment. We’re taken on a trip through both albums, with a splash of whats to come with recent release ‘British Mind’ that pays testament to the time they’ve spent over here, speaking of the British love for the sun and the glory days of the British Summer.

Laying into their previous records, it’s difficult to spot a track that isn’t completely lip-synced by the audience. From verses pointing the finger at a deceptively messy breakup in ‘Easy’ to tales of feeling lost after a one-night-stand in ‘The Club’, if you listen there’s a juxtaposition between the lyrics and their positive attitude. It’s one of strength though; an earnest testimony to what situations we all at some point face but pass through the other side with an enlightened outlook.

Hinds

‘Tester’, off the second album, ‘I Don’t Run’ is introduced with the announcement that guitarist Ana Perrote is engaged and lead singer Carlotta has quit smoking, mentioning that they’re happy but that this particular song is about a time when you’re unanimously unhappy. “This is about being cheated on” they mention and as the song goes on there are knowing looks about the audience and movement erupts more than it had to any other off their set list, merrily moving along to “Should I’ve known before you were also banging her?”

Before the eruption of the encore, the night is summarised by a perfectly matched cover from HINDS in the form of The Clash‘s ‘Spanish Bombs’. Unique and lighthearted but with a professional edge, HINDS and their support have found their audience but manage to lift them with verses from a quintessentially British band. “Spanish bombs, yo te quiero infinito” drifts through the room, easily picked up by attendees and traced equally as much as the lyrics of the feature act. If HINDS keep at this pace, there’s no sign of them stopping and why would they, when their devote fan-base clings to their every word.

Read more about the latest music news and reviews over on our blog 👀

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PLAN: Off The Record 2018

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER     MAIN IMAGE IS CHILDCARE

It’s back. Manchester’s multi-venue live music event and conference Off The Record is set for another show-stopping year. We’re very proud to be part of the trusted curation team for this years event alongside a distinguished array of influencers including our very own Everything Everything, Rob Da Bank and faves The Orielles. With all acts now collated and the phenomenal lineup announced, the next step is navigating the lineup across the different venues of Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Never fear, we’ve narrowed down a swift timetable of the acts you need to catch at this years’ Off The Record!

On Friday 16th November, kick things off with Nottingham based alt rockers Babe Punch at The Peer Hat set, to rouse your spirits with their grunge/punk mix as they commence the day at 18:40pm. Having supported the likes of Hinds, The Cribs and Ezra Furman, they’re well on their way to being up there amongst the movers and shakers of the music industry. On at the same time but definitely worth catching are Anglo/Korean duo WOOZE at 18:50 on Night & Day‘s stage with their compelling sound that of a warped pop that’ll be something entirely new to your ears.

After that you’ve got a bit of time to nip over to the Everything Everything curated stage at Band On The Wall, where MCR Live darlings Giant Boys beckon you at 19:30 with their minimalist take on post-punk. Theirs is a sound that entwines a Slaves-like level of recognisable Brit punk with something fresh and DIY, comparable to The Foetals to keep the pace going. Make a move towards the end of their set and you’ll have time to catch the end of female-led indie from an MCR Live curated choice, in the form of Thyla, who take the 19:50 slot at The Castle. Blending two quite opposing genres is no mean-feat and we can assure you that whether you go in to watch Thyla after listening to their music, or you rock up without the prior-knowledge, your head will be turned.

Then it’s a quick change over to Aatma for MCR Live residents Peaness – pronounced ‘Pea-ness’ – to brighten up your day (in the darkness at 20:25) with their self sufficient indie-pop which has seen them climb the ladder organically, finding fans in every corner that hears them. Next there’s a bit of a clash but it depends on what mood you’re in on the day. The feral garage punksters Avalanche Party hoist up Night & Day with their bare knuckles from 20:40 – expect nothing less than a snarling wilderness from these Yorkshire renegades. On the flip side, the otherworldly beauty of Pearl City at The Castle makes for a dreamy evening slot at 20:45 via their experimental sound that compromises a spectrum of instruments alongside spellbinding visual trickery.

Photo is Pearl City by Warren Millar

Glaswegian electro-pop might be something you never thought you’d come across but it’s here and it’s here to stay. Happy Spendy bring something new and alive to Aatma from 21:25, featuring their positively themed electronic whirl of wistful, occasionally romantic and always unique sound. Dive into Night & Day next and stay there for the foreseeable with Self Esteem followed by HimalayasSelf Esteem gives you a slice of Slow Club from singer Rebecca Taylor, now embarking on her own project and taking us all by storm with her. Drawing influence from everything and anything – pop culture, her experience’s in the band that she loved but was no longer the place for her creatively, and the freedom that came from stepping away, her new sound is dramatic, direct and deafeningly exciting.

Although we’ve penned this next MCR Live curated selection since 2016, the band have since gained notoriety for a set that is highly energetic, full of melody & cheekiness with ripping hooks – listen to this band once, and you wouldn’t be surprised that they’re all fans of Queens Of The Stone Age, Arctic Monkey’s, Jack White et.al. Straight up Rock’n’Roll. Liked The Blinders last year? You’ll LOVE these. It’s Himalayas of course, sinking their teeth into you at 21:45, headlining Night & Day.

The final live act of the day takes shape in the form of London based CHILDCARE. What gets better than being hand-selected by icons in their own right Everything Everything? Celebrating British awkwardness, this act formed off the back of male-nanny-turned-lead-singer Ed being heard singing by a six year old he was minding who pushed him to take it live. Now out in the open, this four-piece will win over fans of the likes of Baby Strange and Indoor Pets. Catch them at Band On The Wall at 23:30. The night is still young and Everything Everything then take to the decks of Band On The Wall as they close this years festival with a DJ set that’s sure to grab your attention, going on late into the night. It’s a long but fruitful evening ahead for many the music fan, what more could you ask for?

Read more about the latest music news and reviews over on our blog 👀

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EXCLUSIVE: Slowhandclap – ‘Concrete Bodies’

WORDS BY HANNAH  TINKER      PHOTOS BY MANC WANDERER

Hatched in Manchester, post punk breathes and contorts through Slowhandclap, now armed with new single ‘Concrete Bodies’. Citing Nirvana and Dinosaur Jr as their influences, there are distinctive echoes of these grunge heroes in both their sound and their live performances. Raw energy and eager mechanics grab the attention of an audience when they’re billed on a stage, leaving their namesake a clear contradiction. Haven’t heard? ‘Slow handclap’ is defined as when an audience deliberately gives a slow, rhythmic clap to indicate disapproval. Slowhandclap are a paradox: you’d never disapprove of these.

 

Ahead of ‘Concrete Bodies’, their latest track ‘Vertigo’ feltlike it’s been with us longer than it actually has – though not in a bad way – with heavy guitar strums and hedonistic murmurous lyrics that cast the mind to the likes of Weirds and The Jesus and Mary Chain.

‘Concrete Bodies’ immortalises the fledgling act by way of a rush of guitar fuzz and the thump of the drum. Accompanied by lyrics that echo talk of how overrun society is with political, economic and environmental disputes -leaving us as hallowed figures, almost so used to the calamity by now, that we overlook it.

In a monotone chant, lead vocalist Sam Bullock describes how “everything is happening at the same time”, each with it’s own cost, there’s seemingly no stopping the way the world is going. In terms of the wording (but also the genre and styling of the music) the track is reminiscent of Sonic Youth‘s ‘Society is a Hole’, spouting similar verses about civilisation as we know it being predictable in terms of its disruption.

‘Concrete Bodies’ is thrilling in its messiness, a mix of grunge noise with drums that start and stop at the drop of the hat and guitars that race through the song with no signs of stopping, speed racers moving forward. They’re moving themselves forward at a similar pace too, having recently supported alt-rockers Kagoule, they’re now set to headline their home cities’s The Castle Hotel for a pre-Christmas gig on Thursday 20th December. In terms of a sign of things to come, ‘Concrete Bodies’ showcases Slowhandclap in a fine light, leaving you intrigued about what’s to come from the trio.

Read more about the latest music news and reviews over on our blog 👀

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LIVE: Kurt Vile @ Albert Hall | 11.11.18

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER         PHOTOS BY PIRAN ASTON

Prepared with almost a guitar per song, Kurt Vile is easily a master of his craft, a connoisseur of those ethereal, anguish-stricken tracks of his. Promoters of the gig, Now Wave had already posted a crafty pre-show Instagram snapshot of some of Vile and the Violators‘ string instruments to whet our appetites. The ‘Outlaw’ himself and founding member of The War On Drugs, is known for taking his music seriously, not offering chit-chat midway through or idly delaying tracks. He’s a maestro, a virtuoso.

 

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To sell out Manchester’s Albert Hall says it all really. It says that he’s managed to fill the hearts and minds of almost three thousand people and there were surely more, clamouring to get a ticket for one of the final nights of his UK tour. The crowd interaction was the epitome of the way I’d always pictured Kurt Vile to be during a show. Professional and awkwardly at ease, he’s the long haired flounder-er, sipping a beer while shrugging and blushing at the crowd’s affirmations.

Each lyric traced by his vocals brings the familiarity of those ever so well-known hit tracks about anxiety, losing control and a full blown identity crisis. ‘Bassackwards’ from his eighth (and latest) album comes as the third song amongst his set and it’s a clear favourite with the audience, as the phonics leak dreamily from his mouth, flawlessly coordinated with the whimsical waves of light that pass across the stage. That latest album ‘Bottle It In’ leaves a far more upbeat and optimistic taste in the mouth than Kurt’s previous works had done. Of course their’s still his trademark romantic, stoner harmonies but there’s a more vibrant undertone through the instrumentals and deep in the heartstrings of his voice.

From previous records, notable tracks like ‘I’m An Outlaw’ and ‘Jesus Fever’ stand out amongst the set, each applied with a different guitar of course – he’s no amateur you know. His guitar rig is more than impressive, despite the simplistic tone of his songs; his use of various pedals during a live performance is well and truly astounding to witness. A master at work if ever we’ve seen one.

A drum machine provided the constant background noise for almost the entire set, apart from acoustic tunes like ‘Peeping Tom’ – which Kurt presented solo half way through the gig – so it was almost too easy to guess which song would be coming up next based on the beat alone. Kurt kept his face shrouded by his hair whenever he wasn’t at the microphone, the awkward we all admire, you’d find it difficult to feel overpowered or defeated by Vile and his Violators.

After a quick moment of down-time after ‘Wild Imagination’ – one of the tracks found deep within one of his previous albums – this is when we have the encore. The genial charm of ‘Pretty Pimpin’ opens the final moment of the astounding set from an astounding live act. A song about being unable to recognise ones self but continuing on with life anyway and losing track of time, feels identifiable to so many members of the audience, the emotion of losing ones self clearly a common feeling that often graces us in our modern lives. No matter what he’s singing about, Kurt Vile’s words leave you feeling at peace, as though everything is mended, all tensions are cleansed and if they’re not then there’s no need to stress or anguish over such tremors.

Read more about the latest music news and reviews over on our blog 👀

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IN CONVERSATION WITH: Gardenback

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER       PHOTO BY DANI BLAKELEY

Fresh-faced and eager, Gardenback are the rising act taking garage rock to the next level by way of a psychedelic twist. The three piece hail from Oldham, Greater Manchester, having met at school back in 2011 and uniting forces. It’s an acclamation to their dedication that they’ve continued to stay on our radar having been an act for seven years. Through sheer determination and ambition they’ve remained committed to achieving what they set out to achieve with Gardenback. Currently hitting the ground running they’ll be one of the feature acts at the first Manny Fest, Saturday 10th November, alongside the likes of Cannibal Animal, Chupa CabraSaint Ivy and many more. From the minds behind Psymmetry Collective and The Bread Shed‘s Fuzz Thursday night, the all-dayer echoes the the ideals of the collective – to unify a set of like-minded, hazy psychedelic artists and draw a line of Psymmetry across the alternative scene.

Having supported the likes of DZ Deathrays and Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, Gardenback are fast making a name for themselves with talk of lots of new material in the pipeline: “The new stuff feels very cohesive and fits together really nicely. It works.” Latest single ‘Health & Wellbeing’ focuses on the bands own mental health experiences and how these have been influenced by the state of the current financial and political climate. But they’re not just another act wailing about the state of current affairs, their lyrics tend to derive from personal feelings and circumstances.

Similarly, they’re passionate about sharing a message as spokesmen for their followers, recently having worked with Beat It, to support men’s cancer research development. Jacob, the drummer of the band was involved in the campaign and explains that it’s important that musicians use their influence to benefit society. “No matter how big or small, it’s a really good opportunity to share positive causes with other people. We try every year to do something for charity, the last two years it’s been putting on gigs for the homelessness charity Lifeshare. Music brings people together and together we can make things happen.”

 

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With humility and compassion being a heavy theme for Gardenback, it’s clear why the trio are such close friends and that through similar ideals, they’ve lasted so long. Likewise, their influences and inspiration comes from an identical appreciation for acts such as Joy Division, PiL and Televison which results in the outcome of their 90s alt-rock sound, with a splash of 70s post punk thrown in. But what are the current acts that their listening to. Who are the contenders of the scene turning Gardenback‘s heads? They casually concoct a list of acts that generate a similar buzz to themselves, being at a similar level or status: Déjà VegaThe Orielles and Teenage Fanclub beckon a comparable audience, whilst the likes of St VincentCharles Mingus and Thelonious Monk offer an insight into their varying influences.

An eye for an on-stage spectacle too, the three members discuss the most exhilarating live acts they’ve ever witnessed. St Vincent seems to be a recurrent theme, seen at Albert Hall a couple of years ago, her stage presence and spectacle of a show – in particular when she sang ‘Strange Mercy’ solo atop a pedestal – appears to have caught the attention of Gardenback. Favoured stories are recounted and Radiohead is thrown on to the table, which brought drummer Jacob to tears at Old Trafford Stadium, whilst Neil admires Savages, “…their presence as performers and the sheer force in their music hits you.” They’re clearly an act with a keen vitality to continue pushing Gardenback ever closer to their hedonistic aspirations.

Manny Fest #001 takes place Saturday 10th November 2018 at Manchester’s Peer Hat with tickets at just £6!

Read more about the latest music news and reviews over on our blog 👀

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LIVE: Parquet Courts @ O2 Ritz

WORDS BY HANNAH TINKER          PHOTOS BY PIRAN ASTON

A modern-day all-American alt-rock band, Parquet Courts aren’t shying away from the music scene any time soon. With the recent release of their sixth studio album – ‘Wide Awake!’ – and being a collection of musicians with multiple other side projects; they live and breathe music. The album brought “Parkay Quarts” (as they’re often known) bang up to date for the modern millennial which in turn meant a UK tour for the band. Now Wave hosted the first date which led to a sold-out 1500 capacity O2 Ritz in Manchester on a 6-date tour of which all but one date sold-out. Can you get much more of an applaud than that?

 

Fiesty and tireless the band – fronted by A. Savage and Austin Brown – are true to their aesthetic throughout and work together to present the Parquet Courts experience in all its glory. Expertly played guitar, drums and bass are layered over the entwined vocals of the two front men, each tracing the other in a unified discourse stream that captures the attention of the audience. The live debut of hit track ‘Tenderness’  from the new album boasts a heightened sense of activity across the room. Already hyped up by the likes of ‘Wide Awake’ and ‘Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience’ there wasn’t any individual stood still and stagnant, jiving along to the cow bell and bass-heavy chords of the former and in contrast, thrashing away to the latter’s weighty guitar rifts.

It’s overall an enthralling set, which goes ahead non-stop, throwing punches with each beat. One of their greatest strengths is timing; within both their music and their conversation with the crowd. The visual light show happening throughout the set matches the energy of their performance and the traits of the band, flashing colours burst on to each member at a quick momentum that you can’t help but watch in awe.

Easing into the end of the set with the ever epic ‘One Man No City’ – from 2016’s ‘Human Performance’ album –  it’s a six-minute long venture into the bowels of alt-rock, rife with anti-solos and the chant of the lyrics, pioneered by Savage. The finale comes in the form of ‘Light Up Gold II’ for a swift one-minute ending that acts as the klaxon for the 4-piece, fast and fluid, it’s a speedy end that leaves the audience wanting more. Then they’re gone, no encore but there’s only a dull call for one, as though everyone knows that that’s not the way they do: Parquet Courts don’t play games. They bring their all with a live performance that boasts a rush of coiled energy and serrated intent, from a band unlikely – and unwilling – to lose their edge.

Read more about the latest music news and reviews over on our blog 👀

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