Drowned in Manchester – Autumn/Winter 2016

First published by Drowned in Sound, 23rd November 2016

It’s definitely winter now. The weather’s disgusting and the leaves are all sloppy and not fun anymore. Smoking areas are fast becoming uninhabitable. Soon, you’ll have to buy presents for people you feel only a vague attachment to.

The Christmas markets are coming, to clog up the city centre and force you to pay a deposit just for the mug when you want mulled wine to warm your cold, cold soul. The smell of the hog roast will swiftly put paid to your do-gooding vegan impulses, and you’ll inhale a fat roll leaking apple sauce while you argue with your significant other over whose family you both go to over Christmas.

At least we have music.


Greta Carroll from the Whalley Range-based electronic pop duo Bernard & Edith is working on a new project called Westwolf Experiment, where she curates a showcase of mixed disciplines by Manchester creatives, including music, dance, art, and fashion.

Greta says: “The purpose of the Westwolf Experiments was to bring together creative people in a space where they could collaborate to shape the future of Manchester’s creative culture. For me, this was a way of responding to the feeling that Mancunian counter culture had become overtaken by the exploitative creep of businesses looking to profit from it. I felt that the way to revive the ailing state that this culture found itself in was with raw creativity, through music and art.”

“Growing up in Whalley Range, I’ve seen it go through many changes. I’ve witnessed the community disintegrating, and I wanted to inspire people to use their local community spaces to create interesting events and bring genuine culture back to Greater Manchester.”

The next Experiment is on Saturday 26th November at St. Margaret’s Church and includes experimental pop from Kiyoko, grime from Yem Gel, poetry by Hammis Rush, and an art installation by Yasmin Lever.

Check out the promo video by Nick Delap here.

In other news, three of the North West’s premier music festivals (Sound City, Kendal Calling and Bluedot) and the popular online music mag Louder Than War have joined forces to create a new music event and conference. The first Off The Record Event was held on 4 November, with a line-up featuring False Advertising, The Orielles, FREAK, Bossy Love, and Noa Noa.

On Saturday 12 November, contemporary art organisation Broken Grey Wires presented ‘Liberate Yourself From My Vice Like Grip’ at Islington Mill. Broken Grey Wires collaborates with artists, institutions and communities to open up a dialogue around mental health, and the Islington Mill event included eight exhibiting artists, and performances from indie shoegaze four-piece Mothers, all-female genre-evaders ILL, and upbeat folk rockers The Yossarians.


Media darlings Luxury Death will be playing with HMLTD and Pink Kink at the Castle Hotel on Sunday 27 November. Luxury Death is made up of Ben Thompson from the now-defunct Nai Harvest and his girlfriend Meg Williams, and their bittersweet lofi sound is currently charming everyone from VICE’s Noisey to So Young Magazine.

On 8 December, two naughtily-titled acts will be coming together for a show at The Old Pint Pot in Salford. Riot grrl-influenced Belgian four-piece Cocaine Piss and deliciously soulful ‘anti-folk’ outsider Manchester outfit Crywank will knock the socks off anyone who thinks that punk is dead.

There’s also a delightful Christmas party from A Carefully Planned Festival on Friday 16 December at the Eagle Inn, Salford, with a line-up featuring glorious punk-pop trio Peaness, Chuman, Living Body, and Chrissy Barnacle.

Although not technically a Manchester band, The Orielles certainly spend enough time hanging out and gigging here, so it would be remiss not to mention them. The Halifax three-piece have just been signed to Heavenly and they’ve announced ‘Late Night with Jimmy Fallow’, a weekend of gigs curated by the band. It’s been held at Fallow Café on 25 and 26 November, and will feature ZuZu, Party Hardly and The Fentonville Street Band.


Recorded in a house in Scotland and released on Halloween, The Bear Around Your Neck has gifted us a storming debut album. Big Shiver is a concept offering, mixing country, grunge, and psychedelic influences. Listen here.

Of course, this column can’t mention every amazing Manc artist making waves at the moment, so check out our playlist for some further flavours.

Drowned in Manchester – Summer 2016

First published by Drowned in Sound, 19th July 2016

Summer in Manchester is all about music. It’s festival season, we’ve had at least one spell of warm weather, and the city is buzzing with anticipation for approaching holidays, and the prospect of cold beers and barbecues. As always, Manchester’s best up and coming artists are playing live shows and releasing diverse, innovative, and often completely DIY records that can be your soundtrack for the summer.


Dot To Dot returned to Manchester for another epic urban festival instalment on 27th May, with headliners including Mystery Jets, The Temper Trap, and Rat Boy. Local acts made a splash, with notable sets from Blooms, Goda Tungl, and The Bear Around Your Neck, and there were also some stand-out performances from US outfits Diet Cig and Day Wave. Festival Coordinator Ben Ryles said: “It’s great to see local bands play the festival and then use that as a springboard for other opportunities. We have a huge affinity with the scene in Manchester and I think that shows in our bookings for Dot To Dot and our other concerts in the city”.

On 11th-12th June, thousands of revellers arrived in Manchester for Parklife, an independent festival and the brainchild of the Warehouse Project brigade. Parklife celebrated its 7th anniversary this year, with a strong line-up featuring The Chemical Brothers, Craig David, Ice Cube, Chase & Status, Bastille, and Jess Gynne. Parklife has proved so popular that the 70,000 strong event has been moved from Platt Fields in Rusholme, to Heaton Park.

Ben Thompson, one-half of the successful punk band Nai Harvest, and his partner Meg Williams have joined forces to create Luxury Death, a lo-fi indie rock project originating in their bedroom. Thompson will be on guitar and vocals, and Williams on keys and vocals, with a full band for live shows. Luxury Death have already been picked up by an independent UK label, and their first single will be coming out in early August. Stay tuned!

Late night bar Big Hands ran a rooftop all-dayer on 25th June, presented by Only Joking Records, Gold Soundz, Family Tree, and Fuzzkill Records. The line-up included Teeside garage band Girl Sweat, punk/garage outfit Audacity from Fullerton, California, Manchester’s indie/surf three-piece Beach Skulls, and garage rockers Fruit Tones.

On 29th June, all-female indie pop trio Peaness, opened for Glaswegian three-piece Paws at Soup Kitchen. The Peaness girls have also recently released their first single ‘Oh George’, a foot-tapping, joyful indie gem.


Manchester’s beloved Deaf Institute turns eight years old this year, and the venue is throwing a massive birthday party on 12th August. There will be live music from Manchester/London-based Everything Everything (their 2016 albumGet To Heaven is out now), Marple indie pop five-piece Dutch Uncles, and Manc techno legend DNCN, plus DJ sets from Mark Riley, Doodle, Girls On Film, You Dig?, Piccadilly Records, Spotifriday, So Flute, Bophelong, and Gold Teeth.

West Coast neo-punk twin brothers The Garden will be playing an intimate gig at Fallow Café on 27th August. This falls on the Saturday of the bank holiday weekend, and tickets are already selling out.

Also on 27th August, Bad Habit Events presents a ‘Secret Summer Forrest Rave’ in an as-yet undisclosed Manchester location. Details are thin on the ground at this point, but there will be three stages set up, with sets from deep tech, minimal, deep house, and psy-trance DJs. If you’re interested, the best thing to do is join the Facebook event and wait to be messaged with more details.


Current Mancunian favourites Spring King launched their first album, Tell Me If You Like To at Manchester’s Band on the Wall on 10th June. Hotly tipped by both Zane Lowe and Sir Elton John, Spring King’s album is a riotous blend of noise guitar and spirit-lifting choruses. Distortion-heavy and garage-influenced, Tell Me If You Like To is a record for anyone who likes their British indie suffused with spiky intensity.

The 10-track offering showcases plenty of Spring King’s previously released material, including ‘Who Are You’, ‘Demons’, ‘The Summer’, ‘Detroit’, and ‘Rectifier’, making it difficult to imagine where the band will go with their second album. Tell Me If You Like To is released by Island Records.

Surf-pop three-piece Blooms released their second single ‘Porcelain’ on 16th June, premiering the track on DIY Magazine. With dreamy, haze-soaked guitars, the single’s verses and chorus are undeniably catchy, but the instrumental breaks are where ‘Porcelain’ really shines. It’s a highly personal piece of music, with the lyrics describing the impact of caring for a loved one who struggles with mental illness. ‘Porcelain’ demonstrates Blooms’ range, and provides a sense of depth and maturity, tempered with the uplift of the memorable guitar riffs and melody.

For fans of Fat White Family, neo post-punk five-piece Cabbage are released their debut EP Le Chou on 10” vinyl on 30th June. They’re known for chucking vegetables into the crowd during their packed sets, by Cabbage are more than a gimmick outfit. The album’s lead single ‘Kevin’ is suffused with dark humour, rich guitars, and a heavy psych feel. Other stand-out tracks include the tongue-in-cheek ‘Contactless Payment’ and ‘Austerity Languish’, 2:26 minutes that just beg to be jumped to in a sweaty, darkened room.

Manchester wavey/psych quartet Caesar are releasing their first tape with Blak Hand Records this week, and the A-side ‘Hazey’ is already available on Soundcloud. Expect plenty of reverb and delay, plus some heavy tracks lasting around 6 minutes long. You can catch Caesar at Gulliver’s on Tuesday 21st June, sharing a bill with TVAM, Dirty Heels, and Lavender.

For more amazing Manc offerings, check out our Drowned in Manchester playlist.

Dot to Dot 2016: The Drowned in Sound review

First published by Drowned in Sound, 8th June 2016

DiS went to Dot To Dot festival over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend, calling in at Nottingham on Sunday 29th and Manchester on Friday 27th May. Here’s our two writers’ Harriet Williamson (Manchester) and Dom Gourlay’s (Nottingham) main highlights.


Goda Tungl @ Kosmonaut

Our first stop was Kosmonaut, to see Mancunian four-piece Goda Tungl. Perfect for fans of Foals’ first album, the sharp mathematical guitar, pleasingly dark lyrics and frontman Scott Brown’s impressive vocal range combined to create some incredibly memorable electro-indie tunes. Brown’s jerking, long-limbed movements kept all eyes on the stage during a stand-out set, despite early technical difficulties. Top tracks included Shabba, Lostboys, and Teething, all from their new EP ‘Zoo Bar’, available now. Goda Tungl deserves to go places.

Day Wave @ Soup Kitchen

The Soup Kitchen basement proved much too small for everyone who turned out to see Day Wave, AKA Jackson Phillips, and his band from Oakland, California. People were packed into the suffocatingly hot underground space, with more queueing on the stairs. Day Wave’s winning formula is the pre-chorus drop, then the glorious swell as the tune resurrects itself and leads into a wickedly catchy chorus.

Meadowlark @ Night and Day

Meadowlark are not just a vehicle for former YouTuber Kate McGill, they’re a darkly atmospheric folk outfit that are well worth a listen for fans of Laura Marling and Bright Eyes. They already have a substantial cult following, with a new tour starting in September. Unfortunately, the venue’s sound system and the noise of a crowd insisting on carrying on their own conversations did much to cover and blur the sweetness of her voice and the bright, heady guitar.

Baba Naga @ Kosmonaut

Sheffield-based Baba Naga played another packed venue, with festival-goers crammed into the doorway and on the stairs throughout their set. Your reviewer was unable to actually get inside the room or see what the band looked like, but enjoyed the heavy psych vibes nonetheless. With big reverb and languid vocals, Baba Naga are on the circuit for a number of festivals this summer, including Field Day, Visions, Green Man, and the Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia. Fans of eerie, mid-sacrificing psych-rock should aim to catch them on one of their festival dates.

Blooms @ Texture Bar

Blooms gave a strong performance at Texture bar, and despite the fact that their set clashed with the Mystery Jets’ headline slot, a sizeable crowd turned out to see the Manchester three-piece. Huge energy from brothers Tim Daniel (bass) and Mark Daniel (drums), with Matthew Adams on guitar and vocals putting his heart and soul into the performance. This band is perfect for fans of Diiv, Deerhunter, and Real Estate, mixing dream surf-pop shoegaze vibes with Manc miserablism. Stand-out tracks included the new single ‘Porcelain’ that explores mental health problems, indie pop banger ‘Head is Swimming’, and ‘Alaska’, a song that manages to be both heartfelt and catchy, with an incredible guitar riff.

The Bear Around Your Neck @ Cord Bar

Manchester-based singer-songwriter Nathaniel Scott, AKA The Bear Around Your Neck, has been steadily gathering momentum for quite some time now. His hypnotically dark brand of folk music takes a great deal of inspiration from both country and psychedelia, with delicately picked guitar arrangements breaking through atmospheric amplifier fuzz. Scott opened his set chanting ‘I’m an open wound’ as a segue into the searing melody of The Fruit Fly Way. Scott used the set to showcase a couple of brand new tracks, and closed with a deliberately chaotic patchwork of feedback. Cord Bar reached full capacity and people were turned away, testament to the appeal of Scott’s haunted, emotionally raw brand of psych-flavoured, fuzz-heavy folk.

Diet Cig @ The Ruby Lounge

Diet Cig were hands-down one of the best bands at Dot to Dot this year. The garage punk pop American two-piece was fronted by a tiny dark-haired pixie, Alex Luciano, who exploded on a stage as a ball of pure energy, jumping and high kicking without pausing to catch her breath and watching her, it was entirely possible to forget that live music could be anything else. Drummer Noah Bowman kept a cool presence in the background as Alex bounced her way through crowd sing-alongs, with the biggest grin never once leaving her face. Fuck your Ivy League sweater, as Luciano calls into the crowd, because this band is one worth getting sweaty and losing your cool for.

Spring King @ Central Methodist Hall

Spring King are currently hailed as a Manchester success story, hotly tipped by Zane Lowe and appearing on Jools Holland. Their sought-out headline slot at the Central Methodist Hall wasn’t quite as well-attended as expected, although plenty of younger teens took the opportunity to push and pogo in a sweaty knot at the front of the stage. The venue had sound troubles throughout the day and was an hour behind schedule when Spring King finally took to the stage. Despite their recent success, the band came off as generic with little to recommend them. Spring King might’ve given the show their all, but many people left wondering if their reputation is bigger than the songs that they actually play.


Drowned in Manchester – Spring 2016

First published by Drowned in Sound, 19th May 2016

Musical prowess is woven into the fabric of Manchester’s history, just like political radicalism, stark industrial skylines, and gravy on everything. Artists coming out of Manchester have forever altered the cultural landscape of the UK, from The Hollies and Herman’s Hermits in the 1960s, to Factory Records and Joy Division in the 70s, The Smiths and the Madchester scene in the 80s, and Oasis, James and Mr Scruff in the 90s and beyond.

The weight of Manchester’s musical history can fall heavily on emerging artists, but despite this, new talent is rife in the city. Bands are sloughing off the dated remnants of Britpop and the Gallagher brothers and moving towards experimental electronic sounds and US-inspired grunge and shoegaze. Garage and lo-fi sounds mingle with sunny surf aesthetics, all tinged with the distinctive Manc Miserablism so particular to our great northern city.

As this is the first column in a brand new series, there’s plenty of news to catch up on from 2016. Cosmosis Festival in March was a much bigger deal this year, held for the first time at Victoria Warehouse, one of Manchester’s most historic industrial spaces. The line-up included the Brian Jonestown Massacre and Jesus and Mary Chain, plus The Raveonettes and Manchester psych band Freakout Honey.

On 16th April, Record Store Day was a resounding success in Manchester, with long queues in some of our best-loved independent record shops. The official Record Store Day after-party was hosted at the Deaf Institute, with sets from up and coming surf pop/shoegaze three-piece Blooms, and Mancunian darlings Horsebeach. Elsewhere, Soup Kitchen hosted local duo Ghost Outfit and Radio 6 Music-accredited Mother, while Vinyl Revival presented an in-store gig with the Tom Hingley Band (of Inspiral Carpets fame).

Manchester’s current proudest export Money returned to the Rainy City to play their biggest show ever at The Ritz on 22nd April, supported by dark electro duo Bernard and Edith. Money released their critically acclaimed second album ‘Suicide Songs’ on Bella Union in January 2016, and we’re hoping to see more depressing brilliance from them over the coming months.

May 1st saw Sounds From The Other City return for it’s eleventh year, with stand out performances from heavy pop four-piece Church Party and Happy Meals, and a DJ set from all-female clubbing collective Witchc*nt.

Dot To Dot Festival returns to Manchester on 27th May, with headline slots from Mystery Jets, The Temper Trap, and Rat Boy, plus local favourites including Zane Lowe’s hotly tipped pop rockers Spring King, and delightful dark folk solo artist The Bear Around Your Neck. We recommend checking out Blooms for fans of Deerhunter and Real Estate, and tight electro-pop duo Girl Friend.On 28h May, Manchester promoters Family Tree present Liverpool-based garage pop trio Beach Skulls at Fallow Café, with support from Manchester’s Fruit Tones and Bleached DJs.

Garage rockers Gorgeous Bully are releasing a split 7” with Something Anorak on Art Is Hard Records on 27th May, and the first release ‘Beaucoup’ is a celebration of sunny lo-fi pop sounds. Gorgeous Bully are known for their prolific output, DIY aesthetic, and searingly energetic live shows. Frontman Thomas Crang’s painful lyrics alone make the split 7” something to look forward to.

Laurie Hulme aka Songs For Walter released his self-titled, self-produced album in January, and it’s definitely worth a listen for fans of wonderfully uplifting indie folk with a bittersweet edge. Think Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, but with more soul.

Manc four-piece Goda Tungl have released their second EP Zoo Bar, filled with electro-indie math-rock sounds. ‘Shabba’ is the EP’s stand out track, and vocalist Scott Brown says “the title is a joke, the song isn’t. The chorus was written while sitting at Gorton reservoir with a girl in the early hours of the morning. The verses were written a year later, at a much more stressful time”.

Swansea-born but Manc-based, Rachel Rimmer is a singer-songwriter to watch for alternative folk fans. She’s released her first EP Truce, a beautiful collection of soft, bluesy sounds, ideal for a lazy summer day.
Of course, we don’t have the space to cover everything exciting that’s going on in Manchester music right now, but check out our playlist beneath to get a flavour of some of the incredible artists coming out of the Rainy City right now. Tracks from Fruit Bomb, Delamere, Pale Waves, Blooms, Flesh, and Easy Kill.


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