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Manchester

I Know I Shouldn’t Need You: Sensational Leeds singer Pixia is addicted to the taste on ‘Pink Sugar’

After dazzling our minds on the exceptional single ‘If I’m On Your Mind‘, Pixia stuns our tastebuds with her brand new lip-loving release all about questioning why you miss that taste you shouldn’t like on ‘Pink Sugar‘.

Anna-Rose aka Pixia is a Leeds/Manchester, UK-based indie electro/dark-pop singer-songwriter who sings with such genuine beauty which warms up your whole consciousness to believe that anything is actually possible if you believe in yourself enough.

”” I originally wrote ‘Pink Sugar’ at 16 years old on acoustic guitar. The finished product has been inspired by a variety of influences: from new wave bands such as Japan and The Cure to contemporary female artists such as Melanie Martinez and LANA DEL REY. My range of influences inspired me to experiment with the sound of ‘Pink Sugar’ to create something pleasantly familiar, yet also very unique to my listeners.” ~ Pixia

Pixia is on top form with a stunningly propelled single that is sung with her signature sweetly-tipped vocals that somehow has your heart beating faster than you can ever remember, as she takes us into her angelic world of lust. She has a world-class ability that is unconditionally spellbinding and is one of the most alluringly classy singer-songwriters around.

Pink Sugar‘ from the scintillating Leeds/Manchester, UK-based indie electro/dark-pop singer-songwriter Pixia, is a quite brilliant single from an artist who seems to tingle your ears like no other artist around at the moment. Her lusciously expressive vocals and intelligently-created lyrics – are quite gorgeous and she shows us into this story about feeling sick – that you are still thinking about a former lover who you know isn’t good for your ravenous soul.

Hear this highly captivating single on Spotify and see more via her growing IG music account.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Go Home Wasted: Manchester band MYOTO keeps the fun going all night with ‘Two Step Sally’

Following a lip-licking and hangover-fueled drinking of thirstily consumed Baltika lagers together on team bonding night at Wetherspoons, MYOTO rev up our intriged senses with their delightfully portrayed new single called ‘Two Step Sally‘.

MYOTO is a ruggedly exciting four-piece alt-pop act from the legendary city of Manchester, UK. They make that movie-like soundscape that has you grabbing your new lover close, and locking lips for as long as possible.

Forming a band right before a national lockdown might not have been the best of starts. But, for Myoto it was a fruitful period.” ~ MYOTO

The guzzling vibes are fully in tune with the theme of the night as the energetic energies combine to see if this could be an extra late night evening, with someone who totally gets what you are about. Made with a heightened sense of party vibes and a thriving tone, you feel like this is a track you won’t easily forget.

Two Step Sally‘ from the thrilling Manchester, UK-based alt-pop band MYOTO, is a powered up single that shows much potential with mysterious vocals – that you need to turn up on full to catch the whole story – with marvelous melodies to have you feeling so much better than before. This is the type of song to put on when you have just arrived home from the pub, and feel the urge to keep the night going as long as possible.

Hear this fine new effort on Spotify and check out their IG for more exciting stories about their much-anticipated progress.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Manchester’s most Machiavellian outfit, The Battery Farm, is set to release their sophomore EP, Dirty Den’s March of Suffering.

If Rob Zombie dreamt up a band to feature in his horror flicks, I am pretty sure there would be a fair amount of hypothetical reminiscence to the mischievously intellectual Manchester-based outfit, The Battery Farm, who are set to release their second boundary-breaking EP Dirty Den’s March of Suffering.

The addictively dynamic release permits you to feel pretty much every emotion on the human spectrum. Given that slipping out of ennui enough to get excited by new music isn’t exactly an easy feat when our worldviews become even bleaker with every log onto social media and flick onto the news, that speaks volumes.

Beyond the sheer sonic innovation, the genius in The Battery Farm lies in their ability to appeal to the melancholically inclined with their satirically liberating tracks that make having an IQ higher than a loaf of bread fleetingly worth it.

Their exposition on the dankness of the human condition in Dirty Den’s March of Suffering cuts just as close to the bone as The Manic Street Preachers’ The Holy Bible. The parallels with the Manics don’t end there either; notably, they carry the same scathingly sharp lyrical wit as Edwards.

After an ominously distorted Westworld-style honkytonk prelude that disquietly teases the carnage that follows, the EP volleys you into the tumultuous ride with When the Whip Goes Crack which pulls pure veracious poetry out of squalor and indignity. If you thought Ken Loach’s films were hard-hitting, prepare for the bruises imparted by this juggernaut of an alt-rock release that lends from everything from post-hardcore to grunge.

I’ve Never Been to Gorton proves that The Battery Farm can do light-hearted just as well as they can lay down inflamed perception-shifting introspection. Behind the bouncy vocals is an exhibition of the modestly virtuosic talent of guitarist, Dominic Corry. While you get cheap kicks of hearing about the landscapes that you have lamented about being around, you are left mesmerised by the guitar licks that stylistically sit between Marr and Glen Branca.

The Battery Farm may have been lazily lumped into the generic punk category for their previous releases, but they come out all experimental guns blazing with Drowning in Black. The darkly psychedelic release is easily one of the most authentically experimental soundscapes conceived in Manchester in the last two decades.

Roy Keane isn’t Real is a bruiser of a scuzzed-up attack on the stupidity and conspiracy theories that have been sending everyone under recently. If any single proves their commitment to delving deep into their Machiavellian imagination, it’s this punk-rooted track grounded in their working-class charisma.

The concluding single, We’re at the Top, ends the EP on an ethereal, jarringly stunning note. It fittingly becomes the swan song of the EP that encompasses life, death and everything between with infinitely more cerebral finesse than Good Charlotte mustered in The Chronicles of Life and Death. With a similar sonic palette to Jerry & the Peacemakers and vocal reminiscence to Mike Patton’s crooning on Mr Bungle’s California album, it arrests you into reflection while conceptually imparting the disarming assurance that our mortal coil is ephemeral. Ingeniously, We’re at the Top tempts you away from spending your days fixated on the ugliness in the world with the same ‘we’re all going to die so fucking be nice’ gravitas as In Heaven by Pixies.

In their own words, here is the concept behind the Dirty Den’s March of Suffering:

“This EP is an attempt by us to celebrate the humanity behind the moment of death. It’s a celebration of the foibles and fallibility of people, a speculation on the silly and mundane things we may get caught up in in death as we do in life – trips to Gorton never made, conspiracy theories chased forever, all kinds of irrelevant nonsense. It’s an acknowledgement too of the blitzkrieg of fear that must be the moment of death, regardless of how it comes, and the ultimate loneliness that is the destiny of all of us. Regardless of circumstance, death is the most innately lonely thing of all and as such it is innately terrifying. The EP is also a futile attempt to understand how something so gigantic can be so unknowable. None of us know what it is like to die, and just as your humble working boiz are doing here, we can all only speculate.”

The EP is due for release on October 15th, 2021; it will be available to stream and purchase on all major platforms. Physical copies are available for via their website.

Tickets for the EP launch at Gulliver’s in Manchester on October 16th are available here.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

LIVE REVIEW: PINS + Heavy Salad + Sweethearts at the Parish, Huddersfield, 23/09/2021

PINS

Huddersfield may not be renowned as a thriving epicentre of alternative culture; it became one when some of the finest acts that the North has to offer raised the roof of the Parish in on September 23rd.

Hull’s finest alt-90s revivalists, Sweethearts, had the unenviable task of warming up a staunchly miserable crowd determined to reserve their energy for PINS. Even if you could have been forgiven for thinking that the crowd was mostly lobotomised, they persevered with their high-energy set taking every banter-fail in their enigmatically electric stride.

Their live set may have been my first introduction to their music which addictively mixes emotional vulnerability with unfalteringly performative insanity but I was gripped with every volatile second of it. I wouldn’t be surprised if half of Huddersfield heard their massive, cacophonously rhythmic drums, and the instrumental flair didn’t end there. If you can’t resist Pavement’s fuzzy hooks, you’ll find Sweethearts’ distorted hooks to be just as sharp. If you get a chance to see them live, take it.

It was my third time catching Heavy Salad live, and my god, their live performances have picked up extra instrumental grit and vocal soul since we last caught them in Manchester, shortly before the pandemic hit in 2020.

With less talent between them, their cultish wholesomeness would fall into the realms of esoteric novelty, but what Midsommar is to horror, Heavy Salad is to the airwaves. They find a way to add nuance to celestial conversation with vibration-raising mantras nestled into hooky psych-pop hits in a way that no one else could.

It was my first chance to hear some of the material from their currently-in-production sophomore album; it would appear that they have perfected the cosmic guitar-driven pop formula over lockdown. Watching them go from strength to strength following the release of their debut album, Cult Casual, in 2020 has easily been one of the gratifying feats of my PR career.

PINS may consistently get left out of the conversation when it comes to celebrating Manchester’s most iconic acts, but with their arresting, cooler than meth style and endless accolades, what more could you possibly ask for?

From the moment they stepped on the atmospherically lit stage with their post-punk-tinged danceable riffs and protestive lyrics that attack the fetid threads of our social fabric, their unshakeable demureness consumed the room. With the glamour of 60s go-go girls and their fiercely empowered poise, they are one of the few bands that can take influence from the original Riot Grrrls without allowing their sonic vision to feel like history revisited.

PINS took the often divisive girls to the front ethos to the next level with the final track on their setlist, Girls Like Us, by inviting the handful of women in the crowd up on stage to dance with them. How could I possibly refuse? With the outstretched hand of Faith, I grasped the affirmation that their motivation as an artist isn’t just to flaunt their autonomy; it is to extend it to anyone that witnesses it.

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Review by Amelia Vandergast

The Maitlands have dropped their brooding double A-side Diving in at the Shallow End / Bobby Driscoll.

If you could imagine what it would be like to experience Desert Mountain Tribe, Oh Sees, the Fall and the Jim Jones Review simultaneously, you still wouldn’t come close to anticipating the brooding eclecticism of The Maitlands’ freshly cultivated sound in their first release of 2021.

With their double A-side, Diving in at the Shallow End / Bobby Driscoll, they’ve thrown a significant proportion of their humble indie rock swagger to the wayside to find more room for their artistic fortitude.

Mark Winterburn’s (Nine Black Alps, Plan B, Don Bronco, The Script) production, engineering and mastering brought a cinematic flair to the singles with symphonic motifs decorating the signature affably despondent style from their earlier releases. But honestly, I feel like I’ve just experienced the darkest post-punk glow-up imaginable.

Diving in at the Shallow End starts with desolate desert rock tones before the percussion starts speaking to you on a primal level, and discord starts to amass in the psychedelically arranged single until it breaks into a frenetic feat of dingy garage rock n’ roll.

Bobby Driscoll is a conceptual exploration of identity, loss and tragedy inspired by the story of the Disney child actor who wound up in an unmarked grave. It starts by stripping hubris away with the simple yet disarming question, ‘Do you ever feel like you’ve become a caricature of yourself?” As someone who frequently navigates the world in a dissociative state trying to uphold the image I project, it’s safe to say the compassionate narrative hit hard as it unfolded around the walls of shoegazey guitars and percussion that thrashes its way through, managing to reflect the inner turmoil that anyone with a hint of self-awareness feels.

Both singles released on September 3rd; you can check out the singles on Spotify, Amazon and iTunes via this link or connect with the Maitlands via Facebook.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

LIVE REVIEW: A histrionic evening with Mercury Machine

The Deaf Institute became a welcome sanctum away from the culture-blind chaos that spilt from most venues on bank holiday Saturday in Manchester with the sublimely curated line-up featuring The Last Clouds, Woman You Stole and Mercury Machine.

The Last Clouds kicked off proceedings with their confessional lyrics, imploring vocals and dark indie electronica stylings that will be familiar with any fans of Covenant, VNV Nation and Apoptygma Berzerk. If any artist can prove there is an intrinsic beauty in vulnerability, it is the Last Clouds. Their recently released single, How to Get Up From This, was all it took to allow my curiosity to transpire into fanatic adoration. The theatrical atmosphere of the single wouldn’t be out of place on the end credits of an apocalyptic blockbuster. Yet, it was the heart-wrenching lyrics, “I tried to speak but it is hard because nobody cares/ I’ll tear the books from my shelf just to lie in the words of somebody else”, that cemented a place on my radar for the criminally underrated act.

If anything can spice up a line-up, it is the je ne sais quoi of Woman You Stole. They set themselves apart by an avant-garde mile with their lively debonair set that easily commanded the crowd into feeling what was orchestrating between them – even if it was fascinatingly unpredictable from one progression to the next.

Their capriciously experimental style is arresting on record, seeing it first-hand is something else entirely. Describing Woman You Stole as entrancing may sound hyperbolic but their sophisticated originality that emanates from their authenticity and mind-blowing talent, rather than through diehard determination to find obscurity, is something everyone should make an effort to witness at least once.

It almost seems needless to rave about Mercury Machine; the band that falls outside of the Manchester post-punk assimilative trap and find themselves in far darker territory, one that made me pretty nostalgic about the soundtrack to Cradle of Fear. The Manchester-based dark indie electronica five piece’s set instantly made it obvious why most of the room were sporting their t-shirts and why why so much hype has amassed around them since the release of their critically-acclaimed debut album in 2019.

Their lyrics are too efficacious in allowing you to explore the fucked up avenues of the human psyche while the pace of frenetic rhythms allow you to find euphoria through defiantly dancing to depictions of our mental precariousness. I couldn’t have asked for a better hit of post-lockdown catharsis.

Bands should always be judged by how much they move you emotionally and how much they can make you move; as Mercury Machine got the first post-lockdown dance from me, I can’t give them much higher praise than that.
Their inhibition-stripping histrionic sound still finds space, occasionally, for Marr-style guitars that add even more energy to their caustic industrial sound could fill stadiums. If goths felt more inclined to leave their bedrooms, that is.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

If You Want Me To: Manchester producer Feizor wonders what happened on the stunning new track ‘So Many Times’

Taken off his recent strong release named ‘Year of the Bull‘, Feizor drops the sumptuous new single all about wondering if the person you love, actually feels the same spark as you do on ‘So Many Times‘.

Feizor is a sizzling chill-pop electronica project by the Manchester, England-based producer Dallo. He is a world class music artist who makes the type of household jams for the ages, that has you feeling so much better inside each part of your excited body.

Having gained critical acclaim as a member of Black Marks with their debut album ‘All But Defeated’, The producer has struck out on his own to mix the downtempo elements of that project with the electronica he is more widely known for under his Dallo moniker.” ~ Feizor

Her delightful vocals seems to effortlessly simmer just right into your enthralled consciousness, as you peacefully float inside these beautiful lyrics – that is matched with an absolutely quality soundtrack, which has you in a captivated state of curiosity.

So Many Times‘ from the highly skilled chill-pop electronica and Manchester, England-based music producer Feizor, is a loving track which is a real ear-perk that makes you rather delighted inside. On a terrific beat with succulent vocals, this is a real gem of a release.

Sometimes you just need to know, so that you may feel free inside your enlightened soul.

Hear this fiery new single on Spotify and see more on the IG music page.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Gybz strips the glamour from superficial pleasure with his dark RnB single, Sad Boy Hours.

Gybz

Alt RnB artist Gybz has released his viscerally raw single, Sad Boy Hours, which reflects on our tendency to seek superficial pleasure when we are at our lowest points.

The striking lyrical honesty paired with the suitably harsh electronica textures in the dark RnB track pulls you in deeper to the single that floors you with lines such as “Don’t take it so personal, I want it to be heartless”.

After so many artists have romanticised exactly what Gybz strips the glamour from in Sad Boy Hours, calling the Manchester-based artist revolutionary is far from hyperbolic.

Sad Boy Hours was released on July 29th; it is now available to stream on all major platforms via this link.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Rorys Aspect has diversified Manchester’s music scene with his seminal single, Social Anxiety.

Manchester-based alt-indie electropop artist and producer Rorys Aspect has released his arresting EP, Lifesaver, featuring the standout synth-pop track, Social Anxiety, which comes with spacey 80s vibes and the most candid lyricism you will hear this year.

With shoegazey guitars and just as much reverb on the vocals, the raw nature of the lyricism loses some of its sting in the choral trippy tones that are prolific in tracks from Manchester’s greats such as the Stone Roses, the Chameleons and the Charlatans.

The self-produced track is unequivocal proof that Manchester has another revolutionary in its midst. As a fellow Mancunian, it is all too refreshing to hear an indie artist not falling into the process of assimilation.

You can check out Rorys Aspect’s latest EP by heading over to Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Fox Evades – soaring, spacious dreampop with ‘Someday’

Fox Evades is the solo project of Manchester-born singer songwriter and producer Jordan Mae. Following up the success of debut single ‘The Heart That Drowned’ and follow-up ‘Bira’, both of which garnered interest from BBC Introducing’s Hannah Fletcher, comes third single ‘Someday’.

A soaring, spacious three minutes of echoey dream-pop, reminiscent of Desperate Journalist, Belly, Slowdive, or The Cure, ‘Someday’ is deliciously gentle and atmospheric, tangibly breakable and ethereal, with a picked repeating guitar line that could have come straight from Three Imaginary Boys or Seventeen Seconds, and Mae’s haunting, delicate voice evocative of Tanya Donelly or Toni Halliday on vocal duties.

It’s truly excellent, and a beautiful, ephemeral taster for Fox Evades’ debut EP due out later this year. You can hear Someday on Spotify; follow Fox Evades on Facebook and Instagram.

Review by Alex Holmes