No feeling can compare to hearing a sentiment that you’ve only ever heard reverberating around the most private corners of your mind versed through compassionately honeyed vocals. And that is exactly what the Manchester-based outfit, Dakota Avenue, delivers through their latest single, Slap Me Silly. Far from a masochistic howl into the void, Slap Me Silly claws into the soul-biting issue of needing someone that knows you enough to offer a firm guiding hand to pull you back into a state of sanctity.
It is about time Manchester’s music scene stopped being defined by nostalgia and started to revolve around the contemporary crafted resonance delivered by acts as energizingly profound as Dakota Avenue. Their indie jangle-pop melodies, cataclysmic crescendos and 80s-inspired synths are a hotbed of evocatively charged stylised alchemy.
But Dakota Avenue certainly hasn’t failed to gain traction; they’ve garnered radio play from Amazing Radio and XS Manchester, performed live sessions for BBC Introducing and played to thousands at festivals, and garnered critical acclaim from across the board. As a fellow Mancunian, I wouldn’t hesitate to sell Dakota Avenue as one of the hottest acts this side of the Mersey.
Slap Me Silly is due for official release on June 3rd; check it out for yourselves here.
We ‘witnessed’ a Furrowed Brow gig in Manchester the other week, and we say ‘witnessed’ because we felt like an accessory to some kind of strange event, like sneaking into an ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ type cult affair without the correct passwords.
These Manchester typ(k)es saw us slightly affronted by the spectacle of a ‘Drummer in a Kaftan’ (sung to the tune of ‘Vicar in a Tutu’?) who smashed the tom and snare (no kick drum) like he was Bobby Gillespie circa 1985 in JAMC. All fronted by a snarky/sarcy singer that reminded us of Richey Manic snogging the Divine David and three awesome artists (guitar, bass, keys) that frankly held that shit together like their lives depended on it.
Think Earl Brutus meets Felt in a Britpop toilet cubicle whilst Jarvis Cocker takes bad coke with Morrissey in the next cubby. I think you get the drift.
The new single ‘I Threw The Bathwater Out’ is classic c86 style guitar pop echoes, sort of David Gedge fronting ‘Fire’ era Pulp. But it’s really just the tip of the iceberg that sunk the Titanic because the live show is a must-see riotous affair with early Fall style energy mixing wit and irony with the ultimate broadside of a spot-on cover of Johnathan Richman’s 50-year-old Modern Lovers’ classic ‘I’m Straight’.
Not only was it funnier than the original, but it suddenly makes more sense in these gender-fluid times. Instead of singing about ‘Hippy Johnny’ and his stoned antics, the narrator’s declaration of ‘I’m Straight’ now has much more meaningful cultural resonance with ‘Hipster Johnny’ and his ‘paedophile moustache’ completely trumping the original antagonists’ comparatively lame crimes of basically liking to smoke weed.
I guess what we’re saying is, buy the single and go to the next live show. YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT.
After branching out from being the gorilla glue of the Manchester music scene, Golden Believers Records International couldn’t have chosen a better inaugural outfit to advocate on our Brexit-blighted shores than the Mexican ‘psyspyinstrosurf’ originators, Secret Agent.
Their latest mostly instrumental EP, Moros En La Costa, is the kind of cinematically immersive feat of authenticity the average CD-buyer laments about not existing anymore. The conceptual album focuses on the espionage practices used from the cold war to the present day. While that sounds like a serotonin sucker, there’s nothing but escapist reverie here.
With no lyrics to get in the way in the majority of the tracks, you’re left with enough space to metaphysically make yourself the main protagonist in the Spy-Spaghetti Western while the warm shimmering psych surf rock elements amplify the chill of the colder post-punk tones that are always lingering to bring the overarching sense of trepidation.
If Twin Peaks’ Agent Cooper found himself across the border, I’m fairly certain the title single would be reflective of his sonic-inner monologue. The sense of intrepid espionage heightens with track two, Man in the Middle, which picks up the pace, a fair amount of sun-bleached spacey intrigue, and an almost Whovian sense of aural alchemy.
Loaded Gun, featuring vocals from Daniel Gutiérrez, is the surfy, psychy equivalent to Charles Bukowski’s infamous “love is a dog from hell” proclamation. With the hooky lyric “I need a loaded gun because I’m falling in love”, the riotous track finds a succinct way of alluding to the snake pits we throw ourselves into in the name of affection, and our proclivity to do it anyway because there is nothing like that particular poison.
Following Loaded Gun, Stasi Romeois the calm after the visceral storm. Kompromatserves as the final standoff, and Moros En La Costa (Reprise) is the final psychedelic farewell with synths so phantasmal that they will probably need an exorcism when they next get serviced.
Honestly, I scarcely had an autonomous thought in the entire duration of the EP. And these days, accolades don’t get much better than that.
‘Let Me Out Alive’is the scuzzy indie garage rock debut single from the enigmatically volatile Salfordian duo, Yakumama. They’ve already caught the attention of Radio X with their promising debut that carries the buzz and the bounce of Mudhoney, the effortlessly cool swagger of Kyuss and the efficaciously sharp hooks that demand repeat attention.
The Manchester music scene has been crying out for new artists that rock the indie assimilator apple cart with their off-kilter ingenuity. Yakumama does exactly that with their post-punk nuances and the chaos that breeds at the mercy of their guitar pedals and their vicious power-pop vocal lines.
We already can’t wait to hear what is in the pipeline after this gothy plea for hope and mercy that was written to shake listeners out of moving with the tide.
Let Me Out Alive is now available to stream via Spotify.
Manchester’s most Avant-Garde art-rock collective, Weimar, came in with all glamorous guns blazing in their latest single, The Girls of LA, which increased the anticipation of the things to come in their eagerly awaited debut album, Dancing on a Volcano.
With a shift from their usual baroque post-punk style, The Girls of LA is a departure from what the airwaves acquiesced to before but Weimar knew exactly what they were doing by bringing this riotous bop-worthy track to the aural table in turbulent times. Sonic escapism doesn’t come much sweeter than when its off the back of the sunset strip.
The energy parallels that of the most enlivening tracks by the Ramones but with their signature artful gravitas, its proto-punk as you’ve never known it before. As the lyrics reflect on the high-class American dream, the endlessly off-kilter instruments drive up the discord into infectious heights. It has all the makings of an alt-rock earworm paired with the finesse of a muso’s Achilles heel.
From the definitive home of UK indie, the Manchester-based synth-folk artist, Test Card Girl, is here with their intricately alternative Kraftwerk-inspired single, Fly.
Her choral folk vocals float into the slightly Avant-Garde, endlessly ethereal electronica progressions as the lyrics navigate the stir craziness that lockdown stirred inside all of us. In their own words, “It is a rallying cry to stand up and walk to nowhere”, inspired in part by the colliery bands in British mining towns.
With Seadna McPhail (Airtight Studios) on production and the I am Kloot drummer, Andy Hargreaves, responsible for production, this Arts Council-funded single was worth every penny. There really is no understating how much its gentle gravitas cuts straight to the core of frustration while exploring art in the context of desolation.
Fly, the second single from Test Card Girl’s debut EP, was released on February 25th. You can hear it for yourselves by heading over to SoundCloud, Spotify and Bandcamp.
Keep up to date with new releases from Test Card Girl by following on Facebook and Instagram.
If you ever needed definitive proof that no city breeds dark indie like Manchester, delve into the atmosphere in Fox Evades’ latest single, Strange Forever.
With a beguiling vocal style reminiscent of Jo Bevan from Desperate Journalist paired with the instrumentals that will remind you why you fell for post-punk and new wave in the first place, Strange Forever is an indulgent hit of tonal nostalgia.
When it comes to the substance in this viscerally evocative confession, Fox Evades well and truly stands in a league of their own. There comes a time in every outlier’s life when we acknowledge that we will never grow into normalcy; Strange Forever captures those cutting feelings while unifying the similarly minded with the lyrical affirmation that it’s a choice to be alone.
Strange Forever will officially release on February 25th. You can check it out for yourselves by heading over to SoundCloud.
Manchester-based alt-indie pop singer-songwriter Minerva Daisy delivered macabre poetry in her latest horror pop single, Something Strange.
After a baroque pop intro, the track starts to pick up momentum after the powerful and queer indie pop songstress delivers the striking lyric “there’s a lump in your throat, I hope it swallows you up” and sets the tone for the fiery release that will allow you to imagine what Kate Nash would have sounded like if she found the inclination to become a murder folk artist. Even though there’s plenty of dark imagery in the high-octane hit, that doesn’t strip the luminary light from this infectious hell hath no fury like a woman scorned release. Any fans of Amanda Palmer, Amigo the Devil, and the Creepshow will find that Something Strange is just as obsession-worthy.
If anyone has what it takes to shake the monotony out of the Manchester music scene, our money is on Minerva Daisy.
Something Strange will officially release on February 16th, 2022. Check it out for yourselves on SoundCloud.
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.
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.