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ISSUE THIRTYTHREE DEC/JAN

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LIGHTSPEED CHAMPION THE ANTLERS

CYMBALS EAT GUITARS AMPLIFIER JAPANDROIDS TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB

THE HEARTBREAKS MAY68 2009 YEAR IN REVIEW


HighVoltage presents Hot Club de Paris with Lost Knives & Spokes

Deaf Institute

Monday 15th Feb Doors 7.30pm, tickets ÂŁ7 adv from www.wegottickets.com / www.ticketline.co.uk, the venue or by calling 0161 832 1111

highvoltage.org.uk www.myspace.com/hotclubdeparis


ISSUE THIRTYTHREE DEC/JAN

manchester news introducing - THE HEARTBREAKS / MAY68 introducing - JAPANDROIDS AMPLIFIER TWO DOOR CINEMACLUB THEANTLERS CYMBALS EATGUITARS LIGHTSPEED CHAMPION 2009 YEAR IN REVIEW single reviews album reviews live reviews listings new Noise

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For more reviews, interviews, comment and info on all HighVoltage activities log on to highvoltage.org.uk

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See highvoltagesounds.co.uk for label info and new HighVoltage releases

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EDITOR - Richard Cheetham - richard@highvoltage.org.uk LISTINGS EDITOR - Mike Caulfield - listings@highvoltage.org.uk DESIGN - Andy Cake | Soap | www.soapforall.co.uk CONTRIBUTORS - Simon Wright, Stuart Holmes, Denise Tench, Alex Lynham, Anne-Marie Pattenden, Harry Garne, Andy Best, Gemma Louise Harris, DJ, Stephen Eddie, Mke Caulfield, Michael Perry, Liam Pennington & Gareth Roberts

Want to join the award winning HighVoltage team? We’re looking for talented writers & designers, volunteers and all round music fans to help out. Get in touch with richard@highvoltage.org.uk

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dec/jan _News...

Words: Richard Cheetham

Undoubtedly the big story this month is the

Clearly the poll recognizes that there's a wealth

inclusion of three Manchester acts in the BBC's

of talented groups in Manchester, with the

annual tip for the top in the coming year.

chosen three only the tip of the iceberg. MAY68

sound of 2010 poll Event of the Month...

Props to Delphic, Everything Everything and

and Heartbreaks (featured in the introducing

Hurts for making the shortlist alongside Ellie

section), represent the diverse range of music,

Goulding, Marina & The Diamonds and Two

but the consistent quality. This issue also reviews

Door Cinema Club.

releases by other hotly tipped acts like Run Toto

The shortlist will be whittled down to one. I mean, what's the point of having a poll and not picking

Run, Kissing in Cities and Table. These acts are also share little common ground musically, but plenty of ability.

a winner. No-one wants that.

NYE Parties! This issue may cover a barren spell of releases

of ambitious co-promotions. A highlight being

Terje supplies some smooth jams in the top

and gigs, though we've aimed to cover the best

the successful silent disco(s) at Deaf Institute.

room, whilst a string of DJs from Chips and

live shows of the past month. As well as

With 60s soul / pop gems in one room and

Detroit Public Radio are lined up to supply

previewing upcoming releases. So some space

cutting edge indie-electro in the other you'll

bangers across the other two floors.

has to go to the pick of NYE parties in

never be short of quality tunes to see in 2010. HOUSE PARTY @ RUBY LOUNGE

Manchester to choose from... CONTORT YOURSELF @ ROADHOUSE

For readers looking for a more recognisable

MR SCRUFF @ BAND ON THE WALL

Contort has grown into a Manchester institution.

party soundtrack head to the Ruby Lounge.

The legendary monthly at Music Box ended in

Landing on every other Saturday the electro-

Purveyors of cutting edge guitar sounds Lost &

October. With BOTW now Scruff's new place

disco-house night has showcased international

Found have put together a night encompassing

of residence. Expect a mamooth DJ set from

live acts, DJs and MCs for several years.

DJ sets from (deep breath) The Whip, MAY68,

10pm-4am taking in every kind of music you

The line-up for the NYE may be familar to

Answering Machine, Lowline, Hit Club, Same

can think of.

regulars, but it presents one of the few NYE

Teens and Dutch Uncles. Tickets are a

nights guaranteed to lack pretense.

reasonable ÂŁ10 adv, leaving enough cash to

REVOLVER VS UTR @ JABEZ

quench the thirst of the biggest and baddest

The Revolver and Up The Racket chaps may

EL DIABLO'S @ DEAF

compete for students and NQ dwellers on a

A massive line-up, and hefty ticket price to boot,

Monday night. But this NYE night closes a year

for arguably the evenings hottest night. Todd

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booze hounds.


INT R O DUC ING THE HEARTBREAKS

It may be cheesy to say there’s a romantic element to Heartbreaks’ music. But anyone who’s tracked their progress over the past twelve months will understand the sentiment. When HV asks how the band met, the response - “The Lonely Hearts Column under: ‘Inevitable Heirs to Nothing in Particular.” – may be seen as a casual in-joke quoting The Smiths, but it underpins the bond the band have forged, and the confidence their music exudes. Closer to the truth is that Heartbreaks have evolved from a high-octane indie-rock band called Seaside Riot. After years of trying to sound harder and faster than anyone else, they’ve taken a backward step to write songs with genuine feeling. Perhaps this attitude has come about by meeting kindred spirits on the Manchester scene? “There’s nothing emerging as such… Maybe the press are just noticing guitar bands exist again… I don’t know. We’re all dear friends and we all exist. We have a lot in common with Orphan Boy and Strangerways; being people who moved to Manchester and set about achieving something. It’s very romantic and we’re all very close.” Though this sincerity is endearing, Heartbreaks are ultimately huge music fans making music they’re proud of. Their cheeky side is

evident when offering up Phil Spector as their dream producer. And they prove the strength of their record collection by citing The Glasgow School by Orange Juice as the band’s favourite LP. Heartbreaks have earned their position as one of 2010’s hot tips through hard-work, perseverance and self-belief. Where do they see things going in 2010?” “I think quite vaguely about the future. I want to release a single soon, although that doesn’t feel like a dream… It feels quite natural.” Though their sights are set a little lower, you can’t help but think that things are falling into place at the right time. The Heartbreaks play Night & Day with Orphan Boy on Saturday 19th December. For more gig dates and to listen to tunes head to www.myspace.com/heartbreaksband

MAY68

MAY68 are possibly the most ambitious sounding band to emerge from the Manchester scene since Delphic. Mixing sharp drum beats with deadly electronic grooves, the 5 piece are rightly tipped for big things. This ambition is fuelled by a desire to encompass a clubbing experience into a single live show, much in the way LCD Soundsystem, or even Daft Punk, can keep the party going all night long… Matt explains further; “Most of the music we’re into was coming out of New York, Berlin, Paris and London, but the nearest we could get to it in Manchester was listening to tracks DJs played in darkened clubs. It's cool but you want something you can really connect with so we formed a band to encompass this and create a live experience for everyone to enjoy.” Some may suggest that MAY68’s electronic influence is a little too ‘now’. Whatever that means. But they’re a genuinely impressive act, on record and live. Singer Jude Wainwright adds an extra dimension with a cutting vocal delivery that adds a thicker edge to the band’s groove laden electronica. They have a vital position on the local scene, pushing boundaries for what a band on a low budget can produce. Matt says they’re not the only ones:

“There's a whole bunch of bands forming with similar ethos and beliefs as us but with a completely different sound, which is cool. There seems to be an inkling that people's attitudes are changing, becoming visually and musically more open. In this sense we're kindred spirits with Dutch Uncles, Young British Artists, Egyptian Hip Hop, maybe not in style but definitely in ambition.” If you could work with any producer who would it be? “Tough question... There are a lot of producers we'd love to work with! Giorgio Moroder: no one can take potentially soulless technology and make it into something organic quite like him. But if he wasn't available we'd have to ask Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo from Daft Punk.” MAY68 will be DJing at the Ruby Lounge’s NYE party, and release debut single ‘My Ways’ through Hit Club in February. There’s a ton of other live dates up on www.myspace.com/may68uk as well as new recordings and exclusive remixes.

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INT R O DUC ING

JAPANDROIDS

HV catches up with Dave Prowse from the incredible two-piece Japandroids. They recently played at Moho with A Place To Bury Strangers which, like a loser, I missed. So Dave, apologies for not making it down, how did you find the support slots with APTBS? Well, we’re big fans of A Place to Bury Strangers, and they are awesome people, so it was a lot of fun going on tour with them. We didn’t really have any idea how well known we were in the UK, so it made a lot of sense to do a support tour for a real band like APTBS. We played our own shows in Edinburgh and London, which were great, and we were surprised to see a lot of people for us at every show. We were lucky in the sense that a lot of people who are into those guys are into our band as well. It was probably the most fun tour we've ever done.

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Do you enjoy the travelling aspect of touring Europe? You’re playing some really cool venues, so you must be excited about seeing new places? Playing in Europe is absolutely amazing! We didn’t want to come home at the end of the UK tour, to be honest. We are very, very excited to be heading back to the UK and Europe in February. One of the best things about being in a band is getting the chance to travel and see so many great cities. We definitely try to tour as much as possible and see as much of the world as we can. As a two-piece do you look to the likes of The Black Keys as an inspiration to explore the sounds you can create? Or is this not a conscious process? I don’t think we specifically look to other two-piece bands for inspiration. We just rip off bands who we like regardless of how many band members they have. Post-Nothing has a great vibe in a Stooges / MC5 way, but there’s some interesting melodies on tracks like ‘Sovereignty’.

Do you aim to combine both these aspects of song writing, or do you just jam and see what happens? As far as a song writing process goes, some of the stuff we just kind of stumble upon while jamming, while other songs are already written by the time we start working on them in our rehearsal space. Please don’t compare us to the Stooges – that’s like comparing Jesus to his dorky little brother – it’s just not fair. By the way, in that analogy Jesus was the Stooges, just to be clear…

Mclusky. We play a cover of ‘To Hell with Good Intentions’ every now and again, but I think my favorite Mclusky song is probably ‘Alan is a Cowboy Killer’. Or maybe ‘Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues’. Tough call! Seen as though it’s the end of the year, what’s your favourite LP of 2009? Timber Timbre. Awesome spooky swamp ballads by a guy from Toronto. What will people be listening to in 2010?

Ha, fair enough… If you could add a new member of the band who would it be, and what would they play?

Probably a lot of the same stuff people listen to right now, just a lot less of the stuff that came out in 2009…

Hmmmm… so many rappers to choose from… I’ll have to get back to you on that!

And, finally, what’s the rudest band you’ve played with?

You cite McLusky as an influence, what’s your favourite tune? And what do you make of Future of the Left? We got to play a show with Future of the Left in LA back in the summer and they were awesome. We are big fans of them and of

Bands are usually pretty nice. Sound guys on the other hand…. Japandroids return to Manchester to play Now Wave @ Deaf Institute on 25th February. More info on www.myspace.com/japandroids Words by Richard Cheetham


ampli what is _fiermusic?

With the recent release of Eternity, and upcoming tenth anniversary show at the Academy, HV caught up with Amplifier’s frontman Sel Belamir to discuss the question that he posed in the title of a song on their last album, Insider.

more chord based. I was interested in what fans could expect from their new double album The Octopus, due out next year. I had heard that it was ‘two albums at once’ and asked Sel in what form they intended to release it.

Amplifier occupy a very special place in my life. As a seventeen year old after a gig back home somebody suggested we check out a band called Oceansize. Through them, we became aware of another Manchester band, Amplifier. To us, growing up on a dull music scene these two bands made Manchester the musical equivalent of Mecca. For many, these two cult bands have come to define the hopes for leftfield British guitar rock into the twenty-first century.

As some reading this may be aware, the show on the 19th of December is to promote Amplifier’s recent Eternity release. As it turns out, those wanting to hear The Octopus will for the most part have to wait until next year’s tour; Sel explained what listeners could expect from the mini-album and show:

Unsurprisingly, Amplifier’s sound is difficult to characterise. At times ethereal, at times very riff-heavy, they have played at Download festival yet have a dedicated fan-base that come from a much wider musical milieu than the metal scene. In particular, Sel’s use of pedals and musical textures is nigh-legendary, and a lot of musicians of all genres are followers of the band. I wondered whether Sel had any thoughts on how to describe Amplifier’s sound? “It’s… I don’t know because you’re asking me to describe my personal response when there are two other people in the band. It’s soulful… it’s earnest.” Their debut, Amplifier, recently reissued through German label SPV as a double-disc digipak, featured much more riff-oriented musical structures where Insider, their sophomore, was

“It’s a double album in the classic sense… it won’t fit on one CD. Y’know, it’s a massive project. When we did our first album, we wanted to do The Octopus. We left a couple of songs off that because it was ‘too early in our career’… now we can do whatever we want to do, which is more like it was when we first started.”

“Basically, Eternity is a retrospective. We only really released it for the fans, for those that already know a bit about the band and that can put it into context. [The tracks] are from the proto-genesis of the band, before we had a label… the most innocent, joyous period of the band, free from politics…[at the show] we’re going to play the whole of Eternity. Almost everything we are playing will be things we don’t usually play. Ninety per-cent of our set will be things we’ve never ever played live before.” Despite the fact that Sel was clearly at ease talking about Amplifier’s at times rocky career, there was clear resentment towards some of the record labels that they have dealt with. I asked, had being a professional musician dulled his experience of playing music in any way? “Yeah, totally. If you join the circus you can’t enjoy the show.” But there have been highlights, and a smile was brought to Sel’s face as he

told of their first tours, three friends and a van on an adventure. Despite “being dropped by a label”, “being the support band AGAIN”, and “being stuck on a bus in December in Brussels” when “it’s cold and you’ve got no money”, he could still remember “the first time we were in NME” and “headlining a stage at Two A.M at Roskilde… the sun was coming up as we finished our set.” His highlight though, was on their first European tour:

“Our first ever show in Germany, we’d never been to Germany and had no idea why people would come out and see us. We arrived at this small bar in Munich and it was sold out.” So with regard to the current musical climate, I was curious as to what his view of downloading was given that they are releasing their next record on their own label. Sel was quick to draw attention to the intrinsic “honesty” of alternative music- as long as the music comes from within, and for the right reasons, people would connect with it and support it. “People choose to be customers now. People aren’t customers, they are patrons. When you choose to buy something you can get for free, it’s a reward [to the artist].” It had become evident during the course of the interview that Sel’s attitude towards the band has changed a lot from when they started, even though they are now free to do what they like. As High Voltage deals with a lot of younger artists I thought it might be fitting for him to offer some hard-won wisdom:

you’re an amateur and it’s a balance between that and being a professional. Don’t divorce being artistic and creative and being entrepreneurial… if you make money you can do what you want.” Having ten years’ experience as a professional musician has not erased his love for music. He explains that Amplifier are the sort of people who don’t play music because they want to per se but because it’s all they can do. After a long discussion as to whether music defines the artist or vice versa, I asked: what do you love about music? After a pause, Sel gave several answers. “[When I was a teenager] it was listening to ‘Outshined’ [off Badmotorfinger by Soundgarden] on my Walkman and feeling ten miles tall. [Nowadays], a sense of completion of a project… to be in a constant state of rapture would mean you couldn’t get anything done. It’s a sense of questioning and yearning that drives some people to create… to put themselves in some sort of context.” So then. Ten years and still going strong. Sel speaks excitedly of how the scope of The Octopus means they plan on touring it for up to a couple of years, developing it on the road, but we’re out of time. He’s got a band practice to get to. The last word? “If you let it all get to you, you’ll crumble like a mud dyke. It takes extraordinary stubbornness, almost blind ignorance [to be a musician]. But that’s what love is.” Amplifier play the Manchester Academy on the 19th of December. Eternity is out now direct from the band at http://www.amplifiertheband.com/, and The Octopus will be out next year.

“For me, I’ve taken ten years to learn that fundamentally it was best when we started and it was just for fun. But if you do something just for fun,

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TWO DOOR _CINEMA _CLUB There’s something to be said for a band who readily admits to writing ‘pop’ songs. It could be said Simon Cowell and co. have made pop uncool and exposed the cynical nature of a cutthroat business. However, bands like Two Door Cinema Club provide an insight into this genre, which allows the music listener to be unashamed in admitting their partiality towards pop music. It’s probably not fair to categorise Two Door as a straight pop act though, “We’re more like off-kilter pop,” says lead singer Alex. And there are many other “off-kilter” nuances associated with Two Door. They work incredibly hard and have already made many sacrifices, moving to London from their hometown of Belfast and undertaking tours, which see them as far a field as Japan. For a relatively small band, this perhaps seems something of an anomaly. The unwritten formula usually goes along the lines of, live in home town, get mates to come to gigs,

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play every venue in the immediate locality, slowly get a following, take the interest to another city and build on the fan base, then, eventually, tour… “We don’t really see ourselves as part of a scene,” explains Kev. “We’re not part of a city trend or anything, we just moved to London because it was a good base but we’re certainly not a ‘London band’. It’s just much more convenient to jump across to Europe from there and to get anywhere in the UK from London is pretty easy.” Alex continues: “We kind of want to raise our profile all over the world at a similar rate. We exhausted the Belfast scene a bit and we want to make sure the band has some longevity. Playing a gig in a city then not returning for a couple of months will hopefully leave people hungry to see us again. We consider ourselves a Belfast band and a lot of our influences come from the bands we played with in Ireland when we first started out. But we’re not engrained in that scene, any scene really.” It’s a rare find in any part of the obscure world of music; a band that has the acumen and bravery to leave the relative safety of an already established fan base in

search of more enthusiasts elsewhere. Obviously bands play outside of their home town but to do it as far reaching and as regularly as Two Door, who are still only bubbling under the surface of mainstream music. I mustn’t be confused with greed or a desire to become huge household names. “We just want to carry on doing this for as long as we possibly can. We’re not really thinking about any long-term plan as such, we just want the opportunity to continue writing and playing our music. Not over-facing and boring people with our stuff will hopefully create a bit of longevity,” says Alex. It an astute approach, one which relies on a co-dependant relationship, in which the band feed of the enthusiasm of their audience and the audience are always enthusiastic to see the return of a seasoned indie-pop outfit. Like the bubbly friend you always meet up with at Christmas; you always enjoy spending time, catching up with them.

album coming out in February, which will showcase some of their infectious, hook-laden pop melodies. Expectations must be high and surely much is resting on its success considering the amount of hours that have been spent on its production. Again the band produce a pragmatic answer to the ‘How well do you expect the album to do?’ question. “Well,” starts Kev, “we like it so we’re pretty sure someone else will.” Modest words really, when you consider Jo Wiley has spun Two Door tracks, Pudsey used their sound at this year’s Children In Need, BBC Introducing have championed the band and Kanye West has reportedly declared his allegiance in a blog. It’s probably safe to say, the album should attract a fair bit of attention. The band however, seem disinterested in the corporate accessibility and success of the album. “Even if we thought the album was going to flop, we’d still put it out,” Alex admits. “We’ve put so much effort into it so, we’d put it out for that reason alone.”

Two Door are also very careful in maintaining a large degree of autonomy when it comes to recruiting the help of others. “We make sure that we trust the people that help us and we want them to be as passionate about the band as we are,” says Kev, with tour manager Matt sat beside him. This kind of fervent attitude in a band is by no means an anomaly, but balancing aspects, which allow a band to fuel their own passion often fades as quickly as a hometown crowd gets bored with the same set in a different setting. But with Two Door struggling to point towards home, they may eventually become the adopted band of many a town and city around the globe.

The band are set to continue touring in the new year, perhaps even more so than they already are. “We just got our diary for next year and yeah, it’s pretty full,” says Kev. “We’ve basically been told to say ‘goodbye’ to our families for the whole year!”

The future looks pretty exciting for the Belfast boys: They have an

Words: Simon Wright

Two Door Cinema Club are mindful of imposing themselves on their fans and this kind of courtesy might just see the band widely accepted and heralded as bastions of the new indie-pop world. They won’t be disappearing anytime soon, but with many a town and city to conquer, they won’t be setting up camp in your town for long either. So next time they arrive in you neck of the woods, go and check them out.


the _antlers Brooklyn three piece, The Antler’s released their eerie & emotional LP ‘Hospice’ this year, which critics have already announced as one of 2009’s leading gems. High Voltage caught up with Peter, Darby and Michael from the band before their first Manchester appearance at the Deaf Institute.

Is Hospice’s subject of loss and human vulnerability its main theme?

God Speed you Black Emperor!, Sigur Ros and My Blood Valentine, things like that.

P: Really the album can focus on whatever you want it to, loss and dealing with that is not necessarily the whole picture. Its about reclaiming independence for yourself and I think the record hopefully ends on a more positive note. At the beginning it’s like shutting oneself off, and by the end bringing people in again.

How have you found the UK fans so far compared to the US Crowd?

So how have you found the albums intensity plays out live. D: Well we recorded all this before we tried to play any of it live

P: I got really bored playing with myself! Seriously though when you are a solo musician, you get bored very quickly. Practice is just you running through your songs, and shows are just you, not having any interaction with anyone you play with.

P: When recording, it was all individual aspects but when the record was done it became the three of us and a solid unit, and we accepted from the beginning that live it was not going to sound like the record. To satisfy ourselves creatively we change these songs and adapt them for the stage, turning them into something different, and finding a new way for them to sound, and I think that’s kept us going, kept us engaged.

So it’s good to have some company?

It’s a very Individual album, what are its influences?

So Peter you were previously solo what made you want to form the band?

P: Absolutely, there were a lot of reasons to turn it into a band, I respond more to bands than I do solo musicians and as far as the stuff I was hoping to record and what I wanted the project to turn into, it made more sense for other people to be involved.

P: A lot of stuff like ambient music, post rock, more instrumental music in terms of the musical side of things, sort of washy atmospheric things. Any bands in particular? P: At the time of recording a lot of

D: They are more enthusiastic actually, I was told that what we would get here was very cross armed and judgemental, but I really don’t see that. I see people interested more and listening more. The US audiences talk more during shows. The UK audience seem more there for the music, to listen and take something away from it and not just to get wasted.

And is the new material of a similar ilk to Hospice? P: I think it will be pretty different, as the band is different to when we recorded Hospice. Now we are more a collective unit, where as Hospice was sort of transitional. In terms of new bands, are their any tips for 2010? D : I just heard the new Beach House record which is really good.

Hospice is touted as one of the better albums of 2009, what are your favourite albums of the last 12 months?

M: There’s also Holly Miranda, who we have just done some shows with. She used to play in a band called Jealous Girlfriends. She was touring with us and The XX in the states. It’s a really beautiful record and she’s an amazing singer with great texture in her voice.

P: I personally really, really love the Fuck Buttons record.

Finally after this tour what’s next for the band?

M: Yeah, Dirty Projectors is a great record. I was also a big fan of the Grizzly Bear record.

Collectively : Sleep

D: The XX is a great record. I have no idea how they will follow that up. P: It’s cool because The XX are really different than all the stuff that’s been hyped up in the past. Although you are touring Hospice, can your fans expect to hear any new material? P: We’re writing stuff now as we are travelling, and for the first time in a while we will have some time off in January, so planning on doing the recording then.

M: After sleep, we really want to sit down and get some songs recorded, which we are all excited about, but then our tour schedule is filling up to next summer now. The LP Hospice is out now Words: Andy Best


CYMBALS _EAT GUITARS It’s a dank and suitably Mancunian welcome for New York’s Cymbals Eat Guitars. Out of the rain, the band are afforded a humble space in Piccadilly Records to perform their in-store show.

Pitchfork have had a hand in elevating Cymbals Eat Guitars to the public’s conscience. “Pitchfork have been brilliant to us,” explains Joe. “They gave our album a really good review [8.2] and after the Best New Music thing, we started getting a lot more people to the gigs. And you know, the guys at Pitchfork are just really cool guys. They just love music and it’s great to see that these kind of people still exist; those who genuinely love music.”

On record, there is a power and tenacity melted into the Cymbals Eat Guitars sound, something that could easily be lost through unobtrusive acoustic versions of their songs. In fact, guitarist Joe Ferocious (aka. Joseph D'Agostino) readily admits, “We’re much better with amps and stuff.” However, to echo Pitchfork’s judgement of their acclaimed album, Why There Are Mountains, the quieter segments of Cymbals Eat Guitars’ songs have just as much impact as the louder more layered moments. This transposes well onto the intimacy of an in store acoustic gig. The power and narrative in Joe’s vocal tone becomes more noticeable as he utilises a beaten, rusty acoustic for accompaniment. And when you see the band in this guise, it’s plain to see that Pitchfork had it right – the subtlety is equally as impressive as the robustness.

It would appear though, that quickly expanding their gig audience is not much of a priority for Cymbals. Building up a big enough fan base to play bigger venues would see them lose something they cherish. “We love playing the small venues,” says Joe. “And right now we’re not thinking about the next step up. Every time we return to a city, we play a venue that’s a little bigger than the time we played. But we love playing these smaller dirtier venues.” Regardless of venue size, the band have an unfaltering attitude when it comes to their live performance. “We don’t rehearse our live show; how we are on stage is just natural, it’s just us. Live shows are really important and when we’re on the road, obviously it’s the only chance we get to play the songs,” says Joe. “I guess this makes us more excited to play them when we get chance,” adds keyboardist, Brian.

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Cymbals Eat Guitars have had a seemingly rocky journey from their inception, when drummer Matt and Joe met at High School, to their headline show tonight at Night & Day. Their previous keyboardist, Dan, had serious health issues, which forced him to leave. “That was so sad for us,” says drummer Matt. “He was such an important part of the band and it was so bad having one of our good friends fall ill.” But the part seems to have been filled sufficiently by current key player, Brian. “When we first got Brian in, we were blown away. We had no idea that keyboardists used pedals and you know, we’ve played with a second guitarist in the past but to be honest, Brian does the job of a guitarist and keyboardist. He makes some amazing noises.” The last member to join, Whipple, was somewhat thrown in at the deep end – two rehearsals and he was onstage with the band. “We’d tried out a couple of bassists and no one did it for us. Then Whipple came and I kind of knew straight away that he was the guy,” explains Brian. “He knew all of our songs inside out - it was obvious that he was going to be our guy.” Whipple recalls how he first discovered the band: “I read a review on Pitchfork and thought they sounded like a really cool band. It was like, one day, I’m going to be in that band!” “And here he is!” adds Brian. He passes on a revelation to Whipple: “We tried another guy after you, but we really didn’t want to or need too. We were just waiting for him to leave so we could phone you.” It’s a wonder, what with so many chops and changes over the past couple of years, how the band have

managed to write such exemplary songs. Joe explains the song writing process: “For this album [Why There Are Mountains], I wrote most of the songs. It’s kind of changed now, you know, I’ll come with an idea and we all contribute. But to be honest, I have ideas for songs in my head from the moment I wake up, to the moment I go to sleep and for every minute of the day.” This enthused attitude and lack of pretence or stringent business formula heightens the appeal and honesty of Cymbals Eat Guitars. More importantly, it’s perhaps why the band has survived in the face of tragedy and change. It’s very easy to slide into the realms of insular twee when writing American indie. But Cymbals manage not too. Their songs encompass a vivid image of America and are delivered with such conviction that Joe turns into a twenty first centaury sharecropper in front of your eyes. This, is the perhaps America’s greatest talent; that of being able to tell a story and Cymbals Eat Guitars do it with a magnetic authenticity. Their music sweeps from lurid to serene in seconds, all adding to the richness of the tales, hidden within the songs. They’re certainly not stadium material but to see them in a small venue only increases the sense of privilege you get by being included in their little circle of friends. And no doubt, they will continue to make many musical friends in the coming months, as they take their stories of Lake Michigan, truck drivers and shallow grave on the road. Expect them back in the UK in the New Year. Words by Simon Wright


“Sorry we’re running rather late this end, ok to hang on?” Getting a quick chat in with

Lightspeed _Champion on the eve of the release of his second album Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You, is turning into a more difficult task than expected. But such is the media interest now focusing on one of music’s more unassuming stars – NME wanting an extra twenty minutes is all in a day’s work for a solo artist on the cusp of big things. When the green light is given it’s a characteristically chirpy Dev Hynes on the other end of the phone, giggling like a school girl and revealing all about the making of the new record and the weird world of synesthesia.

The emergence of Lightspeed Champion almost two years ago was one of those nice surprises that come up every so often; seemingly out of nowhere we had a fully formed ukulele-wielding pop star on our hands, and in Falling Off The Lavender Bridge a debut album crammed with ambition and heart-on-the-sleeve pop melodies. So the pressure must have been on to really nail the follow-up. “It took nine days.” Oh. There goes that theory. “It was never really troublesome...there was never a moment where it was like ‘Fuck!’” As you can tell, Dev is a pretty laidback kind of guy. For a man going back and forwards to Brooklyn (where he now lives) and in the middle of a day of interviews and phone calls he is ridiculously chipper. And when it comes to album titles Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You ranks up there with We Love Life in the good vibes stakes. “It’s almost uncool to be positive”, he says, cooly and positively; “I like the idea of forced positivity...and I thought it was quite funny as well. I was trying to write stuff similar to what got me into music in the first place, happy stuff”. This glass isn’t just half full, it’s bloody overflowing. What quickly becomes obvious when talking to Dev is that for all the good humour and sunny facade there is a musical brain running at hyper speed under that big hat. If recording Life Is Sweet! in nine days wasn’t remarkable enough considering the number of strings and piano parts then how’s this for impressive: “I wrote all the

arrangements. The main goal was to write every single part”. This isn’t some kind of megalomaniacal power-hungriness; it’s simply the joy of being involved all the way through the process. This hands-on approach wasn’t, however, always completely successful: “one of the songs has this weird double oboe part, so I wrote the parts out. When the oboe player came in there was a certain bit where she said ‘you know that’s impossible to play, we need to breathe at some point!’ so stuff like that was fun!” This wideeyed ‘can-do’ mentality is what sets Dev apart from other solo artists, an enthusiastic naivety which underpins much of the new record. Between the comic books and photo exhibitions that have characterised the down-time between the two albums one breaking news item stuck out; Dev’s synesthesia. Dev sees sounds in colour, an amazing sensory cross-wiring that might go some way to explain his constant activity. “I met this girl who works at the Rockefeller University in New York and she interviewed me. It was really enlightening. I found out a lot of things that explained a lot about me that I didn’t particularly realise before”. There’s a select group of creative types including David Hockney, Duke Ellington and Aphex Twin understood to share this experience and I ask why it’s only recently been divulged; “It’s just something I’ve always had, but never

discussed because I thought I’d come across as a bit...weird.” Dev sounds genuinely excited to have uncovered a layer of his personality that is new even to himself, and judging by his enthusiasm ‘budding neuroscientist’ might be the next vocation to appear on his CV. Something tells me this isn’t the last we’ll be hearing about this anyway... With the clock signalling the end of this particular episode in the Lightspeed Champion media circus there’s just time to get a last word on how the man finds the energy to follow through with so many different creative pursuits. “It’s always an experiment. There’s so much out there, I just want to try it all” he says with the confidence of someone who probably will at some stage or another. And on the subject of having one of the first anticipated records of the new decade? “It’s not like life or death. It’s something you can enjoy for a small period of time. It’s all just music in the end.” And with that my life lesson is complete.

The single Marlene is out on 25th Jan, with the LP Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You out on 1st Feb Words: Harry Garne

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20092 So, another year passes us by, and with its end come the inevitable end of year polls. Never being ones to shirk an opportunity to pour praise and scorn as we so please, we asked the High Voltage writers and some local industry impresarios their opinions on 2009. Has it been a year to remember or a year to forget, you decide. BEST ALBUM OF 2009 In an incredible year for LP releases the HV writers have voted Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavillion the best of the lot. The LP combines mind bending creativity with a knack for knowing the way around a tune; a worthy winner we’re sure you’ll agree. Special mention must go to The XX, whose eponymous debut possessed a fussfree confidence and sleaze which haunted and tantalised in equal measure. 1

Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavillion

2

The XX - XX

3

Wooden Shjips - Dos

4

Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

5

Fuck Buttons - Tarot Sport

Honorable mentions... Grammatics - Grammatics. Florence & the Machine - Lungs. Friendly Fires - Friendly Fires. Between the Buried and Me – The Great Misdirect. The Horrors - Primary Colours. Micachu & The Shapes - Jewellery. Lily Allen It's not Me, It's You. Blue Roses Blue Roses. The Leisure Society The Sleeper. Arctic Monkeys Humbug. Lau - Arc Light. Mastodon Crack the Skye. Fever Ray - Fever Ray. Bibio - Ambivalence Avenue, La Roux - La Roux

BEST TRACK OF 2009 Again, Animal Collective scoop the prize for My Girls, a brilliant piece of music that epitomises everything that is great about this band. 1

Animal Collective - My Girls

2

Dizzee Rascal - Bonkers

3

Friendly Fires - Paris (AEROPLANE REMIX)

4

Dirty Projectors - Stillness is the move

5

Empire of the Sun - Walking on a dream

Honorable mentions...

Bat for Lashes - Daniel. Mumford and Sons - Little Lion Man. Florence and the Machine - Drumming. Fears - Non-Participation. Mastodon – Crack the Skye. Mariachi El Bronx Cell Mates. Florence + The Machine - You've Got The Love (xx Remix). Grizzly Bear - Two Weeks. Green Day - 21 Guns. Liam Frost feat. Martha Wainwright - Your Hand In Mine. The Dead Weather - I cut like a buffalo. Lau - Horizontigo. Sleigh Bells – Crown on the Ground. La Roux - In For The Kill (Skream remix)

MOST OVERLOOKED RECORD OF 2009 Remarkably, everyone gave a different answer. So, in no particular order... Broken Records - Until The Earth Begins to Part. Engineers - Three Fact Fader. Bombay Bicycle Club – I Had The Blues But Shook Them Loose. School of Seven Bells Alpinisms. Crystal Stilts – Resistance. Slow Club - Yeah So. Wild Beasts Two Dancers. Steel Panther – Community. Property Tyondai Braxton - Central Market. The Invisible - The Invisible. And So I Watch You From Afar - ASIWYFA. Liam Frost - We Ain't Got Money, Honey, But We Got Rain. Blue Roses - Blue Roses. Franz Ferdinand Tonight. Passion Pit - Manners. Asobi Seksu - Hush. Behemoth Evangelion. Devin Townsend Project - Ki. Between the Buried and Me The Great Misdirect. The Antlers – Hospice. Sleeping States - In the Garden of the North. Woods - Songs of Shame. Papercuts - You can have what you want. Wilco - Wilco. Sky Larkin. Amadou et Mariam Welcome to Mali. St Vincent - Actor.

MOST OVER-RATED RECORD OF 2009

Animal Collective - doin it in 2009

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Florence and the Machine wins by a distance, whilst the album gained its fair share of acclaim, culminating in a Mercury nomination – it now transpires that more than a few people aren’t quite so easily pleased. The Prodigy come a close second with their frankly awful Invaders Must Die – a comeback we could all have

done without. 1

Florence and the Machine Lungs

2

The Prodigy - Invaders Must Die

3

La Roux - La Roux

4

Speech Debelle – Speech Therapy

5

Kings Of Leon - Only by the Night

Dishonorable mentions... The XX - XX. Michael Jackson - This is It. The Big Pink - A Brief History of Love. Arctic Monkeys - Humbug. Lady Gaga – Poker Face. Dead Weather - Horehound. Eminem Relapse. Marmaduke Duke - Duke Pandemonium. Wavves - Wavves. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest. Filthy Dukes

BEST MANCHESTER LIVE SHOW OF 2009 Manchester International Festival must be given the credit for two of the most memorable live shows of recent times, Elbow with the Halle, and Kraftwerk – anyone who was in attendance at either will attest that these are deserved winners. 1

Elbow & the Halle at the Bridgewater Hall - 9th July 2009

2

Kraftwerk at Manchester Velodrome - 2nd July 2009

3

Steel Panther at Academy 1 14th September 2009

4

Blur at the MEN Arena - 26th June 2009

5

Yo La Tengo at Manchester Academy 2, 7th Nov 2009

Honorable mentions... Health, BLK JKS, Banjo or Freakout @ Deaf Institute. Gallops! @ Electric Boogaloo. Bomb The Music Industry! @ Tiger Lounge. The Rakes @ Club Academy. The Cribs @ Apollo. Dan Deacon @ Club Academy. The Invisible @ Deaf Institute. Green Day @ MEN. NME Radar Tour @ Academy 3. The Whitest Boy Alive @ Ruby Lounge. Metallica @ MEN Arena


92010 4

Kanye West

3

Johnny Marr

5

Ne-Yo

4

Tom Anderson (President of MySpace)

5

Edwyn Collins

Some other idiots...

Amy Winehouse. Alex Turner. Lady Gaga. Michael Jackson (ouch). Calvin Harris. Lily Allen. Florence (of 'and the Machine' fame). Stephen Gately (oww)

Other good eggs... Jedward (what?). Jeff Rosenstock. Colin Murray. Jarvis Cocker. Till Lindermann. Liam and Noel. Jonah Matranga. Paul McCartney. Ryan Jarman. And Finally…

HOT TIP FOR 2010

Elbow - where were you?

BEST MANCHESTER LIVE VENUE OF 2009

4

El Diablo's Social Club

5

Revolver @ Roadhouse

It’s the new kids on the block who stole the show this year, with relatively recent additions the Deaf Institute and the Ruby Lounge coming out on top.

Honorable mentions...

1

Deaf Institute

2

The Ruby Lounge

3

Manchester Academy

4

Night & Day

5

Roadhouse

Underachievers Please Try Harder @ Saki Bar. Pogo @ Joshua Brooks/The Attic. Hot Milk at Roadhouse. Prostitutes & Policemen. Mrs Boon's Tea Party @ TV21. Beat Boutique

Honorable mentions... Kro Bar, Oxford Road, Manchester Velodrome, Music Box

BEST MANCHESTER CLUB NIGHT OF 2009 Again, one contender stood out from all of the others, so congratulations to Now Wave. Having experienced great success with Up the Racket, Wesley and Jon turned their attentions to focusing entirely on new music, with great results. As well as spinning the best new tracks around, they have also managed to attract some of the best up and coming bands to perform, highlights from 2009 include The XX, The Antlers and Deerhunter, to name but three. Well done chaps. 1

Now Wave

2

Post-mortem @ Club Phoenix

3

Freitags @ Common

It seems Surfer Blood and Real Estate look set to cause a stir in 2010, with Ellie Goulding also tipped for success. Closer to home, we wish all the best to Everything Everything and Hurts. 1

Surfer Blood

2

Ellie Goulding

HERO OF 2009

3

Real Estate

Again, utterly pointless. But some interesting responses nonetheless. Calvin Harris scoops it, thanks – one would presume – entirely to his invasion of the X-Factor stage whilst Jedward were performing. Wearing a pineapple on his head. Credit where credits due… Special mentions must go to Bruce Springsteen for rolling back the years at Glastonbury, and to Edwyn Collins for being a true gent and an absolute legend.

4

Everything Everything

5

Hurts

Still the Boss

The Juan Maclean –

1

Calvin Harris

2

The Boss

Other acts set to explode in 2010 May68. The Old Romantic Killer Band. Toro Y Moi. The Drums. Ou Est Le Swimming Pool. Devin Townsend. The Kabeedies. Far. Here We Go Magic. Little Comets. Freelance Whales. Wild Beasts. Sarabeth Tucek. The Safires. Denis Jones.

IDIOT OF 2009 Bit of a daft one this, but its always interesting to know who is hated most (isn’t it?) Ok, maybe not, but we asked anyway so we might as well tell you what people said. Fairly predictably the top five reads like a who’s who of twattishness, surprisingly there was no mention of Phil Spector, interesting. 1

Simon Cowell

2

Bono

3

Gallagher brothers

2010?

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2009 _2010 No musical review of the year would be worth its salt without the input of those who shape the city’s musical tastes (presumptuous admittedly but we’ll go with it!). So, what did the club promoters, DJ’s and general ‘in the know’ types think about the past year? 1

Best album of 2009

2

Best single/track of 2009

3. Most overlooked record of 2009 4

Most overrated record of 2009

5

Hot tip/prediction for 2010

WESLEY – NOW WAVE Winner of High Voltage’s best Manchester club night in 2009, and with a healthy looking list of bookings for 2010 (Four Tet, Japandroids, The XX, Real Estate…). Now Wave are the current kings of the Manchester indie club scene. We asked Wesley his opinions on the music of 2009. 1

The XX - ‘XX’

2

Paris - Friendly Fires (Aeroplane remix)

3

Jointly awarded to Woods ‘Songs of Shame’ & Papercuts ‘You can have what you want’

4

Grizzly Bear - ‘Veckatimest’

5

Moderate Success for Real Estate

www.myspace.com/nowwave (www.nowwave.co.uk under construction)

CHRIS HORKAN HEY!MANCHESTER

PAUL ALLEN - PICCADILLY RECORDS

3

Amadou et Mariam - Welcome to Mali

Hey! Manchester promotes gigs by folk, Americana and experimental bands from around the world, bringing some of the most exciting artists around to Manchester. With a history of putting on bands including Jens Lekman, Final Fantasy, Vetiver and Animal Collective, Hey!Manchester is emerging as an increasingly important fixture in the Manchester music scene.

Paul works at Piccadilly Records, undoubtedly the finest record shop in the city. Understandably, this means Paul has his finger well and truly on the pulse of what’s hot and what’s not, here’s what he had to say.

4

Most of them

5

Ellie Goulding

1

I’ll have to say Bibio AKA Stephen Wilkinson with his debut Ambivalence Avenue has kept me returning to it again and again

1

2

Another tough choice but as I was getting my records together before heading to DJ recently, I came across my copy of the Aeroplane Remix of Paris by Friendly Fires. The record nearly fell through the other side of the sleeve due to damaged caused with over playing the damn thing.

Fever Ray - Fever Ray

2

Animal Collective - My Girls

3

Sleeping States - In the Garden of the North

4

Wavves - Wavves

5

Denis Jones

www.heymanchester.com

ALISTAIR BEECH – FALLING AND LAUGHING BLOG Alistair Beech is the man behind Falling and Laughing, a music blog which delves into goings on in Manchester. Alistair kindly shared his thoughts on the past twelve months. 1

4

Speech Debelle – Speech Therapy. Enough said.

5

Strangely the easiest question for me but since DFA sent us a few 7” records by a band called Free Energy this record is always in my bag if I’m out DJing.

Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

www.piccadillyrecords.com

2

Dizzee Rascal - Bonkers

OSCAR WILDSTYLE

3

Wilco - Wilco

4

Florence and the Machine Lungs

5

Hurts

http://fallingnlaughing.blogspot.com

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3.9 Looking through some of the albums I’ve not played for a while which I loved earlier this year Sky Larkin’s The Golden Spike popped up.

Local DJ and member of Modernaire Oscar Wildstyle offers his two pence worth. 1

La Roux - La Roux

2

La Roux - In For The Kill (Skream remix)

http://www.myspace.com/barbanneau

RICHARD CHEETHAM And last but not least, no High Voltage list feature would be complete without the views of the boss. 1

Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus

2

Animal Collective – My Girls

3

St Vincent - Actor

4

Filthy Dukes' LP

5

Surfer Blood, Ellie Goulding, Delphic

www.highvoltage.org.uk And so with another year gone, we look forward to 2010, what will this bring? Unfortunately the early signs aren’t promising, with the rather unfortunate impending Jedward explosion well and truly on the cards, and U2 confirmed to headline Glasto – you could be forgiven for voicing pessimism on 2010’s musical prospects. However, there are some things to look forward to; namely the return of Pavement (please please don’t dispappoint). Add to this we have new records from the likes of Vampire Weekend, as well as the emergence of Real Estate and Surfer Blood to look forward to. So, you know, its not all bad.

From all of the High Voltage team, a happy and musically enthralling 2010 to all! Lists compiled & words by - Gareth Roberts


singles Single of the month Love & Disaster Love & Disaster 1 EP Anyone remember the New Yorkshire Movement? Labelled by NME they were a collection of up and coming bands from Sheffield & Leeds, who had enough DIY style and Yorkshire cockiness to make southern big wigs sit up and take notice. This was a time when Manchester was in a lull and when inspiration and direction was governed by the mining towns. But as Kaiser Chiefs and Pigeon Detectives get their feet

Delphic - Doubt (Chimera) The release of Delphic’s album Acolyte will mark a hectic two year spell in which they’ve grown from initial rehearsals in Night & Days basement, into the one of the most hotly tipped bands for 2010. Though this time has seen Delphci tour with some of their biggest influences (Phoenix, Orbital, Bloc Party) across Europe and Japan, it’s the LP release which the band will be most excited about.

under the arena circuits table and Little Man Tate and Milburn disperse, there is no better time for Manchester to snatch back its title and Love & Disaster’s EP showcases this. Including the scale of genres that exist in Manchester we start with Airship’s enthusiastic ‘Kids’, demonstrating their awareness of both brisk guitaring and a catchy chorus. Dutch Uncles’ ‘O.C.D.U.C’ shows the simpler piano based rhythm side of Mancunia. It’s Jo Rose’s ‘Last Breath California’, that makes the biggest poignant moment of

Run Toto Run - Catch My Breath (Lost & Lonely Records) There’s no doubt that Run Toto Run are rightly billed as one of Manchester’s finest talents. They create a breathtaking blend of indie-pop and a couple of cover versions (Passion Pit’s ‘Sleepy Head’ and more recently Bombay Bicycle Club’s ‘Always Like This’) have brought them wider recognition. That said, ‘Catch my Breath’ is an odd choice of single.

this EP, with its wonderful slice of melancholy Americana that is an excellent example of a musician playing to his strengths. Zine cover stars Delphic are poised to take the new year by storm, and ‘This Momentary’ is mixed by fellow Mancs Everything Everything, adding that extra Hot Chip element to proceedings.

Andy Best

Is Tropical - When O When (Hit Club) The intro to When O When is very deceptive. An acoustic-slacker-indie tune soon gives way to crashing drum parts and retro synths. That’s a bit more like what we’d expect from the debut record release from club promoters, and winners of this year’s Best of Manchester music award, Hit Club, fronted by Max Moran.

‘Doubt’ is a fine lead single on which to base the LP. A rousing chorus, smart electronic beats and a thumping guitar line showcase Delphic’s vision. It sits neatly alongside the harder, and more relaxed moments on Acolyte. And is the result of a band that’ve strived to release a body of work they can be proud of. It’s a terrific piece of work and well worth the wait.

Rachael Kichenside’s delicate vocals are at the forefront of a Postal Service influenced melee of downbeat electro-pop noodling. Yet the track follows a familiar formula, especially for a band who’ve been releasing records via their own label for about a year. Moving forward some kind of sound experimentation could be the key to capitalising on their blog buzz.

There’s a playful side to Is Tropical in a British Sea Power kinda way, particularly on b-side Seasick Mutiny, where conventional lyrics are replaced by those with a nautical fixation, though the backing music points towards Crystal Castles’ sense of recklessness; a peculiar combination. ‘When O When’ clocks in at over 5 minutes, which doesn’t quite leave you desperate for more, but more intrigued as to where their joyfully upbeat pop will lead to next.

Richard Cheetham

Richard Cheetham

Richard Cheetham

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albums Album of the month

Rough Trade Shops Indiepop 09 (V2/Cooperative Music)

Oh Rough Trade, you spoil us. The label that brought us My Bloody Valentine, The Strokes, The Smiths and about a gazillion others puts together it’s favourite bands from the new school of indie music; 25 slices of what 2009 supposedly sounds like if you own yourself a little record shop somewhere. It’s independent and forward-thinking with the focus firmly on the tunes not the marketing budget, and although you get a couple of duds for your bucks Indiepop 09 is a sign that the health of next year’s music scene is in good hands. The idea, as with all collections of this ilk is to showcase some of the more exciting acts raising their heads above the parapet, an introduction to the best of ‘indiepop’, a troublesome all-encompassing umbrella which

attempts to cover both Moscow Olympics striding into Joy Division territory and the scuzz of Girls...in fact the majority owe a greater debt to shoegaze than breezy threeminuters. But what the amassed list lacks in genre-fied cohesion they more than make up for in big ideas and boundless energy. Shining brightest are the haunting, hollow and strangely loveable tones of Shrag and Betty And The Werewolves with the best song about David Cassidy The Long Blondes never released...my opinion, however, might have a lot to do with the fact I misheard the lyric “I’m estimating” for “I’m masturbating”. Try saying it quickly and prove I’m not some kind of deviant.

kids, bringing in some old hands to provide some proven star quality; Los Campesinos! show the new breed how this indie thing is supposed to be done (You! Me! Dancing! was 2009? Really?), The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart bring the fuzz and Marble Gods by Sad Day For Puppets makes the world that bit better by transporting you back to circa 1994. One thing’s for sure though; if it was up to Rough Trade 2010 would see the Y chromosome unceremoniously dumped as it seems girls are taking over. My advice? Lock up your sons and get ready for a Sleeper revival in the new year.

Just like Arsenal in the League Cup Rough Trade don’t solely rely on the

Harry Garne

Good Shoes - No Hope, No Future (Brille Records)

Yeti Lane - Yeti Lane (Sonic Cathedral) It was with some glee that I put the new release from The Label That Celebrates Itself into my CD player. An early convert, I eagerly devoured the Cathedral Classics Compilation (standout tracks: ‘Planet’ by Kyte, and both ‘My Cabal’ by School of Seven Bells and its Robin Guthrie remix), as well as Unknown Colours, the Sad Day for Puppets debut. I’d heard Yeti Lane’s single, ‘Lonesome George’ and had them pegged as a less-energetic-morepsychedelic foil to the aforementioned band. Unusually, having now heard this album, I am going to stick to my original assessment.

Morden’s favourite (well, only) sons Good Shoes return to something resembling a yawn from the general public. First album Think Before You Speak hit the heady heights of number 55 in the hit parade, suggesting that despite the resurgence of British indie pop something was lacking...and to fall short of The Enemy must really knock the confidence. Will a new bass player prove the difference between indie also-rans and stadium-filling megastars? Not exactly...

Former label-mates of M83 (albeit in a different incarnation), their songs sit more comfortably in my record collection with Floyd and Kula Shaker than Ride and Swervedriver. More than once, I swear I can hear echoes of The Who’s Tommy. The tracks are airy and sparse, despite at times having dense instrumentation. The distinction is that each instrument weaves its way through the others in the mix with a subtlety that is too often bulldozed over in shoegaze, and none try to steal the show for too long at a time. The standout tracks for me come at the end of the album, with ‘Lonesome George’, ‘Solar’ and closer ‘Heart’s Architecture’. I think that it might be tempting for some to see the Sonic Cathedral as a one trick pony, but this pleasantly accessible psych-pop record will do much to dispel that notion.

Opening with The Way My Heart Beats is a good start, half filling the hole left by The Rakes and clocking in somewhere near British Sea Power’s Remember Me, although it does end closer to The Pigeon Detectives than is strictly healthy. The references to Clapham in Do You Remember remind you what the band’s USP is (leading champions of London’s Southern suburbs) without providing too much in the way of a memorable tune, and it’s much the same through to the final whistle. Next single Under Control has Foals ambitions, jerking and shaking like a washing machine, providing the album’s high point but eventually the line “Everything you say/always ends up turning out the same” in Everything You Do turns round and bites Good Shoes on the arse.

Alex Lynham Harry Garne

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The Antlers - Hospice (Frenchkiss Records)

ASOBI SEKSU Acoustic At Olympic Studios (One Little Indian)

We Fell To Earth - We Fell To Earth (InStereo)

As concepts for an album go, “caring for a terminal patient who’s mentally abusive to you” sounds about as appealing as Thierry Henry fronting the next Guinness advert. But this is the subject chosen by Antlers string-puller Peter Silberman, boldly delving into the murky depths of mortality to confront the idea that everyone has a breaking point. Alphabeat this ain’t. But if you like your postrock panoramic and your glass half empty The Antlers will dazzle.

the waves of helplessness that accompany the soulless task of watching someone slip away... you might wish to turn the lights off to experience the full cinematic effect. ‘Bear’ and ‘Atrophy’ crash and cave like Agaetis Bryjun Sigur Ros, sounding for all the world like a man reaching the end of his tether and it’s not until the chinks of light start appearing in ‘Two’ that you realise this is a chronological account of how events play out. Rarely is decay so meticulously recreated and there’s no escaping the fact that large swathes of this is fucking depressing. But as ‘Wake’ and ‘Epilogue’ switch off the

machine (with some impressive Jeff Buckley crooning) it’s impossible not to feel something stirring, a scream and a sigh of grief and release. No picnic, then, but massively rewarding if you can take the strain.

case throughout. However, with albums like this there is always an urge to compare it to the original material – and in which case you will think that it’s good, it’s just not as good. Whilst it plays you know that it’s nice, and unquestionably beautiful, but there’s still a tiny nagging feeling that something is missing.

But then as this is only available at the bands shows and on the bands website, it proves this is aimed at the already-initiated, to keep them sweet whilst they eagerly await album number four. So, all you Asobi Seksu followers: get buying.

Michael Pilcher

There’s a fragility displayed on opening numbers ‘Breathe Into Glass’ and ‘Walk on the moon’; Yuki Chikudate’s voice stands out, and indeed that proves the

For existing fans this is a must, providing a contrast with the original recordings that is interesting to hear. For newbies, although this is a decent listen, you’re best off starting with the ‘Hush’ or ‘Citrus’ albums - this acoustic affair doesn’t really give a fair reflection of what they’re about.

What can be said about this band? They toured with The Big Pink. They also love Krautrock. One of the two core members was a part of triphop/electronic outfit U.N.K.L.E. for nine years. Though the third statement is not immediately obvious, the first two are, and once you know the third it all begins to make some kind of sense. This band are natural tour mates of Big Pink; where the Pink channel Loveless-era My Bloody Valentine, We Fell To Earth instead channel the dark ambient of Portishead and postMezzanine Massive Attack. Apart from this, I would wager their lists of influences would be similar, if not identical.

sound-alike) is no reason to ignore this band, however. They have overt latterday Pink Floyd moments, with album highlight ‘The Double’ evoking ‘Take it Back’ off The Division Bell with the synthesiser sound from ‘Where I End and You Begin’ by Radiohead (from Hail to the Thief, an album infamously rife with Krautrock influences). On ‘Lost In Flames’ echoes of Zeppelin’s ‘Dazed and Confused’ and ‘No Quarter’ can be heard, with jagged, spatial guitar and synth lines drifting among distant vocal howls. On ‘Deaf’, the clean female vocal hook that sits astride waves of noise reminded me of Death in Vegas’ classic track ‘Girls’, ending the album on a high.

vocalist formula, the variation on offer here means that the alternative bases from progressive to electronic to psychedelic to shoegaze are ably covered. It may seem unfortunate that I have spent most of this review comparing this band to another, but given A Brief History of Love was one of my favourite records of this year, to say that this one (despite its similarities) is better is praise indeed.

This perhaps unfortunate coincidence (coming along at the same time as a

Where the Pink stick to a heavySchool of Seven Bells-with-a-male-

Walking through the empty corridors of Hospice is to see through the eyes of Silberman’s carer, Being John Malkovitch-style, experiencing

Taking in tracks from the band’s three studio albums, ‘Acoustic At…’ was recorded over a year ago – in a single day - and is being released exclusively on their tour and through their web shop. Asobi Seksu’s previous albums have all been about big sound and big production, so to see them releasing an acoustic album is something of a surprise. The big question is: do these songs translate well onto a low-key acoustic album? The answer is…yes. Mostly.

Harry Garne

Alex Lynham

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live Gig of the month Salford Scared Trinity Church on a chilly November evening, escaping from the hustle and bustle of Chapel Street into the warm, serene environment inside the church, the juxtaposition was palpable.

Laura Marling - Salford Scared Trinity Church

The collective feel good factor reached a joyous plateau as the diminutive Marling took to the stage. She is clearly a well brought up young lady. Something which is confirmed in the between song banter, which largely involves stories of visiting churches built by her great grandfather, narrowly avoiding stray road signs on windswept motorways, Winter walks with her father, and other such insights into a life on the road that could hardly be considered one of excess. The music, of course, follows suit.

Old favourites aired include ‘My Manic’, ‘I, Failure’ and ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’. However this was a night for the new material to take precedence. And whilst the forthcoming album seems to mirror the first in terms of its demure and alluring nature – that is not to say that Marling has been resting on her laurels; the new songs often possessing a more confident, almost aggressive quality than her older work. Nature, love and the unrest of youth are core themes for Marling, and imagery to this effect is present in most of the new stuff. Goodbye England in particular uses the former of these to great effect; a homage to the English countryside in the Winter time, and fulfils an ambition of Marling’s to release a Christmas song, and if there was ever a more exquisite attempt committed to tape, I would like to hear it.

Hailing, not from Mexico or New York, but LA, the band started out as a punk act and somehow veered towards the influences of Mariachi music, bringing the liveliness this suggests on stage tonight, uniforms and all.

A fantastic performance in a venue befitting of such an occasion - and after being transported to another place for an hour or so, the only shame was that the real world was waiting outside.

Gareth Roberts

Field Music - Deaf Institute

Mariachi El Bronx - Club Academy Mariachi El Bronx are as enigmatic - and fun - as they sound.

On tonight’s showing, forthcoming album Speak Because We Can looks set to be a coming of age for Marling, however to talk about the output of someone so young in such a fashion is undoubtedly far too premature. At the moment she is blossoming into one of the best singer/songwriters around, and the best thing about is that there is so much more to come from her.

Promoting their eponymous(ish) third album, Sunderland band Field Music took to the stage in front of a respectably-sized crowd and proceeded to play a mammoth nineteen-song set of pop gems interspersed with excerpts from a comedy double act.

Although some may expect a band that starts out in one genre and flatters themselves that they can slip easily into another to get it horribly wrong, this is not the case with Mariachi El Bronx.

“Thanks for listening to the songs from the new album tonight. If you like them, come down to our merch stand later and buy some, er, T-shirts… “, “They sound great!”. Was just one of the many interchanges between brothers and bandmates David and Peter Brewis.

Their own brand of LA-bred English language Mexican music really works and the fact that the remnants of East coast US 21st-century punk can still be detected (i.e. singer Matt Caughthran's tattooed neck, the lack of a Latino accent, etc) only adds to the intrigue.

The marathon setlist was no unusual occurrence for Field Music – their 20-track current album would seem to prove that they’re used to providing value for money. You’d think that such a long set could get a bit monotonous, but the opposite was true in their case.

One of the reasons why the six-piece's dazzling tracks - including Cell Mates, Slave Labor and Litigation - strike such a chord tonight is because they embrace all of the tongue-in-cheek slapstick that is suggested by a Mariachi band and do not make the fatal mistake of taking themselves too seriously.

The songs varied from distorted Beatles-style piano classics such as ‘Measure’ to feedback-filled rock freakout midsections; from pop ballads to angular disco beats; all the way to 70s funk in ‘Each Time Is A New Time’ and one mystery tune which sounded like the resurrection of Freddie Mercury! I wish I knew the name of that one. Even its harmonies were straight out of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.

Caughthran is characterised by what seems like a permanent smile as the group, which also consists of a moustachioed trumpeter Brad Magers, newly conscripted guitarron player Karla Tover and guitarist Joby Ford, all follow suit. Carefree, innovative and without pretension - Mariachi El Bronx is the people's band.

The encore, ‘It’s Not The Only Way To Be Happy’ was introduced as “a really old one” and the audience, evidently containing veteran fans, clamoured for its ba-ba do-do-ing pop excellence. By the time it was all over, I was left to reflect that Field Music are the opposite of mysterious “rockstars”: open, funny, hard-working and human.

Denise Tench Anne-Marie Pattenden

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Graham Coxon - Royal Northern College of Music

It was with flashbacks of negative memories that I entered the RNCM tonight for Graham Coxon's acoustic power ensemble. The last and only other time I had been in the venue was to see Sparklehorse several years earlier who, despite playing a great set, were clearly deflated and tetchy that the RNCM is completely seated. Luckily, everyone in attendance knows what to expect tonight and this is exactly what they get - a flexing of Coxon's serious singer-songwriter muscle. The evening is a perfect showcase of his bare-bones abilities as "one of the greatest guitarists of his generation", as Noel Gallagher once put it. There's no chance of any 'Freaking out' renditions here, as the focus of

Six Organs of Admittance - Islington Mill - Salford

It couldn’t be said that Ben Chasney aka Six Organs of Admittance is work shy. Along with guitar duties in American psych rockers ‘Comets of Fire’, he has also managed to release an album a year under his solo project Six Organs of Admittance. Since its birth in 1998, SOOA have released 11 albums and countless singles, all in a similar psych-folk blueprint. For his entire endeavour Chasney has never achieved large scale recognition in the UK, so SOOF are seen as a more of a cult band. This is obvious when considering that even after eleven albums this cosy venue is not even half full. If you haven’t yet been to Islington mill then you are in for a treat. A former cotton spinning mill in Salford, its

It’s been a busy year for TPOBPAH. As if releasing their acclaimed self titled debut wasn’t enough, they also found the time to release equally as commended EP ‘Higher Than The Stars’. The band were last in Manchester in May for the sweaty and now legendary gig at the Chorlton Irish club, so they have definitely moved up in the world with this Friday night jaunt in the Academy 2.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Manchester Academy 2

TPOBPAH have taken all that was good from the 80’s indie scene, put their own slant on it and repackaged it for 2009. The UK influence is rife in their sound, which could explain why we have embraced them to our bosom so warmly, or maybe its just because

the night is The Spinning Top - May's largely genteel, acoustic homage to British folk that finally sealed the deal with the critics. Featuring the likes of Robyn Hitchcock, Jas Singh, Danny Thompson, Gurjit Sembhi and Jaskase Singh, Coxon has brought a selection of his favourite music maestros along with him to recreate the album in its entirety. The completely charming sitar-flecked 'Look in to the Light', unsurprisingly, starts the set, as the imaginary figure's life Coxon's album is based on is lived out from birth to death. 'In the Morning' and 'Feel Alright' continue in the carefree vein, cultivating the seeds sown in earlier works such as 'The Kiss of Morning', as the vocals of his backing singers

soar angelically in the classicallyintended RNCM.

ramshackle interior and rustic artwork ooze character. There is no cloak room, a makeshift bar, and you use the same four toilets the workers did all those years ago. All these things contributing to a house party feel to the event.

as expected the audience is made up of fanatics. Each one shouting lyrics back to the singer, like friendly hecklers all demanding him to play their song next. The set is loosely based around latest album ‘Luminous Night’, but Casney has a tendency to take each song on its own little progpsych walkabout. The track ‘Coming to Get You’ had so much more feedback and distortion it sounds twice the song as it does on record, and ‘Attar’ sounds epic as it slowly builds up its prog-rock wall brick by brick. The band finish the evening on fan favourite ‘Home’, which is exactly where I am heading.

The band canters on stage each swigging from the same bottle of whisky, only for the amp to blow in the first song. This leads to Chasney asking the audience if “anyone has an amp they can borrow?” Luckily for them one is found and the band continues. Family appear to be a big part in SOOA’s music, as Chasney makes several references to his mother or grandfathers influence to the tracks throughout. As SOOA could be viewed as a cult band, then

they know their way around a fantastic Shoegaze pop tune. The set sees a mixture of both album and EP. From The Cure pop influenced ‘This Love is Fucking Right’ to the louder infectious ‘103’, they appear to have enough in their arsenal to cut it live to this larger crowd. The tracks ‘Young Adult Friction’ with its cyclic drum beat to the Johnny Marr referenced guitaring on ‘The Tenure Itch’ both lead this audience in to rapturous applause.

After satisfying the stalwart fans with renditions of 'Latte', 'Live Line' and 'Baby, you're out of Your Mind' Coxon finishes up by making the obscure Elizabeth Cotten track 'Oh Babe, it Aint No Lie' his own. Although the man himself would probably deny that the insecure, alcoholic Blur guitarist who once struggled to believe his vocals were singer-songwriter material has completely disappeared, it is obvious that musically lyrically and independently, Coxon has never been in a better place.

Denise Tench

Andy Best

to play new song ‘Say No To Love’ which thanks to the internet is not new to this crowds ears. Sadly at just under an hour the big tweepop bubble we have all been in bursts and we are ushered out, with just enough time to buy a TPOBPAH hoodie from the vendors outside.

Andy Best

The EP title track ‘Higher than the Stars’ is a lovely blend of sugary synths and echoing vocals that reverbs around the academy’s walls. The band even finds the time

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listings Dec GIGLISTINGS December Tuesday 1st Good Neighbour + Captain and the Caveman @ Night & Day Café Fat Freddy’s Drop @ Academy 1 Blitz Kids and Cuba Cuba @ Moho Live

Wednesday 2nd Scouting For Girls @ Night & Day Café Cass McCombs @ The Roadhouse Taste Of Chaos @ Academy 1 Julian Plenti @ Academy 2 The Tragically Hip @ Academy 3 Everything Everything @ Moho Live

Thursday 3rd She Never Sleeps + The Fevers @ Night & Day Café Bless The Fall @ The Roadhouse Six Organs Of Admittance @ Salford Islington Mill Buddy Whittington & Aynsley Lister @ Academy 3 Regina Spektor @ The Apollo Simple Minds @ M.E.N Arena Cruxshadows @ Moho Live

Friday 4th Dutch Uncles @ Night & Day Café Lightning Dust @ The Roadhouse Shed Seven @ Academy 1

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart @ Academy 2 The Doors Alive @ Academy 3 Chuck Berry @ The Apollo Clubland Live 3 @ M.E.N Arena

Saturday 5th League Liege @ Night & Day Café Shed Seven @ Academy 1 A Foreign Town @ Academy 2 A @ Academy 3 UB40 @ M.E.N Arena

Sunday 6th Sonic Syndicate @ The Roadhouse Hollywood Undead @ Academy 1 Athlete @ The Ritz Yeah Yeah Yeah’s @ The Apollo ABC performing Lexicon of Love @ The Bridgewater Hall Alestorm @ Moho Live

Monday 7th Battles + Flying Lotus + Nice Nice @ Academy 2 Reggie Watts @ Academy 3 Rodriguez @ The Deaf Institute J Mascis and the Fog @ Moho Live

Tuesday 8th XFM’s Winter Wonderland @ Academy 1 Sunn O))) @ Salford Islington Mill Status Quo @ The Apollo Broadcast @ The Deaf Institute Sleepy Sun @ Retro Bar

PREVIEW REAL ESTATE - 27TH JAN Real Estate’s debut LP, released on uber-cool label Woodsist (Vivian Girls, Wavves, Ganglians, Woods) scored a modest 7 on Pitchfork, which is usually the make or break for leftfield US acts. Yet there’s a subtlety to their music which makes them a tantalising talent. Whereas their label mates, and indeed singer Martin Courtney (previously a member of Titus Andronicus), aim for a raucous scuzzy sound, Real Estate arrive in a similar destination with more considered results. The forthcoming Pavement reunion may see a rise to new pretenders to their throne, and with tracks like ‘Beach Comber’ in their arsenal Real Estate could be in with a decent shout.

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Wednesday 9th

Wayne Hussey @ Academy 3 Manchester Zap! @ Salford Islington Mill Placebo @ Central Versus Cancer @ M.E.N Arena

Black Jackson @ Night & Day Café Monster Magnet @ Academy 2 Gunfire 76 + Bullets & Octane @ Academy 3 Lightning Bolt @ Salford Islington Mill Status Quo @ The Apollo Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti @ The Deaf Institute Madball @ Moho Live

Sunday 13th

Thursday 10th

Monday 14th

The Crave @ The Roadhouse Porcupine Tree @ Academy 1 Little Boots @ Academy 2 Florence & The Machine @ The Apollo Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks @ The Deaf Institute Reverend & The Makers @ Moho Live

Marilyn Manson @ Academy 1 Goldie Lookin Chain @ Academy 3 Spiritualized @ The Apollo Only Men Aloud @ The Bridgewater Hall Kurt Vile & The Violators @ The Deaf Institute Abba The Show @ M.E.N Arena Dirty Sanchez Live& Unleashed @ Moho Live

Friday 11th The Dharma + Sleazy Maguires @ Night & Day Café Dragonforce @ Academy 1 Hawkwind @ Academy 2 The Men They Couldn’t Hang @ Academy 3 Julian Casablancas @ The Ritz Saw Doctors @ The Apollo The Courteeners @ Central AA presents Richard Norris @ The Deaf Institute

Saturday 12th From The Jam @ Academy 1 The Bluetones @ Academy 2

Set Your Goals @ Academy 3 Modest Mouse @ The Ritz The Pogues @ The Apollo Your Premise @ Moho Live

Tuesday 15th Richard Dutton @ Night & Day Café Madness @ The Apollo Ray Davis @ The Bridgewater Hall Matt Berry @ Moho Live

Wednesday 16th Soulwaxmas @ Academy 1 The Michael Schenker Group @ Academy 3 Here Come The Girls @ The Apollo Paramore @ M.E.N Arena Fruit Bats @ The Roadhouse


Jan Thursday 17th

Tuesday 22nd

Sunday 17th

Wednesday 27th

Midnight Mafia + The Bambinos @ Night & Day Café Heavens Basement@ Academy 3 Babyshambles @ The Ritz Beak @ The Deaf Institute

Gideon Conn @ Moho Live The Hoax @ Band on the Wall

Wolfmother @ Academy 1 Vivian Girls @ The Deaf Institute

Real Estate @ The Deaf Institute

Wednesday 30th

Monday 18th

Deadmau5 @ WHP

Rolo Tomassi @ Deaf Institute

Imelda May @ Academy 2 Joe Pernice @ Academy 3

Friday 18th

Thursday 31st

Tuesday 19th

Friday 29th

The Cinematics @ Night & Day Café Mavado & Serani @ Academy 1 The Sun & The Moon @ Academy 3 David Gray @ The Apollo Doves @ Central Depeche Mode @ M.E.N Arena The Futureheads @ Moho Live

The Deaf Institute NYE Party @ The Deaf Institute Contort Yourself NYE Rumble @ The Roadhouse The Aftershow Vs Audiofarm @ Moho Live Up The Racket vs Revolver @ Jabez Clegg Mr Scruff @ Band on the Wall

Fyfe Dangerfield @ The Deaf Institute Laura Veirs @ Club Academy Future of the Left @ Ruby Lounge John Escreet Project @ Band on the Wall

Ape @ The Apollo Friends of Manchester festival @ Academy 3 (see preview)

Saturday 19th Orphan Boy @ Night & Day Café Public Image Ltd @ Academy 1 Amplifier @ Academy 3 Ian Brown @ M.E.N Arena

Sunday 20th

Thursday 28th

EVILE @ Academy 3 JOENSUU 1685 @ Ruby Lounge Baroness @ Salford Islington Mill Kittie @ Moho Live

January

Friday 22nd

Sunday 10th

Reel Big Fish @ Academy 2

Friends of Manchester festival @ Jabez Clegg (see preview)

Sunday 31st Lacuna Coil @ Academy 2

City Of Fire @ Academy 3

Saturday 23rd

The Words @ Night & Day Café Grammatics @ The Deaf Institute Pet Shop Boys @ M.E.N Arena Foy Vance @ The Ruby Lounge Skandal xmas special feat: The Blockheads @ Moho Live

Wednesday 13th

Monday 21st New Education @ Moho Live David Ford @ Band on the Wall

Saturday 30th Wednesday 20th

Dead Swans @ Moho Live

Jamie T @ Academy 1 John Cooper Clarke @ Ruby Lounge

Thursday 14th

Sunday 24th

This Morning Call- Album Launch @ The Deaf Institute

The Durutti Column @ The Lowry Glassjaw @ Academy 1

Saturday 16th

Monday 25th

Memory Tapes @ The Corner Henry Rollins @ The Lowry The Stupids @ Retro Bar

Zico Chain & To The Bones @ Moho Live

PREVIEW FRIENDS OF MANCHESTER FESTIVAL – 29 & 30th JAN Pulled together by Friends of Mine and Blowout, the Friends of Manchester Festival enters its second year. Tickets are just £10 adv for a line-up that includes the pick of the local scene –Dutch Uncles, Jessie Rose Trip, Young British Artists – Lost Knives. Alongside rising bands such as Chew Lips, Pens and Ex-Lovers. The festival takes place at Jabez Clegg and Kro Bar on 30th Jan, with an underage show at Club Academy on 29th Jan featuring The Answering Machine and The Mandigans. Check www.friendsofmine.com for times, line-up changes and other info.

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NEW NOISE Send your new band tips to richard@highvoltage.org.uk to appear in the next New Noise round-up…

The Empire State

New Zealand HEY ZEUS Story

Kiss in Cities Table

There has never been a better time to reflect on the great big omni-quandry that is the world around us, and how better to do it than sit back with the musings of The Empire State. The Lancashire lads have crafted deep and engaging songs with an intensity that belies their mostly acoustic, strippeddown sound. With their rock and synth additions to indie-kid melodies The Empire State could well be a folk reinvention of The Killers or the result of hiding Two Door Cinema Club underneath an Amsterdam café. The grooves are chilled and the attitude razor-sharp, a combination underlined by live shows with more than just a little bite. Big ambitions to suit their name, and tunes you can whistle, what more do you want in a recession…

For nothing is the first album from New Zealand Story, called Show Your Workings, the suggestion that scribbling calculations and note-taking have been brought together to form the stream of consciousness and commentary that is their promising and intelligent collection. Influenced by the great and the good of literary songwriting skills, including Nick Cave, Pavement, and The Smiths, it is with their own character with which the forlorn and the hopeless are communicated so impressively. The heartbreak of ‘Not Like The Films’ and the touching wartime scepticism of ‘My Son Wore The Green Beret’ has a wry melancholy which inevitably colours their sound with the “smoky bar” atmosphere which would suit them very well where the action not illegal. Frank and enthusiastic, the headline of this particular story should come with a high recommendation

Vibrant, colourful and energetic aren’t usually words you’d use to describe a band’s demo. But it’s impossible not to be bowled over by Kiss in Cities (aka Joe Cross and Laura Marsden’s) infectious pop music. Already on the radar for several major labels, Kiss in Cities combine unashamedly catchy hooks with meaty backing beats, their songs manifest themselves and demand repeated listens. Their debut 7” ‘U R My Girl’ is out via Puregroove’s new Seven Sevens label on 14th December. It’s limited so head over to www.puregroove.co.uk to bag your copy. There are no live plans at the moment, so revel in the other songs and videos on the band’s Myspace page in the mean time.

Key track: ‘There Was A Hero’ www.myspace.com/theem pirestateuk

Key track: ‘My Son Wore The Green Beret’ http://newzealandstory.ban dcamp.com/

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There’s something about Manchester University acting as a breeding ground for musical talent. Maybe its being surrounded by reminders of the cities musical heritage, or having lots of free time. Either way, Simian Mobile Disco and The Chemical Brothers are two of the leading alumni, and you wouldn’t bet against Hey Zeus joining them. There’s only two tracks on their Myspace, and they’ve only played two gigs, but on 12th December they’ll play at the M.E.N Arena after winning an unsigned competition to support Snow Patrol, James and the Happy Mondays. ‘Sirens’ has a neat melody wrapped around sharp guitar parts as singer Jonah Klein (previously of London indierockers The Svengalis) delivers his lyrics confidently. The other track ‘Nightlight’ is equally as polished, with cute harmonies adding to the band’s warm dynamic. Key track: ‘Sirens’ www.myspace.com/heyzeuss ound

Key track: ‘U R My Girl’ www.myspace.com/kissinciti es

With a band name (lets face it) as bad as Table you’d expect music pretty, well, wooden. But you’d be wrong. Led my Dave O’Dowda Table produce uplifting indie-folk. New single, ‘Songs You Can Sing on Your Own’, is co-released via Humble Soul and Static Caravan, which says a lot about highly rated this act are. The hushed b-side ‘Most’ backs up Table’s laid-back sound. Though in a year where beardy folksters Fleet Foxes emerged as theatre fillers there’s clearly a market for Table. In a musical sense of course. Support slots with Au Revoir Simone earlier in the year, as well as higher profile dates in 2010 suggest Table are starting to pick up acclaim as a live act. Tune into Marc Riley’s 6 Music show on Weds 9th December to get a truer flavour. Key track: ‘Songs You Can Sing on Your Own’ www.myspace.com/tableuk


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