What’s not to love about Manchester’s Hartheim? Their bold sonic assault blends fiery passion with a fine-tuned aesthetic. Their music videos are arresting and brave. There’s a primal quality to their tunes, the best of which have the ability to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.
Welcome To Hartheim is brooding and convicted, a reverent force of nature occupying musical territory somewhere between Joy Division and early Puressence. Arpegiatted guitars chime, gritty vocals loop like a mantra. It’s tense and compelling – a joyride through some dark, exotic wonderland. Honed by Sways mainstay Martin Hurley, the steely production makes for an addictive listen. It forces you to want more – to play the track over and over until you’ve had your fix. The climatic ending is pure catharsis – an exhilarating experience you wouldn’t want to miss.
Cardiff’s LUVV have very quickly become an obsession, somehow managing to translate my current emotional state into 4 minutes of brutal and liberating post-punk. If I’m being honest, I’ve been keeping Free to myself for the past few days… carefully soaking up every burst of it’s raw and beautiful brilliance. With a sound reminiscent of Eagulls and a knack for writing explosive hooks, LUVV are threatening to push me over the edge, confronting loneliness and despair with snarls of defiance. Perhaps it’s the way I’m feeling… but I’m tempted to say they might just be the most exciting band I’ve heard all year.
With just under a week to go, I felt it was time to start ramping up the hype for what is without a doubt my favourite event of the festival calendar – Sounds From The Other City. Celebrating it’s 10th year is no mean feat… but what makes it so special?
Sounds From The Other City brings a diverse music scene in Manchester and Salford together, giving it’s promoters the freedom and trust to do what they want in terms of both booking and art direction. Adaptation has been the key to it’s survival: artists, club-nights, promoters and venues have all changed over the years but two things has been constant – a loyal audience and the feeling that something magical is going to happen.
For those new to the experience, try not to make too much of a plan on the day because it inevitably goes out the window! Discovery is encouraged and my best experiences have always come from stumbling into a venue to see an artist I’ve never heard of before, playing to a packed room. Over the next few days I’ll be picking out some personal highlights from this year’s line-up. I decided the best place to start would be with long time curators Comfortable On A Tightrope and a London based three-piece called Shopping.
Comprising of members from Trash Kit, Wet Dog and Covergirl, this DIY supergroup have managed to create a sound far superior. Bringing to mind the inventiveness of early Electrelane at times, Shopping’s blend of energetic post-punk is sure to a thrilling live proposition for those wishing to dance uncontrollably. Catch them at The Crescent.
A few years ago Elliott Williams handed me a demo CD during a Frightened Rabbit gig, his band Airship went on to become a local success story… tracks like ‘Spirit Party’ and ‘Algebra’ propelling them to stadium tours with Biffy Clyro and Editors. I was lucky enough to persuade them to play my basement; I’ll never forget the chaotic scenes as over a hundred people packed into a small room and crowd-surfed to Kids. If I’m honest I was a little disappointed with debut album ‘Stuck In This Ocean’ when it finally emerged. The material felt over-polished/produced, losing a bit of it’s original beauty/edge but fuck, I LOVED it all the same. Sadly it never quite happened for them, with Elliott eventually joining Editors on a permanent basis.
Now, Elliott has returned with an exciting and original direction as Y.O.U (Your Own Universe), producing his new material in Paris for the eclectic Tigersushi label. Heavy Crown is an unexpected (and highly refreshing) cut of danceable electronic pop blended with brooding post-punk. I’ve listened to it repeatedly this last couple of days with it’s weird chorus drilling way down into my head: an absolute triumph.
Autobahn are five young guys from Leeds making one hell of a racket. Channeling the likes of Pissed Jeans and Interpol, their shadowy, industrial guitar music is high on attitude and bad intentions – their live show well honed. Front-man Craig Johnson tensely stalks the stage, roaring cathartically, venting his demons – the band are focused, tight and gang-like and motor along like they’re gulping down diesel.
Force Fed is bold and memorable – an exorcism of pure bleeding hatred. A chilling, well chiseled post-punk outburst propelled by a relentless beat, a stabbing bass line and some fittingly Bernard Albrecht-esque guitars. When Johnson screams his way through the chorus, spewing out the hook, “What I want is for you to fall down” – it’s so biting, so full of venom you just might.
Liverpool’s SeaWitches are spooky, exotic, raw – they make you want to dance like there’s no-one watching. Their spiky, hypnotic guitar music is a heady brew of post-punk and psychedelia.
Jo Herring and Laura Caldwell swap instruments and share vocal duties, from traditional singing to all out orgasmic moans. It’s seductive and sinister. Equal parts Kim Gordon and Nico. Backed by a rhythm section stirring up a dynamic dust cloud through some pretty off-kilter terrain. The epic, two-part title track from their excellent Space Gun EP, is a visceral and evolving, alive-below-the-hips, groin-grind, fully deserving of your attention.
The Underground Youth have released new album The Perfect Enemy For God on limited edition vinyl through Fuzz Club Records.
Criminally ignored by the Manchester scene; its been a slow process of self discovery for Craig Dyer, who started the project in his bedroom and has now recorded several albums there. I guess its indicative of the modern era that an artist can be largely unknown in their own city but find a growing and loyal fanbase online. The Underground Youth are a true DIY success who have figured out how to turn your musical influences into something new and exciting. This skillfully crafted record is certainly worthy of your attention.
‘The Perfect Enemy For God’ available to buy 300 copies only.
Out of all the new bands out there who share a love of the ‘dark’ aesthetic – and there are many – there are very few as fundamentally exciting and dynamic as Veladrome.
Swaying violently from contemplative and moody drone imaginings to grainy, visceral post-punk, the Manchester duo successfully straddle the delicate balance between endearingly lo-fi and scarily engaging. Slower, more elegiac passages such as “Seeger (Parts 1 and 2)” bear more than a passing resemblance to “Fuck The Curfew” EP-era Mogwai as if drained of all post-rock cliche before being endowed with searching, effected vocal. Meanwhile the post-apocalyptic C86 squall of latest track John Wayne could strike instant panic into the most fearless of souls.
Best of all, they achieve this with willfully minimal equipment, no samples. In spite of all the obvious limitations, their potential is simply frightening.
Earlier this year, Liverpool’s Tear Talk released 7″ B R E A T H E on exciting independent label Bleeding Gold. The track showcased a band with a very clear sense of identity and vision – sparse and minimal guitar (its hard not to make comparisons with The XX) slowly revealed new elements and colours – distorted, fuzzy and painted darkly onto the canvas.
Sleepwalking is much more immediate and hints at a less bleak outlook. Josh Miller’s vocals cutting dreamily through like Echo & The Bunnymen drenched in sunshine. Its not as experimental but all the better for it.