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.
Given that I’m a closet wrestling fan, I was always going to be attracted to a band called Face + Heel. Consisting of Sinead McMillan and Luke Taylor, I discovered this Bristol based electronica duo thanks to stunning remix they did for my friends Ghosting Season. Having then got pretty much obsessed with a track called No Stars, I’ve stayed with them ever since. The self-released Chipped Tooth EP is a masterclass in intimate electronica, deep synths and lovelorn vocals building around a glitchy and yet soulful production. Face + Heel open up Sounds For The Other City for Now Wave at Peel Hall this Sunday.
Chris Horkan who runs Hey! Manchester is an instantly recognisable figure around town, with his viking-esque beard and gentle frame (although it should be noted that beards are not unusual for Manchester promoters). He was one of the first people to give me advice when I first starting putting on events and I must have listened, because here we both are, still doing what we love. Looking through his Sounds From The Other City line-up this year, one name immediately stands out: Gay.
Largely ungoogleable but as their name suggests, Gay have a very carefree art-rock style… Talking Heads meets Grizzly Bear? The Toronto based act will be making a rare appearance on these shores and I’m looking forward to seeing how their songs will translate live. I think they could be perfect for a sunny day; poetic pop music with a slightly unpredictable nature.
Yesterday I spoke about the importance of discovery at Sounds From The Other City but today I want to focus on how the festival helps to celebrate local success. It’s fair to say most of the music scene will be there in some capacity on Sunday, and its not often we all do that now, especially since the sad demise of In The City. Mancunians are competitive but always supportive, and Sounds is the perfect platform to showcase the artists we love…
Which brings me nicely to Kult Country, a band I have probably seen more times than any other in recent years. In Yousif Al-Karaghouli, they have a frontman and leader who is able to channel his emotions on stage, involving you… daring you to join him. If you want to find yourself being flung about in a sweaty mosh pit, arms and legs flailing in the air, this is the best band to do it with. You will be embraced with open arms, part of a growing Kult.
Kult Country perform at The Old Pint Pot for Wodgodforgot and Grey Lantern.
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.