There have been a couple of headlines recently with big names claiming that bands are something of an endangered species in today's new music world.
With this in mind, we took the modern scientific approach, picked a sample population, in this case Manchester (and surrounding area), and tested it for the presence of exciting new artists. We are very pleased to report that far from a decline in diversity, we found a subcultural eco system teeming with wildlife, much of it perpetuating the musical DNA of the city that gave us Tony Wilson, Factory Records, Madchester, The Hacienda, the 'Baggy', The Guardian, Coronation Street, Frank Sidebottom, and bands like The Smiths, The Stone Roses, The Charlatans, Joy Division/New Order, The Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, Northside, The Fall, The Courteeners, PINS and more...
Here are some of the bands that immediately stood out to us:
A band we’ve been aware of for a little while now. Words of high praise for The Tapestry include:
"This band are so great, I really love the vibe. It takes me back to CBGB's New York in the late 70's"
- Chris Difford, Squeeze
"If there was ever a band to fall instantly in love with, its The Tapestry”
- John Robb, Membranes/Goldblade
We quite agree with the right honourable Mister Difford and Mister Robb. The Tapestry already sell out gigs in their native Manchester, and have opened for the likes of The Courteeners and Pete Doherty, but the coming year looks like it’s to be the best yet for these guys. Watch out for gigs around the UK in Spring 2015 and for their next single 'Infatuation' out in January. Watch the video below:
Another band already selling out their own shows in Manchester and supporting fellow mighty Mancunians, Inspiral Carpets, on their recent tour. The Gramotones are well on the way to national recognition. Have a listen to our favourite song of theirs 'Victorian Town' (a b-side would you believe?) below, with its exhibition class use of timeless tone, song dynamics and lyrical dexterity. Wonderful stuff!
Like Gramotones, Blossoms also appeared as special guests on Inspiral Carpets’ recent tour. Blossoms will support another Manchester legend, The Charlatans, on several of their pretty much sold-out tour dates in early 2015. Blossoms play a slick modernist revival of classy indie pop, with a hint of mystery added by moments of psyched out tone - and the band’s black outfits and cultish key chain pendants.
Keeping it tuned to the psych channel, The Watchmakers are a band we’ve enjoyed following over the last year or so. As the NME said about them back in June "The Watchmakers are on a mission to put the strut back into psych…”. Equal parts Revolver and Space Ritual, enjoy their brain melting ‘Illumination’ below, and buy here.
It would be easy, but lazy, to describe Jordan Allen as the half-way point between Alex Turner and Jake Bugg. That said, fans of Arctic Monkeys and Bugg will most likely find something in Allen’s songs of Northern accented dark nights and sharp lyrics that they approve of. Unsigned - but probably not for long!
What can you say about Warrington’s Slydigs? Well, they play some pretty convincing bluesy, heavy beat, rock n’ roll and they’ve been supporting The Who - who don’t just pick any old band to open for them!
No Hot Ashes
Hailing from Fred Perry’s own hometown of Stockport, indie rockers with some funk in the trunk. With funky guitar shuffling vibes that seem to tip hats to Nile Rogers and Johnny Marr, No Hot Ashes prove that the current Manchester scene has plenty to offer in terms of variety. Have a listen to their debut single 'Goose', and check out the excellent b-side 'Skank' if you get chance.
As well as the classic indie sound, Manchester also has a heritage of wonderful but melancholic pop music, Joy Division being the obvious example. Whilst not treading quite the same territory as Ian Curtis, Hartheim make intense dark brooding nocturnal synth-pop.
Demons of Ruby Mae
Originally from Leicester, but currently based in Manchester, Demons Of Ruby Mae also make intelligent low-key synth-pop for grown ups.
Coroner For The Police
The North of England has produced some of the UK’s brightest harder rock bands in recent years. Coroner For The Police may have an American QOTSA sound but they are in fact from Stockport.
Black Tooth Songs
Black Tooth Songs make brilliantly deranged sounding scuzzed up, fuzzed up, glammed up, sliding lo-fi rock songs. Whilst their own compositions are great, as we’re talking about Manchester here, we’ve decided to share this gem of a cover version they’ve done of a Manchester classic.
Prose combine rap, jazzy beats and indie guitars into a crescendo of commentary. It’s a tricky thing to get right, to make the overall sound flavoursome, without either element becoming overwhelmed by the other, but, these guys have nailed it on their debut EP, ‘Run With Faith’.
Describing their track 'Friend I Never Had' as 'low res jangle pop action', we were immediately impressed by the simple clarity of guitar-pop songwriting on display in this three and a half minute slice of grassroots indie joy. The track features on their debut EP - out now.
The Last Party
Another feel-good piece of non-stop indie pop 'A Thousand Smiles' from Manchester lads, The Last Party, is sure to put a smile on your face, sounding like a Britpop anthem made two decades ago yet fresh faced at the same time. What's more the band are donating all profits from the single to two charities, Forever Manchester and Calm.
Joining Heaven 17 and Sparks by taking a band name from Clockwork Orange mythology, Velocets, are up front about their desire to play gigs that people enjoy and write songs that people want to listen to. The results of their refreshingly honest ethos are great little indie bangers like 'Sophie' and lush drone chord compositions like 'Naked'.
Still at the demo stage, with proper recording planned for 2015, but these youngsters have all the time in the world to make their mark. With a song title like 'Faded Suede' and some very nice vintage guitar sounds we had to include KASPAR in our list.
Despite their youth, these guys have attracted a lot of attention with their explosive covers of The Jam and other heritage greats. Here 5ft Fez perform their own track 'Far Away' at The Oysterfleet Hotel whilst supporting Wilko Johnson and The 45s.
Psychedelic rock with Madchester swagger. Moments of Achtung Baby guitar noise mashed into Kasabian pomp and John Squire-ish Love Spreads slide. There isn't really anything not to like about this.
Sonic Boom Six
We've covered Sonic Boom Six before, but their knack for bringing together eclectic subcultural influences (Dubstep, Metal, The Specials, The Streets, Public Enemy etc), combined with their refreshing sense of social responsibility - all whilst providing their loyal fans with a good time, make them a unique force on the Manchester music scene. Here's one of the anthemic rockers "keep On Believing'.
Finally, rounding off the list with some hope for the future, a young singer/songwriter with a good dose of Billy Bragg/Bob Dylan energy. Kaiden Nolan thrashes out strong visceral songs armed only with an acoustic guitar.
Any list like this is never going to be exhaustive or even comprehensive. It's testament to the fact that there are still a lot of good new bands and artists out there! We came across so many putting this post together, here are some (twenty more in fact) of the ones that we didn't have room for, but which are definitely worth checking out and following to find out when they are playing near you.
The Hope Edition, The Shaded Arrows, The Northstand, The Backhanders, We Signal Fire, Dead Seas, Mutineers, The Twisted Dolls, Black Lights, Bauer, Goda Tungl, The Montoyas, The Visitors, Freerunner, Sixty Minute Man, El Gazelle, The Masquerade, Maisetto and of course, Oaces!
Huge thanks to all of those who made suggestions or got in touch to be involved!