EZRA FURMAN: Albert Hall, Manchester. 12th November 2019.

 

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Yesterday was my birthday; it was the first without my Grandma. It was a weird and painful day. Thank god I had my girlfriend and an Ezra Furman show to distract me.

I’ve been a fan of Ezra for so long, and various things I’ve always got in the way of me ever catching a show of his. The main being me having panic attacks. He once played a tiny venue right by my old house on Chatsworth Road in London, of course I couldn’t go because I had a panic attack and was broke. Living just to pay rent and have no life is now a thing of the past, but back then it was pretty much all I did. Last night was special for so many reasons.

 

 

The crowd was full of people who just made the show feel like home. To see the front row absolutely scream the words back to Ezra gave off a sense of hope. They are our future, and maybe they’ll be the ones to fix all the fuck ups that past and present leaders have caused. The crowd was made up of beautiful people from our LGBTQ+ community. People were free to be whoever they wanted, dress however they wanted and to just be free. To truly be free. I sincerely hope Ezra is aware of the power and influence he has, and how he is probably spurring on a younger generation to speak up and fight back.

There were so many moments in the set where you could truly feel and hear the words being screamed by Ezra and being screamed back at Ezra louder than most. I did my very best to hold back tears for many reasons, and to hear certain lines being sung just caused some tears to fall. There’s one line that I have in the back of my mind constantly from his brilliant song (and one of my favourites from Twelve Nudes) My Teeth Hurt. I love the line, “I don’t know how I’m doing lately. Fuck you if you ask.” I didn’t have it in me to scream that line last night, but I have it constantly screaming in my head. If I could personally thank Ezra for writing that line, and that song I truly would. I really cannot put into words just how much that line means to be. It’s a crutch for me.

We all know that Twelve Nudes is probably the best record of the year, and it’s been my safety net since it came out. I love how on the record you can truly hear the fury in Ezra’s voice. The cracks in his voice on the songs occur just as beautifully on stage. You can really feel every single emotion when Ezra does songs like Calm Down, Evening Prayer and Trauma. He played about 22 songs last night, and I’m pretty sure we want Ezra and his band to just stay on stage forever. He’s our hero, he’s our voice. Thank fuck we have people like him. He’s 2 months older than me, but I still idolise him in the same way I idolise Patti Smith and Nick Cave. He’s everything to me, and he is everything to everyone who was at the show last night.

Hearing the new songs live was such a beautiful experience but it is older songs like My Zero (who he dedicated to our Mancunian treasure, Marc Riley), Haunted Head and Love You So Bad were such an honour to see and hear. He created moments on stage that you just wanted to stay in for the rest of time. I have never felt so safe at a show; it felt like home. It felt like we were all witnessing something truly powerful yet utterly sacred. Of course, I wish I had seen him live before, but to see him in a venue that I adore, with my favourite person was most certainly worth waiting for.

Suck The Blood From My Wound opened the show, and it was played with this urgency that made you instantly realise just how vital this show was going to be. It is one of those shows that you know you and all those who were there will be talking about in many years to come. I hope the younger kids there start their own band and get their voices heard. I hope anyone who felt out of place, felt at home at this show. The way which Ezra and everyone screams, “To them we’ll always be freaks” is so powerful. Everyone felt it, as did I. You could tell that from the first song that this was going to be a truly remarkable show, and you could see on Ezra’s face that he knew immediately too. This beautiful city means a lot to Ezra, and the love and respect is hugely reciprocated.

I could write thousands and thousands on my love for Ezra and about the show last night. If you’ve ever seen his show, you’ll know exactly what I mean and how safe it all feels. Ezra is someone who plays shows with everything he has. He leaves it all on stage. He pours his heart out into these songs; sure, you can hear it on record, but to truly witness this live is something else. Twelve Nudes is the Punk record he always wanted and needed to make. It’s the Punk record I always needed. His cover of The Clash’s Police On My Back (which is also a cover) was beautifully done, and I saw one person on the opposite side of my totally lose his shit to it. It was beautiful. The setlist was perfect. Every single song was played with such passion and fury. Every song made you feel like you belonged and that they were for you.

 

 

The show last night was made up of all ages, races, genders and sexuality. It was a freeing and welcoming atmosphere. Also, the person selling the merch was just the sweetest. I just needed to add that.

Given my own personal circumstances, I can say that this is one of the best shows I have ever EVER been to. If you have the chance to see Ezra, go. Go and sing your heart out with him.

“And if it’s not enough to keep the lights on
Let ’em turn the lights off
Broken spirit and a bad cough
Turn ’em off, turn ’em off
And when you’re really at the end of your rope
No, you don’t take the night off
Too many demons to fight off
Cut me off, cut me off.”

Thank you, Ezra. Thank you.

BANKS: O2 Ritz, Manchester. 1st November 2019.

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Last night was only my third time seeing BANKS, but to see her perform the songs from her new record III was a completely different experience from the past two shows.

Her voice is stronger than ever, her confidence has grown, and she is easily one of the best performers you’ll ever see. I can safely say this morning that my voice is a bit fucked. I sang my little heart out last night, something which I rarely do. I guess I felt I needed to get everything out. Her music is soothing, it is healing and just makes everything alright. She’s is nothing short of phenomenal.

 She opens her set with Til Now, which is a powerful anthem. It’s a solid ‘fuck you’ and BANKS does this so well. On stage all she needs is Derek, Ben, Nadine and Allison. Nadine and Alison, along with BANKS move in ways that make you feel like you are at something that is more than just a concert. There is something so ethereal and magical about watching the three of them move together. Of course, I lose my mind when Stroke starts. I told my girlfriend we should have brought red bandanas or something to recreate the moves but luckily, we improvised (nearly smacking each other!) During the set I was stood near a guy who was absolutely having the time of his life; moving in ways we all should at shows and screaming every word back at Jillian. That’s how you do it. I think I spent more time watching him! Something I love seeing at BANKS’ shows is just how passionate her fans are. Everyone just screams the words back, as if we have been waiting our whole lives to just get this all out. She is a phenomenal writer, and like I mentioned above her vocals have become even stronger.

 

 

There are so many perfect moments during the show, but for me it came from the most tender and vulnerable part- when she recited her poem, Ode To The Grey Zone, that’s when it all fell into place for me. I was one of them who filmed the whole thing- I just had to. It is such a gorgeous and vulnerable piece of art, and it is something that is so comforting. I needed it. There are so many highlights from her new record that came to life last night. One of the most important ones was If We Were Made Of Water. Did I expect to hear it? Hell no. I lost my mind. It is such a strong song, and on record her vocals on this are insane but when you witness it live, you take on a different meaning. That’s what I love about Jillian- when you see her perform these songs after religiously playing them at home, they really do take on a different meaning. They become a bigger part of you, and that’s the part you cling to. Always.

 Seeing everyone lose their mind to Gimme was brilliant. I think this, and Underdog are the ones that caused me and my girlfriend to absolutely ruin our voice and wake up with sore throats this morning. Completely worth it. Drowning and Waiting Game were as always, a joy to witness. I love that she’s switched up the set, and even though I wanted to see This Is What It Feels Like again- seeing If We Were Made Of Water just completed it all for me. Poltergeist was ridiculous. I love the choreography to this. I think for me, the best part of the show choreography wise was Contaminated. It is such a heartbreaking song, but when you see it performed it takes on a new life almost. The way it is performed is so heartbreaking, and you feel slightly voyeuristic watching it- seeing something so fragile. But even in BANKS’ tender moments, there is so much strength and I love that about her so much. Alaska caused everyone to lose their mind as did Underdog. The whole set was a delight, and I’m just so excited to watch her keep evolving as a performer and writer. She truly is a Goddess. Also, the songs playing before she came on stage made me love her even more. My girlfriend, who is a huge Lil’ Kim fan left her place in the drinks queue to run up to me and recite the lyrics. I fucking love her. Before BANKS came on stage Where My Girls At by 702 was playing- pretty sure I was treating everyone to a nice rendition of that. She played so much Missy too, which is a given!

As someone who has been a fan right from the start, seeing Jillian grow and become the performer she is now is truly beautiful. The chapter of III is her showing us how she has grown and blossomed into this confident performer. I’ve always loved how you can see how much she loves playing shows on her face. When she performs Beggin’ For Thread, and hands the mic to the crowd this beautiful smile takes her over and the dimples shows us just how much it means to her. Maybe because she sees how much it means to us too. Seeing Godless and Propaganda live were out of this world too. Definitely a highlight for sure.

With just three records she has become this vital part of music, and so many people’s lives. I loved seeing so many people from our LGBTQ+  community in the crowd. It felt like home, it felt like a safe space and given the state of the world right now- this is what we need. Her music is a safety net, her shows make you feel like you finally belong and being who you are is enough. The world puts us down enough, we don’t need to do it to ourselves.

 

 

Last night was the first night of the UK/EU III tour; so, if you are lucky enough to be going, you are in for a real treat. If you’ve never seen BANKS live before, prepare to have your mind blown. If you’ve seen her before, you’ll truly see how she has grown, and you’ll just be so proud of her.

BAMBARA: Soup Kitchen, Manchester 22nd October 2019.

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I went to this show as someone who casually listened to Bambara; I left as someone who is now obsessed and in awe of what I witnessed in a room that should have been packed.

I think the best way to describe a Bambara show is wonderfully loud and chaotic. As soon as they ripped into their set, I immediately felt like I was watching The Birthday Party for the first time. They have the same raucous sound that is all over the place in the best way possible. I don’t want my music to sound polished or perfect- I want it to be noisy, all over the place and powerful. I got all of that and more from Bambara’s set. They put their absolute everything into their performance, and honestly, Reid Bateh is quite possibly one of the best performers I’ve ever seen. He absolutely puts all he has into the songs, and in a live setting you can truly see just how much this means to him. It’s like he has to get THIS out. I don’t know what “THIS” is exactly, and maybe it’s something we all have in us, but he gets it out in a way that is beautifully enthralling and terrifying at the same time.

Bambara aren’t a band for those wanting roses and sunshine. They are a band for those seeking something to cling to. They’ve toured with two bands that own my heart- IDLES and METZ. Imagine seeing that! It’d be like witnessing something so sacred, and spiritual. I had a great spot at this show, and maybe it was because it wasn’t sold out. It should have been sold out by the way. I could see everything, and I was so fascinated with drummer, Blaze. His style reminded me so much of one of my favourite drummers- Alex Robins. I loved that Blaze’s stage attire was shorts and cowboy boots- if that doesn’t define cool, then I don’t know what does. His style of drumming is intense and captivating. He’s the kind of drummer that a kid would watch and think, “I want to do that.” He made a 32 year old feel that way (me, by the way.) I love how the band all have this sense of solidarity when they play. It feels like a brotherhood (obviously that’s the case with Reid and Blaze!) and this tight sound they have just makes you completely hooked on every sound they make, and every word that Reid sings.

 

 

Songs like José Tries to Leave, and brand new song Serafina (which I think they had only played once before maybe?) were just magnificent to watch. With this possibly being the second time they performed Serafina, they nailed it perfectly. I love how Reid thrashing the microphone wire like an out of control lion-tamer, and he definitely reminds you of a very young Nick Cave when he was in The Birthday Party. This was probably one of the loudest shows I’ve been to at the Soup Kitchen- it wasn’t as loud as the times I saw The Jesus And Mary Chain (I couldn’t hear properly for 2 days, but I was stood right by the speaker so…it was to be expected!) Although the venue wasn’t packed, but to be honest sometimes it doesn’t matter you know. Sometimes it can feel like the whole world is there, and Bambara definitely made you feel that way. At times it felt intrusive as you witnessed them leave their absolute everything on stage, but bands that do this just have my complete respect. To be that open on stage is something to really appreciate and admire for sure.

I love how bassist, William completely lets go on stage. Sometimes you see bass players who are holding back and seem to be teetering on letting go, but William is unafraid and just makes you wish you were as cool as him. Bryan and Sammy are INCREDIBLE guitarists; they could easily have blown the amps with how loud they were, and take that with how grand Blaze’s drumming is- then you get the general idea of how wild and loud this show was.

There was something about this show that at the end, I felt like I had got what I needed. I felt some kind of release. I’m not sure what of. I mean today is 2 months since my Grandma died and I’m ready to go back to bed and spend the day crying. But last night, that gig gave me that feeling that you get from your favourite band. It was truly special for so many reasons. I urge you to see Bambara whenever and wherever you can. It’s not just a show, it’s an experience. An experience that will stay on your mind until the next time. Over and over.

 

 

Their set ended on Monument, and it was such a high to end on. Of course you wanted more, and you just wanted them to carry on for an eternity but this was just one of the most mesmerising shows I’ve ever been to. Bambara have been around for some time now, and these New York heroes are a band to become majorly obsessed with.

This was my first time seeing the band, and I definitely hope it won’t be my last. Their new record, Stray will be out in February. It’s their fourth record and I reckon it might just be their heaviest to date. I cannot wait to hear it, and can probably call it as one of 2020’s finest records.

THE MURDER CAPITAL: YES (The Pink Room) Manchester. 18th October 2019.

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A very wise person once said, ‘The Murder Capital are one of the best bands you’ll ever see live.’ Not sure who it was, it was probably anyone who has ever been to their show.

Their debut record, When I Have Fears has been my crutch since my Gran died in August. It’s been that something I turn to when I have no idea what is going on and when I’m trying to get a hold of what I’m feeling. I never get hold of it; I never will. The show tonight meant the world to me for this reason, and I honestly don’t think I’m ever going to get over just how incredible it was.

 The Pink Room at YES tonight was completely rammed. It was full of people who were clinging to these songs. The Murder Capital are a band of the people, and my god they are a band to be utterly proud of. James’ is one of the most enthralling front men I’ve ever seen. He’s got the presence that will make him be likened to Nick Cave. The band are just the most captivating and passionate band you’ll see. During songs, James leans over to Damien, Gabriel and Cathal and plants gentle kisses on their heads- it is such a simple moment, but you just know how much it means.

 

 

When I Have Fears is one of the most hard-hitting records of the year. Before they play On Twisted Ground, James announces “This is for everyone who should be here.” I immediately think of my Gran and my friend who took her life in the summer this year. I cry. I cry for many reasons. Some obvious and some not. All reasons I try to grasp every day. I wish I could say this show was a form of healing, but I won’t heal, and I’ve accepted this. What I can say is that this was one of the most emotional, passionate and important shows I’ve ever been to. With just one record, The Murder Capital have created something we expect from bands who are playing huge venues and have numerous of records- but The Murder Capital are different.

 Watching the band, you simply cannot get over just how immense the experience is. The way Diarmuid annihilates his drumkit, and makes you feel like the stage is going to crumble because of the sheer weight of his playing, this merges so perfectly with James’ vocals which can be grand yet delicate. The band are exceptional at creating tender moments on their songs, and the bring it out so well in their live shows. I love when they all completely let go in their heavier songs like More Is Less and Feeling Fades and I love seeing the quieter moments where you can see them take everything in. You can really tell that this isn’t just a band to them, it isn’t just a job. It’s their life. And as a fan, that’s how you feel. They go beyond being just a band; they are just everything. Simple as really, yet it holds a lot.

 Everyone goes apeshite to More Is Less, Green and Blue and set closer, Feeling Fades (stage invasion from the Happy Couple was great, and James launched himself into the crowd!) And the tender moments in songs like Slowdance I and Slowdance II are just so perfect. For Everything is belted out by the band and is also sung back to the band by the crowd even louder. These are the moments that make you realise that you have seen something truly special; this will probably be the last time we see them in such small spaces. They’ve just announced a tour for early next year, and it’s only a matter of time before they start selling shows out in seconds. They are such an important band, and they aren’t afraid to vocalise the issues many want to shy away from.

 Don’t Cling To Live reads as a poem, but when you see this live it becomes an anthem. It is one of those songs that regardless of where you hear it (live or in your room) it changes you. It becomes part of you; it has something that makes it such a gorgeous composition. Seeing it live is truly something else. Seeing The Murder Capital live is truly something else. Once you see them, that’s it. It takes over you. In an ideal world I could be at their shows every single night. They hold so much power in their music; it can break you, then heal you, then break you again. It’s an emotional rollercoaster for sure, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

 

Aside from being way too close to people who thought talking all the way through the show was appropriate, I can safely say that this was one of the most personal and captivating shows I’ve ever been to. It’s hard to put into words just how exceptional the show was, and I think anyone who has seen them or even just loves the band knows what I mean. There are some bands that just love beyond words, and The Murder Capital are exactly that. There are no words good enough to describe this band and all they mean to me. It was such an intense experience, and although it was over all too quickly it has left a lasting impression that is permanently etched upon my heart.

 Tickets for their tour next year are now on sale. Buy them and go sing your heart out.

*Photo by JustGrayce

THE BATTERY FARM.

 

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Manchester, Manchester. The greatest city in the world. A city that feels like home; it’s just the best. There are so many bands to have come from this beautiful city that I get to call home, and there a wealth of new bands emerging that, in time, will be regarded as highly as those before them.

 A band that most certainly demand your attention are The Battery Farm. They have a new single out in a couple of weeks, and this single’s subject matter is mental health. It is about lead singer, Ben’s struggle with his own mental health issues and this stigma that surrounds masculinity and speaking up about mental health. More than ever, we are embracing opening up- bands like IDLES are so encouraging with regards to speaking up. Then again, what kind of dickhead would want someone to shut up about it? Yesterday was World Mental Health Day, but that doesn’t mean that we stop talking or stop checking up on friends. We all have our own struggles; I’m open about mine but of course, hypocritically, I wish I wasn’t. I’m doing my best to write more about music, so I don’t have to “deal” with the two deaths I experienced so close to each other. One I can handle, but losing my Gran? I’ll never get a grip on that. Anyway, personal rant aside- let’s talk about music.

The Battery Farm consist of two brothers and two pals (the brothers are pals too obviously!) These 4 lads are making the kind of noisy Punk that makes you want to do something positive as well as trashing your room. They are a band to be hugely proud of, and not just because they are talking about things we tend to shy away from. They’ve been getting a fair bit of exposure, and I’ll post tour dates at the end. But what we need to discuss is their style and how they are such a bold, and vital band.

 

 

 Their debut single, 97/91 came out a couple of months ago. It’s got that beautiful heavy sound that is in bands like IDLES, The Murder Capital and Fontaines D.C. They aren’t afraid to have this openness and darkness in their sound, and I love it. I absolutely love this song. I love how you can feel every ounce of passion in Ben’s voice, and how the band just play with this infectious fury that just spurs you on. You cannot help but feel every single word- some people sing from their heart, some sing from their gut. Ben definitely sings from his gut, and that’s where this urgency is coming from. There is so much weight to their sound, and I love the dark tones and how they really are a fearless band. Their songs could easily be in some creepy Thriller film, or it could come to you in your dreams. It is frantic in the best way possible. I’d say I cannot praise this band enough, but I probably can. And will.

 Their songs are perfect for venues like our beloved Soup Kitchen, The Castle etc. but they could so very easily be blasted out in stadiums with every single person screaming along. Imagine that? Imagine everyone yelling the words to 97/91. It is such a powerful song, and although I know I should be going back to their new one, I Am A Man; this song has a ferocious grip on my ears. In fact, both songs do. So, let’s move on.

I Am A Man is a totally different sound to 97/91, and it works so well. Their new single as mentioned, is about Ben’s own struggles. It is so easy to relate to these lyrics; “I wanna talk but I don’t know how” is such a simple line, but it holds so much. It’s the way it is chanted by the band, and how it just completely sums up the whole stigma around mental health. Many do want to talk, and they have no idea where to start or even where to go. With just 2 songs, The Battery Farm have made a vital impact- and with I Am A Man the beautiful Mancunian snarl just nails it. The sheer honesty and openness in this aren’t fragile at all- it is brave. I’m aware that calling someone brave can sometimes be condescending but it is said here with the utmost respect. They just make you connect with them in ways bands that have been around for decades haven’t done yet. The words are sheer poetry, and they are merged with the most brutal drums, bass and guitar imaginable. It works so well and you cannot help but smack repeat on it. The lyrics become a mantra- we need more bands like this.

 

 

 

 

The Battery Farm have described their sound as, “frantic, visceral and violent.” It’s a pretty spot on description- but don’t let the violent part put you off. In this instance, that violent sound comes from daily frustrations and just wanting to change something, anything. It’s the vital force of their sound that makes you feel like you are pushing yourself through a wall of people to be heard. It’s a struggle, but you’ll get there.

 As someone who is obsessed with lyrics, I really love how The Battery Farm are so open to sharing their thoughts and what they see. They are showing us their world, their reality and the thing is- it’s like a lot of ours. Their songs are relatable, and if the lyrics make you feel uncomfortable- then they are doing it right, they are getting through. Their passion and dedication is something to truly admire, and with just 2 songs they have left me in awe. I really cannot praise them highly enough. Not just for touching on delicate subjects, but for being unafraid in doing so and for creating such a beautiful, and heavy sound. Hopefully they will be a band that, in the future, others are citing as them as their influence. 

 Here are some of their upcoming shows:

8th November 2019 – The Peer Hat, Manchester for Abattoir Blues Records

21st November 2019 – Werkhaus, London

1st December 2019 – Fab Café (acoustic)

7th December 2019 – Eagle Inn, Salford

28th December 2019 – Sound, Liverpool

22nd February 2020 – The Peer Hat, Manchester for Deco Records

18th April 2020 – Ulltra Festival, Hull

I Am A Man is released on 24th October.

*Photo by Gemma Corry

 

THEE WINDOM EARLES: Mai Tai Pink Eye.

 

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If you’re looking for something extra creepy, and extra trashy- then you’ve GOT to listen to Manchester’s finest Thee Windom Earles. They are a fascinating band that make you feel like you’ve stepped into some weird Horror B-Movie. They are off the wall, in your face and just brilliant. Think along the lines of Captain Beefheart and The Cramps, then you’ll get it.

 Where do you begin with a band like this? I know nothing about them, all I know is that they are from the greatest city in the world (Manchester) and they make the kind of music that would even move us fellow introverts. They’ve got a really cool style, and this Psychobilly sound is just exceptional. You cannot help but move when you listen to them, and you cannot help but play their music super loud.

 Their debut record, Mai Tai Pink Eye came out in February this year. I know, I’m late with this one. But it’s such a great record. You don’t feel like you’re listening to a band from 2019. There is something nostalgic about this record- they’ve got every essence of The Cramps, but they don’t do it in a rip-off style at all. They take this creepy Rock ‘n’ Roll sound and make it theirs. If The Cramps came from Manchester, they’d probably sound like this. Songs like Sex Pizzeria are MADE to be played super loud and Oom Sha Cha too. Just play the whole record loud at least 5 times a day. You’ll feel better for it.

 

 

 

Mai Tai Pink Eye is not only probably the best name for a record you’ll hear this year, but it’s also got a such a tight sound. The production is flawless, and the sound is beautifully unruly. It is the best form of chaos possible- it’s basically a band making a lot of noise and having a great time doing so. I’m having a great time listening to it! It is such a thrilling record. Bands like Thee Windom Earles and Night Shades who are making their own style of Rock ‘n’ Roll right now; I’d love to see both play a show together. It would be insane. To hear a sound so refreshing on this record just makes you fall in love with music over and over again. Songs like Lunchtime Munchtime and Freight Elevator are just these incredible pieces of real Rock music. There’s the Garage Rock thrown in, there’s the effortlessly cool and weird style that lures you in. The vocals are delivered with this infectious energy that is happening throughout the whole record. I cannot praise this monster of a record enough! You cannot help but play every single song to death. It’s only 9 tracks long, but those tracks are enough to have you hooked in every single way. You’ll be having dreams about this record.

 Lick The Flipper has this awesome Surf Rock feel to it, but it also has something a little eerie/sinister about it. I just love how the band mess with your head. The only thing that’s consistent is how brilliant they are- everything else is a pleasant surprise. You just have no idea how the next song is going to hit you. I think this is the song I’m obsessed with the most (for now) it’s definitely a stand-out song on this record, but truth be told, the whole record is an underrated masterpiece. Manchester is truly home to some amazing musicians and bands- Thee Windom Earles absolutely back this notion up for sure.

 When you listen to this record you cannot help but let it take over your soul. You feel like it has corrupted you in the best way, and all good music makes you feel this way somehow. Imagine being about 14/15 years old, and finding a band like Thee Windom Earles and just letting this sound blow your mind, and you end up starting your own band? That’d be so cool. Instead, as a 32 year old, I’m just in awe of the band and I’m so glad they exist. I’m so glad I found them. Just when I think I couldn’t love this city even more, something like this happens! I think it is safe to say that Mai Tai Pink Eye is probably the year’s most underrated record. It’s got everything you could possibly want from a pure Rock ‘n’ Roll record.

 

 

 

So, there you have it- if you’re looking for something to shake them bones of yours or to just blow your mind, Thee Windom Earles are 100% the band for you. Let them take you on a weird trip- it’s on you if you come back down to earth or not.

DRAB MAJESTY + SRSQ: Soup Kitchen, Manchester. 19/09/2019.

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If ever there was a dream line-up, then this would be one of them: Drab Majesty AND SRSQ together. Playing a venue that I adore, even if it was an absolute sweat box last night. I missed the first song of SRSQ’s set because I am shit at catching the tram from my flat to town, but that’s irrelevant.

Kennedy (who is SRSQ) was part of a band that I was obsessed with; Them Are Us Too, and to see someone who was part of a band who have left a lasting impact on me live, was something to truly treasure. There is the same passion there, and it is just a beautiful thing to be immersed in. For me, the music Kennedy makes as SRSQ is so ethereal and so delicate. I adore her vocals so much, and how Kennedy has this impressive power within their vocals that are just a thrill to witness. The way Kennedy controls the room with this gorgeous voice and haunting songs just leave you covered in goose bumps. For me it is songs like Cherish that show us just how effortlessly brilliant Kennedy is, and how every fibre of their being is exposed on stage.

 

 

Kennedy uses her voice how a guitarist would create fury with their instrument. She does it all on her own, and you cannot help but be in awe. Her music has been a massive comfort for me recently, with my Grandma dying very recently. I have used her music to escape a little, and to see these songs live just got me. If it can hit you in the gut, then you’ve found a band worth holding on to. Kennedy tells stories and takes you off into another world with her music, and the way she does it in a live setting is just nothing short of beautiful, in its truest and purest form. Only One was the song that just moved me the most. It made me think of listening to Zola Jesus for the first time- they both have this power in their voice, and this tone that is just unlike anything else. It can make you cry almost instantly because it is that soothing and perfect. I hope she comes back to the UK and does her own headline tour because her set was just a joy to watch.

Now it is time for Drab Majesty to take to the stage.

A couple of months ago, Drab Majesty released the chilling new record, Modern Mirror. This is a record that is dripping in synth-filled songs to hit you right in the soul. The songs were made to hit you right in the pit of your stomach. So how do they do this live? Effortlessly. So easy. Deb and Mona D are two exceptional musicians who just have this stage presence that leaves you so intrigued and moved by what you are witnessing. Their songs are euphoric symphonies that make you feel as if you have found yourself in the underworld where Deb and Mona are your leaders.

As someone who has frequent panic attacks (and they are ever increasing) I find bands like Drab Majesty and SRSQ so calming. It is the relaxed tone in the vocals, and it is the purity in the sound. It just eases me. They open their set with A Dialogue, which kicks off their new record. The perfect opener to their set. I’ve waited a hell of a long time to see this band, and I can honestly say it was one of the most moving shows I’ve been to. Something I really admire about Drab Majesty is that their music feels like it could be in a film, and they make you feel like you are part of it. There is so much fragility in the music, and I love it so much. I love how they are unafraid to be gentle in their music. The Other Side broke my heart, but to see it live was just remarkable.

 

 

It was such a joy to see both bands last night, and to see them both command the stage in ways that show us that less is truly more. In an ideal world, I’d watch their sets every single day and be in a constant state of bliss. They all make you want to create this dark, moving music to release all that you’re carrying. You can see for Kennedy that there’s a fair bit of release when she performs live and Drab Majesty have this hypnotic and stoic stance on stage, but there is so much emotion within all of them when they perform their songs. You can truly see how much it means to them, and given that most of this tour is sold out- it shows us just how much they are loved. It was so good to see the venue packed for Kennedy’s set. There was just a lot of love and respect in the venue for both sets, and to see this was nothing short of wonderful.

I can only urge you to see both bands whenever you can. It will feel like the most perfect out of body experience, and you will feel like both bands are in control of how you move during the show. You’re their puppet, and in this instance it really isn’t a bad thing. As hard as it was for me to leave the house last night and go to the show, I’m so glad I did. This is what I needed at this moment, what comes next now I have no idea but I have this to hold on to for a little while.

I can only reiterate that you just need to see both bands, and allow yourself to be immersed in such beauty and ethereal synth magic.

 

GHUM: The Castle Hotel, Manchester. 15th July 2019.

ghum

 

Of all the gigs I’ve ever been to, the show tonight was the hottest and most sweatiest. A tiny venue with no air con but who cares? One of the most exciting bands around played here tonight, and it was something truly special.

Their debut EP came out a couple of weeks ago, and it is one of the most remarkable and gorgeous records of the year. It is a euphoric dream of a record, and has the most intense sounds and ethereal feelings within the songs. It is perfect; so how does it come across live?  Divine. Absolutely divine.

Before I get into their more known songs, they played a new one called California which I am obsessed with! I wish it was on The Coldest Fire, but it definitely proves that they are pretty much the best band around in this country. For me, I got the same feeling I did when I first heard TwoFiftyFour and Warpaint years and years ago. They have that same dark yet euphoric feel to their sound.

 

 

Their live show is something else. This was their first time that they had played Manchester, and it honestly felt like a band that were “coming home” in a way. Everyone was just having the best time, even if it felt like we were in a sauna. For a band that have put out their debut EP, they just make you feel like they’ve been around forever. They are so sure of their sound, and that just makes them even more inspiring.

I loved finally seeing 1000 Men and Saturn. These are two songs I’ve had on repeat more than usual, and the live versions of these songs are truly mind-blowing. GHUM are band that you cannot help but fall in love with from your very first listen. They have something about them that just sucks you in, and nothing else comes close to it. They have this colossal sound and presence that you know means that this will probably be one of the last times they play such a small venue. They played the best venue in the world over the weekend, The Shacklewell Arms and honestly, it is the best venue for a band like this. But tonight at The Castle Hotel was something else. It isn’t a big venue, and it has a proper intimate feel to it. A rare treat to have such a band play here, and I think it has the potential to be one of those shows that in decades from now, you’ll be gloating that you were there. Like when the Sex Pistols played the Lesser Free Trade Hall.

The sheer passion in the way they play and deliver these songs is truly astounding and hugely inspiring- they are effortlessly haunting with their sound, and you just want it to consume you. Everything about GHUM just leaves you in awe. You cannot help but feel that you were part of something really special tonight. I hope it is one of those shows that this city talks about for years to come. The crowd were equally as perfect. It’s been known that Manchester crowds are the best, and tonight they really did prove that theory correct.

I think Get Up was the song that really got everyone going. I love how the song vocally is delicate, then the hook comes in and just smacks you in the face. There’s honestly no reason as to why GHUM won’t become massive and win over thousands, and thousands more fans. They are a band that have you hooked immediately and tonight, they fully exposed that notion in ways I’ve never seen a band do before.

 

 

For me, this show is one that will stick with me. When they play bigger venues, this show will still go down as being one of my favourites. The venue may have been a sweat-fest, but it didn’t matter because we were in the presence of one of the best bands around who will undoubtedly go and take over the world.

WALLOWS: Manchester Academy 2. 7th June 2019.

 

wallows

 

The crowd at tonight’s show consisted of mainly teenage girls. As soon as Wallows stepped on the stage, the venue was deafened with screams that could rival a One Direction concert. There would have been a time where this would have annoyed me, but tonight it was beautiful to hear. A couple of hundred kids in this room watching a really great band. A lot of them were with their parents, and it may have been their first ever show. A pretty cool first gig if you ask me. I was stood behind a dad and her daughter. The dad was wearing a t shirt of The Smiths (which alone is great!) and was singing and dancing along with his kid. It was a beautiful moment. Some kids would be embarrassed, but there was so much love there. It was beautiful.

Nothing Happens is the band’s first full length record. It is made up of songs that sound like The Smiths meets The Cure and dives right into The Strokes. Personally, I love it. Three bands I love, and Wallows have created a sound that is equal parts L.A. and 80s Manchester via New York and the South of England. Maybe that’s why this crowd were absolutely brilliant. There’s something about Manchester, and given it was Wallows first time playing here- it most certainly was a night to cherish. Manchester crowds never disappoint, and they created such beautiful moments tonight.

 

 

The set opened with Do Not Wait which is by far my favourite song off Nothing Happens, and probably my favourite Wallows song. I love the depth in the lyrics, and I love the angelic yet grand sound in the song. Dylan’s vocals on this one are something else, and he truly does it justice live. To have them open with such a big song was great, and it only got better.

Songs like These Days, Pictures of Girls and Are You Bored Yet? are probably sung louder by the crowd than the band- but everyone is just so taken with it. There is something about Wallows that makes it so easy to fall in love with their sound. I loved how the crowd sang Clairo’s part on Are You Bored Yet? Braeden and Dylan share vocals throughout the set, and their voices compliment each others so well. When they need to be gentle, they truly hit you with the fragility in the tone. But when they need to ramp it up and be rough with their tone, they deliver it effortlessly.

With only one full length record and an EP to date, they had no problem selling out shows. This show was originally at the Deaf Institute but got upgraded. To be honest, they could have easily sold out The Ritz or the main Academy next door. That’s for next time though, and there definitely will be a next time.

Wallows give you more than a show. They are the best at what they do, and let it be known that Cole is one of the best drummers around. The band have got a lot of soul, and a lot of heart in their music. Their lyrics are relatable and their songs are just blissed out gems that you can’t help but continually to fall in love with.

The set closes with Scrawny. This song has my favourite line of the year, “I can still have wisdom and look like a child.” I can wholeheartedly relate to this, and it’s such a great song. To see it live just gave me a new appreciation for it. I cannot wait to see them again. I really can’t. My only downer is that they didn’t play Uncomfortable, but hey- the show was just perfect and the set just showed us why they are not only a great band and musicians, but also one of the most exciting performers around. They all have this beautiful energy, and create this atmosphere that you cannot help but soak up.

 

 

I hope kids that were at this show end up starting their own bands or something, and use this show as their blueprint or something. It was perfect. Manchester truly embraced Wallows tonight, not just because it was their first time here but because this is the best city in the world!

URF.

 

Supporting Crocodiles a few weeks ago were local band, URF. Manchester is known for having brilliant music scene. It’s something to be massively proud of, and another reason as to why I love this city.

URF capture the doom and gloom of daily life, but don’t let that put you off. They do it in a way that is so intricate and articulate; it’s sheer poetry. They have this effortlessly cool Shoegaze sound that will just blow you away. On record they’ve got something that reels you in, but when you see them live something switches. Their live shows are something else. There’s something really mysterious and industrial-like in their sound. They have a song called Night Driving which is one of their greatest, if not best song to date. That’s just my opinion, mind. I love how intense it is, and also has quite delicate moments within it. They take you for a ride on all their songs, but this one in particular takes you further.

 

 

For me, they are the kind of band that after hearing once- you’re hooked. I love bands like that, and I love this really intense atmosphere they have. Each of them create this mood, and it’s just a pleasure to listen to. For The Ride shows us just how powerful Abbi’s voice is, and I can honestly say that her vocals live are even stronger than on record. For The Ride has this euphoric build-up, and the instrumental part of this song will leave you covered in goosebumps. It’s the kind of song that leaves you in awe, and completely taken aback that something can be this great. It’s a beautiful song, and that instrumental part is just perfect.

Now we’re going to get into their new song, Solitude.

Solitude is a heavy word. It’s something most would shy away from. There’s nothing wrong with being alone, and experiencing it is probably good for the soul because if you can’t tolerate your own company- who will? There’s nothing more peaceful and powerful than listening to music on your own. Just taking everything in, and grasping everything a song or record gives you. Solitude isn’t a dirty word. URF have created something really amazing with their new single, and it captures being alone perfectly.

There are dark moments in the song, sure. But it is beautifully done, and it leaves you wanting more and more. The instrumental will have the same effect on you also, and maybe that’ll take you to a different zone. Music that can elevate you or just take you out of where you are mentally is so powerful, and I adore that URF have done this again. They are so hypnotic and bold; it’s a sound that I cannot and will not ever get tired of.

Solitude is the kind of song you’d hear on a Scandinavian detective drama (either whilst a detective loses his mind or something brutal happens) but don’t let that put you off. I’m basically getting at, URF have made something here which shits you up but is also ethereal. Seventeen Seconds by The Cure- that’s the same level that this song is on. Of course all their songs are, but Solitude in particular is on that level.

https://soundcloud.com/weareurf/solitude

 

URF are nothing short of incredible. They’ve supported the likes of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Crocodiles and Estrons. They will also be playing the Manchester Psych Fest this year. They are also playing their own show at YES on 15th June!

Buy their music, go to their shows and wear your URF shirt with pride, like me.

I can’t praise them enough. They’re just such an exciting band, and are making something that really hasn’t been done before. You can throw in all the comparisons all you want, but it won’t stick because URF have something. It’s something that goes beyond words, but will evoke all kinds of feelings. Get lost in the music, it’s all you can do.