Archive | February, 2015

Sound Breakers: Aeroplane Flies High

8 Feb

(Published 20th June 2014 in City Life Extra)

Aeroplane Flies High published 2Dead-set on signalling in a new era of grunge, North West trio Aeroplane Flies High are making a fine job of injecting fresh life and energy into this underground scene. Recently described by Metal Hammer magazine as ‘heavy, witty and extremely awesome’, one listen to AFH and you’ll see why grunge well and truly lives on.

Drawing influence from the likes of Sonic Youth, Smashing Pumpkins (hence the band name), Babes in Toyland, The Melvins and, of course, Nirvana, their sound is the type of intense assault upon your ears you would hope for with lashings of dense, noisy guitar, angsty vocals and relentless drumming. Raw yet melodic, all at the same time, this three-piece have craftily brought the essence of 90s gritty guitar music hurtling into the present day.

Embarking on a small tour during July alongside Stilts, the band will round-up their series of dates with a final show at London’s Old Blue Last on 11th July, coinciding with the launch of their new single ‘Honey’ released on Snaketown Records. But you can still catch them live before that in Manchester as they bring their primitive and primal sounds to Gullivers on Saturday 21st June for Carefully Planned Festival.

Sound Breakers: My Lyrical Mind

8 Feb

(Published 6th June 2014 in City Life Extra)

MyLyricalMind published #2Armed with bags of talent and a bevy of beautifully crafted ambient pop songs showcasing heartfelt lyrics and tender vocals, Matthew Wood a.k.a. MyLyricalMind, has plenty to be pleased about. Raised in Macclesfield and now residing in Manchester, 23 year old Matthew first self-recorded some acoustic demos back in 2012 and discovered, with the aid of lashings of reverb, he had created an impressive collection of atmospheric and haunting songs.

Fast forward to the present day and MyLyricalMind has honed his adept songwriting skills further still and has a batch of self-produced, professional recordings under his belt. Racking up thousands of plays on SoundCloud and YouTube to date, airplay on BBC Introducing and receiving praise from blogs and fans alike, Matthew was spurred on to some intensive gigging across the UK, taking in esteemed support slots for Mike Dignam and Ben Montague, amongst others.

Most recently, former V2 Records MD, David Steele, and producer Malcolm Carson whose credits include Stereophonics and Athlete, have begun working alongside MyLyricalMind and his debut EP is due for release this summer. If you can’t wait until then, get down to Stockport’s Blackthorn Music Festival in July where MyLyricalMind will no doubt treat the audience to an enchanting performance.

Sound Breakers: Postcards From Jeff

4 Feb

(Published 16th May 2015 in City Life Extra)

Postcards From Jeff published 2Hailing from Littleborough but currently ensconced in his rural Yorkshire recording studio, multi-instrumentalist and sonic explorer Postcards For Jeff has an unprecedented knack for creating encapsulating, cinematic music. It comes as no surprise that the protagonist, if you will, of the Postcards For Jeff project, Joss, often imagines his songs as short movies or surreal TV episodes and influences from the likes of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks and Wim Wender’s Paris, Texas markedly inspire and inform his songwriting process.

Recently calling upon the skill set of filmmaker Steve Glashier who has worked with Primal Scream, The Prodigy, Bonobo and Blood Red Shoes, to name but a few, the pair have collaborated to create the perfect songscape to track Awake with a distinctly European, classic yet intriguing feel to the video.

Championed by the likes of Amazing Radio and BBC Scotland, the recently released self-titled EP has been warmly received and forthcoming live dates ahead of a full album due this summer should coerce Joss from his solitary creative home on the windswept moors. With plans to expand the solo project into a fully fledged band for his live dates, this is sure to be an experience worth waiting for.

Making work experience in the music industry work for you

4 Feb

The topic of work experience, placements and internships in the music industry regularly spark debate and only last year HRMC clamped down on unpaid exploitation. Quite right too! But I feel this attitude has slightly tarnished the image of the work placement and it is often looked upon as a sly way for employers to work eager youngsters, keen to get a foot in the door, to the bone for no reward.

However, most businesses and individuals don’t operate in this way and in the majority of instances I think work placements are a brilliant way to get hands-on experience (essential in realms of the music business!) and figure out what you enjoy doing and what you don’t in terms of your potential career path.

I myself have done more than my fair share of unpaid work experience along the way and thoroughly enjoyed it. As long as you’re not out of pocket (for instance, your travel and lunch costs are covered) then all you’re offering up is your time…but as long as you’re cool with that, how else are you going to learn? You still have to dedicate your own time if you want to sit at home reading a book about how the music industry works…and I guarantee the practical, hands on experience will be much more fun and beneficial. Make sure you’re not tied in, so if you don’t like what you’re doing, the people you’re working alongside or you feel overly pressured, then you can leave and perhaps try a different kind of opportunity. It’s all part of the process and a great way for meeting like-minded people along the way.

A while back I wrote a 2 part blog for The Unsigned Guide about work experience. As someone who has done plenty of work for free and also, in my current role, taken on and trained up work placement folks as well, I thought I had a pretty good take on both sides of the fence.

Part 1 here is all about getting a placement, tips on finding opportunities, getting in touch and making the right impression

And Part 2 here covers how to make the most of your placement and make it work for you!

Sound Breakers: Rubberbear

4 Feb

(Published 25th April 2014 in City Life Extra)

What could define the sound of Manchester more than a duo comprising members of both New Order and The Fall? Well, don’t be fooled into thinking both parts inevitably equal the slightly tired resonances of Madchester; the beautifully crafted songs created by Rubberbear offer a distinctly sophisticated feel, illustrating influences from the pair’s French and English backgrounds.

RubberbearOnly formed early last year, Rubberbear’s debut EP ‘Let’s Move Somewhere Else’ went down a treat and attracted radio airplay aplenty, not to mention their accompanying video starring actress Maxine Peake which was also a sure-fire hit.

Following a brief hiatus as Tom went on tour with New Order last year, this accomplished songwriting partnership is out in force again as they unveil their latest EP ‘Elements’ which was released earlier in April.

Bursting at the seams with catchy melodies, lilting electronica and layers of orchestral elements, the end result is a refined collection of luscious indie-pop gems that will get under your skin. With plans to embark upon the live circuit later this year, we’re sure whatever Rubberbear have to offer will no doubt be rather special and enigmatic. Watch this space!

Sound Breakers: The Orielles

4 Feb

(Published 11th April 2014 in City Life Extra)

This week Sound Breakers strays slighter further from our typical North West catchment over to West Yorkshire, Halifax in particular, to spread the word about their finest exports, The Orielles. Harnessing retro influenced, jangly indie pop in an innocent, sublime and upbeat manner is their forte and their forthcoming release, produced by A Certain Ratio’s Jez Kerr, combines all of the above elements flawlessly. Entity, along with B-side, Don’t Drift, will be available from 12th May so if your tastes sway towards the likes of The Ravonettes and Long Blondes mixed with a hint of The Beach Boys surfer sounds, then this will be an investment well worth making.

Unbelievably fresh-faced, it seems hard to believe that a trio so young could emanate such an immaculate 60s tinged sound; and that’s all part of the marvel. The three-piece will be heading to our fair city for a special launch of their single release at The Deaf Institute on Saturday 26th April. Hosted by Manchester label carrying their wares, Scruff of the Neck Records, the event will be open to over-14s, who can also expect to catch Laurel Canyons, The Marquettes and Liam McClair on the evening’s bill.

Essential Checklist for Bands & Artists Starting Out

2 Feb

And now for something completely different…well, not quite.

I know I’ve bombarded this blog with my old Sound Breakers columns recently in a hasty attempt to bring it up to date, so I thought I’d mix it up a little with some other music-related morsels. Here are a couple of blogs I wrote a while back for my day job at The Unsigned Guide. If you’re making music, you may just find a useful nugget of info in there.

Essential Checklist for Bands & Artists Starting Out –

Top 5 Tips for Approaching Music Companies –

Sound Breakers: The Rainband

2 Feb

(Published 28th March 2014 in City Life Extra)

Formed in 2010, The Rainband have been flying the flag for Manchester’s pioneering music scene since the get-go and during the past few years have been showered with praise and endorsement from the likes of Noel Gallagher, Simple Minds frontman Jim Kerr, BBC 6Music, Rolling Stone magazine and many more.

Their quintessential Northern guitar sound packs a strong punch and melodic, well-crafted indie rock songs boast finesse and flair that sets them aside from their rivals. Rapidly forging their way as one of the city’s finest new music exports, it stands to reason that they’ve dazzled at many major festivals; last summer wowing the crowds at Glastonbury.

Currently touring the UK to promote their new EP and single, both entitled ‘Sirens’ and released just last week, you can still catch them on tour during April. In early May they will brandish their unwielding indie anthems upon the audiences at Liverpool Sound City, and come July they’ll be taking them further afield to Italy as they support Paolo Nutini on several dates of his European tour. Check the website to find a forthcoming gig near you and of course, get your hands on their brand new material, hot off the press!

Sound Breakers: Purple Heart Parade

2 Feb

(Published 21st March 2014 in City Life Extra)

In recent years the North West’s psych scene has made a notable and welcome resurgence, and riding the wave of this 60s tinged renaissance are Manchester’s own Purple Heart Parade. Brandishing a sound which harmoniously unites psychedelic garage and lo-fi shoegaze, you won’t need mind-altering drugs to be transported to another plain.
Purple Heart Parade publishedCrafting songs that vary from heavy, pounding and adrenaline-busting anthems to slower-paced, drifting and spellbinding melodies, distorted guitars, fuzz-fuelled vocals and driving drums are paramount to the Purple Heart Parade philosophy. Formed in 2012, this five-piece have become firm favourites of BBC Introducing Manchester and unsurprisingly been given noteworthy nods in the likes of NME and Metro too.

Live performances by the band have also caused a stir amongst reviewers and fortunately, plenty of opportunity awaits to witness what the fuss is about for yourself across Manchester over the coming months. With 2 gigs at The Castle lined-up, first supporting Black Lizard on 31st March and then Desert Mountain Tribe on 25th April, they’ll bring a spell of local dates to a climax with their appearance at Manchester Pysch Fest at the end of May.

Sound Breakers: Silverclub

2 Feb

(Published 7th March 2014 in City Life Extra)

SilverclubIf you prefer your new music with a captivating, pulsing beat fit to get your toes-tapping and brimming with sophistication all at the same time then Silverclub are the ones to watch; currently breathing a fresh lease of life into the city’s vibrant indie/electro scene. With essences of techno, glitch and even a hint of disco, their sound is slick with subtle male and female vocals complimenting each other in a spellbinding yet driving manner.

Unlike other gigging bands, this four-piece are playing to their strengths by putting together their own club nights geared towards a more dance orientated crowd and perfect for showcasing their electronic textures, polished and catchy guitar licks and atmospheric, perpetuating grooves. Keep your eyes open for Silverclub’s unique club imprint at a Manchester venue near you soon.

Championed on Tom Robinsons’ BBC Introducing mixtape recently, the band has a 12” release in the pipeline too. Expected to be out in April on Red Laser Records it will feature, amongst other tracks, sure-fire hits in the making ‘Gravity’ and ‘Trouble’ and will without doubt be an essential addition to anyone’s record collection.

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