Wednesday, 18 July 2018

TRACK OF THE DAY : Purple Heart Parade - Mission Hills

Mission Hills is the lead track from Purple Heart Parade's debut EP for Club AC30 entitled Lonestar, due for release on September 7th. Following several years and line-up changes on the Manchester scene, the band signed to Club AC30 earlier in the year and these are the first fruits of this relationship.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Three Dimensional Tanx - A Compulsion For Propulsion

The new album by Lancaster's Three Dimensional Tanx is a joy from start to finish. Stuart Ralston loves it and you should too.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Mad Cool Festival Day 2 - Madrid - 13th July 2018 (Arctic Monkeys / Wild Front / The Big Moon / Real Estate / Mavica)

Day 2 of Mad Cool Festival saw Arctic Monkeys headline the main stage with little repeat of the chaos at the gates and food stalls and bars that marred the first day. We also caught Marica, Real Estate, The Big Moon and Wild Front before the headliners delivered a set heavily focused on new album Tranquility Base Hotel And Casino and AM.

Mad Cool Festival Day 1 - Madrid - 12th July 2018 (Pearl Jam / Gang Of Youths / Frank's White Canvas / Eels / Durand Jones And The Indications)

Day 1 of Mad Cool Festival saw 30,000 people descend on land behind the Feria de Madrid complex in temperatures bordering on forty degrees for an evening headlined by Pearl Jam, but featuring a varied and diverse set of acts across eight stages.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Little Sparrow (Featuring Robin Dewhurst) - Just 3 EP

Just 3 is the first new material from Little Sparrow since her album Wishing Tree. Including lead track Tender, revealed late last year, her radical reinterpretation of Madness' Baggy Trousers that she performed with Robin Dewhurst in 2016 at Kendal Calling and another new song Dry Your Eyes, the EP showcases the power, range and beauty of her voice and provides a tempting teaser for her second album that she's in the process of recording.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott - Manchester Castlefield Bowl - 6th July 2018

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott made a triumphant return to Manchester's Castlefield Bowl as part of the Sounds Of The City. With a set spanning back to Paul's days with The Housemartins right through to a new as-yet-unreleased track, a capacity crowd bathed in the very un-Mancunian sun and paid homage to the most unassuming of musical heroes.

TRACK OF THE DAY : Average Sex - Ne M'Oublie Pas

Ne M'Oublie Pas is the first track to be taken from Average Sex's forthcoming second EP Melodie which is out in August via Tim Burgess' Ogenesis Recordings label.

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Gardenback / Carnation / Déjà Vega - Manchester Soup Kitchen - 30th June 2018


Gardenback launched their new single Health And Wellbeing with a raucous set at Manchester's Soup Kitchen on Saturday night. Supported by Carnation and Déjà Vega, their biggest headline show to date had them not only launch their single successfully, but also lay down a marker as one of the best live bands in town.

L.A. Witch / Afghan Sand Gang - Manchester Soup Kitchen - 27th June 2018

LA Witch brought their self-titled debut album and some new material to a baking hot Soup Kitchen basement on Wednesday night. The three-piece's raw and exciting sound, with the three of them lined up across the stage, replicated the energy of the album perfectly. Support came from Mossley's own Afghan Sand Gang.

David Ford - Manchester Deaf Institute - 29th June 2018

David Ford returned to Manchester's Deaf Institute for the final night of his tour in support of his fifth album Animal Spirits. A twelve-song set was split 50/50 with songs from the album and tracks from his back catalogue and a surprise Beach Boys cover with support act Michele Stodart of The Magic Numbers.

Saturday, 30 June 2018

TRACK OF THE DAY : Gardenback - Health And Wellbeing

Gardenback's new single Health And Wellbeing is released today to coincide with their biggest headline show to date at Manchester's Soup Kitchen.

Friday, 29 June 2018

TRACK OF THE DAY : The Maitlands - Kisses For The Masses

The Maitlands return with a new single Kisses For The Masses and more line-up changes. Often described as being influenced by The Fall, it seems that only applies to movements in members of the band as Kisses For The Masses recalls the heady romanticism of pre-success Pulp, but couched in the here and now in North Manchester.  It's their finest moment to date.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

The Happy Soul - Interview

Manchester four-piece The Happy Soul recently released their second album Big Wow and launch it with a headline show at Salford's Kings Arms on Saturday. We caught up with them for a chat about the making of the album, their use of a string quartet and vocal harmonies and their plans for the rest of the year.

TRACK OF THE DAY : The Lucid Dream - Alone In Fear

The Lucid Dream have revealed Alone In Fear, the second track to be taken from their forthcoming fourth album Actualisation that will be released on October 19th.

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

TRACK OF THE DAY : James - Coming Home Pt 2

James have revealed the video for Coming Home Pt 2, the latest single to be taken from their forthcoming 15th studio album Living In Extraordinary Times, due for release on August 3rd. The video was filmed “on zero budget” in California by Tim’s long-time friend, director Leif Tilden.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Kristin Hersh - Halifax Square Chapel Arts Centre - 25th June 2018

Kristin Hersh is on a short UK tour ahead of the release of a new solo album as well as an in-progress Throwing Muses record. Without a North West date we made the short trip across to Halifax’s impressive Square Chapel Arts Centre for an intimate one hour set of both solo and band tracks performed with just an acoustic guitar on a solitary stage.

Monday, 25 June 2018

The Happy Soul - Big Wow - Track By Track

Manchester four-piece The Happy Soul recently released their second album Big Wow. Ahead of their album launch show this Saturday (June 30) with a string quartet at Salford Kings Arms Theatre, they walked us through the twelve tracks that make up the record.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Belly - Glasgow The Garage - 16th June 2018

The devastating fire that destroyed the Glasgow School Of Art and the O2 ABC on Friday night had put this show in doubt. But the never-say-die spirit of the Glasgow music community saw The Garage step up and offer the use of their venue for Belly's show on Saturday night where they took the crowd's mind off the devastation a few hundred metres away with a two-set joyous combination of songs from their two 1990s albums Star and King and a heavy lean towards their wonderful comeback album Dove.

SKIES - Interview

SKIES recently released their third EP X following their support slots with The Slow Readers Club. We met up with Alie and Jericho before the Nottingham date of the tour to discuss the songs on the EP.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Afghan Sand Gang - Machine Music EP

Afghan Sand Gang are another of the emerging new bands coming out of Manchester. Rather than adopting the full-on guitar approach of many of their contemporaries, they instead focus on the machine music that has given this debut EP their name. It's a record that doesn't seek to blow you away with volume or power, but instead adopts a more seductive mysterious manner in order to draw you in and win you over.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Belly - Manchester Ritz - 12th June 2018

Belly made a triumphant return to Manchester after their comeback show in 2016 armed with their new album Dove and a set of old favourites from their two 1990s albums Star and King. A two-hour set split over two sections mixed old and new together with a real continuity of sound between songs written nearly twenty five years apart.

Monday, 11 June 2018

King Of The Slums - Artgod Dogs

Hailing from mid 80s Hulme in Manchester, King of the Slums have a long and chequered history.  New album Artdog Gods is their sixth studio album. Stuart Ralston has a listen.

Saturday, 9 June 2018

John Bramwell - Bury Met - 8th June 2018

John Bramwell continued his never-ending touring cycle with a return to the splendid setting of Bury Met's newly-refurbished Derby Hall to play to an attentive respectful audience with a set of songs that spanned his career from early I Am Kloot records to his debut solo album Leave Alone The Empty Spaces and an as yet unreleased new song, accompanied by Alan Lowles on keyboards, accordion and bass.

Déjà Vega - Manchester Band On The Wall - 7th June 2018

Déjà Vega brought their unique brand of noise to Band On The Wall on Thursday night as part of Shell Zenner's Amazing Radio Free Vibes night. A seven-song set confirmed their status as one of the most exhilarating live bands in town with their growing band of admirers joining in with the "DEJA""VEGA" call and response chant and them winning over a new set of curious onlookers with their at times vicious onslaught.

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Patti Smith - Manchester Apollo - 5th June 2018

Patti Smith returned to Manchester Apollo as part of a short UK and Ireland tour to coincide with festival slots. In front of a reverential Manchester crowd, who chose this legend over the Stones down the road at Old Trafford, she held them spellbound in her oft outstretched arms as she mixed most of her best known work with an intriguing selection of covers and a series of natural witty and humorous between song anecdotes.

Matter Of Mind - Manchester Jimmy's - 1st June 2018

Matter Of Mind headlined the latest instalment of This Feeling club night in the intimate surroundings of Jimmy’s basement. A blistering half hour set that barely paused for breath got a rapturous reception that confirmed the growing belief that their breakthrough is just around the corner.

Monday, 4 June 2018

The Pastels - Glasgow McIntosh Church - 1st June 2018

A rare outing for one of Scotland's most important, influential bands in the beautiful surroundings of McIntosh Church sees Stuart Ralston and a packed audience enthralled.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018


SKIES release their third EP X on Friday following recent support dates with The Slow Readers Club. For fans of the band already, the four tracks will both sound familiar but over the course of the EP they experiment with new variants on their uplifting sound and boundless energy.

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Ryan Jarvis - Rosie EP

Ryan Jarvis's new EP Rosie is his first new material in over a year and whilst it contains much of the battered, bruised romanticism of living in a northern town, it also represents a step up in terms of the title track and the release of two established live favourites.

Monday, 28 May 2018

James / Ride / Low Island / Maximo Park - Oxford Common People - 27th May 2018

James concluded their mini intimate venue and festival tour with a headline slot at Oxford's Common People festival on Sunday night on a bill that also included an emotional homecoming show for Ride, a set by up-and-coming local band Low Island and an entertaining career-spanning set from Maximo Park.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

James - Southampton Common People - 26th May 2018

James started their festival season with the Southampton leg of the Common People festival. A co-headline slot with Lily Allen saw them given an hour and a quarter slot, enough to allow them to introduce an all-ages crowd to new material from their Living In Extraordinary Times album as well as deliver them some old favourites.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

The Slow Readers Club / October Drift - London Islington Assembly Hall - 25th May 2018

The Slow Readers Club played their biggest headline date outside of their native Manchester at Islington Assembly Hall in London on Friday night. A celebration of the recent top 20 success of their third album Build A Tower, they blew away a crowd of devotees and those who've only recently discovered the band with a ninety-minute non-stop stomp through songs from all of their three albums. Support came from an energetic performance from October Drift.

Friday, 25 May 2018

Sahara / The Roques - Perth The Green Room - 17th May 2018

Perth's premier venue plays host to two promising Dundee bands who have made the short journey through to play to a packed and enthusiastic crowd. Stuart Ralston enjoys a rare home town gig.

James - Oban Corran Halls - 23rd May 2018

Stuart Ralston ventures to the picturesque Scottish town of Oban on a beautiful summer's evening to catch old favourites James, and witnesses something spectacular.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

James / Lanterns On The Lake - Middlesbrough Town Hall - 22nd May 2018

James continued their Better Than That tour with a sold-out at the recently refurbished Middlesbrough Town Hall. In front of a seated crowd that didn’t remain that way for long, they debuted another new song, resurrected an old favourite and introduced some new selections from their back catalogue. Support came from Lanterns On The Lake, playing the closest they get to a hometown show on this tour.

Monday, 21 May 2018

James / Lanterns On The Lake - Halifax Victoria Theatre - 20th May 2018

James continued their Better Than That tour with a twenty-three song set covering all bases of their career from debut album Stutter right through to six songs from their as-yet-unreleased fifteenth studio album Living In Extraordinary Times. Over two and a half hours of moments of musical magic and death-defying moments captured on film, James proved exactly why they have no equals on the live stage. Support came from Newcastle’s Lanterns On The Lake.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

James / Lanterns On The Lake - Blackburn King George's Hall - 19th May 2018

James continued their Better Than That tour with a sold-out Saturday night show at Blackburn's King George's Hall, a venue they hadn't visited for twenty-seven years. Dan Starr was at the show for us and reports back on a night of new songs and old favourites. Support came from Lanterns On The Lake.

The Slow Readers Club - Northwich Library - 19th May 2018

As part of The Charlatans' North By Northwich Festival, The Slow Readers Club headlined the town's library. In slightly surreal surroundings with bookcases moved out of the way to create a stage and a powerful sound system to accommodate a set that covered all three of their albums to date in front of a partisan hardcore of the band's fan base that had travelled from far and wide for this unique experience.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Average Sex - Manchester Jimmy's - 18th May 2018

As part of The Charlatans North By Northwich Festival, the Friday night show was broadcast live to a number of venues across the country, many of which had a live band as support. At Jimmy's in Manchester that band was Average Sex, one of the most exciting new bands around. They ignored the small numbers that had turned up early to deliver a set that was every bit as thrilling as if the room was full and bouncing.

Friday, 18 May 2018

James / Lanterns On The Lake - Warrington Parr Hall - 17th May 2018

James' Better Than That tour continued into its second night with a first return to Warrington's Parr Hall since the band filmed a live concert of their then-unreleased Seven album. In front of a packed crowd, they recreated the feel of that with songs from their forthcoming Living In Extraordinary Times album, as well as revisiting both some of their biggest hits and some rarities pulled out of the deep rabbit hole of their extensive back catalogue. Support came from Newcastle's Lanterns On The Lake.

Jess Kemp - Interview

Jess Kemp releases her latest single No Shouting / On The Ground today and celebrates with a co-headline show at Manchester's Deaf Institute tonight. We caught up with the proudly independent songwriter for a chat about the two new songs, her songwriting process and how she got into music in the first place.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

ILL - We Are ILL

ILL’s debut album has been a long time coming. The volatile boundary-challenging band have made their name in Manchester and beyond with their voracious mix of styles and approaches to their art and a series of often chaotic on the brink of breakdown live shows. We Are Ill somehow manages to distil this melting pot into an album that demands your full attention, often baffling, spliced with moments of off-the-wall genius that you’d blink and miss as the next curveball smacks in you right between the eyes.

James / Lanterns On The Lake - Llandudno Venue Cymru - 16th May 2018

James opened their Better Than That tour at Llandudno Venue Cymru with a set that mixed half of their newly-announced Living In Extraordinary Times with some old Best Of era favourites, highlights of their most recent two albums as well as the odd rarity. Support came from Newcastle’s wonderful Lanterns On The Lake, eventually making their bow with James after years of trying to make the support slot work.