Concert at Albert Hall

Greater Manchester is a creative city-region bursting with musical talent. Local music journalist and creator of BOOT - - - MUSIC, James Booton, gives us his top 5 emerging Manchester artists.

Nikki and The Waves

With a sound that is as just as colourful as their dress sense, Art-Pop outfit Nikki and The Waves have been making, well...waves with their new EP 'Songs To Play Tennis To'. They leaped into 2022 with the first single off the EP, 'online chess' and it made a clear statement for what the new 6-track offering was going to be all about! Led by a thick and funky baseline, the track's groove is instantly infectious and will have your hips swaying before you can say "Bishop to G5". 'Phone Song' then brought along an even deeper groove that has a really playful feel that provides the perfect platform for Nikki to deliver her smooth and serene melodies with a loose, carefree swagger.

The EP on the whole is full of flavour. It's bright, bold and combines an audible tongue-in-cheek humour with a fantastically detailed approach to funky Art-Pop rhythms. The closing track '19' sees out the 6-track collection with their most emotive performance to date. A delicate piano line joins in the fun and, following a crashing, climatic barrel of uplifting-instrumentals, closes the EP with a gentle descent into a contemplative soundscape. It demonstrates another layer of sonic understanding and makes you pause for thought before you start craving for the funky Indie Pop party to start all over again and re-hit that play button.

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Following on from their neon-lit single ‘Pink Duct Tape’ that marked a new era of twisted expression for the band, Salford’s synth-punk quartet, Sugarstone, have returned with their latest track ‘That’s Intense’.

Over the past few years, they have been refining their unique alternative blend yet, 2022 has seen them emerge with a distinct sinister swagger that has grabbed the attention of national music tastemakers and earned support from John Kennedy (Radio X), BBC Introducing and more.

Renowned for their infectiously high-energy live shows, Sugarstone demand your attention from the moment they start playing. From their somewhat hectic on-stage antics to their striking balance of ferocious intensity and technical proficiency they produce an electrifying live performance that has earned them support slots alongside Kid Kapichi, The Blinders, Strange Bones and more. The new single lives up to its name and captures all of that live intensity and distils it into a tension packed sonic experience that is ready to burst!

 ‘That’s Intense’ clearly lays out the new Sugarstone manifesto and is an enticing snippet of their upcoming EP. It sees the band at their most authentic as they wear their musical influences such as Nine Inch Nails on their chest while offering their own distinctive concoction of industrial grit, new wave melodies, expressionist lyricism and unrelenting intensity.

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Ruby Joyce

Over the last four years, dreamy, Indie-Pop songwriter Ruby Joyce has been experimenting with a wide range of styles and aesthetics. Considering that her first single was released when she was just 15 it is no surprise that she now produces such audibly refined songwriting but beginning at such an early age has provided her with an unusually plentiful amount of time to test out different moods and atmospheres. The results are that now, whenever she releases a new track you can be sure that she will have chosen a completely new sonic theme, yet created that theme with so much skill and detail that you will be immersed by it. This is true, once again, for her latest release 'Growing On You'.

Built around a web of winding, Dream Pop guitars, Ruby takes a more unforgiving approach and delivers perhaps her most angsty track to date. There is a really intriguing contrast at play throughout the song. The instrumentals create quite a serene, hazy summer swing full of warm Indie tones and an upbeat rhythm. Meanwhile, Ruby's vocals have a smooth melody but with a distinctively passionate undertone. Her voice drifts between a resonant depth that rings of The Smiths and a brighter, sun-kissed chorus melody that is undeniably infectious. Both the vocals and instrumentation capture the heartfelt intensity of the lyrical content and make you feel every emotion that is being radiated towards you. A perfect summer track for pouring out your true feelings to and another great example of Ruby Joyce's mastery of theme.

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Dan Fable

Manchester solo artist Dan Fable leapt into the new year with his debut EP 'BedroomBallads' and instantly gained a lot of attention for the slick urban flow of his vocals and heartfelt atmospherics. As a collection of songs it was quite introspective, often leaving a lot of space between distant, dreamy guitar tones for the lyrics to ruminate and create semantics of vulnerability, isolation and heartache.

However, his recent release 'Bisto Gravy' takes on a far more upbeat and groovy style. With a sprinkling of that down-to-earth wit that made the likes of Jamie T so appealing, he effortlessly combines lyrical substance with a really cinematic instrumental backing. The vocals open with a really quick rhythm that may trick you into thinking you are about to hear a fun, throw away demo full of Manc ladiness. Yet, his latest collaboration with Venbee offers an incredible level of depth and sentimentality to Dan Fable's discography. The stripped back acoustic version in particular radiates an honesty that will resonate deeply on contemplative late nights alone and demonstrates his mature songwriting ability. Definitely one to watch through 2022.

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The Goa Express

Indie outfit The Goa Express are one of the city’s most promising talents. Their latest single 'Everybody In The UK' has shown yet another side to their eclectic blend of dream pop, post punk and indie angst. The single leans into the brighter side of their sonic palette making it the perfect song for this recent blast of warm weather. The rhythm is patient, building jangly guitar lines on top of a rolling drum shuffle that has a carefree yet confident groove to it, reflecting the suburban landscape of their adopted hometown of Manchester.

The influence of the city can be heard throughout this track in fact as the rich musical history of Manchester bleeds into every element. The laid back but upbeat vocal drawl carries the soothing quality of Ian Brown while the sunny atmosphere is offset by fuzzier Rock and Roll noise riding underneath that rings of Oasis and James. 'Everybody In The Uk' is hugely uplifting. It has a drifting, breezy quality perfect for Summer days in the city while maintaining a memorable melody so that your mind doesn't wander too much in the blissful vibes.

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