In Haunt

The local music scene is a thriving world of creativity to immerse yourself in, bustling with bands who embrace experimentation and celebrate the alternative. Here at Haunt Manchester we are putting together an ongoing series of Greater Manchester musical artists with plenty of interest, many of them active and playing live in the area. Want to recommend an artist? Get in touch at haunt@mmu.ac.uk - as this is by no means a definitive list - instead, an ongoing exciting selection.

These are creatives often celebrating independent, characterful venues in and around the city - from stages and side-rooms to snugs and basements! In Manchester itself there are a number of places with a time-proven record of putting on original, exciting music including The Castle Hotel, The Night & Day Café, Gullivers, Soup Kitchen, Band on the Wall, Night People, Gorilla, Rebellion and AATMA, just to name a few. Some of these places have a fascinating story before their lives as venues; with The Albert Hall and The Deaf Institute for example, based in historic buildings: bolstering the atmosphere. A range of new venues have also sprung up in recent years including YES and The Rose & Monkey, plus there are those with a distinct collaborative feel and a real sense of creative community such as The Peer Hat, Partisan Collective and The Old Abbey Taphouse. Cross just over the Irwell and discover Salford’s selection too, including The Kings Arms, The White Hotel and The Eagle. These are places that transport the live music experience far beyond a passive experience of listening, and instead invite inspiration and connections to be made.

To discover innovative modern music is an experience in itself. This is creativity at its most crucial, often expanding on the underground, exploring crucial contemporary themes – including hidden histories, obscured stories, identity and gender – in an urgent way. A number are signed to independent record labels too, passionate about diverse and innovative artistry... a chance to discover whole rosters of exciting music to enjoy.

Here are just some examples, with more to be featured in upcoming articles:

Factory Acts

Factory Acts

Smashing together immersive electronic layers underpinned by gripping bass – it’s the Salford-based duo Factory Acts. With SoS (Susan O’Shea) on synths, electronic gadgets and vocals and MD (Matt Davies) on bass, drum beats and magic mixes, they make an impression through impressively-crafted catchy tracks capable of making a whole room move within minutes. Take a listen to their EP 'Second Amendment' to hear why. Never shying from incorporating politically-punchy, socially-engaging content within their work – this a dark, danceable and delightfully addictive sound, signed to local independent label AnalogueTrash.

Photography: by Mirko Lazzarin, Armadillo Media Productions

The Red Stains

The Red StainsA four-piece band who declare ‘you can’t wash us out’ - and to forget their punk-powered, socially-raw sound certainly is difficult! Plus, it’s a name daubed across enough venues in the city to leave an impression: music meets action, at its most resonant. The Red Stains create tracks capable of staining the memory, popping with loaded lyrics and juicy imagery; titles such as ‘Freezer Jesus’ and ‘Trolley Dashers’ perhaps giving some clues. An expressive vocal style and plucky bass are layered with deft drum patterns and wonderfully wonky electronic keys: it's not over-complicated, but still allows for maximum noise. A notable point, and very much refreshing, is that this a band that don’t take themselves too seriously, yet still make a strong impression. There is a likeable defiance to their sound, delivered in gutsy live performances around the area, as well as at a recent MMTV recording session.  A welcome combination of clever chaos and creativity, as underlined by the track ‘Jump the Met’, inspired by misadventure on the Metrolink. Combined with a bold visual aesthetic,  something that merges into their online presence – lo-fi imagery of strawberry jam-strewn items (and other food) somehow strangely captivating - and entertaining at that.

Photography: by Neil Winward Photography

Brix and the Extricated

Brix And The Extricated

Masterful musicianship creating catchy post-punk fizzing with sonic power, flirting with pop overtones, underpinned with raw attitude and passion – Brix and the Extricated make an impact. All these elements exhibit themselves to full effect in the group’s latest album Super Wolf Blood Moon, released October 2019 – and highly-anticipated. Headed up by Brix Smith Start, the band bring together loaded lyrics, often speaking of the dark side of human experience in such a sped-up age, fused with Steve Hanley’s brilliant bass hooks, as well as flowing finesse on guitar from Jason Brown and Steve Trafford. Hit home through the rollicking yet resoundingly tight rhythms of drummer Paul Hanley, this gives the music a gutsy force capable of having audiences rolling and reflecting at the same time. For Brix and the Extricated build songs just as intelligent as they are intense, energy amplifying tracks such as ‘Dinosaur Girl’ – delving into themes of self-destruction and difficulty – whilst ‘Wasteland’ infers the issues affecting the environment. Raw, resonant and ready to impress with memorable melodies and an utterly iconic image.

Photography: by David Gleave

Weimar

Weimar

Art-rock meets post-punk, pulsing with a glittering array of influences and luscious lyrical depth loaded with historical narrative – it’s Weimar. Founded in 2016, this is a four-piece band capable of plunging listeners into the lost worlds of Gothic cabaret and dark circus; all whilst upholding the freedom of expression and opinion in the face of oppression. This is after all a key theme within their work and performance, encountering the dark side of human nature and the underbelly of contemporary culture, informed by history and mystery alike. Exploratory, engaging vocals work well with  jangly guitar, plucky bass and deft drums. With tracks including the likes of ‘The Sociopath’ and ‘Curse the Songs’ - released digitally on the local German Shepherd Records and physically by the Marlene’s Hat label – the band are working on an album for release in 2020.

Photography: by Zac Gale

Elastikbande

Elastikbande

A fascinating three-piece who pummel together post-punk, grunge and garage rock to create tight tracks charged with real humour, contemporary relevance and grit. Elastikbande demonstrate real skill in melding melodic guitar and thundering bass with expressive drums, providing catchy underpinnings for tracks that tell of tales like ‘Lost It (In a Mosh Pit)’ and the title of their EP (out now on German Shepherd Records) ‘Vacuum Cleaner’. Surprising harmonics add to a moreish, memorable feel.  A sonic slap on the back, enlightening and edgy, it’s all driven home with wonderfully dry lyrics delivered with expressive grittiness, working up to heights - yet capable of hooking listeners with even a whisper.

Photography: by Neil Winward

Trianglecuts

Trianglecuts

Immersive musical alchemy constructed through a fascinating threadwork of synths and beats, bringing to new heights a sound studded with loops and soaring vocals. Trianglecuts is Gwendolen Osmond (vocals, lyrics, visuals, performance) and Doug Hemingway (synths, beats, recording, mixing and production); an electronic duo drawing on the inspiration of the cold, post-industrial cityscape, yet still with an instinctive nod to where the wild glistens through. After all, their music is an experience with effect - an urgent haunting quality telling of human impact on the Anthropocene, the need to realise, to react.  In live performances, this is amplified through intense, hand-created visuals, turning tracks such as ‘I Rupture’ and ‘Centuries of Violence’ (the first single from their debut album) into lasting experiences. They are currently recording the debut album for February 2020 release.

Photography: by Gwen Osmond

Flange Circus

Flange Circus

Haunting electronic loops layered with fizzing lines of beat, dark drone and seething bass – Flange Circus certainly uphold their message ‘we envelop you’. A mysterious three-piece, they create the kind of music that merges into experience, immersing the listener in a high-energy horrorshow spectacle. This is bolstered by relayed recordings and industrial fuzz that tantalizingly tells of edgeland spaces; conjuring images of urban encounter and strange countryside alike, meshing together past and present human experiences in eerie fashion. Intense and enchanting in equal measure, their sound unlocks interest at every level – whether the listener likes to sit and reflect or is driven to dance. Both are possible. Following on from the EPs ‘Overexposed’ and ‘Ekranoplan’, as well as the debut album ‘Abandoned Glow’, the band have since been involved in a number of projects, including the creation of a live soundscape for Rural Eerie – a Gothic Manchester Festival 2019 event.

Photography: by Flange Circus

Four Candles

Four Candles

With a name that immediately entertains attention and music that shakes up set conventions– smashing together funk with punk, Gothic with garage – it’s Four Candles. There is a real rawness to their sound, seething in its engagement with contemporary themes, whilst upholding the underdog and weaving in high-energy historical narratives through rollicking rhythms, instrumental expression and perceptive, poetic insights. Working these words to ecstatic, intense heights – as well as the writer behind them – is Ian ‘Moët’ Moss (formerly of The Hamsters), unleashing lyrics that aren’t afraid to engage with the past and in doing so, have a deft didactic quality. Listeners are compelled to reflect on and engage with the themes thundering through tracks (as heard on the latest album ‘Nettle Rash’, on German Shepherd Records) such as ‘BBC’, ‘They Don’t Care’ and ‘Sex Toy’; encountering everything from the issue of inequality and the impersonality of big corporations to neglect and child abuse. The instrumental ability of the band is just as eclectic as the track approaches themselves, capable of crossing from pulsing punkish energies to weird dark waltzes to frothed-up funk. It is given gutsy force through the interesting, creatively-crafted basslines of Gentle’ Jon Rowlinson, powerfully punctuated by drummer Phil Peak’s energetic flair. This blend of musicianship builds a bolstering, energy-fizzing core, given further force through Mark Taylor’s immerse guitar skill, showing the distinctly collaborative, ever-creative attitude of the band; each track upholding the importance of unrestrained expression, essential energy and true emotive grit.

Photography: by Gary M Hough

LIINES

LIINES

Post-punk and art-rock influences are pummelled together in the urgent, captivating sound of LIINES. This is music weighted with emotive awareness and delivery, yet driving in its energy and grip, track titles like ‘Disappear’ (a hit single of 2016, still a firm fan favourite) lingering in the mind long after. Their ongoing sound is edgy, interesting and distinctly powerful in its instrumentation: glistening guitar hooks, bolstering bass and utterly driving drums, accentuated by intelligent lyrics expressed with a raw, resonant power. How a band of three people can hook the attention of a huge venue, certainly is impressive. LIINES is Zoe McVeigh (vocals/guitar), Tamsin Middleton (bass) and Leila O’Sullivan (drums), already with a significant output.  Stop-Start  arrived to great acclaim in May 2018, preceded by singles Shallow (February 2018), Find Something (March 2018) and Cold (April 2018), and earlier this year the band recently supported Sleaford Mods across the UK in a 30+ date tour. They then released On and On in May via independent label Reckless Yes; a track gripping its encounter with and instrumentation interpretation of the fast-paced contemporary. They've played a number of festivals and gigs, with a few remaining (including Manchester on 31 October, Soup Kitchen) in 2019.

Photography: by Blake House Filmmakers Co-operative

ARGH KiD

ARGH KiD

An alternative English hip-hop band serving up hard-hitting tunes and rolling rhythms, delivered with real emotive force. Expect socially-savvy lyrics loaded with lived experience, urban encounter and Northern grit. This is music at its most resonant, self-described a ‘backdrop to life in austerity UK’, unabashed in its encounter of difficult issues and expressed through the intelligent verbal vigour of acclaimed spoken-word artist/MC David Scott. ARGH KiD brings together this slick syllabic talent with a vibrant range of musicians to build up the band’s sashaying backbone of breakbeats, catchy hooks and rhythmic drive; underpinning tracks including the hit singles ‘Frank’ and Neighbours’. Enjoy an impassioned live experience too, with real empathetic energy rousing the feeling of a room to surprising heights.

Photography: by Debbie Ellis

ILL

ILL

A melodic mash of glistening guitar and basslines, layered with creative keys and expressive harmonics – this seems like a supercharged sonic recipe to approach urgent contemporary themes with a deft defiance that still manages to be humorous. ILL demonstrate a real skill in their ability to create high-energy tracks steeped in social and gender awareness, jumping against genre definitions, instead flirting on the fringes of post-punk, psychedelia and alt-pop. It’s presented with a distinct danceability and an expressive drum core capable of making a crowd move within seconds. As underlined by their most recent single ‘Kick Him Out The Disco’ (out now on Box Records), as well as the theatrical flair and felt expression of their live performances, ILL are creators of intelligent, colourful and crucially fun music. And not only that, but it is full of meaning too; not afraid of engaging with irony, empathy and experimentation for tracks that manage to be expansive yet memorable.

Photography: by Gary M Hough

Want to recommend an artist? Get in touch at haunt@mmu.ac.uk - as this is by no means a definitive list - instead, an ongoing exciting selection.

By Emily Oldfield.

Photography: provided by the artists, and photographers credited

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