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. Read the first in the series here

By Shay Rowan

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:

Granfalloon

By Shay Rowan

Unfurling exploratory ‘folktroinca’ – a fascinating fusion of folk, experimental and electronic music: Granfalloon create an enthralling sound steeped in stories. Their name, after all, could be considered as a nod to Kurt Vonnegut’s 1963 novel Cat’s Cradle – with ‘Granfalloon’ a term used in relation to the book’s fictional religion Bokonism, to refer to people who share a sense of purpose or identity, yet of little real significance. Granfalloon started life as the music project of Richard Lomax: a multi-instrumental artist and producer embracing experimentation, giving the sound a delving depth: especially through eclectic instrumentation – such as use of the omnichord. Fans of Granfalloon may have seen at least one of these introduced in a live set, including the much-loved and warmly-named ‘George’.

This is personally and powerful crafted music, each layer of sound loaded with its own emotional resonance, lending a cinematic quality – washes of guitar, snaking drum patterns and spiralling harmonies hot at the core. ‘Enchanting’ is perhaps the adjective best suited to this genre-jumping approach, as experienced in the latest Granfalloon album ‘RGB’, released in September 2019. Whilst the opening track ‘Year of the Rooster’ invites the audience into a percussive, powerful reflection – unfurling into an impressive chant-like incantation, ‘Lysistrata’ impresses with Lomax’s vocal volleys and expansive, lush soundscapes. A folk music sensibility allows the sound to breathe in its engagement with people and place, a local resonance as heard in the likes of ‘Objects of Love’ as a perspective passes through the likes of Streford, Salford: considering items gathered, people met. This is thoroughly immersive listening. ‘Ambulance’ gathers an almost anthemic quality, charming in its build of beats and harmonies, connecting with familial memories, the fond phrase of Lomax’s grandmother (which whom he co-wrote this powerful piece of music): ‘touch your head, touch your toes, if you don’t want to go in one of those’. Yet these are not only skilful sonic persuasions capable of opening the mind, but tracks engage with aspects of humour and absurdity too; take the wonderfully zany ‘The Elephant’ with its teasing keys and the creative flair that fizzes through ‘Laughing Out Loud’. Music to get wonderfully lost within.

Photograph 1 and 2 – by Shay Rowan

Monkeys In Love

Monkeys In Love

Interesting music for interesting times; a state of flux crammed with character, energy and expression – Monkeys In Love are a mash-up to savour. Their sound shimmers and seethes with an array of instrumentation; from gutsy guitars to expressive drum patterns, even the flourishes of flutes and stylophones. Goodbye predictive indie and hello to a wacky, warm quartet of creativity. Combined with witty lyricism, their added creative costume and artistry often fuses with the themes of the tracks for a live visual spectacular. Puppetry, performative expression and the capacity for connection make this band stand out. Previous work includes their 2016 album ‘Monkeys In Love Live In New Stoke Newington’ and their new album ‘Monkeys In Love Are Ready For The Mountain’. This latest release is conceptually crafty, packed with perspective and energy, following the breakdown and regeneration of a modern office worker, wielded with irony and instrumental gravitas.

OLA

OLA

A duo capable of creating stunning soundscapes that enchant and inspire – OLA (One Little Atlas) is Dean Jones and Kevan Hardman.  They create music almost cinematic in its orchestral elements, energised and forward-moving through a threadwork of glistening guitars, skilled electronica and soaring vocals that brim with beauty – and that is with no exaggeration of use of the term. OLA are powerfully unique and capable of opening up a soundscape that seems almost synchronised with imaginative  impulses, stirring up its own imagery like a movie soundtrack for each individual listener. Enjoying OLA in all their dramatic, dreampop glory is a true experience – with two previous EPs and an album already out, stand-out tracks such as ‘Orenda’ lingering long after with an almost spiritual energy. They have also performed in an eclectic range of venues, including the atmospheric setting of The John Rylands Library. A journeying sound moving with momentum of travel and lived experience, yet with a sensitivity and subtleness that invites listeners back again and again.  

Poppycock

By Heather Greenbank

A creative collection of musicians and artists, founded by Una Baines in 2012 – continuing to evolve, expand and enthral with their emotive sound. How? Adventurous expression combines with diverse musicianship wrapped round socially pertinent lyrics considering themes of gender, pop culture and creativity – tracks such as the wonderful whomp of ‘Iggy  Pop’ and ‘Cleaning Woman’ springing to mind. Humour, irony and insight are all intrinsic glistening elements too. Poppycock are a band with a fascinating history to boot; their first intriguing gig taking place inside the dilapidated Victorian relic of the Hippodrome Theatre in Hulme. Bring post-punk, folk and experimental influences into a marvellous melting pot – listeners are in for an entertaining sonic ride. To catch them live is an added thrill.

Photography: by Heather Greenbank 

Aughra

By Federica Silva

Creating a brimming brew of dark, atmospheric sound steeped in textures, emotional energies and impassioned vocals – Aughra defy genre particulars and instead head straight for the eardrums. Some listeners may lose themselves in the band’s shimmering shoegaze quality, whilst others can thrash and roll with each wonderful weave of noir-rock riffs. This is genuinely interesting music, Sally Mason’s visceral vocals working with the skilled instrumentation of Simon Mayne’s lead guitar, bass from Rob Hatton and James Field on drums to open up tracks such as ‘Dead Weight’ and ‘Corpse White’. A merging of musicianship that develops Gothic-tinges into a gutsy punch over the course of each track.

Photograph: by ©Federica Silva

Tinfoils

Tinfoils

Fizzing garage punk geared up with frantic guitar and lyrics that lash out against corruption and cronyism in contemporary society, the sound of Tinfoils is a glinting glut of music: angry yet also anthemic. Songs seep in their intelligent irony, from the roll of ‘The Royal Baby Machine’ to the rawness of ‘I’m Not Angry, I’m Just Disappointed’ – taking in everything from the royalist-dominated media to the expectations handed down the generations. Tinfoils are a band with bold social awareness, but still with a bristling energy, their catchiness capable of having an audience moving within minutes. Gritty guitar edges and an animated vocal style allow for a loaded listening experience.

Photograph: by Debbie Ellis - Asupremeshot

Rose & The Diamond Hand

Rose Niland

Gothic-tinged, enthralling music capable of creating its own intense atmosphere, sweeping with stories of emotion, encounter and place: it’s Rose & The Diamond Hand. The unfurling, expressive vocal range of Rose Niland works with the group of talented and diverse musicians to create tracks with delving downtempo qualities, yet never over-done. A dark edge to the sound is underpinned by bold bass hooks and electronica, with a seething subdued sensibility. With a blistering bed of sonic energy in place, it is little wonder that tracks such as ‘Icicle’ and ‘Universe is Woman’ (also the title of their 2017 EP, out on German Shepherd Records) make an impression – hit home with potent drum beats, lending a tempting adventurous edge. Catch this band live to truly experience their intense performative flair and eclectic, intense musicality.

Photograph: by Rose Niland Art (Haunt Manchester previously interviewed Rose here

The Battery Farm

By Gemma Corry

Even if you haven’t heard this band yet, you may have seen their wonderfully weird promotional artwork around the city – lo-fi, hand drawn and often twisted characters teasing out one of the key themes of the approach of this four-piece: they delve into the dark side of society, but with humanity and irony. Giving audiences a glut of gritty gutter punk, The Battery Farm leave a lasting impression on all who seem them.  Smashing up punk rock power with switched-on, seething lyrics, they look into the more menacing side of modern culture; social injustice, public outcry – even reality television. Their latest single ‘I Am A Man’ thunders with tension, a thick, dirty bassline bolstering a narrative of an individual on the edge of breakdown:  facing pressures of gender expectations, the false idea of ‘strength’, the drudge of society. The Battery Farm confront these strains – in the form of a forceful sonic slug in the gut. The band also are recognised champions of creativity in the areas’ cultural scene, often seen themselves at gigs and listening to local artists; underlining a engaged, exciting energy, bringing listeners back for more.

Photograph: by Gemma Corry

The Ombudsmen

The Ombudsmen

A slice of wonderful weirdness, piling together surreal imagery with psych-tinged jams and riffs – a chaotic yet hypnotic creativity lies at the dark heart of The Ombudsmen. Their sound unravels with wild energies and certainly does not shy away from lyrical explorations brushing up against the bizarre… take the tracks ‘Crocodile’s Nightmare’ and ‘Sputum’, for example. This even emerges in their visual promotions and artwork; twisted, grotesque figures somehow enthralling the eye. And to see The Ombudsmen live, in all their on-stage antics, is recommended – and remarkably danceable.

Photograph: by Lara Birkbeck 

Springfield Elementary

By Nathan Whittaker

Pummelling punk and psychedelia together with a zany, unapologetic energy – Manchester-based four-piece Springfield Elementary make an impression. This is a band that doesn’t shy away from a raw edgy guitar core – chords corrugated, creative – serving as the ideal accompaniment to socially-savage, still humorous, lyricism. Take tracks such as ‘Ready Salted Psychopath’ and ‘Jacked Up On Jesus’; there is an entertaining scatter of slightly surreal imagery, yet still engaging with contemporary themes… issues of selfishness, fundamentalism, identity – all very appropriate in the driving digital age. Their latest track ‘Machine Fiend’ is a fast-paced, fabulously frenetic account of the all-too-common story of people seeking increasing validation via the internet. Clever, and yet still untamed – Springfield Elementary are a band still bristling with wildness, with exciting things to come.

Photograph: by Nathan Whittaker

Furrowed Brow

Furrowed Brow

Oozing eccentricity through their blend of expressive post-punk, Furrowed Brow build choppy guitars and exploratory synth work around entertaining lyrics, often lashing in their irony. From the bizarre yet captivating ‘Bathwater’ to the stripped-back, almost reflective ‘Cool As Hell’: a notable quality of the band is their use of harmonies that really work within the wildness. Catch them live for a dose of defiant, energised and joyous music-making.

Photograph: by Angus Rolland 

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

Related

0 Comments

Comments

Nobody has commented on this post yet, why not send us your thoughts and be the first?

Leave a Reply