Posts Tagged ‘Manchester’

Kiran Leonard.

Kiran Leonard was born in Saddleworth, Greater Manchester in 1995, a fortnight after Oasis lost their famous chart battle with Blur. This is nicely symbolic because Leonard couldn’t be further removed from the cliched indie-lad template. His dad, a former folk singer, encouraged him to learn the mandolin when he was five. From there he graduated to the guitar, and at 10 years old he was devouring his older brother’s prog, noise and jazz records while recording his own music on the computer with a cracked copy of Ableton. “I didn’t really care about learning how to play other people’s songs,” he says. “I just preferred to fuck about. I used to record a lot of absolute shite… and never stopped.”

Leonard’s 2012 debut album Bowler Hat Soup – on which he played virtually everything himself – careened confidently from lush chamber pop to chewy prog via deranged music-hall stomps, placing its 16-year-old narrator on the Pyrenean ski slopes of Port Ainé or in the midst of an ancient battle. Yet Leonard now dismisses the lyrics of Bowler Hat Soup as “mostly bollocks”. Whereas heavier new album Grapefruit is only “half bollocks”, with entertaining salvoes of nonsense wordplay such as Ondör Gongor (named after a legendarily tall Mongolian man) nestling alongside the likes of Half-Ruined Already’s more unsettling exploration of the human psyche.

“That’s based on a Werner Herzog short film called Last Words,” he explains. “There’s an anecdote in the film about two people with leprosy: a man with no legs and a woman with no arms. So the man used to walk around on the woman’s back and together they formed a full-length avatar, and as a result entered a common-law marriage. It’s an example of co-dependence taken to extremes. So essentially the song is asking: Am I actually in love with this person or do I just want their limbs?”

Evidently there is a high level of intellectual curiosity at play here, so it may not be a surprise to learn that Leonard is in the second year of a degree course in Spanish and Portuguese at Wadham College, Oxford. He has been reluctant to talk about his academic life in interviews, but given we’re drinking in a 14th-century tavern in the shadow of the Bodleian Library, it’s a difficult topic to avoid. Mainly, Leonard is concerned that people might think he’s another posh-boy rocker in the Mumfords mould. “But Oxford’s not what people think it is. There are 22,000 students here and they didn’t all go to Eton.”

With his grungy jumper and blunt Lancastrian vowels, nobody is likely to mistake Leonard for a member of the Bullingdon Club. His music is clever and quixotic but it’s also governed by purist punk ethics. He doesn’t use effects pedals and has only recently taken to carrying a spare guitar with him to shows because he didn’t want to look flash. That doesn’t mean he lacks ambition; he compares his next album after Grapefruit to Pet Sounds and he’s already mapped out its narrative arc, even though he’s yet to write all the songs.

Leonard’s Manchester musical peers include the likes of Dutch Uncles and Everything Everything, who can be heard loudly praising his work at every opportunity. But pinning him down to one particular scene is difficult. The best comparison is with someone like Jim O’Rourke, whose refusal to play the game allows him to move between orchestral pop, post-rock and avant-garde spheres at will.

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Kiran Leonard is just 20 years old, but if you were looking to paint him as a wide-eyed ingénue, you’ve already missed the boat: Such is his experience and tireless work ethic he’s already coming to resemble a veteran. A rangy young man from Oldham, Greater Manchester, Leonard picked up the mandolin aged five, and wrote his breakout 2013 song “Dear Lincoln” a manic piece of psychedelic pop, like Van Dyke Parks reincarnated in the body of a hyperactive English schoolboy when he was 14 years old. Leonard is an intellectual sponge drinking up an ocean of knowledge. His frame of reference encompasses playwright Samuel Beckett and the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, the mangled productions of Death Grips and the brainbox pop of Elephant 6, while “Pink Fruit” – the second song on this, his second LP – is a sprawling song suite with more twists and turns in its 16 minutes ,The crux of its peculiar lyric? An erotic encounter between a woman and a squid.

It’s a lot, right? Right. Grapefruit is by turns astounding, accomplished and difficult to digest, an album shouldering ambitions so big that you fear that at any point it might give way at the knees. Undoubtedly, Leonard is an autodidact of amazing talent and energy. At times his idiosyncratic performance style resembles Dirty Projectors’  see “Don’t Make Friends With Good People,” with those wandering, pointillist guitar lines, that voice that leaps boldly across octaves, as if participating in some tipsy parkour. Elsewhere, he recalls a fellow British outsider, Richard Dawson, whose take on the narrative folk tradition is both wild-eyed and whimsical. The lolloping, rusty groove of “Öndör Gongor” is a fractured song-story sketched in enigmatic strokes – a strapping maritime fantasy set “in the night of the shotgun,” in which sharks lurk as “a clatter of shins hit the dock” and a mysterious orb named Ethel waits, hungrily. The song ends with staccato blasts of guitar and a chanted shanty-like coda, although how all this relates to the subject of the song’s title – a giant who lived in early-20th century Mongolia – is left unaddressed.

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Grapefruit is a gnarlier-sounding record than its predecessor, its lurching guitars and skittering, free percussion. It is at its most digestible, however, when Leonard plays it orchestral. “Caiaphas in Fetters” is a beautiful confection of strings and fluttering guitar that finds him posing questions to a lover: “Ask yourself/Do you feel as I feel?” “Half Ruined Already,” meanwhile, is a finger picked love song in which two participants – one legless, one armless – come together in one romantic whole. It was inspired by a Werner Herzog short about a couple who met in a leper’s colony, but succeeds in taking such grim subject matter and alchemizing it into warm sentiment. At the other end of the scale is the somewhat opaque “Exeter Services,” which flips between quizzical improv and skidding emo, all flail and gasp and rickety cathedrals of language built to collapse: “I’m in the Catskills! Total duality! All of Ophelia! Absolute anarchy!”

Grapefruit is 57 minutes long and feels packed to the rafters, as if Leonard is a hoarder of ideas and song fragments, unwilling or unable to let anything go. Take “Pink Fruit.” In its 16 minutes, it flits between noisy spazz-rock, folk shambling, woodwind interludes, short-wave radio tinkering and free percussion. I’d stop short of calling it confused – even when it’s getting wild, there’s enough recurring lyrical cues to suggest its maker is working to a detailed map. But he can be rather an impatient guide, and while the ground it covers is startling and often picturesque, Grapefruit is an album you feel led through, rather than being left to explore or inhabit. Perhaps in this regard, at least, Kiran Leonard still has things to learn.

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Thanks to Pitchfork,

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Bringing to mind the sort of foreign cinema you might stumble upon on late night telly (when you’re off your head after a night out), Manchester’s own Duds have released a head-scratching new video.

Comprised of two acts and an intermission, it mirrors the scatty, unpredictable nature of the electrifying Northern collective. Filmed up the road in Gullivers , the video was directed by Chan Yang Kim, with tracks ‘The Nose’/’Keine’ taken from their debut album ‘Of A Nature Or Degree (out now through Castle Face Records).

Duds are like nothing else and we highly recommended them. The Nose and Keine appear on “Of A Nature Or A Degree”, out on Castle Face Records.

W.H LUNG – ” Want “

Posted: November 23, 2017 in MUSIC
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W. H. Lung (635)

Manchester recent newcomers W.H. Lung continue to impress with new cut ‘Want’.

The band’s sound is immediately infectious yet difficult to place; off kilter guitar pop with swathes of electronics, their never-ending percussive chug recalls Neu! at their most expansive.

New song ‘Want‘ is a mini-epic, a masterpiece in control and release, with those impeccable Krautrock influences set against an innate pop sensibility.

Perfectly sized to occupy the side of a seven inch single, ‘Want‘ acts as a sort of mini-manifesto, with W.H. Lung barking out Kerouac’s advice: “First thought, best thought!”

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W.H LUNG – ” Really Something “

Posted: November 22, 2017 in MUSIC
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Taking inspiration for their name from the popular Chinese cash and carry, W.H. Lung is a recording project founded in Manchester in late-2016.

Its first release, recorded at The Nave in Leeds and produced by Matt Peel, was double A-side single ‘Inspiration!’ / ‘Nothing Is’. The experimental tracks locate ideas of eternity and belonging in a peregrination through the absurdity of meaninglessness, and have drawn comparisons to influential Krautrock band Neu! with vocal comparisons to David Byrne.

After making their live debut in May this year playing at The Anthony Burgess Foundation, they bagged slots at some of the best emerging talent festivals such as Blue Dot, End of the Road and Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia.

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Manchester quartet Duds‘ wiry, clattering sound draws comparisons to original postpunk upstarts The Fire Engines and Joseph K, and likewise they bring a real urgency to their music. The band’s debut album, Of A Nature or Degree, will be out September 22nd via Castle Face Records, and it’s the first UK group to have a record out on John Dwyer’s label. While they don’t sound like anything else on Castle Face, they do share an electricity with groups like Oh Sees, POW!, and Running, and definitely fit in with the label’s asthetic. We’ve got the premiere of “Elastic Feel” which is a great example of the band’s nervous creative energy

Tracklist:

01. No Remark 02. Signal, Sign 03. A Different Stage 04. The Nose 05. Irregular Patterns 06. Split on Both Sides 07. Keine 08. Of Nature 09. Elastic Seal 10.Pro Tem 11. Elastic Feel 12. Reward Indifference

Pale Waves tickets

New Manchester band Pale Waves have been taking the wold by storm. Critics have been awed by their new single Television Romance’. “A shimmering, summer-tinged indie banger – one that will no doubt end up filling venues up and down the country when their next tour is announced.”

Dirty Hit, the record label founded by The 1975’s manager, Jamie Oborne, as a vehicle for the band he discovered as Cheshire teenagers. Now it’s home to some of the UK’s most exciting bands, from the established, such as Wolf Alice, to rising stars such as The Japanese House – whose ‘Pools To Bathe In’ EP was produced by 1975 frontman Matty Healy and drummer George Daniel – and new signing No Rome. There’s a particular up-and-coming band that Healy has really taken under his wing, taking them on tour in the States, co-producing their first two singles and directing the video for the second, ‘Television Romance’ – and that band is Pale Waves.

They are about to launch a headline tour. Catch them at The Cellar Bar in Oxford, The Cookie at Leicester and Bristol Thekla during Feb/March 2018.

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Manchester outfit Buzzcocks’ innovation in punk was making the personal political. They didn’t go for grand statements like the Clash or the Sex Pistols would, they didn’t brand themselves experimentalists a la Wire. Yet there was something profound in the art of Buzzcocks writing high-energy songs about relationships and anxieties, Pete Shelley’s emotive yelp giving the songs their sneer and their heart. Shelley and guitarist Steve Diggle’s twin buzzsaw guitar attack was bright and the rhythm section of Steve Garvey and John Maher were what gave the songs propulsion. Singles Going Steady has all the trappings of a greatest hit compilation, mind boggling when you consider everything on the album was written, recorded and released during a span of two years. Unfortunately, Singles’ slight revisioning of Buzzcocks as a premiere singles act pushes some of their experimental tendencies to the wayside but that’s a small complaint when you’ve got some of the best pop songs including the eternally incandescent “Ever Fallen in Love?” in your arsenal.

The Birthday Party played the legendary Haçienda Club in Manchester once in 1982 and once in 1983, and, per Haçienda policy, both shows were videotaped for posterity. The Birthday Party’s two most recent releases at that point were also their two best albums, Prayers on Fire and Junkyard, and based on this footage there’s a strong argument that they were as good as any band in the world at that moment.

The shows were released under the title Pleasure Heads Must Burn on VHS by Ikon in 1983 and then again on DVD by Cherry Red in 2003. The DVD release had a bunch of nifty extras such as a bizarre video for “Nick the Stripper” and some other Dutch and Australian and British clips.

In the 1982 show Cave is wearing a pale blue (possibly grey) blazer he would probably not be caught dead wearing today; a year later his jacket is black. So many of their best songs are represented here, “Hamlet (Pow! Pow! Pow!)” and “Dead Joe” and “Release the Bats.” Both shows are shot in an immersive, “up the bracket” style that is very effective.

The Haçienda July 22nd, 1982:
Dead Joe
A Dead Song
Junkyard
Release the Bats
(Sometimes) Pleasure Heads Must Burn
Big Jesus Trash Can

The Haçienda, February 24th, 1983:
Hamlet (Pow! Pow! Pow!)
Pleasure Avalanche
6” Gold Blade
Wild World
The Six Strings That Drew Blood
Sonny’s Burning
She’s Hit

Nick the Stripper promo video

The Ace Cinema, Brixton, UK, November 25th, 1982:
Fears of Gun
Hamlet (Pow! Pow! Pow!)

Trade Union Club, Sydney, Australia, May 14th, 1983:
Deep in the Woods

VPRO TV Studios, Götterdämmerung 2000, Netherlands, July 1982:
Junkyard

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False Advertising release the limited edition 7″ Single ‘Give It Your Worst’ on Too Pure Singles Club. Featuring the as-yet unheard B-Side and future new-grunge-anthem ‘Scars’ on medicinal-green vinyl. Recorded by Chris Warr in fellow band member Jen Hingley’s dad’s garage in Oxfordshire and produced by the band themselves. ‘Give It Your Worst’ is fuzz-laden and gritty, shedding light on a tumultuous time that the band experienced last year.

Both sides of the release showcase the band’s knack for instrument-swapping, with ‘Give It Your Worst‘ featuring Chris on guitar up front, and ‘Scars’ seeing them switch with Jen coming forward from behind the drum-kit and taking the lead. Backed up and unified by Josh Sellers‘ characterful bass parts all the way through. With artwork by band-member Jen Hingley, a graphic designer by day (who has worked with the likes of Royal Blood, The Charlatans and Franz Ferdinand). The release showcases the full extent of the band’s DIY-chops.