We Are the Resurrection:
IN THIS PHOTO: False Advertising/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Why Manchester Will Play a Huge Role in 2018
THEY say all the most exciting things…
IN THIS PHOTO: Stevenson Square, Manchester/PHOTO CREDIT: Unsplash
happen in cities! That is true but, from a musical perspective, most of the attention goes towards London. I can understand why excitement would be levied towards the capital: it is a bustling and energised city that draws you in and compels the mind. It is the way of things, where the record labels and media are based, depends on where they focus their time. That has been the way for a long time because there has been no real challenge and questioning. It can be difficult straying from London and look at music from other parts of the U.K. The problem is, as we head into 2018, that focus cannot be rigidly trained on London. I am one of those guilty of obsessing too much on the artists in the capital; promoting all the best new bands/artists coming through. The things is...there are other areas out there that are far more intriguing and exciting: Manchester is at the top of the list. I have always loved the city and, from a historical perspective; you cannot quibble with the legendary music that has come from the city. Over the past few days, I have been listening to a couple of documentaries on BBC Radio 6 Music: interviews with the brothers Gallagher. One, by Steve Lamacq, was with Noel – as he talked about his solo work this year and how he will move in 2018.
IN THIS PHOTO: Liam Gallagher/PHOTO CREDIT: ES Magazine/Ben Rayne
The other, by Matt Everitt, was with Liam. He was chatting about his first musical experiences, the end of Oasis and his debut (solo) L.P., As You Were. I am a fan of Oasis and, during the 1990s, it was that classic battle between working-class Oasis and the middle-class Blur. The Britpop battle that raged in the middle of the decade enthralled the nation and was one of the last great chart battles we have seen. Blur were considered the intellectual, cerebral type – based near the capital (Essex, actually) – whilst Manchester’s Oasis were the tougher, more accessible band. Blur won that battle in 1995 (when Country House pipped Roll with It) and, in the long-run, Blur won the war. Oasis’ best-two albums (especially Definitely Maybe) defined the early-1990s and, come their legendary gig at Knebworth; they were born legends and destined for the history books. One of the reasons I am mentioning Manchester is because of the North-South divide we are seeing. Maybe there is not the classist split there once was – there are plenty of working-class artists in London – but there is still that assumption the best and brightest are from London. I, as I have said, am culpable to an extent but I listen to artists like the Gallaghers and am charmed and stunned. I am not saying London artists – or from artists elsewhere – are boring but there is something special and different about Manchester artists.
IMAGE CREDIT: Getty Images
Listen to Liam and Noel talk and they are funny, open and refreshing. There is something addictive about them: the way they joke and play; the frank revelations and the way they describe their time with Oasis. I am not prone to huge sentimentality but I miss the heyday of British Rock/Pop and what happened back in the 1990s. Not only were Oasis celebrated but other northern bands like Pulp. In fact, just before then, The Stone Roses captivated the scene – and made an impression on Liam Gallagher – with their two albums, The Stone Roses and The Second Coming. The former was released in 1989; the latter in 1994. Ironically, it was their debut that made the great impact: the latter was less a second coming and more someone returning to work after faking their own death. By that, I mean their debut was such an immense work, they were unable to follow it up – the sophomore arrived in 1994; during a time when the likes of Blur and Oasis were forging their path and defining popular music. The 1990s was a fantastic time for northern music but I feel, since then, there has been s steady decline. That is not an indication of quality: the media has shifted its focus away and settled in London. Maybe that is because of the way the media/mainstream has shifted. There are more middle-class artists in the spotlight and working in the media – they tend to proffer artists who are like them and they can relate to. Because it is harder for working-class writers to get media jobs: there are far fewer working-class bands proffered and visible.
IN THIS PHOTO: PINS/PHOTO CREDIT: Andrew Benge
This is a big problem that needs addressing. I am worried few working-class artists will get exposure and the scene will become too homogenised. One of the most exciting things I am witnessing is the revival of northern music. It is not as fast and hard as you’d like – the stubbornness of the media is a sticking point – but I am hearing a lot of great Manchester artists come through. We have all heard PINS and how well they are doing at the moment. They have a unique sound and have impressed critics with songs like Serve the Rich and All Hail. I am excited to see where the band goes and what they can achieve in 2018. They are a force to be reckoned with an offering an alternative to the rather limited and limp Rock scene happening in the South. Another group I have been looking at for a long time is False Advertising. I have been charting the trio for a year-or-so now and am impressed with the progress they are making. Like PINS; they have a unique take on Rock/Alternative and add Pop/Punk elements into the fray. They are worth keeping an eye out for and following next year. I know they have released a run of singles in the past – I feel an L.P. will arrive in 2018. They are making steps towards the mainstream and show what energy and innovation there is in Manchester right now.
IN THIS PHOTO: Maddy Storm/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Josey Marina made impressions in 2016 and was tipped for big things this year. She released her single, Heavy, earlier this year and looks set for a fruitful and productive 2018. Maddy Storm and Little Sparrow are two artists I know will make big headway next year. The former is a songstress who produces emotional songs that are reverb-rich and released her debut E.P., To the Sun, early this year. I know she is planning new material and gearing up for a busy 2018. I will follow her progress and can attest to her wonder and talent. Little Sparrow just released the track, Tender, and has impressed D.J.s like Chris Hawkins with her entrancing beauty and spellbinding vocals. Little Sparrow shows what a contrast is coming from Manchester right now. Larkins are hot property and being tipped as a breakaway band to watch. Songs like Tale of Cassandra recall Vampire Weekend whilst the ballad, Sapphire, is a tender and more restrained thing. Like False Advertising; they offer Punk-Pop physicality and colour. Heather, Ciara; Hugo and Charlie have been on the scene a while but Pale Waves are a band who have climbed steadily and made festival appearances in 2016 and this year.
IN THIS PHOTO: Pale Waves/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
I know next year will be a big one for them as they continue to gain traction and respect. Their sound fuses the 1980s Pop of Madonna to the richer and deep sounds of Talking Heads. If you want to return to something more fired and dirty then Cabbage and The Blinders are worth your time. Cabbage are from Mossley and, like Pale Waves, have been getting a lot of love and respect the last year – and they look set to carry on in 2018 and produce wonderful music. The Blinders are fresher but are a band who have produced some great sounds; have incredible tightness and are a fantastic live proposition. Manchester Evening News, BBC Radio 6 Music and other local sources are boosting the profile of Manchester’s music and ensuring the artists doing great work are getting the coverage they deserve. I hope the popular media makes efforts to collate all the great Manchester acts working at the moment because, as you see/hear the acts I have laid out – there is so much great and varied music in the city right now. I feel London has been grabbing headlines too long and there is a need for honest, ground-level music that comes from hard-working, relatable bands. I mentioned how working-class bands of the past – Oasis and The Stone Roses – captivated the nation decades ago: the time is right for the new breed of Mancunian artists to strike and impress. I have just touched the tip of the iceberg - but there are so many more great Manchester acts out there doing sterling work.
IN THIS PHOTO: Cabbage/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
I have not included artists on the outskirts – such as The Orielles – who are getting great radio-play and respect. It is time to recognise the way music is changing and the need to embrace artists that talk about what life is like. One of the biggest drawbacks of modern music is the lack of artists detailing what is happening in the country; how life is for working people; something that goes against the proliferation of middle-class artists. I am not suggesting we will see anything like we did in the late-1980s/1990s when the biggest and most influential artists from the North. Manchester played a vital role and, with that drive, helped usher in Labour and changed the country. The people were united and it was one of the best times for music. We might not be in for another season that recalls the genius of Oasis and The Stone Roses but I would suggest something fantastic could happen. Few can deny Manchester is a vibrant city and, when you listen to the music, there is something instant and nuanced – the artists stick in the mind and get the heart racing. I hope the media pays attention to what is happening in Manchester and realises London’s stronghold needs relinquishing. Music lovers like me prefer the gutsier, expansive sounds of Manchester; music that reflects the nature and personality of the people there – some of the most intriguing and nicest folk around. The music of the city has guts and brains and, after a year that has provided little joy and unification; it is high-time we…
IN THIS PHOTO: The Manchester skyline/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
KICK the Manchester resurrection into the mainstream!