So what’s been going on in Manchester in the past month? Quite a lot actually, and a number of brave Mancunians made the pilgrimage to Reading and Leeds festival to witness music fans from all over the country united together by mud, sweat, and great (and not so great) bands. Despite the festival frenzy, things seem to have been going on as normal up North, and there’s been plenty of new material released by the infamous Sways Records, the return of Egyptian Hip Hop and news from spook-rock band PINS.
First up was the debut single from G R E A T W A V E S. Members of the band have in the past been spotted traveling with a gypsy blues group and spending time in Hamburg and Amsterdam. However their nomadic lifestyle appears to have been put on hold for the moment, and they’ve stayed put in Manchester long enough to build up a lot of respect here through their enigmatic and unrestrained live shows. Now cue clichéd and fangirlish reaction to the physical incarnation of said release. Double A-side The Shore / Into The Blue is pressed on beautiful heavyweight vinyl complete with an art booklet compiled and created by Nick Delap (bassist from Egyptian Hip Hop), and the first copies came complete with a golden ticket inviting you to the single release show.
The Shore has a continuous throbbing heartbeat, over which layers of synth and shimmering guitars support the vocal prophesies. The chants have seemingly been pulled from a philosophical novel found in a dusty corner of a Parisian library. However G R E A T W A V E S could never be accused of plagiarism; their music and poetry is nothing but original. Into The Blue begins with unexpected Joy Division inspired drum beats, and gradually builds to a magnificent soundscape reminiscent of being dragged under the ocean. The semantic field of water obviously hasn’t been pulled out of nowhere and the concept really comes through in every aspect of the band’s being. G R E A T W A V E S have managed to leave the realms of having simply ‘promising potential’ and have proven to people who haven’t yet witnessed the band live what they truly have to offer.
The second unearthing was a free download track called Waste by Ghost Outfit. Despite the cryptic press release on the Sways Records website, we can assume that this is the first taster from an upcoming album called The Congo Tapes. Now I’ve got to be honest, I have absolutely no idea where The Congo Tapes concept is coming from but we’ll have to wait and see. The video for Waste is frontman Jack Hardman throwing himself around a derelict tunnel in a frenzy of emotional distress, smudging his eyeliner in the process. Hopefully this won’t be you when you hear the track. Waste is a barrage of grunge-tinged lo-fi scuzz, and it’s quite frankly brilliant.
Perhaps the most exciting of all, Egyptian Hip Hop have returned! Emerging on the scene in 2010, we were beginning to think their debut album would never come into being. Being the avid NME reader that I was back then, my walls are still plastered with posters of the band posing outside Church Street Market. Although members of their fanbase have obviously grown up a bit, so have the band and they have returned with the sparkling new track SYH. Taken from upcoming album Good Don’t Sleep set to be released on R&S records, it couldn’t really be mistaken for anyone else. That being said, the band have definitely metamorphosed into something much more psychedelic and chilled than they were before (which is certainly an achievement). With woozy vocals and synth loops from out of space, it certainly sets the tone for what the rest of the album could achieve.
We’ve said hello to a lot of new material, so now it’s time to say goodbye to our favourite Mancunian psych-spook-rock band PINS. Well not exactly- the band have announced the release of their debut EP LUVU4LYF through established indie label Bella Union. Having previously released material from bands such as Veronica Falls, Beach House and Wild Nothing, I’m finding it hard to think of a better label for PINS to work with. To coincide with the release of the LUVU4LYF EP, the band are heading off to play shows all around the country on their debut headline tour, and of course they’re stopping by Manchester’s Soup Kitchen to play back on home turf.
- Alice Simkins