Somehow or another, a whole year has gone by since I started writing for U&I and a lot has happened in those 12 months; I graduated, got fatter, saw some amazing bands and got fatter still. One thing which hasn't changed however, is the constant outpouring of good, quality music that comes out of Manchester. Now given that I can only feature one band a month, there's been plenty of top acts that I've had to pass on, so it seems only fair that I take this opportunity to big up some of the bands which didn't quite make my column, but could have done quite easily.
With their foundations firmly set in the traditional roots/reggae movement fused together with elements of ska and calypso, Jeremiah Ferrari are a far cry from Manchester's assumed indie heritage. Soulful vocals and upstrokes make for an ultimate party band, but that shouldn't detract from the solid song-writing and genuinely catchy melodies that perpetuate the band's music. Their live shows too, are fantastic.
Check out: Jazz Cigarette
Another end of the spectrum now, The Gramotones' sound is a rich and melodic pop affair flecked with moments of solid indie and occasional camp theatrics. Having recently earned themselves a support slot on Paul Weller's forthcoming European tour, it's obvious that the band are going in the right direction; their lavish vocal melodies are steeped the '60s, affording the band a timelessness not often seen in such a relatively young act.
Check out: M62
Feed the Kid
Feed the Kid uphold an undeniable sense of the bucolic, their emotionally-driven folk building on a same foundations as bands such as Bear's Den. Those anticipating the Mumford and Sons branded arena folk will be disappointed, however, as there's a definite and appealing roughness at play too, which one can assume is an aesthetic decision given the polish over the anthemic 'Fellaheen'.
Check out: Kerry
No Hot Ashes
Reasonably new to the Manchester scene, No Hot Ashes fuse together funk with infectious indie that's hard not to sit up and take notice of. Championed by the illusive promoter/podcaster Mr Peeps it won't be long before No Hot Ashes follow in a similar direction to the likes of Puppet Rebellion; their music more danceable than Pup Reb's but both equally as solid in execution. Expect big things over the next few months.
Check out: Skeleton
The Backhanders first caught my attention towards the end of last year, as much for their haircuts as for their melodic fusion of both punk and mod sounds. Seemingly causing a bit of a stir on the unsigned scene around Manchester at the moment, it's easy to see why. As the band flit from Stone Roses/Oasis-esque heady brit-pop to two-tone tinged punk, it's not hard to imagine a rowdy Manc crowd thoroughly enjoying themselves.
Check out: Don't Let Your Man Know
Lucky T. Jackson
Cheating a bit with this one, but the band, in this iteration at least, haven't been together all that long. With some members formerly of Manc band The Quangos, Lucky T. Jackson are fortunate enough to have people with a vested interest in them almost right off the bat. Having seen their debut gig at The Whisky Jar, I felt almost obligated to include them; their infectious blend of contemporary indie and sugary '60s harmonies proving too much of a draw not to mention. Potential for a full column piece in the coming months for sure.
Check out: This Particular Girl
Having seen Stolen Haven live a couple of times now, I know for a fact that they're one of the most promising live bands coming up in Manchester at the moment; their solid no nonsense indie earning them support slots with the likes of Puppet Rebellion. While their overall sound is nothing new, the confidence they have in themselves makes for some solid song-writing that just can't be ignored. Quiet on the release front of late, we can presume new things will emerge later this year.
Check out: Decent Shoes
The Lottery Winners
'Born in Salford, raised on romance' proclaims the Facebook page of The Lottery Winners, and from the first moments of hearing their bubblegum indie-pop, it's obvious how true that is. This is a band who don't so much wear their heart on their sleeve as wave it on a flag above their heads. You can almost imagine that this is what Morrisey might have sounded like had someone introduced him to Prozac.
Check out: I Only Want to Be With You
Not quite the usual fare here, The Bluntskins are one of Manchester's best hip-hop outfits who make their appreciation of cannabis culture known. Made up of two rappers, Bill Sykes and Cheech, and completed by producer DJ Pro P, the trio use a mixture of beats, bars and samples, resulting in a heady combination that just begs to blaze to. The lyrical content might not be to everyone's tastes, as might not the fractured but expertly mixed backing tracks, but for those who appreciate a little indulgence from time to time, or just like some good old fashioned hip-hop, then they could do far worse then checking out The Bluntskins.
Check out: High As A Helicopter
Part of Sways Records, (whose roster once boasted MONEY), Kult Country are a band without boundaries. Their music, though hard to pin down, draws from the likes of My Bloody Valentine, but isn't completely indebted to them, fusing together shoegaze and noise with elements of sparse post-punk and futuristic techno. It's an odd combination, but it's an exciting one, and we can hope to see far more of them this year, as they aim to follow in the footsteps of their previous label mates.
Check out: Slowburn