The City of Manchester and its surrounding areas has heralded some truly remarkable acts in popular music in the last handful of decades. The 60s had The Hollies and Herman’s Hermits, the 70s produced The Buzzcocks and The Fall, out of the 80s came such luminaries as Joy Division and The Smiths, The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays, and the 90s producing the most commercially successful of all the Manchester acts so far, the inimitable, volatile, enigmatic Oasis. More recently, the city has seen something of a lull in truly popular, commercial music that’s come directly from the area itself – a couple of notable exceptions including The Courteeners and Doves. However, the live music scene in the city is as alive and vibrant as ever, with massively popular international acts coming from around the world to play in Manchester, from Bieber fever at the MEN to obscure ultra-cool Matt and Phreds, the city is truly a hotbed of live music.
Here’s a look at 5 acts based around Manchester, active in the live scene today, and why you should listen to them.
With 3 full length albums under their belt, Modern Blonde have released an impressive amount of material online. Their sound is almost indescribable, although if you try and imagine a cross between Pulp, Cigarettes After Sex, Talking Heads, Low, Erasure and Joy Division, you’d still be some way off… but that’s the best I could do. Boasting impressive support slots with Adam Green, sets at Manchester Cathedral, fantastic album art and a sound almost impossible to describe (just listen to them), Modern Blonde are without a doubt one of the most exciting bands on the Manchester scene right now.
Hailing from Chester, this indie 4-piece are prominent on the Manchester scene, having played at the Etihad stadium, home of Manchester City F.C. and they’re on their way up. Sporting big guitar sounds, infectious melodies and wistful lyrics, as well as a loyal fan following around the North West of England, they’re a band with big ideas and the ambition to match. Support slots with MMX and Catfish and the Bottlemen signify their status as an act respected by their contemporaries and on the rise, so make sure to look out for them in the near future.
With their own brand of Northern power-pop-cum-indie, Racing Glaciers have had a hugely productive last couple of years. They’ve supported Dan Croll, had one of their tracks remixed by Laurel and played on The Line of Best Fit, they’ve headlined shows in London and are just about to release their second EP entitled Ahead of you Forever – not to mention having had their music played on BBC 6 music and BBC Radio 1. A very exciting band from Macclesfield and definitely one to be checked out if you’re a fan of Elbow, Embrace or even Surfer Blood.
Originally from Dublin but based in Manchester, Shauna Mackin’s sound can best be described (by me, at least) as acoustic driven folk soul. This may sound like an odd description, but if you listen to her music (which you really should) I’m sure you’ll know what I mean. Her sultry tones and complex melodies are a delight and her first EP, Little Blue was released last year, with plays on BBC Radio being a testament to her talent. Shauna and her band feature regularly at live nights in and around Manchester and she’s not one to be missed should you get the chance to catch her live.
The Lottery Winners
Born out of the grey, uninspiring City of Salford (trust me, I live there), The Lottery Winners make music that suggests much grander, frankly nicer surroundings – which is almost certainly where they’re going. They’re already on their way, with a new release being recorded with producer Steve Levine, extensive BBC Radio play and some celebrity friends (pictures of Hayley Cropper and Vincent Kompany with the band on their facebook page say a lot about the versatility of their music) The Lottery Winners promise to be a hugely successful Manchester band.