A Festival Mixtape: Sounds from the Other City
Salford's annual May Bank Holiday musical extravaganza enters its seventh successful year with one of the strongest lineups in its history. Supporting local promoters and blending the finest in local talent with a number of high-class international acts, the festival has constantly maintained its friendly, independent and distinctly leftfield approach. Allow the Motel, if you will, to take the pain out of navigating Chapel Street's baker's dozen of venues with its festival mixtape:
1. Mammal Club Put Your Fears In Order
Picking a Mammal Club track to start this mixtape with was a nightmare - all of their output is just so damn good. Fans of Dutch Uncles and Everything Everything will find plenty to enjoy amongst the band's repertoire. Put Your Fears In Order opens with a frantic bassline and comes with the bonus of quintessentially British, scatterfire vocals on its refrain. Combined with breakneck synth samples and drumming, it instantly demonstrates that this lot mean business.
The Old Pint Pot (upstairs), 20.30
2. Those Dancing Days Those Dancing Days
The Stockholm quintet make a triumphant return to these shores for both Camden Crawl and SFOTC, headlining Postcards from Manchester's programme at the latter. This organ-and-guitar led, '60s influenced track is their rollicking theme tune, in a sense. It's even named after them, for heaven's sake. It's good dancing music too, and this is coming from a self-conscious soul with multiple left feet who never really dances.
Those Dancing Days - Those Dancing Days by Wichita Recordings
The Old Pint Pot (upstairs), 22.30
3. Girls Names I Lose
Girls Names stalk a section of the musical Venn diagram where 'rock' and 'ambient' cross over, and I Lose demonstrates that it's a fine place to be. There's a hint of The Smiths in the jangly guitars and languid vocals, but they're rougher round the edges than Morrisey, Marr et al. Their debut album Dead To Me is out this week.
Girls Names - I Lose by Slumberland Records
The Kings Arms, 20.45
4. Denis Jones Blengin
Ah, Denis Jones, it's good to have you back. This, the closing track to Jones' second album Red and Yellow is a madcap melting pot of musical influences. The musical backing may tour the world, but the vocals are straight out of the North West. All the layers build up to make a thing of true beauty. An accomplished live performer, he's not to be missed.
08 Blengin by denis jones
United Reformed Church, 20.00
5. Vieka Falling (Water Boarding)
It's hard to know where to start with Vieka. Chantelle Scott is a master of invention, blending sinister drip-drips with nods to Gershwin's Rhapsody In Blue (the wailing clarinet), demented kazoo and dreamy, bluesy vocals. If that description has put you off, then don't be shy - give it a go. You might find out that you quite like it after all. What a fine example of what Sounds from the Other City is all about!
Falling (water boarding) by Vieka
Salford Arms, 16.15
6. Patterns Broken Trains
From dripping taps to sleigh bells... Patterns are another band to file under 'ambient', making meandering numbers like this, the lead track from their debut EP New Noise (release by our very own Dan F and Hannah of PYT Records fame). Their introspective output has got a certain majesty about it, and a string of live shows in both Manchester and London have meant that the fourpiece have slowly started to build their profile as the year has progressed.
Patterns - Broken trains by pullyourselftogether
The Old Pint Pot (downstairs), 22.00
7. Milk Maid Cant You See
Milk Maid stand out from a rather bloated crop of lo-fi, four track-owning effects pedal aficionados by dint of their quality. The grungy guitars and wealth of feedback on Can't You See are instantly appealing. It sounds like it was probably recorded in a cupboard on one very old microphone, but regardless of where it was actually committed to record, this is a tune and a half. The band's debut longplayer, Yucca, is due out thanks to Fat Cat in June - definitely one to look forward to.
Can't You See - Milk Maid by Suffering Jukebox
The Angel, 20.00
8. Willy Mason Oxygen
As soon as the sole, repetitively strummed note that opens Oxygen kicks in, anyone over the age of 23 will instantly remember a time when this track was in the UK top 40 (a feat also achieved by Where The Human Eat, the album it was lifted from) and Willy Mason was supporting Radiohead at the Blackpool Empress Ballrooms. Once you've rejoiced in some misty-eyed mid noughties nostalgia, be sure to head down and see him - especially as he might well test out new tracks that might feature on his forthcoming third album.
Peel Hall, 18.30
9. The Twilight Sad Cold Days from the Birdhouse
Many of the guitar-led bands on this mixtape - and, indeed, across the Sounds from the Other City bill - owe so much to The Twilight Sad. If you see them live when they're on tip-top form, it's a potent experience that will stay with you for live. Their songs tug at your innards and refuse to let go. It's so easy to become immersed in their live shows, especially on the strength of James Graham's expressive voice - agressive and melodic all at once. This track remains one of their finest moments.
The Twilight Sad - Cold Days From the Birdhouse by xemper
St Philip's Church, 22.00
Sounds from the Other City takes place on Sunday, May 1 at various venues in Salford from 15.00 until late. Tickets cost £18 excluding fees from QuayTickets or Skiddle. The nearest train station is Salford Central (via Manchester Victoria). Don't forget that the Motel's friends from Croquet East in London will be hosting games onsite too.