Five Manchester artists we’ve been listening to this month | January 2024
All smash, no pass.
Well hello there, you fine music-loving folks. If you’re here it’s because you love good tunes and are always on the lookout for new local artists and, lucky for you, Manchester is always full to bursting with ’em.
All that being said, it’s a good job you’ve just stumbled across a new regular series from The Manc Audio, where we’ll be spotlighting all the best Manc music we’ve been listening to over the course of each month throughout 2024.
We’re in the privileged position of being able to keep in the loop when it comes to the sheer wealth of 0161’s up-and-coming bands, solo artists, DJs and more, and we’re all about sharing the wealth as the saying goes.
So, let’s not faff about any further, here are five Manchester artists we’ve been listening to this January and we hope you’ll like them too. Let’s ‘av it, shall we?
Manc bands we’ve been listening to over the past month
First up on the list is Sugarstone, an alternative rock band originally from Preston but now based in Manchester who are spearheading the synth-punk movement here in 0161.
They’ve gone through a bit of a makeover and sound change recently, moving away from the glam approach over the last 18 months or so and opting for a slightly heavier but still with lots of distorted sounds and plenty of electronics remaining in the mix.
Each month we’re going to pick out three tracks we reckon you should start with and for this first entry, we’re spotlighting ‘Hostile’ and ‘Tender Hook’ off their latest EP for that more in-your-face approach they’re leaning towards lately, as well as ‘Can’t Help My Machine’ for keeping the digital presence alive.
Alternative electronic at its finest as we see it. Porij are pretty popular in The Manc office and for good reason: they sprawl in their variety of sounds, can somehow suit almost every mood imaginable and seem to draw influence from almost every genre and culture you can think of.
Some call it art pop but all we know is it’s dancey and we LOVE it. And we’re not the only ones: they’ve collaborated with the likes of Metronomy, as well as Greater Manchester locals Interplanetary Criminal and rising spoken word artist Antony Szmierek, not to mention being ripe for remixers.
We’re slightly obsessed with their current single ‘My Only Love’ released earlier this month but ‘Nobody Scared’ is undoubtedly their biggest track and it’s not hard to see why (the chillest of bops) and so many could come in the third but we’ll settle on ‘Lose Our Minds’ for now. Ask us again later and it’ll change.
3. Balancing Act
In at number three is Balancing Act. They’ve got everything from third and fourth record Arctic Monkeys, and frontman Kai Jon Roberts certainly exerts plenty of that Alex Turner swag here and there, to moments of Cage The Elephant or maybe even Radiohead in parts.
There isn’t any other place to start with these lads than their most popular track, ‘A Little More Time’ — the kind of tune that feels like you’re sat smoking a cigar and sipping a drink in a cabaret bar — ‘Cheshire Smile’ it’s probably our second favourite and more of indicative of their indie roots and then the beautiful ‘Rabbit Hole’. That should you a little taste of everything.
Like any band with the potential to go far, these guys still feel like they’re doing plenty of experimenting when it comes to their sound and, if anything, we’d say it’s in those moments when they shine the most.
4. The Deep Blue
Now these lot just make us so happy. Well, sad-happy to be more specific. The indie girl band have absolutely nailed those often upbeat and catchy melodies with slightly less jolly lyrics that always make for a great song.
If you’re looking for comparisons, you’ll get a bit of HAIM in the all-girl and often bass-driven funk but with the harmonies almost closer to something like The Staves. You get more of the latter the further you go back, having first started out in 2021, but they quickly draw other parallels with The xx and The Corrs.
Having not long finished up a short run of shows with the lovable Leigh local, The Lottery Winners, they’ve got a lot of love among other Manchester artists. As for the songs we’re picking out, you can’t argue against arguably the best known ‘Bad Tattoo’ with Alex Amor, ‘Yellow and Gold’ was one of their first tracks we ever heard so it’s going in there, and the immensely catchy ‘How About It?’.
5. Witch Fever
Last but not least, we’re finishing with a bunch of absolute ragers in the form of Witch Fever, who never fail to deliver that more aggressive brand of post-punk, grunge and all-around reliable rock. Lead singer Amy Walpole has labelled everyone from the Cancer Bats to Sugarstone themselves as influencing the band’s sound and there’s plenty more in there too, believe us.
We don’t think it’s getting too far ahead of ourselves to tip this furious four-piece for big things, having toured with fellow hardcore lovers Hot Milk and scored some decent festival slots over the past couple of years. Walpole’s voice alone is almost as if Dolores from The Cranberries loved screaming her head off even more over even heftier guitar riffs and had the added attitude of early Wolf Alice.
If that doesn’t sell you, these aren’t for you. The title track from their debut album Congregation is just immense; ‘In Birth’ is a perfect slope towards their heaviest stuff, and we have a real soft spot for 2019’s ‘Bezerk(h)er’, which incidentally happens to be one of our favourite track titles for a long time — and we usually hate it when artists mess with punctuation.
- Sacha Lord to host secret gig with an open bar in a derelict Manchester building
- The Last Dinner Party announce headline UK tour including a massive Manchester gig
- Liam Gallagher and John Squire reveal joint album release date and tour dates
And that’s it for your first edition of our new monthly look at the best up-and-coming Manchester artists that are getting us very excited.
2023 was an absolute belter for new music in our region and across the North West in general, for that matter, and we can’t wait to see what this year has in store for us.
Finally, the best part about this series is that we want you to let us know about all the best new tunes you come across too; this is a collective effort, guys — don’t let us down.
See you in Feb and be sure to keep tuned into our Audio page this year if you know what’s good for ya’.
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