Over the last 6 years or so – ever since I started this site – I’ve made many friends in Manchester, England. Some are connected with bands you’ve heard of and some are indie musicians – on the fringe of accessibility. So it comes as no surprise that my heart was broken when I read about the attack on Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017. As it turns out, someone connected to someone I know was hurt in the blast – just a girl on a night out to enjoy music with her family. If there is one thing I know in this life it is that music has the power to unite people. So when a friend told me about this charity single featuring a mash-up of some of Manchester’s famous songs it was a no brainer – I told him I’d give it a listen and post a review on my site.
Bury Community Choir was formed in 2013 by music teacher Katie Geelan for people living in the Bury area. Encore (Bury Young Voices) are also conducted by Ms. Geelan and are made up of students in Bury Schools and Colleges. The Ultimate Manchester Mash-Up was created and directed by Andrew J. Smith. The artists featured are Elbow, The Verve, Courteeners, James, Heather Small, The Stone Roses, Take That, and Oasis. The single is just over 9 minutes and is a testament to the fighting spirit of Manchester. In my personal life I believe today’s youth are the key to the future and this single touched my heart. It has a purity that is inspiring. I’ll tell you right now that I don’t typically listen to choral recordings, but that might change going forward. My favorite pieces of this movement were the bits by The Stone Roses and Oasis.
You can stream or download this song for free here and here. Donations can be made here. It is for a worthy cause and is a testament to the power of the people to always move forward and help those in need. Never giving up always resonates with me and this will be a single I’ll always come back to. Cheers!
Verdict: Brilliant choral interpretations of Manchester favorites
For fans of: Britpop, humanitarians, people who want to make a difference,
It is a classic case of “what could have been”. Local Manchester, England band gets some buzz, records an EP, quickly gets signed to a label and the EP never comes out. But what if the EP had pointed to an alternate future? A future not dictated by the whims of record label executives following trends? Dog Toffee fit that scenario perfectly. Led by Gav Rourke & Sean Lyons and backed by a string of drummers (finally solidified w/ long time drummer Phil Nelson), the band tapped into punk, grunge, girl group sounds, and white noise inspired by The Fall. The band would go on to support legends in concert (Dwarves, Misfits, and Dee Dee Ramone to name just a few), headline shows, and record with Seattle legend Jack Endino. But until now, their debut recordings have never been released. 20 years later is as good as time as any.
Anyone who absorbs an ungodly amount of music will tell you – sometimes the bands and records become lifetime companions and sometimes….well, sometimes you struggle to remember what they sound like. Those initial impressions are important – don’t get me wrong – but those records that stay lodged in your brain forever, those are hard to come by. Manchester, England’s Soup have released a debut album that I am sure will stick with me forever. It’s one of my favorite records of 2014.
The Cornelius Crane – Manchester, England’s answer to American alt-country – have released over an album’s worth of quality material over the last 2 years or so. Instead of delivering 12 songs on the traditional long player, the band have delivered 3 songs here, 4 songs there. I think this approach has worked out well for the band – quality song after quality song, with a 6 to 9 month wait for a new batch instead of the traditional 18 months to 2 years wait between full length albums. Steve, Dan, Mark, & friends have never even delivered a mediocre song, so it is no surprise that the new EP Soul in the Lightning is a bona fide masterpiece.
From Stereokill Recordings comes the 3rd track to be released from the “lost” Paris Angels album, Eclipse. The Paris Angels, of course, reunited after the untimely passing of beloved drummer, Simon Worrall (“Big Si” to his friends & family). The Distant Drums compilation was a masterful compilation put together in Worrall’s memory and featured Sleeping With the Radio On – a slab of Madchester that reintroduced the world to the band’s brilliance. Last summer’s release of Door to Summer was, well, an anthem for summer. In other words, a hazy reflection of summertime fun. The full album hasn’t materialized yet, but the new track to be lifted from Eclipse is a funky tune that feels modern, though it dates from the early 90’s. A killer bass riff, uplifting vocals – it all culminates in a chorus that you’ll be singing along to after hearing the song just once. The track is a layered masterpiece, building in intensity as it progresses. What could end up as a cacophony of musical ambition instead becomes a nuanced exercise in beauty, imbued with nostalgia. What I’m saying is that this is a perfect song, and I’m eagerly awaiting the release of the full length. You can pick up the song at all major digital outlets for the less than the price of a cup of coffee or tea. Welcome back, boys.
Verdict: Feels Like Summer
For Fans of: The Stone Roses, Primal Scream, Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, The Mock Turtles
The Paris Angels were / are one of the great “what if” stories of the early 90’s. Contemporaries with The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, and Primal Scream they released a handful of singles along with a full length album and then all but disappeared. A casualty of record company shenanigans it seemed that the band’s place in history may have been relegated to a footnote in musical history – but tragic circumstances brought the lads back together. The unexpected passing of drummer Simon Worrall (Big Si) in 2011 found the band reuniting in his memory and contributing an unreleased track “Sleeping With the Radio On” to the Distant Drums charity compilation. That track, as well as new single “Door to Summer” are from the forthcoming record Eclipse. Recorded 21 years ago but sounding relevant, Door to Summer brings to mind the phrase “what was once old will be new again”. The track would have been fresh in 1992, reveling in its chill after party atmosphere – it sounds just as exciting in 2013. I’m pretty sure the word I’m looking for is ‘timeless’. I’ll be posting a review of the full length album when it comes out early in the Fall. In the meantime, make sure to pick up this track to whet your appetite. Available from Itunes for about $1, its money well spent. You can read more about the band and get up to date information on Paris Angels releases via Stereokill Recordings.
Verdict: Un Bel Ange
For Fans of: The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays, Black Grape, Primal Scream, Inspiral Carpets
The Empire Strikes Back is usually considered the strongest film of the original Star Wars series. As it turns out, it was also the 2nd film (but now I think it is considered the 5th because of the newer trilogy). The Wrath of Khan is also considered the best of the original Star Trek series and you guessed it – it’s the 2nd film. There have been epic failures in the sequel class of course – The Matrix sequels come to mind (sorry to anyone who enjoyed them. Drop me a line and explain them to me please) – but when a sequel is done right it can reinforce the positive attributes of what came before while building and adding to that foundation. The Cornelius Crane’s new EP follows their critically acclaimed record, E.P. Too. It hits all the right notes, falling into the Empire / Khan category that I talked about earlier.