The Best Of Manchester 2015: Pt 2
The Best Of Manchester 2015: Pt 2 - where we look back at what we believe were some of the best music coming from our local artists in 2015 and look forward with them to the year ahead. This time it is the turn of our editor in chief, Phil Weller.
Stockport's Under were a name I heard batted around for ages before getting the chance to hear what exactly they were about. Welding doom rock's slow and towering-like-a-bully-in-the-playground riffs with a progressive desire to take you on a long, winding journey in their songs, their début offering, First Attempt was the solidification and justification of the hype surrounding them. 2015 was the year that the band moved up the gears and 2016 already has a performance inked in at the Manchester Rocks Progathon in March. This should be an even better year for them.
Ten Foot Wizard
They have a song called Covered In Tits which has a Theremin solo. In many ways that's all you need to know about this hugely loved band. But that would suggest they are a one dimensional comedy band. Sleeping Volcanoes, released in May is everything but one dimensional, offering more cowbell, hip shaking grooves and witty lyricisms than I've had hot dinners...and I was a sucker for hot dinners.
They've also bagged themselves a sponsorship with Old J rum, celebrating it with a night of riffs and free rum at Rebellion with The Hicks, Kurokoma and Desert Storm. It was a belting night and proof positive, alongside their set at Riff Fest, of their brilliance.
Fresh Blood: Wolf Company, Void & Prognosis
Throughout the year we've seen the birth of plenty of new bands including Wolf Company, who introduced themselves to a packed crowd at Retro Bar. Lead single Your Stain showcases a band with prog in its heart but a killer instinct for a catchy melody and loft chorus. Matt Harrison (also of Kill or Cure) is a beast behind the drum kit and, upon his percussive foundation, the band are rising at an impressive pace.
Void are another band who have kicked into action this year, spending the second half of 2015 playing as many shows as possible. They've really began making a name for themselves and their set at the Manchester Rocks & Up From Under Presents show in October was the moment that, for me at least, they proved to the scene just how good they are. Their sound is accessible but ambitious and Charlie Powell's keystar solo will be forever etched in my memory. A show stopper.
My own band, Prognosis also came to life in 2015. I took advantage of the opportunity to play the Manchester Rocks website launch in March and even though we still had no vocals to any of our songs, it was a fantastic baptism of fire. Since then I've felt the band grow in confidence, ability and stature. We've come a long way since March and with several EP releases planned for 2016, we've got plenty in store for you yet.
Christ knows how many times I've seen Pist live. And if they're not playing a show, they're there getting hammered and supporting their mates. The true embodiment of rock n' roll, there are few bands who quite literally live and breathe sex, drugs and rock n' roll like these guys, especially to such a liver crippling magnitude. It also helps that their music and live shows are, without fail, bang on the money. Filthy riffs, gravel shredded, rollicking vocals and a rhythm section sterner than a pornstar's cock; Pist have everything great about rock in abundance. Their début album has deservedly won a shed load of plaudits too...it would just be nice if John Nicholson wore pants more often this year. You can't unsee that pale arse.
You'd think Federal Charm's year couldn't get better after a storming set at our prestigious website launch party where, following The Hyena Kill, our billing order forced them to heavy it up - and in some style. But they've since signed a record deal with Wire & Sound released a rip-roaring second full-length album, Across The Divide, and toured the country several times over. The album sees them on inspired form, more diverse, accomplished and both feistier and more soulful than ever. They are one of Manchester's brightest bands...and guitarist Paul Bowe even runs his own rehearsal facility in Stockport called Viaduct Studios.
The Hyena Kill
How can a two-piece be so damn noisy? Selling out The Deaf Institute for their album launch party, you could feel the love and respect everyone had for them reverberating and sizzling in the room. They don't stop writing, they don't stop gigging and that unholy racket they do make, while tipping the hat to the likes of Tool and Deftones, is so unique and skull flattening you feel it's only a matter of time until every room they play in is as packed and as awe inspired as that night in The Deaf Institute.
Mower, Amethyst, EySaw, The Hicks
I've seen countless bands live this year (as ever), but there's a few who deserve a special mention.
Mower's support slot at Pentagram saw them batter the place. They have one of the most entertaining frontmen around, they have an enormous, cavernous sound that, even without a bass player causes total anarchy. Beforehand they were shitting bricks. Supporting your idols is never easy, especially after witnessing their intimidating soundcheck. In the end they stole the show with ease and pieces of my jaw still remain on Sound Control's floor.
Amethyst meanwhile, opened for Sepultura and Evile at Club Academy. It was a massive deal for the thrash bastards and they pulled it off with aplomb. Says Paul Cooke: The Mancunian groove thrashers take the stage confidently and impress with a short set of manic, tight as the Hulk's speedos, intense metal. The winners of 2015's METAL 2 THE MASSES Manchester, quite rightly on tonights evidence, blast the Tuesday night cobwebs away and bring the noise in quality fashion.
Both EySaw and The Hicks are fantastic bands. The prior are riff and groove monsters, taking from the stone slab attack of Down and Pantera and adding extra grit and sass. Seeing them puts a massive smile on your face as it did for us during our Manchester Rocks Presents show in September and at the beer infested madness that was Riff Fest. The latter meanwhile, fronted Boss Keloid's Alex Hurst bring reggae swagger to a rock environment in a real fun way. They do it out of their undying love for the genre and integrity like that you just can't buy.
Words: Phil Weller
Photos: Anthony Firmin, Cai Dixon, Phil Goddard & others.