Silver lining in new music from the rainy city

The Bears Are Coming

The Bears Are Coming

Whilst the bemoaning of lacklustre new music prospects for 2009 gathers pace, as the January rain commences, one city is offering five rays of sunshine to blind the critics. The rainy city. My city. Manchester.

The city’s contribution to the national music scene has been well documented and celebrated in the past, but herein lies the fundamental problem. Manchester has never been able to shake off the lad-rock indie label so brilliantly bestowed upon it by the Stone Roses and Oasis. Following a sprinkling of commercial breakthrough last year, notably from the Ting Tings and The Courteeners, 2009 could see the Manchester music offering blossom in a spectrum of varying guises and styles, finally relegating the ‘Madchester’ scene, alongside, hopefully, those soulless billionaires, Manchester City. But that’s another argument for another day…

The resurrection will be a five-pronged attack. These five bands will smash through your radio and gallop to the top of the league, alongside, hopefully, those illuminating romantics, Manchester United. But that too, is another argument…

These five bands, hand-picked by, well, me, are… Ten Bears, The Travelling Band, It’s a Buffalo, Twisted Wheel and Kid British. Mad for it!

Ten Bears are a ragged, sharp rabble of rustic brilliance. Heavily influenced by Young and Dylan, the Bears have successfully twisted in catchy, pacey tunes with clever, scratchy lyrics. Formerly The Deadbeats, and former winners of the Glastonbury Unsigned Act competition, Ten Bears have added the racier songs of the deadbeat days, such as the fabulous ‘Hotel’ and ‘Sex Music’, to their new furry armour that carries a clutch of electric, joyful, poppy teasers. New song ‘Dirt On The Radio’ gained its first serious airplay on Radio One last week and should kick-start the march of the Bears. Personal favourites include ‘To The Moon’, ‘Braces’ and ‘Zeus’, while ‘Charlie’ holds particular resonance for us boys here at The Equivalent. Remember, Keep It Simple, Stupid. And remember, Ten Bears are awesome. GRRRRRR…

Friends to the Bears, The Travelling Band offer a somewhat more relaxing take on Manchester Americana. Slow and unhurried, The Travelling Bands songs twitter along, and leave you feeling pretty darn… well, for want of a better word, nice. Debut album, ‘Under the Pavement’ has already been released, cementing The Travelling Band’s place as one of the favourite acts on Market Street. The rain may always pour in Manchester, but for those glorious few days of sunshine we’re hopeful for in the summer of 2009, cider drinking in Platt Fields Park will surely be accompanied by the easy jigs of the sublime Travelling Band, flowing, stream-like, from the radio.

Slightly quicker, yet equally as lovely, are the tales supplied by It’s A Buffalo. Hot from a stampeding support slot with The Courteeners, and with a release date of March ’09 for debut album, ‘Don’t Be Scared’, pencilled in, 2009 should witness the steady rise of the rough, yet pleasant, Buffalo boys. ‘Somewhere In Range’ and ‘Divorce Song’ are particularly gorgeous, and the appeal of seemingly ordinary, laid-back Manc fellas could guarantee It’s a Buffalo a comfortable space in the corner of the national conscience.

Much has already been written about fiery scamps, Twisted Wheel, but they’re just too bloody ferocious to be left out here. After being hand-picked by Noel Gallagher to support Oasis for their Wembley Arena gigs last year, they also perhaps hold the greatest chance for mainstream success in 2009. Rowdy and raucous live, tight and urgent on record, Twisted Wheel could whip the Manchester lad-rock tag into a rusty frenzy. They’re sharper than Oasis, more forceful than The Courteeners. Don’t dare take your eyes off the charts this year, Twisted Wheel are gonna smash it up!

Genre-slicing rapscallions Kid British are Manchester’s most intriguing melting-pot. Mixing dub, indie, ska and rap, Kid British are a rasping collective sure to divide, but certain to sky-rocket. Instantly brilliant, ‘Elizabeth’, is a personal recommendation, whilst ‘Lost In London’ could quite easily have been my running life story for the last few months. Comparable maybe to the style infusings of Jamie T, and equally as ace, Kid British look destined to kick on to a similar degree of success and acknowledgement. If they don’t, then they should, for the Kid’s got talent.

So, there you have it. Music isn’t dead. In fact, under the slate-grey Mancunion sky, it is about to be re-born. Manchester, it seems, is gonna command the music scene in 2009 as Man U are gonna dominate the Premier League. But that’s another article entirely… D’ya know what I mean?


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January 2009
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