Hey! Manchester promotes gigs by folk, Americana and experimental bands from around the world in Manchester, England. Read more here, see below for our latest shows, check out our previous shows, contact us, or join our mailing list, above.

Upcoming shows: Thomas Truax... Frankie Rose... The Weather Station... The Breath... The Lovely Eggs... The Proper Ornaments... Robbie Cavanagh... BA Johnston... Wesley Gonzalez... CC Smugglers... Weyes Blood... Jared & The Mill... Julie Byrne... Left Lane Cruiser... The Burning Hell... Son of Dave... Daniel Romano... The Travelling Band... Aldous Harding... William the Conqueror... Wolf Parade... Skinny Lister + Beans on Toast... Lost Horizons... Leif Vollebekk... Euros Childs... Lowly... Jesca Hoop... Charles Howl... Karl Blau... David Thomas Broughton... Haiku Salut: Christmas Lamp Show... The Deslondes... Will Varley... Jen Cloher... Loney dear...

When: 7.30pm on Friday 13 October 2017
Where: The Castle Hotel, 66 Oldham Street, Manchester M4 1LE

We’re delighted to be working with Thomas Truax – this time, at the Castle Hotel, with Islet member Farm Hand and Cynthia’s Periscope supporting!

Merging a fevered imagination, solid songwriting abilities and a groovy showbiz attitude with a mad scientist’s brain for weird gadgets, Thomas Truax is a true one-off. He travels the world delighting audiences with his evolving ‘band’ of surreal self-made, Harry Partch-esque instruments including a motorised drum machine made of bike wheels called ‘Mother Superior’ and a souped up Dr Seuss-ian Gramophone called ‘The Hornicator’, as well as guitar.

Uncut says ‘Truax is shaping up nicely as one of the great rock eccentrics’ while Splendid magazine called him ‘one of the five or ten best singer/songwriters in the world that you’ve never heard of… an exceptional talent, unique and resistant to comparison.’

He crafts rich, poetically evocative songs about insects, trees, technology, and a lifelong obsession with things lunar, including various reasons Why Dogs Howl at The Moon. His eight studio LPs include the highly rated covers album Songs From The Films Of David Lynch. Notable supporters and collaborators include Jarvis Cocker, Duke Special, Richard Hawley, The Dresden Dolls and the late author Terry Pratchett.

A new single, Save Me, featuring Gemma Ray, is scheduled for release in September, and a new full-length album will follow soon after. A collaboration with Leeds band Post War Glamour Girls is also set to be released this autumn.

‘Enthralling, mind-blowingly original and totally bonkers… a creative circus of the wonderfully surreal’ – Brighton Noise

‘When he performs, it is a spectacle – the originality and seeming impossibility of what he does is much of the appeal’ – The Guardian

‘His gigs are extraordinary, fizzing with showmanship’ – Q

Main support comes from Farm Hand. Since 2016 Farm Hand has been the solo name of Islet member, Shape Records and From Now On Festival founder Mark Daman Thomas. Farm Hand is an instinctual musical force with a love of expressive live performance. International Dreams is his debut solo album and the sound of him being restored to factory settings, after moving from Cardiff to his homeland in the sparsely populated hills of Mid Wales. It is his reflection on the realities of rural life, built on car boot beats, field recordings, loops and second-hand organs. Freewheeling and full of deep, cyclical melodies, the album was recorded in a barn studio on the working family farm of Pontvane, Radnorshire, in spring 2017 with producer Rob Jones (Sweet Baboo, Slow Club). International Dreams is out via Shape Records on 3 November 2017.

Opening the show is Cynthia’s Periscope. Manchester-based Aberdonian Paul Morrice has been performing under the guise Cynthia’s Periscope since the summer of 2014. His music varies from the melodic and sentimental to the brutal and cathartic, drawing inspiration from sources as varied as Robert Wyatt, Four Tet, Tunng and Arab Strap.

Buy tickets now. Tickets are available from the bar (no booking fee), Piccadilly Records, Vinyl Exchange, WeGotTickets.comTicketline.co.uk and on 0871 220 0260.

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When: 7.30pm on Saturday 14 October 2017
Where: The Eagle Inn, 19 Collier Street, Salford, M3 7DW

We’re delighted to be helping Bobbie Peru launch their new single, I Am Contagious.

Bobbie Peru are a hard-hitting rock power trio with punk, post-punk and rockabilly influences. They sample aspects of many different genres into a mix of guitar-based music with social commentary and abrasive rhythm. They are based out of Manchester.

Their debut album Social Suicide was released in October 2007, to generally positive reviews. XFM’s Clint Boon described them as a ‘brilliant band – reminds me of the golden years of new wave and punk music’. The band released the three-track single 1971 in autumn 2007 with an accompanying video.

In 2009 the next full length album, Kill the Autopilot, was released. It was recorded at 6 dB Studio in Salford. Soon after there was a split 7″ EP release in the USA with Kimono Draggin‘ (EP/Vinyl, 2010, Spaynsive Productions).

The band supported Black Francis (of Pixies) on his 2008 Blue Finger European Tour and The Fall on their 2008 UK tour. They have played support slots with Buzzcocks (2013) and Killing Joke (2014).

Bobbie Peru are now set to unveil their third studio album, Nurse Corkscrew, which was recorded by Simon ‘Ding’ Archer at 6 dB Studio. On 14 October they will be releasing the single I Am Contagious with an accompanying video filmed by Harri Shanahan and a re-mix by As Able As Kane.

Support comes from ILL. ILL is a genre-evading band which believes in the power of disobedient noise. With a repertoire of precarious pop songs and frequent improvised departures, ILL revel in the right to be weird, exploring the borders between the funny and the sinister, the personal and the political, the mundane and the surreal. Building from intuitive improvisations, their live sets are constantly evolving. ILL are often described as a punk or post-punk group, because of the confrontational, irreverent nature of their sound and the frequently angry energy of their live performances. Expect anything from no-wave pop to rage-filled sonic meltdowns, with plenty of personality and politics.

Buy tickets now. Tickets are available from Piccadilly Records, Vinyl Exchange, WeGotTickets.comTicketline.co.uk and on 0871 220 0260.

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When: 7.30pm on Thursday 19 October 2017
Where: The Castle Hotel, 66 Oldham Street, Manchester M4 1LE

PLEASE NOTE: This tour has been cancelled. Refunds are available from the point of purchase.

We’re delighted to be working with Frankie Rose – on her first Manchester show since 2012.

After spending years as a major presence in Brooklyn’s thriving music scene, Frankie Rose relocated to her familial home of Los Angeles for 18 months with the intention of establishing yet another moment in her storied indie rock métier. Gradually, she found herself short on sleep, funds and optimism. ‘I moved to LA, drama ensued and I ended up on a catering truck. I was like, how can this be my life after being a touring musician and living off of music. I had really lost my way and I thought I was totally done.’

Through sleepless nights of listening to broadcaster Art Bell’s paranormal-themed archives, Frankie’s thoughts had turned to ‘who am I, I’m not cut out for this business, it’s not for me’. She continues, ‘I was literally in my room in L.A., not knowing how I was going to get out. But out of it all, I just decided to keep making music, because it is what I love and what I do – regardless of the outcome.’

Towards the end of her time spent in Los Angeles, Frankie reached out to Jorge Elbrecht (Tamaryn, Gang Gang Dance, Violens) and began sketching what became the basic outline of what felt like a new album. Then, rather fortuitously, Frankie ended up back in Brooklyn with the realisation that ‘in the end, I’m on my own. I have to do these things on my own’.

The months that ensued meant basically working with no budget and finding ways to record in-between days. This time enabled Frankie to experiment musically with a variety of people that ultimately changed the way she worked. ‘I got a lot of input from people like Dave Harrington (Darkside), who was helpful reconstructing the songs, adding dynamics and changing up the rhythms.’

The result of this existential odyssey is Cage Tropical, Frankie’s fourth album. It is awash with vintage synths, painterly effects pedals, upside down atmosphere and reverberating vocals. It evokes a new wave paranormality of sorts that drifts beyond the songs themselves. ‘My references aren’t just music,’ says Frankie, ‘I love old sci-fi. They Live is one of my favourite movies ever, same with Suspiria. 80s sci-fi movies with a John Carpenter soundtrack, with silly synths – that makes it into my file, to the point that I’ll write lyrics incorporating that kind of stuff. It’s in there.’

Beginning with the shimmery, cinematic and percussive sparkling of the album’s opening track Love in Rockets, the song’s refrain of ‘a wheel, a wheel of wasting my life: a wheel, a wheel of wasting my time’ immediately alludes to those darker circumstances that led to the creative origins of Cage Tropical.’It’s all essentially based on what happened to me in Los Angeles and then a return to Brooklyn,’ says Frankie. ‘Misery turned into something good. The whole record to me is a redemption record and it is the most positive one I’ve made’

‘I feel like I am finally free from worrying about an outcome. I don’t care. I already lost everything. I already had the worst-case scenario. When that happens, you do become free. In the end, it’s about me rescuing myself via having this record.’

Tour support comes from Amsterdam’s Dakota. With EP Leda and debut single Icon, which saw critical acclaim came from the likes of Noisey, The Line of Best Fit and Nylon among others, Dakota managed to take the first steps in their own dreams and goals, playing the world their music. Dakota seamlessly blend California feels with garage rock and dream pop; and their music has remarkable skill in lulling the listener to close their eyes and drift away to the dreamy and hazy music – just before they take a swing and whack you right around the ears with raving guitar riffs and pounding rhythms!

PLEASE NOTE: This tour has been cancelled. Refunds are available from the point of purchase.

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When: 7.30pm on Tuesday 24 October 2017
Where: The Eagle Inn, 19 Collier Street, Salford, M3 7DW

We’re delighted to be working with The Weather Station again!

The Weather Station, Toronto’s Tamara Lindeman, will release her self-titled and fourth album on 6 October via Paradise of Bachelors, and will tour Europe this autumn. She also presents the album’s lead single, Thirty, ‘a song about joy at the precipice of despair’.

The Weather Station has been acclaimed for her ‘measured, perceptive storytelling… an unmistakable and communicative voice, able to convey hope and hurt with equal clarity’ (Pitchfork). With The Weather Station, Lindeman reinvents her songcraft with a vital new energy, framing her prose-poem narratives in bolder musical settings. It’s an emotionally candid statement – a work of urgency, generosity and joy – that feels like a collection of obliquely gut-punching short stories.

‘I wanted to make a rock and roll record,’ Lindeman explains, ‘but one that sounded how I wanted it to sound, which of course is nothing like rock and roll.’ The result declares its understated feminist politics and new sonic directions from its first moments. There are big, buzzing guitars, thrusting drums, horror-movie strings and her keening, Appalachian-tinged vocal melodies. Reaching towards a sort of accelerated talking blues, she sings with a new rapid-fire vocal style.

After two records made in close collaboration with other musicians, including Loyalty, which FADER called ‘the best folk album of the year’, Lindeman self- produced for the first time since her debut. The band comprised touring bassist Ben Whiteley, drummer Don Kerr, and guests, including Ryan Driver (Jennifer Castle), Ben Boye (Ty Segall, Ryley Walker) and Will Kidman (The Constantines). But the heaviest thumbprint on the record belongs to Lindeman; she wrote the dense, often dissonant string arrangements and played most of the wending, tumbling guitar lines.

‘Plain but elegant, simple but intricate… Her songs feel very much like attempts to understand and appreciate the world in spite of its bitter ills; like the most basic forms of folk music, a term Lindeman readily embraces, they come with intent and aim’ – Pitchfork

Tour support comes from Will Stratton. Bella Union is thrilled to release Will Stratton’s album Rosewood Almanac, the American’s debut for the label, this May. It’s a work of fragile magic, a hypnotic combination of beautifully breathy voice and exquisite lyrical imagery, gorgeous melodies and similarly soft-spun instrumentation, centred on his thrumming acoustic guitar and the verdant presence of velvet strings.

This show is a co-promotion with Now Wave.

Buy tickets now. Tickets are available from Piccadilly Records, Vinyl Exchange, WeGotTickets.comTicketline.co.uk and on 0871 220 0260.

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When: 7pm on Wednesday 25 October 2017
Where: The Deaf Institute, 135 Grosvenor Street, Manchester M1 7HE

We’re delighted to be working with The Breath for the first time – plus guests Matthew Whitaker!

The Breath is Stuart McCallum (ex-guitarist of The Cinematic Orchestra), Irish singer Rioghnach Connolly and McCallum’s fellow Cinematic alumnus pianist John Ellis, along with drummer Elliot Bennett.

Born out of Manchester’s fertile music scene they mix Irish folk influences with mesmerising guitar riffs, anthemic themes and powerful hooks. Connolly’s soulful vocals are interwoven into the electronic fabric of McCallum’s distinctive sound-world. In turns hypnotic, lush, powerfully raw and raucously punchy, their songs entrance, uplift and break your heart as The Breath conjure a kaleidoscope of sound that perfectly frames Connolly’s raw songs and soul cleansing vocals.

Drawing on the influences of traditional Irish folk song, Connolly’s original lyrics pour forth from her own life in a torrent of meaning. She sings songs of birth and death, woman’s rights, first love, the call of motherhood, the death of men at sea and post-colonial wrongs. All delivered with compelling emotional honesty and a raw urgency as McCallum, Ellis and Bennett delve deeply into the spaces between rock, ambient, folk and jazz to deliver a powerfully hypnotic accompaniment that moves from chilled soundscapes to rocking anthems.

Recorded in Manchester and at Real World Studios and mixed by sound guru Tchad Blake, The Breath’s debut album Carry Your Kin was released on Peter Gabriel’s Real World Records in April 2016.

‘Contemporary folk meets Bat for Lashes’ – Jazzwise

‘An affecting blend… McCallum provides the grandeur and artifice and Connolly the intimacy and purity’ – Uncut

Support comes from Matthew Whitaker. The Man With the Anvil Hat is the debut solo album from singer-songwriter Matthew Whitaker. Matthew has been a prominent member of the Manchester music scene for over a decade – fronting hugely popular bands Whiskycats, Gypsies of Bohemia and, most recently, Henge. While these bands have been about partying, The Man With the Anvil Hat is more the soundtrack to the morning after – dreamy, haunting, wistful and epic.Matthew was a prodigiously talented, virtuoso classical guitarist as a child, although he left that style of playing behind when he discovered song writing as a 16-year-old. The Man With the Anvil Hat sees him return to those classical guitar roots – with inspiration coming from composers such as Leo Brouwer, Enrique Granados and Heitor Villa-Lobos. Other influences on the album include the movie scores of Ennio Morricone, the early 1970s folk/jazz music of Nick Drake and the soft, nuanced vocal ballads of Chet Baker.

This is a 14+ show. Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult.

Buy tickets now. Tickets are available from Piccadilly Records, Vinyl Exchange,  WeGotTickets.comTicketline.co.uk and on 0871 220 0260.

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When: 7pm on Friday 27 October 2017
Where: Gorilla, 54-56 Whitworth Street West, Manchester M1 5WW

We’re delighted to be bringing The Lovely Eggs back to Gorilla – with guests Seazoo and Mr Ben!

Following the release of their critically acclaimed album This is Our Nowhere last year and their sold-out tour last year, champions of the UK underground scene The Lovely Eggs return to Manchester in October for their biggest headline show to date.

This Is Our Nowhere garnered a 8/10 review in NME and much support from BBC 6 Music, including two sessions for Marc Riley in 2015 alone, who made their most recent single Goofin Around (in Lancashire) one of his top tracks for 2015. The 7-inch was released on limited edition and mega-collectible ‘fried-egg vinyl’ on their own label Egg Records. The song joins the oddball punk rock pair (Holly Ross and David Blackwell) on their screeching, psych-soaked quest to find a house party through the streets of their home town of Lancaster. The single is accompanied by artwork and a video by cult underground artist and baboon keeper Casey Raymond.

The Lovely Eggs continue to cement their reputation as one of the most exciting, innovative and genuine bands of the Great British underground scene and have been selling out venues across the country without the help of management, booking agent or record label support.

With songs firmly set in the hum drum of everyday life, The Lovely Eggs turn normality on its head, squeezing it through their peculiar surreal mincing machine and blending it with fuzzed out guitar and crashing drums. For Holly and David being in a band is a way of life. And they approach it in a unique way laughing in the face of life’s absurdities. They are a rallying point for anyone that sees life for what it is. A mess. A wonderful, car crash of experiences, greeting each new chance with a cheeky grin, a sneer and a big fuck you to the pricks.

Main support comes from Seazoo, an act that started out as nothing more than a bedroom-recording project in 2013. Surprising momentum built, however, as their Grandaddy/Yo La Tengo/SFA-inspired recordings began to gain support from the BBC. Huw Stephens, Lauren Laverne, Steve Lamacq, Mark Radcliffe have all played previous tunes from the Ken, Car Deborah and JUMBO EPs. Rather excellently, Marc Riley invited them to perform a live session for his 6 Music show. They accepted, ferociously.

Opening the show is Mr Ben – a ham-fisted Lancashire lad who plays melodic folk-pop.

This is a 14+ show. Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult.

Buy tickets now. Tickets are available from Piccadilly Records, Vinyl Exchange, WeGotTickets.comTicketline.co.uk and on 0871 220 0260.

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When: 7.30pm on Saturday 28 October 2017
Where: Gullivers, 109 Oldham Street, Manchester, M4 1LW

PLEASE NOTE: Due to unforeseen circumstances, The Proper Ornaments are unable to play this show. We are working on a new show in 2018, with details to follow soon. In the meantime, refunds are available from the point of purchase.

We’re delighted to be bringing The Proper Ornaments to Gullivers!

The Proper Ornaments formed in London around songwriters James Hoare (Veronica Falls/ Ultimate Painting) and Max Oscarnold (TOY).

The pair met at a women’s clothing store in Nothing Hill, where Max’s girlfriend was trying to steal boots. The two bonded over a mutual love of The Velvet Underground and later released their first single, Recalling, in 2010 through San Francisco label Make a Mess. They followed it up with an eponymous five-song EP for No Pain in Pop in 2011 and in 2013, a single (Waiting for the Summer) for Lo Recordings, which then released all their output to date on a collection (also titled Waiting for the Summer) later that year.

After signing up with Fortuna Pop in the UK and Slumberland in the US, and revamping the line-up with the addition of drummer Robert Syme and Daniel Nellis on bass, the group toured with Metronomy, TOY, The Horrors, Crystal Stilts and Woods, and returned with their debut album, Wooden Head, in the summer of 2014.

Last year saw them working on their second long player, Foxhole, released in January 2017. Pitchfork described it as featuring ‘a warm blanket of analog guitar and woolly harmony’. The band’s sound gathers elements of classic UK indie pop with shimmering jangling guitars that blend with rich harmonies reminiscent of the west coast 1960s groups, and in their live shows they take these sounds to a more motorik and heavier realms.

PLEASE NOTE: Due to unforeseen circumstances, The Proper Ornaments are unable to play this show. We are working on a new show in 2018, with details to follow soon. In the meantime, refunds are available from the point of purchase.

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When: 7.30pm on Sunday 29 October 2017
Where: Soup Kitchen, 31-33 Spear Street, Manchester M1 1DF

We’re delighted to be helping Robbie Cavanagh launch his new album, To Leave / To Be Left.

Robbie Cavanagh returns with his stunning second album To Leave / To Be Left, out 13 October via At The Helm Records.

Recorded at Eve Studios near Manchester, To Leave / To Be Left finds Cavanagh (sounds like ‘Copa Cabana’) building upon his debut with 11 new tracks exploring, ‘leaving and being left. What’s taken away and what’s left behind’.

Eve Studios is an old vicarage full of old BBC equipment and collected antiques, giving the album a really natural, old sound without feeling forced. Robbie, producer Roo Walker and Engineer Henry Broadhead worked closely together, deciding on each sound, each instrument, each tone. Keen to make the album sound as natural as possible, drums, bass and at times guitar and vocal were all recorded live. ‘Most of my vocals were one take. I think the whole record just has a very live feel to it. It’s more instinctive.’

Cavanagh continues, ‘This collection of songs has been accumulated over a few years. Some are much more recent, some were written just after the first record. We started with about 25 songs, and in quite a natural way, the more I played them, to myself, other people or at concerts, the more they started a natural selection process and soon it was clear which songs were the strongest and which fitted in a frame work. It was important having Roo involved, because it’s easy to get precious about certain songs that may not be the strongest but have an emotional tie. Roo was able to make sensible decisions on the song choices and together we put together a record that has a theme, a style and a mood that we’re really happy with.’

The personal, emotional tales and stories on To Leave / To Be Left find Cavanagh further understanding his approach to songwriting, ‘Sometimes writing is a very natural process. I tend to find in a lot of situations, the first thing you wrote was the best. The more you wrestle with an idea and try to change it, the more contrived it becomes. I’ve learned to go with my instincts a little more.’

Based on the quality of these 11 songs we are confident that trusting those instincts has led to an outstanding album.

Support comes from James Carson. British singer-songwriter James M Carson has been carefully crafting his songs since 2006. Not unlike music from the hills of 70s Laurel Canyon, Carson’s songs evoke shadows of simpler times when the quest for melody was king. James has been influenced by the melodic melancholy and intimate lyricism of singer songwriters like Elliott Smith and Jeff Buckley but equally entranced by the power pop hooks of bands such as Big Star and Teenage Fanclub, as well as their grunge admirers, Nirvana.

Completing this triple-bill is Demi Marriner. Singer-songwriter Demi Marriner landed the Number 1 spot on the iTunes UK Country Albums Chart with the release of her debut EP Tracks and Trails, followed closely with her second EP Dandelion hitting Number 2. Following recognition across the BBC for her honest and emotive lyrics, Demi has gone on to support artists such as Rufus Wainwright, Jon Gomm and Tia McGraff, as well as main stage slots at Wychood Festival, Cheltenham Jazz Festival and 2000 Trees.

Buy tickets now. Tickets are available from the bar (no booking fee), Piccadilly Records, Vinyl Exchange, WeGotTickets.comTicketline.co.uk and on 0871 220 0260.

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When: 7.30pm on Sunday 29 October 2017
Where: The Castle Hotel, 66 Oldham Street, Manchester M4 1LE

We’re delighted to be working with Canada’s BA Johnston for the first time!

BA Johnston is a Canadian songwriter and self-described ‘failed showman on the skids’ who has been touring relentlessly back and forth across Canada in his mum’s minivan for over a decade.

Along the way, his incomparable performances have become the stuff of legend, garnering him a rabid cult following of devoted and only moderately deranged fans, who come back time and again to revel in the sweat and beer-soaked, simultaneously self-abusive and joyous insanity of a BA Johnston show.

BA Johnston’s 11 studio albums are a journey through the mind of a man who has an uncanny ability to pick apart the minutiae of the daily life of the insecure everyperson and put them on proud display in both satire and sincere celebration. He is the blue-collar loser-hero troubadour the world needs now.

BA Johnston’s new album Gremlins 3 is out now on Wyatt Records. It trades territory with songs about cheap beer, drinking beer in an alley, and drinking so much beer that you are worried you will fall out of a canoe and drown. In an effort to branch out and tackle the serious issues of today, there is also a song about being high at work in a Foodland. The album title came from BA’s desire to be sued by someone famous.

Gremlins 3 was produced by Mathias Kom (of The Burning Hell) and the album differs from the other stink burgers in BA’s catalogue as every single song features actual instruments played by actual musicians, and not just the talentless BA Johnston.

This could very well be BA’s swan song. Honestly, it’s 50/50. As minimum wage has now crossed the $10 mark, BA could quit this crap and start making tens of dollars doing something with dignity. Make work at a Giant Tiger or something. For the time being, BA can still be found at some crappy bar near you playing for a nominal cover charge, which people pay even though ‘they only want to come in and have some wings’.

‘Jokes spring eternal from the well of BA Johnston, a comic Stompin’ Tom for our times, all while speaking to the wandering experience of the modern everyperson. His songs offer just as much depth as a more stoic-minded band, but with added n’yucks galore’ – Vue Weekly

Buy tickets now. Tickets are available from the bar (no booking fee), Piccadilly Records, Vinyl Exchange, WeGotTickets.comTicketline.co.uk and on 0871 220 0260.

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All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.
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When: 7.30pm on Tuesday 31 October 2017
Where: Gullivers, 109 Oldham Street, Manchester, M4 1LW

We’re delighted to be working with Wesley Gonzalez for the first time!

Wesley Gonzalez has announced details of his debut solo record Excellent Musician, which will be released 30 June 2017 on Moshi Moshi Records. To coincide, Gonzalez has shared new track Exhibition Song; an ode to the lethargy and laziness felt during the beginnings of a romantic relationship. With a close melodic harmony and an anguished vocal arrangement, which evokes early Todd Rundgren, the song melds delicate lyricism with punchy ferocity.

Taking influence from the foot stomping soul of early Stax records, Yellow Magic Orchestra’s warbling synthesisers and classic English pop songwriting akin to XTC, the album’s latest offering Exhibition Song is both indulgent and soulful. It details days derailed, stalled by trivialities and an overriding urgency to stay home with the person you love – ‘a hand that’s held with no thought at all, it takes so long just to get one’. Exhibition Song’s decisive and inventive arrangement is a testament to Gonzalez’s skills as a songwriter.

Exhibition Song follows the rousing AA side Come Through and See Me / I Spoke to Euan, released last year during a summer, which also saw Gonzalez perform a series of animated and theatrical live shows, including sets at Glastonbury, Green Man, The Great Escape, Visions, Port Eliot and Festival No.6.

Gonzalez made a name for himself at an early age as the petulant frontman and creative force behind guitar-shredding pop-punk band Let’s Wrestle. The band, formed in 2005 when Gonzalez was only 15, was lauded for their no-fi DIY sound. In 2015, after ten years and three records together, culminating in a chaotic sold-out final show at The 100 Club, the group disbanded and Gonzalez set his sights on an entirely different approach to songwriting: ‘I wanted to completely indulge myself with the experimentation that I had previously kept to my bedroom demos’.

Without letting go of his fascination with ‘Beatlesesque’ melodies, Gonzalez taught himself piano by learning to play Stevie Wonder and Al Green songs, ‘which all have chord structures I’d not paid much attention to previously. There’s also a lot of emphasis on the bass notes and rhythm of the bass’. He began writing songs harking back to mid 1970s singer-songwriters such as Emmitt Rhodes, while maintaining those elements of soul and funk via Sly And The Family Stone and Donny Hathaway. A summer revisiting early electronic music (White Noise, Mort Garson) encouraged Gonzalez to invest in analogue Korg synthesisers, on which he wrote Excellent Musician. Although he made a conscious retreat from punk music, Gonzalez maintains his work is ‘still defined as angry music; anger is still an energy’ but contends that ‘whilst I’m proud of what I did with Let’s Wrestle, I hate bands that regurgitate the same sound over various LPs – I knew something had to change for me to want to try music again’.

For the unplanned and partly improvised recording sessions, which took place in four days spread out over a few months, Joe Chilton and Euan Hinshelwood (Younghusband) played driving rhythmic bass and saxophone respectively. They were joined in the Lightship45 studio by drummer extraordinaire Bobby Voltaire (Proper Ornaments, Charles Howl) and, with the help of co-producer Rory Atwell, the songs began to advance into a distinctively modern sound. ‘I found a new way of working in the “First Thought, Best Thought” manner,’ says Gonzalez, ‘I purposefully didn’t allow any of the musicians playing on the record to hear much of the songs prior to the recording sessions, and instead asked them to just turn up on the day, forcing creativity to meet financial deadlines. I was terrified of starting another band, of rehearsing, and of allowing myself to fall back on what I was used to.’

Local support comes from Wedding, the project of songwriter Thomas Craig. The band return, following the move from their birthplace of Berlin to the city of Manchester, with debut LP Mania Whatever on Stockholm label Maternal Voice. Maternal Voice is the follow-up to 2015’s debut EP – acclaimed by Dummy, HERO, La Blogotheque and The Line of Best Fit.

Buy tickets now. Tickets are available from the bar (no booking fee), Piccadilly Records, Vinyl Exchange, WeGotTickets.comTicketline.co.uk and on 0871 220 0260.

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All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.
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