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: Vetiver... La Luz... Francis Lung... John Francis Flynn... Jenny Hval... Ben Caplan... Advance Base + Karima Walker... Jeffrey Martin & Anna Tivel... Xenia Rubinos... Lael Neale... Will Samson... The Handsome Family... Rory Butler... Dana Gavanski... Charles Watson... Penguin Cafe... Curtis Eller... Ólafur Arnalds... Poppy Ackroyd... Pet Deaths... Polly Paulusma... The Dears... The Sheepdogs... The Burning Hell... Freya Beer... Angel Olsen... The Unthanks... Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra... Grandbrothers... John Craigie... Dustin O’Halloran... Plastic Mermaids... Dan Mangan... Josh Rouse... Julie Odell... Heartless Bastards... Alice Boman... Skinny Lister... Jesca Hoop... Stars... Rachel Baiman...

When: 7.30pm on Friday 8 July 2022
Where: Gullivers, 109 Oldham Street, Manchester M4 1LW 

We’re pleased to be bringing Vetiver back to Manchester.

Andy Cabic’s musical being is, like many curious 21st Century musicians, shaped and sustained by divergent tangents. If he’s not crafting a melancholy folk-rock diamond in his Northern California studio, he’s moving a dance floor with bossa nova and house DJ sets, or helping curate a compilation of Japanese City Pop.

What’s magic about the latest Vetiver LP, Up On High, is the way these tangents colour the ten songs without undermining a distinct move to more elemental, spacious and natural arrangements. At the heart of each of these ten songs is Cabic’s voice: sweet, tender and weathered – a welcome and soothing old friend if ever there was one. There are other familiar friends: the album also features long-time engineer and collaborator Thom Monahan and the same resourceful and versatile band that helped Cabic make the more dense and layered Complete Strangers from 2015.

Up On High was written on acoustic guitar. Having moved twice since Complete Strangers, increasingly accustomed to a life in and out of boxes, it was the easiest instrument to reach for in moments of inspiration. The basic tracking of the album took place over a few Spring days at a friend’s house in the high desert of California. This simple set-up captured the organic immediacy of a roomful of friends playing together on the floor. It’s alive and ever so subtly crackling with the intensity of a band working together, teasing out the melody and rhythms of songs with warmth and intimacy. Cabic and Monahan took the fruits of this session to Los Angeles and finished the album at Monahan’s studio over the summer as other friends popped by to lend their talents.

This album reflects the world that Cabic created and lives in: Jorge Ben phrasings peek out from behind Tom Petty’s Wildflowers outtakes, a gentle jangle lifts whispers of REM’s Murmur on a breeze up from Compass Point Studios. But Up On High is most clearly Cabic and his band inhabiting the realm the band was born in – sleek, economical, soulful, and sometimes sadness-tinged melodies riding on the gentle choogle and sway of an ensemble moving in beautiful unison. This is an album that breathes with you in real, lived in, natural time.

Tour support comes from Alexia Avina. I Am Opening is the immersive new track from New York-based American dreampop singer-songwriter Alexia Avina – a nearly nine-minute experimental drone song about ‘opening up to a new kind of love,’ says Alexia, ‘allowing a new layer of vulnerability to peel back for the first time’.

I Am Opening is the third track to be shared from her new album A Little Older, which was released by Lost Map in April 2022 on limited edition CD and digital platforms. It follows the release of the singles Human and How Can I Learn, and before that in 2020, Alexia’s debut album for Lost Map, the intoxicating Unearth, which received support from Paste, GoldFlakePaint and Clash among others.

Book tickets now. Tickets are also available from Dice.fmTicketline.co.ukWegottickets.com and on 0871 220 0260.

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All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.
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When: 7.30pm on Wednesday 13 July 2022
Where: The Deaf Institute, 135 Grosvenor Street, Manchester M1 7HE

PLEASE NOTE: Sadly this show is cancelled – with refunds available from the point of purchase. Here’s a message from the band:

‘Wish we didn’t have to type this. We are absolutely heartbroken to announce that we have to cancel our entire UK & Ireland tour because of positive covid tests in our band. We’re so sorry to share this news with our fans, and we hope we will be able to return to see you soon.’

We’re delighted to welcome La Luz back to Manchester – with special guest Nile Marr!

On their self-titled fourth album, La Luz launch themselves into a new realm of emotional intimacy for a collection of songs steeped in the mysteries of the natural world and the magic of human chemistry that has found manifestation in the musical ESP between guitarist and songwriter Shana Cleveland, bassist Lena Simon, and keyboardist Alice Sandahl.

To help shape La Luz, the band found a kindred spirit in producer Adrian Younge. Though primarily known for his work with hip-hop, soul, and jazz acts, Younge saw in La Luz a shared vision that transcended genre. ‘We both create music with the same attitude, and that’s what I love about them,’ he says. ‘They are never afraid to be risky and their style is captivating. It was an honour to work with them.’

The result is an album that is both the most naturalistic and psychedelic of the band’s career. All the elements of classic La Luz are still present – the lush harmonies, the impeccable musicianship, the gorgeous melodies – but it’s a richer, earthier iteration, replete with inorganic sounds that mimic the surreality of nature – the humming of invisible bugs, the atmospheric sizzle of a hot day. After spending the last few years living in rural northern California, Cleveland’s lyrics have become more grounded, less interested in traveling to other dimensions than in peeking behind the curtain of this one.

La Luz shimmers into existence with a tender strumming of electric guitar on the ghostly In the Country. The record then charges ahead with the dynamic The Pines, propelled by Simon’s thunderous bassline and punctuated by eerie vibrating keys while Cleveland’s voice hovers high and sweet overhead – no reverb, no fooling. Sandahl leads the way with a soulful Hammond organ on the dreamy, funky Watching Cartoons, while the women’s voices weave in and around each other, coming together in a cascade of ‘ba ba ba bas’ in the chorus. Later, the band cranks up the atmospherics on madcap stomper Metal Man with a frenzy of ultra-fuzzed out guitar, blaring galactic synths, and epic clanging bells. The record’s themes coalesce on breezy 70s folk-tinged pop song I Won’t Hesitate, an ode to finding intimacy in a weird world, and the languid ballad Lazy Eyes and Dune, which features lovely Mellotron work from Simon. La Luz is an album that celebrates love – of music, of friendship, of life in all its forms.

Special guest is Nile Marr. Nile Marr is the son of Smiths guitarist and solo artist Johnny Marr. He was named for one of his father’s musical heroes, Chic’s Nile Rodgers. Nile started out in the early stages of his craft as a solo artist, then forming a duo and touring with American singer-songwriter Meredith Sheldon. He later went on to found the British indie three-piece Man Made. Though their constituent songs were written over a period of six years, they released their debut album TV Broke My Brain in 2016, alongside a formidable live reputation born out of a relentless DIY touring circuit. The album and shows developed a cult following among early fans.

In 2019 Marr created his own label, Oldham Street Records, and released his debut solo album in 2020, titled Are You Happy Now? after returning to his hometown Manchester. The album received acclaim from fans of the UK DIY indie scene and showcased Marr’s growth as an artist and guitar player. He has toured and worked extensively with German film score composer and record producer Hans Zimmer, most notably performing alongside Pharell Williams and on the Lion King soundtrack. His influences include Broken Social Scene, Fugazi and Elliott Smith.

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

This show is a co-promotion with Comfortable On A Tightrope.

Buy tickets now. Tickets are also available from Dice.fmWeGotTickets.comTicketline.co.uk and on 0871 220 0260.

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All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.
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When: 8pm on Saturday 23 July 2022
Where: Low Four Studio, Deansgate Mews, Great Northern, Manchester M3 4EN

PLEASE NOTE: This show is postponed and now takes place in July 2022. All other details are the same and original tickets remain valid.

We’re delighted to be presenting an intimate show with Francis Lung at Low Four!

Francis Lung is a singer/songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist from Manchester. He began writing and stockpiling music after the demise of his former band WU LYF in 2012. The unique brand of power pop featured on his recorded output spans genres as diverse as disco, soft rock and alt-country whilst gliding seamlessly between them.

Latest album Miracle was released in June 2021 on Memphis Industries. Despite its serious subject matter, Miracle is far from austere in sound, marrying the cinematic, dreamlike quality of Francis’ earlier music with the pared-back charm of great singer-songwriters like Judee Sill, Jeff Tweedy and Elliott Smith.

This show – part of Independent Venue Week 2022 – takes place at Low Four Studio, the recording studio and venue on Deansgate Mews in the Great Northern. Francis Lung made his video for The Let Down there.

Main support comes from is Ben Gregory. Ben Gregory is the lead singer and songwriter of Blaenavon, the acclaimed group. Showcasing his own material, this is a rare chance to see him perform a solo show.

Opening the show is Emily Mercer. Emily Mercer is a singer-songwriter based in Manchester. With deep vocals, rich chords and punchy hooks her piano-driven songs fuse her jazz, indie and folk influences. Mercer’s songs create drama through soaring melodies, striking harmony and sharp lyricism. Her work has attracted comparisons to artists such as Fiona Apple, Kate Bush, Joan Armatrading and Weyes Blood, as well as to jazz singers of the past. Her soul-searching lyrics explore self-growth, mental health and what it means to be an artist and a woman today.

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

Buy tickets now. Tickets are available from Dice.fm, 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 Friday 12 August 2022
Where: Gullivers, 109 Oldham Street, Manchester, M4 1LW

We’re excited to be welcoming John Francis Flynn back to Manchester!

John Francis Flynn is a singer and multi-instrumentalist whose work centres around traditional and folk material from Ireland. He is a founding member of the band, Skipper’s Alley, with whom he has toured extensively throughout Europe and America.

While supporting Lankum on their 2019 UK tour he caught the eye of Geoff Travis and Jeanette Lee who quickly signed John to Rough Trade imprint label River Lea.

River Lea released John’s debut album I Would Not Live Always in Spring 2021. Produced by highly regarded producer Brendan Jenkinson, this release looks to continue where River Lea last left off; highlighting the enormous talent hidden away in the corners of Ireland’s folk scene.

‘Human experience burns ferociously on this extraordinary debut from the uncompromising Irish artist John Francis Flynn. An extraordinary debut’ – The Guardian

‘Double Tin Whistle and Tape-Loops. Revelatory new takes on English and Irish folk songs in the manner of Sam Amidon. A singular and striking clarity of vision’ – Uncut Magazine

Buy tickets now. Tickets are also available from Dice.fmWeGotTickets.comTicketline.co.uk and on 0871 220 0260.

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All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.
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When: 7pm on Friday 19 August 2022
Where: Band on the Wall, 26 Swan Street, Manchester M4 5JZ

We’re pleased to be bringing Jenny Hval back to Manchester!

Norwegian musician and novelist Jenny Hval has unveiled a new single/video, Freedom, from her forthcoming album, Classic Objects.

Classic Objects is Hval’s version of a pop album. While there are interchangeable moments of complexity in each song, there’s a feeling of elevation and clarity in the song’s choruses. This is evident with new single Freedom, which unfurls with a resonating melody as Hval’s honeyed voice presciently sings: ‘Out there is the world / where you’re threatening the lives / of fragile individuals when you stir in the mud. / Look to the birds, / to the crowds that have dispersed / in the wounded air that we call freedom.’

‘This is the only way I can describe Freedom – as a kind of performative moment that breaks up the structure, language and ambivalence of the rest of the record,’ says Hval. ‘On its own, it seems weirdly clear and pure. I can’t really defend it. Or perhaps it is myself I can’t defend. The song is necessary. It just reminds me of the fact that I am not.’

The song’s accompanying  video is another collaboration from the trio of HvalAnnie Bielski, and Jenny Berger Mhyre following their work together on the ambitious Year of Love video.

‘In 2020, like everyone else, I was just a private person,’ says Hval. ‘No artists were allowed to perform. I was reduced to ‘just me’. As a result, Hval questioned what ‘just me’ could mean. As an exercise, Hval wrote straight-forward stories about life, investigating the stripped-down just me concept.’

When Hval started writing stories that eventually became this record, the pandemic hit and she remembered specific times in her life that felt completely stripped of value; like when a celiac diagnosis halted the start of her music career. Hval elaborates: ‘This made me want to write simple stories. My problem was that I found that the music component in the writing process made the words stray from their path and even jump into the absurd. I think it is just bound to happen when there is music involved. After all, a song isn’t just words, it has a melody, and the reason we have melodies is to step into the dark and jump off cliffs.’

The resulting Classic Objects is a map of places; past places, like the old empty Melbourne pubs Hval’s band used to play in, public places Hval missed throughout lockdown, imagined, future places, and impossible places where dreams, hallucinations, death and art can take you. It is interested in combining heavenly things and plain things.

This is a 10+ show. Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult. This show is a co-promotion with Grey Lantern.

Buy tickets now. Tickets are also available from Dice.fmWeGotTickets.comTicketline.co.uk and on 0871 220 0260.

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All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.
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When: 7pm on Saturday 20 August 2022
Where: YES (Basement), 38 Charles Street, Manchester M1 7DB

We’re delighted to be working with Ben Caplan again!

Sometimes it takes a global pandemic to slow down and focus on the fundamentals. When Ben Caplan lost the opportunity to tour and create with the regular cadre of musicians that he typically works with, he went into a tiny studio and made an achingly beautiful solo album.

Caplan is now back in the UK touring a solo show full of contrasts and surprises.

He’s bringing along support act Terra Spencer to share sneak peeks from their upcoming collaborative album too!

Buy tickets now. Tickets are also available from Wegottickets.comDice.fmTicketline.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 Sunday 28 August 2022
Where: Gullivers, 109 Oldham Street, Manchester, M4 1LW

PLEASE NOTE: This show has been postponed until August. All other details stay the same and original tickets remaining valid. Here’s a note from the artists:

‘Advance Base & Karima Walker are postponing international travel for the sake of their health & yours. They ask for your understanding & look forward to playing for you in August.’

We’re excited to be welcoming Advance Base back – alongside the UK debut of label mate Karima Walker!

Orindal Records recording artists Advance Base (Chicago, IL) and Karima Walker (Tucson, AZ) are bringing their electronic, cosmic Americana to the UK, performing intimate and immersive back-to-back solo sets featuring gentle synthesizers, sleepy drum loops, ambient field recordings, psychedelic visuals and folk-style vocals.

Advance Base is the melancholic synth pop project of Chicago, IL singer/songwriter Owen Ashworth (formerly of Casiotone for the Painfully Alone). Using a two-handed arsenal of electric piano, Omnichord, samplers, effect pedals and drum machines, Ashworth builds minimalist, heavy-hearted and nostalgia-obsessed ballads around his conversational baritone. The warm, electronic sound of Advance Base has been described as ‘lo-fi’, ‘depressed’ and ‘weirdly uplifting’.

Animal Companionship, the third and most recent ‘studio’ album by Advance Base, was released September 21, 2018 by Run For Cover Records / Orindal Records. GoldFlakePaint and Various Small Flames both listed Animal Companionship among their favourite albums of 2018. Since then, Advance Base has released Wall of Tears & Other-Songs I Didn’t Write, a home-recorded collection of (mostly) country/Americana covers arranged for electronic instruments, and Live at Home, a collection of mid-quarantine livestream concert performances and the closest representation of an Advance Base live set commercially available.

‘A Raymond Carver short story collection set to music by a Joan of Arc-era OMD‘ – MOJO

Tucson, Arizona interdisciplinary artist Karima Walker walks a line between two worlds. Aside from her long resume of collaborative work with artists in the diverse fields of dance, sculpture, film, photography and creative non-fiction, Walker has long nurtured a duality within her work as a musician, developing her own sonic language as a sound designer in tandem with her craft as a singer/songwriter.

The polarity within Walker’s music has never been so articulately explored, or graced with as much intention, as on her 2021 album, Waking the Dreaming Body, which was featured on ‘best albums of the year’ lists from Gorilla Vs Bear, Goldflakepaint, For the Rabbits, Deepest Currents, Hanif Abdurraqib and more.

‘With her uncanny Americana, Walker’s experimental inclinations have allowed her to explore some previously un-plumbed liminal space on the horizon, somewhere between sand and sky’ – Pitchfork

Buy tickets now. Tickets are also available from Dice.fmWeGotTickets.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 30 August 2022
Where: Gullivers, 109 Oldham Street, Manchester, M4 1LW

We’re delighted to be bringing Jeffrey Martin and Anna Tivel to Gullivers.

Portland, Oregon’s Jeffrey Martin is a minister’s son who can build a house with his bare hands and holds a master’s degree in English. He worked his way through school as a carpenter, then, following graduation, spent four years teaching high school. It was during that time that his career as a songwriter came into bloom. Struggling to strike a balance between his increasingly rigorous Northwest/West Coast touring and his efforts to get teenagers to love words as much as he did, Martin found himself in the tricky position of having to choose between his two passions.

Much to the delight of his fans, music won the day. Now, with three intensely lyric-driven albums under his belt, two of which were released on the Portland indie-label, Fluff & Gravy Records, Martin has developed a loyal and growing audience, both domestically and abroad. Martin is returning a restless touring schedule that’s taken him on several laps around the U.S. and Europe while landing him on stages with luminaries including Joe Pug, Gregory Alan Isakov, Jeffrey Foucault, Sean Hayes, Peter Mulvey, Amanda Shires, Colter Wall, Ruth Moody, Caitlin Canty, and others.

Jeffrey Martin writes music that probes the depths of the human experience and doesn’t shy away from its darkest corners. His songs can feel like short stories from literary giants like Steinbeck, Burroughs, or Cormac McCarthy and possess a raw intensity that comes from seeing his subjects up close. All the struggle, hurt, strife, and heartbreak that comes from living in this world are laid bare and unvarnished, yet somehow, Martin manages to mine and make space for what beauty remains.

Presently, Martin is writing for his fourth full-length album at a deliberative pace and making plans to enter the studio to record later this year. He’s recently signed with Tommy Alexander of Pilot Light Booking who’s built an ambitious touring itinerary throughout the US and this summer, he’ll return to Europe for dates in the U.K., Ireland, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.

Dogs in the Daylight is as close to a masterpiece as a folk album by an emerging singer-songwriter can get.” – No Depression

Oregon based songwriter Anna Tivel’s newest album Outsiders starts with a lens so wide we’ve left the planet to look back from a great distance at the turmoil and beauty of our shared humanity. From there the lens pulls close and unfolds in a gripping collection of stories so often ignored. Tivel’s flawed and honest characters move through a landscape of hurt and loss, of small triumph and big love. In eleven songs full of recognition, veracity, and hope, Tivel’s watchful and empathetic eye details the undeniable ache of living.

Recorded almost entirely live to tape in Rock Island, IL with producer and multi-instrumentalist Shane Leonard and engineer Brian Joseph (Bon Iver, Sufjan Stevens), the album is a truly collaborative exploration. Tivel gathered the same vibrant group of friends from her acclaimed record, ‘The Question,’ which NPR heralded as “one of the most ambitious folk records of 2019.”

While writing the album in 2019-20, Tivel found herself circling back again and again to this idea of otherness. “The deep division and ugly rhetoric being amplified, especially in the US, seeped into everything I wrote. I kept wanting to explore this feeling of being unseen, profoundly lonely and disconnected, how it affects our perception of the world and our place in it,” she says. “‘Outsiders’ is an album about looking more deeply into ourselves and each other, really trying to see and examine the internal and external forces that keep us from connecting in real ways and the forces that draw us together.”

Throughout her work, Tivel has emphasized storytelling and this album is no exception, building on the strength of her ability to observe and reflect with a clear-eyed empathy. Inspired by authors from Steinbeck to Morrison, Didion to Dubus, she imbues her songs with attentive detail and a dreamlike quality that leaves the ordinary feeling both palpable and poetic. “Tivel’s characters are common but unforgettable,” NPR’s Ann Powers writes, “Her images linger, and become populated with the energy of the real.”

‘Outsiders’ will be released by Mamabird Recording Co. on August 19th.

Buy tickets now. Tickets are also available from Dice.fmWeGotTickets.comTicketline.co.uk and on 0871 220 0260.

Attend on: Facebook


All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.
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When: 7.30pm on Wednesday 31 August 2022
Where: YES Basement, 38 Charles Street, Manchester, M1 7DB

We’re excited to be bringing Xenia Rubinos back to Manchester!

The song Una Rosa has been with Xenia Rubinos all her life. As a little girl, it would emanate from a wind-up music lamp in her abuelita’s room, its fibre optic lights lulling her into a trance with swirling colours. Years later, it would resurface on a bootleg CD of classical music from Puerto Rico, sending her rushing to her high school’s band room to try to teach it to herself on the piano. And yet again, in 2019, deep into a creative rut, staring out her apartment window at 4am and waiting for the sun to rise, the melody haunted her. It was at these distinct moments of her life – seemingly when she needed it most – that the song would come to her. Before she made the connection between this melody that had followed her all her life and Abuelita’s wind-up lamp, she started writing from memory, subconsciously seeking spiritual sustenance from her ancestors in a song that was always hers, even before she knew it.

That song – and the lamp that first played it back to her – is the centrepiece of Rubinos’ latest LP, also titled Una Rosa. ‘The image of that lamp carries so much meaning for me,’ she says. ‘It’s dreamy, futuristic, nostalgic, melancholy, over the top. It’s the perfect image for the music I’m making right now.’ That music is somewhat of a departure from her earlier work, in that it’s very much ‘in the box’; rather than striving for pitch-perfect vocal takes and tight live instrumentation, she cut most of her vocals in a single take, writing and recording everything right on the spot and refining them after the fact. It’s the most electronic music she’s ever made, yet also the most spontaneous, the product of her ‘first mind,’ the thoughts on the tip of her tongue.

It was also the most difficult record for her to make.

By November 2019 Xenia had been on the go nonstop since the release of her critically acclaimed 2016 LP Black Terry Cat, touring the world, performing and promoting her record. She wrote the personal superhero anthems Diosa vs Bugeisha, experimenting with a more electronic palette and character building – themes that would ultimately help shape the cinematic narrative qualities of her own novela, Una Rosa. But her hustle hid heartache, and she reached a point where she wasn’t sure she’d be able to continue making music. She consulted a curandero, who diagnosed her with ‘perdida de espiritu’ (‘loss of spirit’). But he also assured her that her days of making music were not over.

And it was the music, as well as her longtime collaborator producer and drummer Marco Buccelli, that helped pull her out of the abyss. At the start of the new year, he dragged her to their new studio and patiently supported her as she re-learned how to make music, and re-built herself as a musician from scratch. It would be months before she felt anything, but as they put together Did My Best, a pulsing electro ballad drenched in vocoder and pathos, she finally turned a corner. The cathartic expulsion of sorrow and regret changed everything for her, and when COVID-19 pandemic reached our shores and the world slowed to a halt, it gave her a chance to catch up. ‘I had no expectations,’ Rubinos explains. ‘There were no parties. There were no shows that I could have been at but I wasn’t there, or I had to see someone that I didn’t want to see…there was none of that. So it’s like all of a sudden everybody was kind of on my level, you know?’

As the music she was making coalesced into something more cinematic, Una Rosa began to take shape: A feature-length opus chronicling a triumph over internal struggle, built around a hymn passed down from the ancestors. The visual story began to take shape even before the music was completed. The videos and cover art were completed even before the album, and served as reference points while producing the music. Each single came with a portrait of a different character; The rage-fuelled, grill-wearing woman and the caged little girl in Who Shot Ya?, the grieving party girl of Did My Best, the fortune-telling futurist jazz singer in Cógelo Suave. The record would have two sides: The RED A side, comprising hot, aggressive, in-your-face fiery drama, and the BLUE B side, with more introspective yet expansive mood. Just like her abuela’s flower lamp, it changes colours through the night hours, accompanying you along the journey.

In the opening sequence, a clock tower’s bell tolls four, opening a portal to a new world, haunted by the hum of a faintly remembered melody, Una Rosa. The tragic Ay Hombre follows, an ode to the dulcet tones of the cortate las venas singers that floated through her abuela’s home. From there, the record expands outward. She developed characters based on old boleros, and reimagined rumbas for the 21st century. Sacude flips a sparse clave intro into a thumping hip-hop beat. And drawing inspiration from a documentary on las cuatros joyas del ballet Cubano, she made her version of Una Rosa – now identified as a José Enrique Pedreira song—into electronic classical composition…with clave. Don’t Put Me in Red, a riff on the front-of-house lighting engineers that always give her ‘latina lighting’, forcefully resists any and everyone who might want to put her in a box. But while she was previously loath to discuss her ethnicity at the expense of discussing her music, Rubinos acknowledges the cultural environment Una Rosa enters is a different one, freeing her to explore it more in her music. ‘I was listening to [the group] Muñequitos de Matanzas, classic rumba from Cuba, and feeling like I wanted to know something about that music,’ she says. ‘I felt something but I didn’t understand it… it’s my exploration into these sounds I grew up hearing and into this aesthetic – in my own way. I’m not claiming to be an expert, but this is how I hear it, you know?’ By the record’s final track, What Is This Voice? its journey of exploration comes full circle, culminating in a vulnerable, stripped-down meditation on her identity and voice.

There’s certainly more Spanish on Una Rosa than any of her previous records, though it’s less something new than a continuation of her musical language. Songs like Working All The Time explore and expound on things that she’s previously touched on, like the crushing yolk of capitalism. Did My Best dwells in the aftermath of sudden loss, longing to see someone you never got to say goodbye to. ‘I remember the moment when I felt I was done singing, it’s like when you cry so hard you forget why you were crying in the first place,’ Rubinos recalls. ‘As we listened back, the hairs on my arms and legs stood straight up, I felt my face getting hot. I suddenly felt that old familiar feeling. At that moment, in the basement during an eerie quarantine night of fireworks and ambulance sirens, I suddenly remembered why I sing.’

While it was born of intense trauma and its lingering effects, Una Rosa is ultimately imbued with more triumph than tragedy. A reminder that death is not always the end. It’s the story of an artist taking the long route to find themselves, reaching backwards in time to reclaim a song that had always been theirs. Are you listening?

This show is a co-promotion with Albert Hall and Do Your Best.

Buy tickets now. Tickets are also available from Dice.fmWeGotTickets.comTicketline.co.uk and on 0871 220 0260.

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All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.
Designed by ikram_zidane

When: 7.30pm on Monday 5 September 2022
Where: Gullivers, 109 Oldham Street, Manchester, M4 1LW

PLEASE NOTE: This show is postponed and now takes place in September 2022. All other details are the same and original tickets remain valid.

We’re excited to be working with Lael Neale for the first time – plus special guest Jana Horn!

It is the simple thing that is so hard to do. This is the paradox that musician Lael Neale has lived within throughout her development as an artist. It is the reason she became enthralled with poetry. Poems are a distillation. Lael says, ‘this challenge to winnow away what is unessential is the most maddening and, ultimately, rewarding part of writing a song’.

Lael’s new album Acquainted with Night is a testament to this poetic devotion. Stripped of any extraneous word or sound, the songs are lit by Lael’s crystalline voice which lays on a lush bed of Omnichord. The collection touches on themes that have been thread into her work for years: isolation, mortality, yearning, and reaching ever toward the transcendent experience.

Lael grew up on a farm in rural Virginia, but for nearly 10 years called Los Angeles home. Those years were spent developing her songwriting and performing in venues across the city, but the right way to record the songs proved more elusive. She worked with countless musicians, producers and collaborators, making entire records and eventually stowing them away. She says, ‘Every time I reached the end of recording, I felt the songs had been stripped of their vitality in the process of layering drums, bass, guitar, violin and organ over them. They felt weighed down.’

Despite endless frustration she never resigned and in a moment of illumination the most obvious solution presented itself: do the simple thing. In early 2019, in the midst of major transition, she acquired a new instrument, the Omnichord, and began recording a deluge of emerging songs with the intention to capture them in their truest form. Guy Blakeslee, who had been an advocate for years, facilitated the process by setting up the cassette recorder in her bedroom and providing empathic guidance, subtle yet affecting accompaniment and engineering prowess. Limited to only four-tracks and first takes, Lael had to surrender some of her perfectionism to deliver the songs in their essence.

The first song she recorded was For No One For Now which calls to mind the agitated beat of driving fast on the freeway against the backdrop of the San Fernando Valley with its bent palms. Lael explains, ‘I’ve always loved these stretches of road where the magic of the city seems hemmed in by the mundane.’ The song contrasts romantic idealisations with the banality of folding sheets and toasting bread. It highlights her oft-thwarted attempts to enjoy the day to day while her mind wanders off toward the dream, the ideal. ‘We almost lost this one because we had this complex method of listening back on a boombox since the rewind button didn’t work on the recorder. I accidentally recorded over a part of it so we were stuck with the first mix in all its imperfection. This was the thrilling element of recording in this way.’

On the other hand, recording Every Star Shivers in the Dark took a bit more time. She notes, ‘it was written so quickly that I needed to let it sink in, get to know it through many attempts at capturing the feeling I had at its inception’. Los Angeles is a player on this album and this song is an ode to the sprawling city, the outskirts of Eden. One can envision her walking from Dodgers Stadium to downtown, observing strangers and her own strangeness but determined to find communion with others.

Blue Vein is her personal anthem. A Paul Revere piece. Galloping through the town as a strident declamation. She offers this, ‘I wrote this song pre-Omnichord and it is the only recording I play guitar on. I wrote it around New Year’s Eve and it felt like a resolution.’ Indeed, it is an amalgam of thoughts, concerns, and lessons as she nearly speaks the words, unmasked by flourishes, ensuring the meaning cuts through. In the final verse she states that, ‘some say the truth springs for reservoir seekers, but I think the truth sings to whoever listens’ thereby establishing herself as the proverbial carrier pigeon delivering a message.

Lael returned to her family farm back in April 2020 and has taken advantage of the limitations imposed by this period. She re-discovered her Sony Handycam from high school and is using it to make impressionistic companion pieces to the songs she recorded in Los Angeles. She continues, ‘I am enjoying the strong contrast between the songs I wrote and recorded in California and the videos I am making for them in Virginia. It offers something unexpected.’

The lo-fi quality of the films certainly suits the tone of the album. Guy comments, ‘an idea that was floating around in our conversations before and during the process was “lost tapes” – and I think these recordings feel like such an artifact – a sonic portrait of a season of a life, a sacred tape made in private by an artist at the peak of creative power and rediscovered by chance for the ages.’

Normally a morning person, Lael recorded most of these songs in the early darkening evening and so became Acquainted with Night.

Special guest is Jana Horn. Texas songwriter Jana Horn released her debut album Optimism on Philadelphia label No Quarter (Joan Shelley, Chris Forsyth) in January – gaining favourable reviews and coverage from the likes of Pitchfork, Uncut and the Guardian.

‘Horn’s debut album is a skeletal marvel that evokes Yo La Tengo and soft country shuffles’ – the Guardian

‘A curious deep-fake “folk” record which smacks of Broadcast, hippy Donovan, Julia Holter, Syd Barrett and the more wistful bits of The Cure while retaining an odd, metallic taste entirely of its own’ – 4/5, Uncut

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