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: Islet... BC Camplight... The Unthanks in Winter... Gratis: Chew Magna... John Craigie... John Francis Flynn... Novelty Island... Steven Adams & The French Drops... Junior Brother... Mull Historical Society... Rachael Lavelle... Beans on Toast... PowerSolo... Nick Harper... Chris Brain... Jolie Holland... Ghostly Kisses... Francis of Delirium... The Handsome Family... The Lovely Eggs... Rain Parade...

When: 7pm on Friday 15 December 2023
Where: YES Basement, 38 Charles Street, Manchester, M1 7DB

We’re excited to welcome Islet back to Manchester!

Islet is a Welsh quartet whose free-spirited invention and exuberant intensity is hypnotic, exhilarating and defiantly unique.

Their fourth album Soft Fascination (Fire Records) is a wild excursion into the latest incarnation of this ever-changing Islet. They began in Cardiff when Emma Daman and brothers Mark and John ‘JT’ Thomas resolved to form a band with one rule: that anything was possible. Soon joined by Alex Williams the band quickly became known for their instrument switching live shows full of joyful abandon and unleashed energy. They released two albums and a handful of EPs, melding psych rock with ethereal atmospherics and jagged post punk.

In 2019 Islet signed to Fire Records, releasing their third full length album Eyelet in 2020, and their fourth Soft Fascination in 2023. This Islet is more defined, more direct; for the first time each band member is assigned one instrument. Emma’s’ vocals shapeshift from airy to unleashed against a synth-driven sound with unexpected shifts of rhythm. Self-produced and with the instrumentals recorded live with few overdubs the effect is in your face and immediate. Soft Fascination is an assurgent album infused with hope, grit and beauty.

Islet is all about being subsumed in sound, with a fierce urge to challenge, to embrace, communicate, excite and, ultimately, set their audience free. They are following their own course, awash with synthesisers with a rhythmic pulse creating a delicate balance between repetition, volume and the romance of time, an ecstatic experience through music.

‘The perfect mix of experimentation and entertainment, brain and heart engaged simultaneously’ – Stewart lee

‘Wandering, woozy, glitch-bedded mood pieces fusing trance-era textures and fragmented melodies’ – MOJO

Special guest is Raz Ullah. Born in a decaying Northern mill town beneath the shadow of Pendle Hill – scene of the infamous witch trials of 1612, Raz Ullah’s childhood obsession with cassette recorders, long-wave radio broadcasts and Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds has led to a lifetime interest in sound as a material for expression, experimentation and play. His works incorporate analogue and digital elements, interactive software, video projection and DIY instruments.

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All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.
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When: 7.30pm on Tuesday 19 & Wednesday 20 December 2023
Where: Hallé at St Michael’s, 36-38 George Leigh Street, Ancoats, Manchester M4 5DG

UPDATE: The Wednesday show sold out in under a day, so we’ve added a second show on Tuesday 19 December. Buy tickets now.

We’re delighted to present two intimate grand piano solo shows with BC Camplight!

Is there a curse that says Brian ‘BC Camplight’ Christinzio cannot move forward without being knocked back? That the greatest material is born out of emotional trauma? Whilst making his new album, The Last Rotation Of Earth, Christinzio’s relationship with his fiancé crumbled after nine inseparable years. The album follows this break-up amid long-term struggles with addiction and mental health. The outcome is an extraordinary record, with Christinzio describing it as ‘more cinematic, sophisticated and nuanced than anything I’ve done before’. He goes on to describe how the separation altered his creative focus and caused him to ‘scrap 95% of what I’d already recorded,’ finishing The Last Rotation Of Earth in two months and making what he believes is his most vital album.

Still, Christinzio doesn’t see any of this as a story of redemption. ‘This is not a story of victory,’ he says. ‘It is a document created in the shadow of incredible darkness. One from which the creator hadn’t planned on escaping, and still doesn’t. Hence the title of the album. It is the result of an illness that I’ve battled my whole life. It isn’t something that the world has done to me. It’s the world I live in and it’s no one’s fault.’

That Christinzio has bettered his previous album is an achievement, given that Shortly After Takeoff received the best reviews of his life. ‘A masterpiece,’ said the Guardian’s five-star review, ‘a half hour or so that roils with anxiety, stuns with beauty and, occasionally, provokes laughter.’ Even then, fate intervened when the album was released in April 2020, just as Covid and lockdown kicked in, so he was unable to tour the record until late 2021. The Philadelphian then joked, ‘I can’t wait to make an album that isn’t surrounded by some awful tragedy.’

Talk about tempting fate. But it’s true to say that Christinzio has made his best music under immense duress, and The Last Rotation Of Earth is an inimitable work; a heady, heavy slice of lustrous hooks, moods bursting with classical sophistication and fractured paranoia. Christinzio’s signature dizzying progressions and U-turns are executed with a masterful hand. A notable feature of the album are periodic conversational voices, as if a cast of people were delivering their lines – which was exactly part of Christinzio’s thinking. ‘I wanted to make the songs resemble little films, with lots of ideas,’ he says.

There is no better entry to the Camplight school of sound and vision than the opening title track and lead single. ‘For the first time since I arrived in Manchester,’ he says, ‘I thought, why am I here? I came to find my music, and to find her, and she’s gone. I do everything in my power not to be dramatic, but I didn’t want to be alive anymore. So, I imagined what your last day on earth would be like. Though the lyrics are often quite sweet, like appreciating the looks that strangers give each other, from the perspective of a guy soaking up every last bit of life.’

The audio-verité approach is clearest on track two, The Movie, a fully-fledged dramarama with ‘scene one’ and ‘scene two,’ directions. ‘I don’t find writing cathartic,’” says Christinzio, ‘but this was one exception. To step outside as the narrator to my own life did help in some psychotic way. It ends with a verbatim exchange of my break-up, but with humour. I don’t want to say how shitty everything is over a 38-minute record. I’m still capable of being funny and alive.’ The Last Rotation Of Earth is the best example yet of these musical and lyrical powers, and the increasing impact that he has been making, across his fan base and his peers. Humour has long served as respite within Christinzio’s art.

The Mourning is a slow, wordless elegy that takes the album out on a low note. ‘No grand finale, more, “I wonder what happens next”,’ says Christinzio. ‘After everything people have been through, they’re suspicious of happy endings. Like I said, this is not a redemption saga.’

So, what does lie ahead? And can Christinzio ever trust the future? When he began releasing records in 2005, backed by members who would eventually join The War On Drugs, and guest-starring on Sharon Van Etten’s Epic album, the future looked bright. ‘But if I’d stayed,’ he once mused, ‘I’d be dead. Period.’ So Christinzio took a friend’s advice to escape his alcohol and drug addictions in Philly and move to Manchester, leading to his debut album for Bella Union, How To Die In The North; though just two days before it was released in 2014, he was deported. Back in the UK (with an Italian passport), he made Deportation Blues but just days before it was released in 2016, his father died, triggering a breakdown that inspired Shortly After Takeoff, the last part of what Christinzio calls his Manchester Trilogy.

So, he must begin again; new album, newly single, clean slate. And without tempting fate again, before the last rotation of earth, BC Camplight and his band will tour The Last Rotation Of Earth, including his biggest headline shows to date, at London Shepherd’s Bush Empire and Manchester’s Albert Hall. ‘It’s wonderful to realise the songs in front of that many people,’ says Christinzio, ‘I know I’m never going to be Coldplay, but ten years ago, I was certain I wouldn’t make music again.’

Ten years later Christinzio is still making important music, still channelling the forces that have beleaguered him and making the most honest and candid work he can.

For this intimate show, Brian will perform solo on grand piano. This will be one of the first public concerts in St Michael’s since its recent re-opening, having been closed since 2004. The Roman Catholic church was founded in 1859 and became the heart of the Little Italy Community in Ancoats.

Age restriction: 14+. Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult.

Wednesday has already sold out, but you can buy tickets for the Tuesday show now.

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Wednesday: Attend on: Facebook

All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.
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When: 7pm on Wednesday 20 December 2023
Where: Albert Hall, 27 Peter Street, Manchester M2 5QR

We’re delighted to be presenting The Unthanks in Winter – at Albert Hall!

At this point in their almost 20 years together, it’s easy to imagine that The Unthanks must surely have done a seasonal winter album already, but no! Known for their genre- blurring creativity, The Unthanks premiere their dream-like winter fantasia – embracing both the dark and the light in the most ritualistic of seasons – moving in and out of focus – like a memory – a hymnal to our shared winter experience. Echoes of winter tunes known throughout the western world, mix with the traditional and the newly written, all passed with great care and love through The Unthanks filter.

The heartwarming pathos and glacial majesty present in their music to date makes a winter concert a mouth-watering prospect. The Unthanks are the perfect band to bring us an abstract new work capturing the magic and wonder of the turn of the year; the end and beginning of the circle of life.

The Unthanks have been described as ‘a take on tradition that flips so effortlessly between jazz, classical, ambient and post-rock, it makes any attempt to put a label on them a waste of time’.

Using the traditional music of the North East of England as a starting point, the influence of Miles Davis, Steve Reich, Sufjan Stevens, Robert Wyatt, Antony & The Johnsons, King Crimson and Tom Waits makes The Unthanks a unique band, earning them a Mercury Music Prize nomination and international acclaim along the way.

The Unthanks tells stories that capture children. They make music cutting edge enough to be BBC 6 Music regulars. They can equally be found on Radios 2, 3 and 4, reframing history and drawing together the worlds of folk, jazz, orchestral, electronic and rock music. The believability of their storytelling is admired by some of our best storytellers – Mackenzie Crook, Elvis Costello, Maxine Peake, Nick Hornby, Martin Freeman, Robert Wyatt, Charles Hazelwood, Ben Myers and David Mitchell, to name a few.

At the nucleus of a constantly evolving unit is the traditional upbringing of Tyneside sisters Rachel and Becky Unthank and the arrangements and writing of composer, pianist, producer and Yorkshireman, Adrian McNally.

‘They run from the very root of folk music to the very tip of the branch’ – Elvis Costello

‘It’s quite a rare thing now. They’ve really got everything you could want from music. And I’m very fussy’ – Robert Wyatt

Special guest is Katherine Priddy. Since emerging with her debut EP Wolf in 2018, UK artist Katherine Priddy has quickly become one of the most exciting names on the British scene. Declared ‘the best thing I’ve heard all year’ by Richard Thompson, who later invited her to join him on his Irish tour in 2019 and UK tour in 2021, Priddy’s haunting vocals and distinctive finger-picking guitar style have seen her sell out a headline tour and support world class artists including The Chieftains, Loudon Wainwright III and Vashti Bunyan. Over the past two years, she has performed at the BBC Proms and played well-earned spots at prestigious festivals in the UK and abroad such as the Glastonbury Acoustic Stage, where she also performed live on BBC Radio 2, plus at Green Man, Cambridge Folk, where she was awarded the Christian Raphael Prize, End of the Road and Beautiful Days.

Her much anticipated debut album, The Eternal Rocks Beneath, was released in June 2021 on Navigator Records to great acclaim. The album singles received 200-plus plays across national radio including BBC 6 Music and BBC Radio 2, and upon release, the album received a five-star review in Songlines, a four-star review in the Observer, reached No. 1 in the Official UK Folk Charts and No. 5 in the Americana charts. Folk Radio UK made Priddy ‘Artist of the Month’ and said of the debut LP: ‘Foundations rarely come stronger than this. A debut of true substance, it’s like searching for a simple shelter and stumbling upon a diamond mine.’ The album was later chosen as Album of the Week on RTE Radio 1 in Ireland, and made the list of Top 10 2021 Folk Albums in Mojo Magazine as national radio plays continued months after the release.

2022 got off to a flying start with Priddy taking her music abroad for the first time with a series of shows in Australia, including a performance at Port Fairy Folk Festival, as well as a showcase in Kansas City USA as part of Folk Alliance International. This was then followed by an invite to perform one of her songs as part of the world-renowned BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall, accompanied by the BBC Concert Orchestra. Now in 2023, Priddy’s momentum is showing no signs of slowing. April brought with it a new single on Chrysalis Records as part of a double LP of Nick Drake covers from artists such as Self Esteem, Aldous Harding, John Grant, Bombay Bicycle Club and more, as well as a show with Guy Garvey at The Roundhouse. Her live performances are engaging, moving and amusing by turn, delivering original songs with emotional maturity, depth and particularly noteworthy lyrics. Despite the delicate nuances of her sound, Katherine Priddy is not a fragile wallflower, but a determined young woman making her mark.

‘Utterly brilliant… one of my favourite voices in contemporary music’ – Guy Garvey

This show is promoted by Hey! Manchester, Manchester Folk Festival and Albert Hall.

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

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When: 7.30pm on Saturday 20 January 2024
Where: Low Four Studio, Deansgate Mews, Great Northern, Manchester M3 4EN

Gratis – our series of free entry shows – returns, with Chew Magna, celebrating the release of their debut album!

Manchester’s most uplifting cacophonous craftsmen Chew Magna are ready to unleash their blistering and diverse self titled debut. More than just an onslaught of decibel-destroying fuzz, the four-piece took inspiration from their vast record collections laying down an ambitious record that veers and lurches into Indie Rock, Krautrock, Post-Hardcore, Punk, Noise Rock and Shoegaze.

‘We wanted to create a really varied record that gives a nod to loads of our favourite bands from the 70s onwards and isn’t necessarily beholden to traditional, vocal lead song structures,’ explains singer Laurie.

After one listen through it’s obvious the band have succeed in their quest for variation. Opener and lead single Listless is full throttle krautrock punk. Stubbon Knots sees the quartet settle into a Fugazi-inspired groove. 4232 is a joyful song about being set free as it nods to Sonic Youth. Watching Paint Dry laments the Holocene extinction to a motorik beat. Pretty Loose explores the hopelessness of revenge, provoked by the film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Spat Out tips its hat to Broken Social Scene, Question Everything does the same to the Pumpkins. Elsewhere songs like Punk Dick see the band jamming three minutes of instrumental psych rock followed by one minute of ferocious hardcore punk – in contrast to Secrets, a poppy indie rock anthem buried under unyielding guitar squall.

Assembled after stepping back from their former musical outfits, guitarist Simon (Young British Artists), guitarist and vocalist Laurie (Songs For Walter), drummer Ben (Young British Artists) and bassist Joel (Jane Weaver, Francis Lung) have come together at no better time. Absorbing influences from the world around them as they navigate new sonic terrains (even Chew Magna’s own village-inspired band name aligns with the colourful vista depicted in the album artwork by talented landscape artist Josh Sowa), theirs is a melodic commotion with the thunder to lighten up even the greyest of skies.

Having previously played alongside acts such as Cloud Nothings, Empath and Mothers, Chew Magna are currently booking a UK tour to coincide with the release of their debut record. Stay tuned for more Magna news.

‘Restless and incendiary alt-rock with hints of ’90s slacker rock influences and backed up by motoring Krautrock… perfect for alternative and rock playlists, plus angsty contextual ones too, this blast of rock goodness is sure to please any ’90s rock fan, old or new!’ – Record Of The Day

This show takes place at Low Four – a recording studio situated on Deansgate Mews in the Great Northern warehouse. This intimate venue features a Cloudwater bar.

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

This is a free entry show! Click here to reserve a place now.

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When: 7.30pm on Tuesday 23 January 2024
Where: Gullivers, 109 Oldham Street, Manchester, M4 1LW

We’re delighted to be welcoming John Craigie back to Gullivers!

Portland, Oregon-based singer, songwriter, and producer John Craigie adapts moments of solitude into stories perfectly suited for old Americana fiction anthologies. Instead of leaving them on dog-eared pages, he projects them widescreen in flashes of simmering soul and folk eloquence. On his 2022 full-length album, Mermaid Salt, we witness revenge unfurled in flames, watch a landlocked mermaid’s escape, and fall asleep under a meteor shower.

After selling out shows consistently coast-to-coast and earning acclaim from Rolling Stone, Glide Magazine, No Depression and many more, his unflinching honesty ties these ten tracks together.

The album comes from the solitude and loneliness of lockdown in the Northwest. Someone whose life was touring, traveling, and having lots of human interaction is faced with an undefinable amount of time without those things. So, he began writing new songs and envisioning an album that was different from his past records. The sound of everyone playing live in a room together was traded for the sound of song construction with an unknown amount of instruments and musicians – a quiet symphony.

Rather than steal away to a cabin or hole up in a house with friends, Craigie opted to set up shop at the OK Theater in Enterprise, Oregon with longtime collaborator Bart Budwig behind the board as engineer. A rotating cast of musicians shuffled in and out safely, distinguishing the process from the communal recording of previous releases. The core players included Justin Landis, Cooper Trail, and Nevada Sowle. Meanwhile, Shook Twins lent their signature vocal harmonies, Bevin Foley arranged, composed, and performed strings, and Ben Walden dropped in for guitar and violin plucking parts.

‘Instruments were scattered around the theatre and microphones placed in various spots,’ he recalls. ‘It’s hard to say who all played what exactly.’

As such, the spirit in the room guided everyone. On Distance, warm piano glows alongside a glitchy beat as he softly laments, ‘I could lose you to the loneliness, vast and infinite’. Then, there’s Helena. A jazz-y bass line snakes through head-nodding percussion as he relays an incendiary parable of a mother and son in exile. He croons, ‘She said fire was how we’d make ‘em pay. As I ran across the fields, she would scream, “Light it up son”,’ uplifted in a conflagration of Shook Twins’ harmonies. Strings echo in the background as his vocals quake front-and-centre on Street Mermaid.

Elsewhere, the guitar-laden Microdose beguiles and bewitches with an intoxicating refrain dedicated to a time where he ‘Microdosed for months and months, dissolve my ego in the acid’. Everything culminates on the glassy beat-craft and glistening guitars of Perseids where he sings, ‘There’s always a new heart after the old heart. Maybe a new heart is enough.’

During this period, he explored the environment around him ‘from the Oregon coasts to the waterfalls’ and read books about Levon Helm, Billie Holiday and Ani DiFranco.

‘I got time to silence all the noise and chaos of touring and look inward,’ he observes.

Craigie had reached a series of watershed moments in tandem with Mermaid Salt. Beyond headlining venues such as The Fillmore and gracing the stage of Red Rocks Amphitheater, his 2020 offering Asterisk The Universe earned unanimous tastemaker applause. Rolling Stone noted, ‘tracks like Don’t Deny and Climb Up bridge a Sixties and Seventies songwriter vibe with the laid-back cool of Jack Johnson, an early supporter of Craigie,’ while Glide Magazine hailed it as ‘one of his best records’. Perhaps No Depression put it best: ‘For many weary and heavy- listeners hearted, the album might be exactly what they need.’ Along the way, he generated over 40 million total streams and counting, speaking to his unassuming impact.

In the end, Craigie offers a sense of peace on Mermaid Salt.

Tour support comes from Maya de Vitry. Maya de Vitry’s dynamic and vibrant voice seems to rise out of some necessity of bringing songs to life, embracing listeners with what Folk Alley calls a ‘soulful intimacy’. She grew up in a musical family in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, understanding music to be a place of gathering, a way to spend a summer night around a campfire. Maya first traveled and performed as a fiddling street musician, and then in bars, theatres, and on festival stages as a founding member of The Stray Birds. When the band parted ways in 2018, Maya embarked on an ever-evolving musical path of solo work and new collaborations. Her recordings and live performances embody both sincerity and playfulness, and a compelling reverence for the power of songs to be a place of gathering – whether played on stage, or around a campfire.

Maya tours in a variety of formats, each featuring a fluid lineup of inspired collaborators. She also enjoys the art of warming up the stage for other artists and she has been invited to support a variety of tours, from innovative singer-songwriters like John Craigie and Aoife O’Donovan, to bands like Mighty Poplar and The Wood Brothers.

While on a tour in April 2023, Maya felt deeply moved by the musical chemistry, emotional immediacy, and joyful spontaneity of her live band. She reached out to Nashville-based engineer Lawson White to arrange a recording session for this specific ensemble. But as far as the material for the session, she felt certain of only one song. Stacy, In Her Wedding Gown – a captivating portrait of a deeply creative working mother, inspired by one of Maya’s former co-workers at the Nipper’s Corner Starbucks – had become a staple in her live show and could be a centrepiece of the collection.

With the band booked and the session on the calendar, Maya wrote several new songs with the ensemble in mind, and chose one cover song for the collection. The resulting EP, Infinite, is performed with astonishing depth and tenderness, shimmering with a loose, human beauty from start to finish. Produced by Maya de Vitry and engineered and mixed by Lawson White, Infinite features Maya de Vitry (acoustic guitar, vocals) and members of her touring band – Joel Timmons (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, vocals), Hannah Delynn (vocals), and Ethan Jodziewicz (upright bass, fretless electric bass). It is a powerful 23 minute journey that invites listeners into the space of warmth and freedom that Maya has so devotedly created.

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When: 7pm on Wednesday 24 January 2024
Where: YES Pink Room, 38 Charles Street, Manchester, M1 7DB

We’re excited to welcome John Francis Flynn back!

John Francis Flynn will release a new album Look Over the Wall, See the Sky on 10 November 2023, following on from his critically acclaimed debut album and accompanying live performances. Look Over the Wall, See the Sky picks up where I Would Not Live Always left off.

John masterfully unpicks traditional songs and rearranges them with an emotional force. They float in a surreal space between the past and the present, the analog and the digital, between love and tragedy. The unconventional use of instruments and jagged arrangements gives the work a magnetism by drawing you into its curious orbit of experimental folk.

Look Over The Wall, See The Sky is a re-imagining of traditional Irish music: powerful, hopeful and free.

John Francis Flynn is a singer and multi-instrumentalist who creates contemporary music using traditional and folk material. His debut album I Would Not Live Always was released on Rough Trade imprint River Lea Records in 2020, earning rave reviews and winning two awards at the RTE Folk Awards.

‘I Would Not Live Always offers a singular and striking clarity of vision’ – 4 stars, Uncut

‘John Francis Flynn’s My Son Tim is an extraordinary piece of music’ – Clash

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When: 7.30pm on Thursday 1 February 2024
Where: The Castle Hotel, 66 Oldham Street, Manchester M4 1LE

We’re delighted to be welcoming Novelty Island back – this time, to the Castle Hotel!

Novelty Island is the project of Liverpool-based songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, Tom McConnell. McConnell grew up between Newcastle and Liverpool and takes inspiration from the pop music, surrealism and melancholy of the North.

After a series of psychedelic EPs, the debut Novelty Island album How Are You Coping With This Century? was released in Autumn 2021. It led to the Novelty Island live band performing at Glastonbury Festival and supporting Sea Power and The Pale White around the UK.

McConnell then turned to recordings he’d made at Abbey Road Studios and Damon Albarn’s Studio 13 for the second Novelty Island album, Wallsend Weekend Television. The album was released in March 2023 and followed by a 10-date UK headline tour.

Both Novelty Island albums have received five-star reviews from Shindig and R’n’R as well as support from Mojo, BBC Radio 6, BBC Introducing and Absolute Radio. McConnell also creates the surreal imagery around Novelty Island in the form of papier-mâché props, dreamy animations, claymation videos and a never-ending Instagram account.

Main support comes from J. Madden. J. Madden (James Madden) first drew praise as songwriter in off-kilter BBC 6 Music favourites Hooton Tennis Club. In 2020, with an abundance of time, Madden began bedroom recording and sowing the seed for the solo project that would become J. Madden. His debut album Same Day as Yesterday was self released in 2021 and pressed to 100 records. J. Madden returns in 2023 with cinematic single Dawn; his loungey ode to home.

Debris Discs will open the show. Debris Discs is the solo venture of former Coves & Caves/My Side of the Mountain member James Eary. Nestled up in the hills of the High Peak, James crafts homespun dreampop epics with an arsenal of dusty synths, drum machines, effects pedals and a trusty old telecaster. The debut album from Debris Discs, Post War Plans, is out now through AnalogueTrash records. Electronic Sound Magazine say the album is full of ‘shimmering, electronic anthems’, while Bandcamp’s New and Notable describe it as ‘spaced-out synthpop with a psychedelic edge’. For this show, James will be reimagining tracks from the album using live-looped guitar, synths, beats and bleeps.

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When: 7.30pm on Friday 2 February 2024
Where: The Castle Hotel, 66 Oldham Street, Manchester M4 1LE

We’re delighted to be welcoming Steven Adams and his band The French Drops back to The Castle Hotel!

Steven Adams, formerly of The Broken Family Band, has a new album out. Drops (Fika Recordings) is a banger, and according to Mojo, ‘urban Britain has generated its very own equivalent of Stephen Malkmus’.

Since calling time on TBFB at the height of their success, he’s worked under various guises as a solo artist – Singing Adams, The Singing Adams, Steven James Adams, Steven Adams & The French Drops – and released a number of albums ranging from DIY indie rock, intimate folk, experiments in Krautrock and politically-charged widescreen pop.

‘Every record I’ve made has been in a hurry of some sort,’ says Adams of his new album, ‘and with this one I wanted to take my time.’

Drops is the first album to be credited to him as a solo artist since 2016’s Old Magick, his first new music since 2020, and the first to be home-recorded: ‘I finally got my head around home recording in 2020, while things were a bit quiet. Suddenly I didn’t have to worry about wasting other people’s time.’

Armed with a batch of new songs he upped sticks to the Welsh countryside along with drummer Daniel Fordham and bassist David Stewart – both formerly of psych oddballs The Drink – before transferring to Big Jelly, a converted chapel on the south coast, with producer Simon Trought (Comet Gain, Johnny Flynn, The Wave Pictures) to lay down the basic tracks for Drops.

Eschewing a band set up (‘never everyone at the same time – I wanted to spend time thinking about how the parts could fit together’), recording sessions in East London followed – with Laurie Earle (Absentee) on guitar, Michael Wood (Hayman Kupa Band, Michaelmas) on keyboards.

Adams then took the recordings to the French countryside, to work alone. ‘After a while I started to think of the songs as paintings, trying something one morning, painting over it in the afternoon and attempting something completely different. It was never about perfecting or achieving technical excellence, but more about enjoying the whole process.’

Fika Recordings · Steven Adams – Drops

Each time Tom at Fika checked in to see how the album was progressing Adams would reply: ‘It’s taking ages but it’ll sound like it was recorded in an afternoon.’

The upshot is a dynamic and spirited off-kilter collection of songs. Drops is a sonically compelling piece of work: from the bleak-to-exultant opener Out to Sea and the motorik Living in the Local Void to the funereal Fascists (where Adams imagines the ‘little skip in our steps’ that we’ll have upon outliving some baddies).

It also has moments of tenderness, as with the avalanche of empathy on closing track Cheap Wine Sad Face, and I Tried to Keep it Light’s ‘worse things could happen… I don’t know how, but give me time’.

Drops juxtaposes the perfectly melodic with the vaguely surreal: ‘If the album has a theme it’s probably bewilderment or trying to make sense of things. And did I mention I was preoccupied by time?’

‘A national musical treasure’ – the Guardian

‘Astonishing tenderness in its simplicity … brilliant lyrics’ – Q Magazine

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When: 7.30pm on Saturday 3 February 2024
Where: Gullivers, 109 Oldham Street, Manchester, M4 1LW

We’re delighted to be working with Junior Brother for the first time!

Alternative folk mainstay Junior Brother boldly stakes out new folk-inflected ground with a fresh and daring single, The Men Who Eat Ring Forts. The brand new release follows on from June’s epic Junior Brother’s Favourite EP, and 2022’s highly acclaimed double LP The Great Irish Famine, with its ‘wry songs of anxiety and frustration’ (the Guardian) described by MOJO Magazine as being ‘truly unforgettable’. Now, this new single boldly signposts an exciting new chapter for Junior Brother’s stunningly distinctive sound.

Taught yet expansive, the new single sets the tone for Junior Brother’s third album, currently being created with producer extraordinaire John ‘Spud’ Murphy (black midi, Lankum), set for release next year.

‘The song is possessed with the fervour of the dispossessed,’ explains Junior Brother, a.k.a. County Kerry’s Ronan Kealy. ‘The Men Who Eat Ring Forts is a twitch of frustration, spat into modernity’s hollow wheel before it clears the way. Sacred things unseen to the suits are still there for them willing to look.’

Tour support comes from Ceitidh Mac. Ceitidh Mac blends the warming tones of the cello and soaring vocals to create a transformative sound that puts a progressive twist on the alt.folk genre.

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When: 7pm on Friday 9 February 2024
Where: YES Pink Room, 38 Charles Street, Manchester, M1 7DB

We’re excited to welcome Mull Historical Society back to Manchester for a very special show.

Scottish artist and author Colin MacIntyre announces a limited series of unique shows for 2024, which will see Mull Historical Society and special guests performing his classic debut album Loss, as well as his acclaimed 2023 album In My Mind There’s A Room live and in full.

Mull Historical Society will be joined at YES by special guest author Val McDermid.

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Attend on: Facebook

All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.
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