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Upcoming shows: Mass Gothic... A Bingo Records Showcase... La Luz... Michael Nau... Horse Feathers... Haiku Salut... Wolfgang Flür... Songs For Walter... Mull Historical Society... Ólafur Arnalds... The Sonics... Albert af Ekenstam... BC Camplight... You Tell Me... Terry Riley & Gyan Riley... A celebration of Bruce Springsteen... Milky Wimpshake... Dawn Landes... Halo Maud... Murray A. Lightburn... Steady Holiday... Daniel Brandt & Eternal Something... Funke and the Two Tone Baby... OLA... She Makes War... Say Sue Me... Jo Passed... Easter... Eleanor Friedberger... Chloe Foy... Anemone... James and The Ultrasounds... William the Conqueror... Hater... Jen Cloher... Robert Vincent... Seamus Fogarty... Blurt... Jerron ‘Blind Boy’ Paxton... The Lovely Eggs... HALEY... The Breath... Danny Goffey... Mr Ben & The Bens... Holy Moly & The Crackers... Saintseneca... Federico Albanese... Kiran Leonard... Ryley Walker... Curse of Lono + Izzie Walsh... River Whyless... Still Corners... Great Lake Swimmers... Lera Lynn... Liela Moss... Saint Sister... The Travelling Band... The Once... The Wave Pictures...

When: 7.30pm on Tuesday 29 May 2018
Where: The Castle Hotel, 66 Oldham Street, Manchester M4 1LE

We’re delighted to welcoming Charles Howl back to Manchester – this time, at the Castle Hotel, with guests Tiger Lion!

English musician Charles Howl returns with his second album My Idol Family, which follows on from his 2015 debut Sir Vices. Enthralled by soundtracks and pop music in all its forms, Howl updates classic motifs to create a signature aesthetic. Introducing strings and lush orchestration to dazzling effect, he is comfortable with both wide-open song structures and intimate headphone tracks. With this album Howl reveals his true talent as a songwriter and arranger, mixing well-crafted storytelling with a dry wit, it is also more ambitious, touching on themes of idol worship, friends and the family unit.

He returned to Amsterdam to write and record the album, a city he knew well having run away there when he was eighteen. As he explains: ‘It was meant to be a three-day stereotypical end-of-school weekend with friends but when they were returning home I didn’t see anything for me back there and so I stayed in Amsterdam and got a job handing out flyers for a disgusting pub crawl for the tourists.’

When he was planning the recording of this new album, he made a conscious decision to get away from London with all the distractions and opinions, plus, studio time there is expensive. Howl had always been a fan of James Murphy and wanted to emulate, in his own way, the experience that LCD Soundsystem had when they recorded This is Happening, where they went to a mansion in L.A. and all dressed in white and uploaded clips of them hanging out and recording. As Howl explains: ‘I’ve never thought that kind of thing is only for big bands with loads of money. So I researched places in Amsterdam and found a reggae studio on the outskirts in a suburb called Weesp. It included an Air b&b room and so I sub let my room in London and booked a month in the studio.’

Accompanying Howl in Amsterdam was fellow Proper Ornaments member and drummer, Bobby Syme, who is a gifted producer and engineer, and took the reins in the studio. Most of the album was recorded between the two of them, with additional string arrangements by Richard Jones and with Victoria Hamblett on backing vocals.

With My Idol Family, Howl has found his voice both with his more confident singing style but also in his lyrics, which are more prominent in the mix. The album title emerged from the overarching themes of family and idols, and how people idolise celebrities and try to emulate their lifestyle. This is encapsulated in the song Meet Lou’s Needs, about so many people in music trying to copy Lou Reed’s look, music, attitude and his drug habits. As Charles says: ‘I love Lou Reed but I don’t want to see shit imitations of him every time you go see a show or after party.’ Idols are also flagged up in the song  John Albarn, where he imagines two of his musical heroes as one seamless being: John Lennon + Damon Albarn = John Albarn.

The opening track Death of Print speaks of Howl’s concern for the death of print press. Based on a true story, it tells of a 1970s zine in Berkley which got shut down and disbanded a group of friends. As he says: ‘I’ve always been concerned with our ever increasing seclusion, with much help from the internet and personal social media profiles.’

Goodbye Sleep tells of the time he drove his friends garage punk band on tour when he was 20, and was caught for a driving offence in Malmo, Sweden and sent to prison for one month over the Christmas period. ‘This song is about not being able to sleep properly the first week or so, thinking of my friends outside carrying on the tour and heading home,’ says Charles.

At times rapturously melodic and others jarringly off-kilter, there’s a real variety of sounds on My Idol Family. Howl didn’t want to be afraid to get cheesy with this record and as a result, it feels more honest. Without the pressure of having to be faithful to one particular genre or trying to fit in to the favoured psych revival of recent years, he draws on eclectic influences to embrace a wider scope, thus creating something that sounds refreshingly unique and remarkably modern.

Special guests are Tiger Lion. Immersive dream pop inspired by nature and the subconscious, Tiger Lion are a (mainly) French trio based in North London, fronted by writer and visual artist Clementine Blue. Their distilled melodies flourish from St Vincent’s asymmetrical purity to Tame Impala’s hypnotic riffing intensity and crackle with Throwing Muses’ bruised, cardiac fire across organic canvasses inspired by Blake and Turner. Last year they released two thematic EPs: Outremer’s spectral, oceanic songs and The Moon Inside Me’s darker rituals of the habitual, followed this February by the cracked enamel dream of their sad Valentine take on Heart Of Glass. This spring will see Beyond The Mountains, a song cycle and visual book about the peace above the cloud line and the effect of thinner air on the human heart.

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

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