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Upcoming shows: The Travelling Band... Aldous Harding... William the Conqueror... Wolf Parade... Lost Horizons... Skinny Lister + Beans on Toast... The Burning Hell... Leif Vollebekk... Euros Childs... Lowly... Jesca Hoop... Schwervon!... Charles Howl... David Thomas Broughton... Haiku Salut: Christmas Lamp Show... Honeyfeet... The Deslondes... Liima... Will Varley... Jen Cloher... The Lovely Eggs... Loney dear... Gun Outfit... The Handsome Family... Karl Blau... Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker... Brooke Sharkey... Lilly Hiatt... Josh Rouse... Pinkshinyultrablast... I’m With Her... The Breath...

When: 7.30pm on Wednesday 9 March 2011
Where: The Castle Hotel, 66 Oldham Street, Manchester M4 1LE

For our second ever show at the Castle Hotel, we welcome former Absentee frontman Dan Michaelson and his band, the Coastguards, plus Toronto’s The Wooden Sky.

Dan Michaelson is the 33-year-old whisky barrel baritone and short-legged leader of Dan Michaelson & the Coastguards. After his former band Absentee took early retirement due to lack of ego, he decided to start work on a solo album. Following several embarrassing phone calls and the odd spelling mistake, renowned Icelandic producer Valgier Sigurdsson (Bjork, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Sigur Ros) came over to stay in Dan’s London home, the pair of them making the daily trip to Hackney’s solar-powered Premises Studios to record and produce the tracks Michaelson had written.

Enlightened by the results, and quickly realising that the songs allowed for the subtle touches of a few more hands, Dan created the Coastguards, quietly fooling some of London’s most talented players into working with him. Among those appearing on that first record were: Henry (from the band Fields), Arnulf (KT Tunstall), Tom & Henry (Rumblestrips), Romeo Stodart (Magic Numbers), Steven Adams (Broken Family Band/Singing Adams) plus Valgier himself playing various parts of the piano. The culmination of these efforts was called Saltwater, and was released on the Memphis Industries label in March 2009. Many cold-hearted men and women warmed up for a while and said very kind things about Saltwater. Phrases that read like this:

‘Your ears naturally tune into Michaelson’s skill at putting words to the parts of relationships that usually stay silent. The cruel asymmetry of romance is addressed exquisitely, recalling the resigned grandeur of the Go-Betweens’ Robert Forster‘ **** The Times

‘Impressive – comes on like Smog fronting the songs of Ed Harcourt‘ Uncut

‘Spellbinding, genuinely heartbreaking songs’ The Quietus

‘Michaelson gets as close to a prodigy of Leonard Cohen as is tastefully possible. I’m spellbound’ Plan B

Personally, we’d suggest Smog’s Bill Callahan, Richard Hawley and Noah & The Whale as among Dan’s contemporaries.

Egos inflated by such words and murmurs, the Coastguards took to touring for the rest of 2009, combining headline tours with support duties for the Magic Numbers, the Dodos, Duke Special, the Leisure Society, and the Broken Family Band among others. As the tours rolled on into the end of the year, a core group of Coastguards emerged through a combination of enthusiasm and pure, old-fashioned stubbornness. Inevitably, and much to Dan’s surprise and happiness, the solo project gradually grew back into a band. Those Coastguards began work on a second record in January 2010.

Produced by Dan Michaelson, nine songs recorded in the first half of 2010 make up the new album Shakes, released on Dan’s own screen-printed, limited-release label Editions in October. Inspired in equal parts by soul and country classic songwriters, the now familiar territory of his subject matter, and the people who helped make this record, Shakes ushers in a fresh take on the humble love song, and draws a clean line in the dust kicked up by Dan Michaelson and the Coastguards.

Support for this show comes from Torontonians The Wooden Sky. In their native Canada the band are frequently joined by Anissa Hart of Ohbijou and The Rural Alberta Advantage on cello, Mika Posen of Forest City Lovers and Timber Timbre on violin and viola, and Edwin Huizinga of The Mars Volta on violin. The band recorded their second album, If I Don’t Come Home, You’ll Know I’m Gone, in Montreal with producer Howard Bilerman (Arcade Fire, Thee Silver Mt. Zion, Basia Bulat).

Tickets are available from the bar, Common (both no booking fee), Piccadilly Records, Seetickets.com, WeGotTickets.com and on 0871 220 0260.

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All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.

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