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Upcoming shows: The Burning Hell... The Stroppies... The Catenary Wires + Milky Wimpshake... Gratis: John Myrtle... Peter Broderick & Friends... Tacocat... The Beths... Deerhoof... Mark Mulcahy... Tallies... Sam Outlaw... The Album Leaf... Jesca Hoop... Chance McCoy... Peggy Sue... Gratis: Dumb... Skating Polly + She Makes War... Shana Cleveland... Lambert... Robyn Hitchcock... Samana... Martin Kohlstedt... Francis Lung... Weyes Blood... Sinkane... Sam Amidon... Tropical Fuck Storm... The Delines... Erland Cooper... BC Camplight... Sean Rowe...

When: 7.30pm on Friday 21 June 2019
Where: The Castle Hotel, 66 Oldham Street, Manchester M4 1LE

We’re delighted to be welcoming Lawrence Arabia back to Manchester – with guests Seatbelts and Blimp Rock!

‘As inviting as the honk of the Good Humor Man of the ‘50s, who toodled his ice-cream truck through neighbourhoods of my youth. Such tune-smithery simply isn’t for tyros. It takes real savvy to pull it off. James Milne is equipped for such craft. I was delighted to feel attached to such a talented work, a notch above, and so plainly fanciful. Dreamsville!’ – Van Dyke Parks

James Milne is a brave human. Whilst the sleeves of many artists are adorned with well-worn hearts as they release their complete albums into the world, as New Zealand born singer-songwriter Lawrence Arabia, James’ latest project offers a rare glimpse into the creative process through 12 separate Lawrence Arabia’s Singles Club releases – now available on one handy LP and bringing together an extensive list of VIP members.

Launched as a Kickstarter to write, record and release a digital single every month in 2018, Lawrence Arabia’s 2018 Singles Club saw more than 368 backers pledge NZ$23,710 (roughly £12,000) to help bring the project to life. Talented pals contributed to the project including The Ruby Suns’ Ryan McPhun, Hollie Fullbrook of Tiny Ruins (singing on Everything’s Minimal), Heather Mansfield from The Brunettes (singing alongside Liam Finn’s drums on A Little Hate) and a dream collaboration with psychedelic hero, Van Dyke Parks. ‘The whole experience was initially terrifying but ultimately heart-warming and encouraging,’ recollects James. ‘The energy from all that rampant human positivity ended up pushing me into the process of producing twelve new songs with some sense of manic, irrational vigour. It was pretty exciting.’

One day in late 2017, at his home in Auckland, James sent a message on a whim and suddenly found himself in an email tête-à-tête with Van Dyke.’The thrill was having the name Van Dyke Parks appearing in my email inbox and engaging the most florid parts of my vocabulary in order to respond to his brilliantly verbose communiqués,’ he recalls. A ‘lullaby for neurotic adults,’ Just Sleep (Your Shame Will Keep) was originally written for Arabia’s psychedelic comedy podcast sensation, Mysterious Secrets Of Uncle Bertie’s Botanarium, but took on a new lease of life with the addition of Van Dyke’s piano, accordion, scratch woodwind and double bass. ‘Since I first heard of Van Dyke Parks, I’ve been fascinated by him, appearing as he did, Zelig-like, in the stories of people somewhat more famous than he, yet making some truly glorious art himself. I’d always nursed a fantasy of working with him.’

Constructed in Lawrence Arabia’s revered bedroom recording style, each Singles Club offering was built with ruthless ambition. Everything’s Minimal, Cecily, Meaningless Words and Oppositional Democracy began through the course of the year and were completed in the following months whilst other songs were revived from rough demos that followed 2016’s Absolute Truth as quickly and instinctually as possible. ‘The time pressure of the process definitely influenced the way I arranged the songs – I had to make bold decisions and stick to them, or tear them apart brutally and start again pronto.’

Woodwind and strings were recorded in Auckland’s Roundhead Studios with each track mixed in an office in the Dalmatian Cultural Society, surrounded by views of the city’s western suburbs and volcanic cones in the distance. ‘During the day there’s a constant hum of chit chat from neighbouring offices and the ping of the second-floor lift doors opening. At night, the building goes quiet, I’d turn the lights down low to evoke the sensation of a proper recording studio, but it never quite managed to shake the aura of the building’s bureaucratic past.’

Bound with one seamless invisible thread, the album stands as a body of work capturing a moment in time. Like those buildings with their structure on the outside, Lawrence Arabia’s Singles Club exposes the inner-workings of what it takes to create a record and offers any member a one-way ticket to Dreamsville. ‘I’m delighted at how it all ended up flowing,’ he tells. ‘I treated it like making a mixtape in extreme slow motion, so tried to make each song respond to the previous one the way you might when choosing a DJ set on the fly. Except this set was one year long, only twelve songs, and the songs had to be written and produced before they could be played.’

Main support comes from Seatbelts. Seatbelts are a band from Liverpool, comprised of James Madden, Ryan Murphy, Abigail Woods and Alex Quinn. James and Ryan – known for their work in Hooton Tennis Club – wanted an alternate name for The Beatles, and while jumbling the letters around over a drunken phone call Seatbelts poured forth. Their first release, Songs For Vonnegut EP, is dedicated to legendary writer Kurt Vonnegut. A new EP, Please Slow Down, recorded between bedrooms and Parr St Studios, is set to be released on 26 April. The band have shared two singles so far, the lush Content Crush and the upbeat, avant-pop Spanish Songs.

This new set of songs possess a more robust, full-band sound than Seatbelts’ previous releases, providing a detailed and vibrant listening experience. Their latest single Spanish Songs has received airplay on BBC 6 Music (Gideon Coe) and BBC Radio Wales (Janice Long). The publication Louder Than War described the single ‘for any lovers of that Postcard Records era, Seatbelts bring that twist of classic melody and delightful eccentricity with this perfect single’. The pink pages of Bido Lito described the bands live show as ‘Seatbelts have got all the rumbles of New York post-punk with the intelligence of Massachusetts, with literary references and all’.

Opening the show is Peter Demakos from Blimp Rock. Along with suing professional baseball teams and releasing albums in bars of soap, Toronto’s lovable indie rock outfit sport a charming, fuzzed out sound that recalls the likes of Lou Reed with an extra dash of sentimentality.

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

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