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Upcoming shows: Ariel Sharratt & Mathias Kom... Giant Sand... Melanie Baker... Sophie Hutchings... Jerron Paxton... Ghostly Kisses... Sounds From The Other City 2024... Francis of Delirium... The Buffalo Skinners... The Handsome Family... Robbie Cavanagh... Memorial... His Lordship... Florry... Bad Bad Hats... Dana Gavanski... Caoilfhionn Rose... The Lovely Eggs... James Yorkston... Rain Parade... Matthew and the Atlas... Gratis: Makushin... Lightheaded + Mt. Misery... Jake Xerxes Fussell... Andrew Wasylyk & Tommy Perman... Charlie Parr... Ryley Walker... Terry Reid... Erland Cooper... Skinny Lister...

When: 7pm on Thursday 23 May 2024
Where: Low Four Studio, Deansgate Mews, Great Northern, Manchester M3 4EN

We’re excited to be working with Memorial for the first time!

Memorial is a project rooted in friendship, one fuelled by unflinching honesty. Ollie Spalding and Jack Watts were friends first, and songwriting partners second, and this quality sets them apart. They’re marked by that peculiar alchemy when two voices become one, a special sense of human connection wrought through harmony and emboldened with experience. New album Redsetter is their coming-of-age moment – gilded indie-folk with an optimistic sense of maturity, it dares to look towards the light.

“We had literally no idea what was gonna happen!” Ollie gasps when looking back on the pair’s self-titled debut album. Sculpted over the pandemic and released on Real Kind Records – the boutique Communion imprint chaired by Lucy Rose – the record displayed their core values. “The emotion has to be right,” says Oliver. “When we record songs, we want to stay true to the emotion – as though those songs had just been written seconds before they were recorded.”

It’s this facet that sparked ideas for Memorial’s second album. The success of their debut brought fresh experiences – writing with Flyte, collaborating with everyone from Matthew & The Atlas and Victoria Canal to Talos and Olafur Arnalds – but also new challenges. New LP Redsetter takes them from their base in Brighton to a remote part of Texas (and back again); it’s a record that’s driven by a special kind of determination, dealing with intimate bonds, familial connections, and a quiet sense of renewal.

Pushing themselves harder than ever before, the band doggedly hunted down the perfect producer, flying across the Atlantic in the process. The band found a way to take control by letting go, putting aside their struggles with perfectionism and self-doubt to bring their dream to life through sacrifice and plain hard work. “On this album, we wanted something raw,” Ollie asserts. “We wanted to feel uncomfortable. It’s this raw part of ourselves, that we’re normally scared to share with people.”

The pair binged Texas artist Lomelda’s outstanding album Hannah over lockdown, recognising instinctively that it contained the sound they wanted for their own songwriting. Hunting down the record’s producer – Lomelda’s brother, studio guru Tommy Read – they sent email after email, phone call after phone call, in order to get him to open up to their vision. Ollie agreed to step up as co-producer, an unfamiliar role that pushed him far out of his comfort zone. Flying thousands of miles to the producer’s home studio base in Silsbee, rural Texas, they drove for hours past vast ranches, colossal fields of cattle fringed by hills dotted with tall pines. “It was this pocket of beautiful energy,” says Ollie. “He has a sound that I’ve never heard anywhere else. It feels as though you’re in the room with us.”

Tasked with completing the record in just 18 days, Memorial balked at the compact timescale. “That included flying to America, to a place we’d never been to before, living with humans we’d only met online, and actualising the arrangements that lived in our minds for so long, with musicians we’d never played with before,” explains Jack. Laughing, he adds: “That was probably the toughest part, but it gave the record this added vulnerability.”

It opens with ‘White Campion’, a true slow burner that illustrates how Memorial have blossomed. Ratcheting up the ambitions of their debut, it’s a widescreen return, one that dares to embrace hope. “I think sob stories are outdated,” says Ollie, “and this record at its core is about healing, self-worth, creative freedom and celebrating the everyday, beautiful little things in life.”

The opening song is paired with ‘Corduroy’, a track that beams sunshine, radiance, and positivity. Crafted during those long days in Texas, it’s redolent of two musicians grappling with new obstacles, overcoming fresh challenges, and pushing themselves to the limit. Jacks says: “The way we recorded the album matches up with our self-belief, and a general trust in vulnerability we would have never been able to commit to a few years back. To be able to trust our songwriting to break through and still hit you in the right way.”

The album deals with the push and pull of new challenges, and fresh commitments. Ollie was set to become a father for the first time a few months after recording, something he tackles in-depth on heart-swelling new song ‘River’. It’s a double-edged sword, though: recording in Texas took him away from his pregnant partner. Jack, too, has his own circle of support – he works in the mental health sector which often includes overnight shifts with vulnerable people. “Managing the new responsibilities in our lives has been challenging,” say the duo. “When co-existing and planning a future – kids, marriage and buying a house – it completely changes the foundations of why this is important to us and the drive required to make it work.”

The beautifully pointed ‘Silver’ deals with toxic friendships, but also offers a note of support. “It’s about giving your life to a group,” says Jack. “When you have that stripped away from you, it can be incredibly hurtful… and it takes a long time to find yourself again as a person.” The profoundly affecting ‘Guardian’ meanwhile is “an ode to small man syndrome,” laughs Jack. “I’m very open, and I’m very trusting of people… which can often lead to people taking advantage. It’s a song of forgiveness, but also accountability.”

Even the album’s title is a reference to growth, and maturation: ‘Redsetter’ is named after a breed of dog that takes longer to mature than most. “We chose to view this creatively rather than personally, despite it being accurate either way,” the group comment. “When the album was complete it felt like we’d returned to our bodies with a new understanding.”

Memorial’s stripped back approach finds each different part speaking its own truth. Initially, they wanted to include a host of guests, before becoming something pared back, minimalist, and profound. The quiet joy exuded by ‘Redsetter’ was mirrored in those Texas recording sessions, long days and longer nights fuelled by Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, and a masterclass in brisket when Tommy’s extended family came round to visit. “We felt like part of his family as soon as we go there,” Jack says. “That communal, familial vibe adds to the record,” adds Oliver. “It made us feel so comfortable.”

Looking for perfect moments within our imperfect lives, Memorial have displayed extraordinary sense of character to drive themselves forwards. “We’ve let go of trying to make everything sound perfect,” says Jack. “Being vulnerable in that way means that the end product is truer to you than it ever could be. There’s a realness to it.” Memorial have taken true ownership of their lives, pushing through enormous challenges to unlock new aspects of their artistry, and actualise their dreams.

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

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

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All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.