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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... Charlie Parr... Ryley Walker... Terry Reid... Erland Cooper...

When: 7.30pm on Wednesday 2 May 2018
Where: The Castle Hotel, 66 Oldham Street, Manchester M4 1LE

We’re delighted to be working with Steven Adams again – this time, with his new band, The French Drops!

Steven Adams is back with a new band, The French Drops – featuring members of The Drink and Absentee – and a new album Virtue Signals, which is due out via Hudson Records on 4 May.

He has shared the opening track for the album, Bad Apples here. ‘You’re part of something,’ Adams sings, ‘the thing you tore apart’ – a song about the flag-waving, supposed patriots whose voices are drowning out the national conversation. He says: ‘That song came last and it alludes to ideas without being too specific. I’ve always liked writers who leave things open to interpretation, people like Britt Daniel from Spoon, or John Lennon. It’s a kind of absurdist take on where the right wing press are trying to lead us.’

Anger seldom sounds as enticing as it does on Virtue Signals. It is an album that rails against the iniquities of the world and meshes the personal with the political, without ever smacking the listener around the head. Adams (former songwriter/singer/guitarist with The Broken Family Band and Singing Adams) can’t help but be witty and empathetic even as he rages, and the fury is wrapped inside his characteristically sweet melodies.

There are writers who deal with the ‘issues’ directly; how governments are behaving, how people are being betrayed, but that’s not how Adams see his role. ‘I found myself writing about that feeling you get when you’ve just woken up and seen what the idiots have done overnight. Like a lot of people, I’m angry and confused about some of the mean, spiteful, cowardly things being said and done in the name of patriotism and cultural identity and economic prosperity. Some of these things can be defused by calling them out, by singing about them, and by laughing at them.’

Virtue Signals captures the sound of a band finding ‘its own thing’. Laurie Earle (Absentee, Dan Michaelson & The Coastguards, Wet Paint) plays guitar with a loose, intuitive touch; Michael Wood – who had played bass with The Singing Adams – switches to keyboards here, while Daniel Fordham (drums) and David Stewart (bass) from The Drink complete the band.

Following a few years of performing and recording solo (see 2014’s House Music and 2016’s Old Magick), Adams says he wanted to put together ‘a band where everyone was following their noses. I’ve been calling the shots for ages now, and now I can lean on these people, make more noise. It’s fair to say we share a lot of the same thoughts and feelings about the state of the world. But mostly we talk about food.’

Though the band worked on the songs for several months, the album was recorded in a little over a week, in September 2017, at Half Ton Studios in Cambridge. It was produced by Ben Nicholls, who plays with Nadine Shah, Cara Dillon and many others, as well as helming his own Kings of the South Seas project. Adams was initially ambivalent about having a producer on board, but ‘Ben’s head is full of music. He came to a rehearsal and started making the occasional suggestion about songs and arrangements. At first we were a bit freaked out, but everything he suggested worked. In the studio he was in charge, which was oddly liberating.’ The album was then mixed by acclaimed producer and engineer (and Hudson Records supremo) Andy Bell.

It’s over 16 years since Adams started making music with The Broken Family Band, generating critical acclaim with each subsequent release and maintaining a dedicated cult following ever since. So, all these years later – having been called a national treasure enough times to fill a pirate’s chest, without ever having become an actual pop star – why does Steven Adams still do it? ‘I write songs and I play them and I try not to overthink it or to feel reliant on this for anything other than what it is; sounds, words, feelings, and an excuse to hang out with good people. That’s virtue signalling, in case anyone asks.’

‘National treasure has a great new band’ – The Guardian

Local support comes from Champion of Youth. Champion of Youth are a Manchester-based five-piece currently recording their highly caffeinated second single.

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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All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.