Neko Neko

Between Two Cities
My First Moth

Neko Neko, aka Graham Shortland, is a prolific producer and creator of electronic music. He’s rarely out of his home studio, but what sets him apart from bedroom hobbyists is his devotion to using analogue equipment when creating original sounds, instead of relying on plugins and music software.

He’s been tinkering with fresh sounds for years, releasing stuff through Mind On Fire and My First Moth, as well as DJing at many of their club nights. These nine tracks play seamlessly, like a live mix, albeit one that veers out of the back door and through the city streets to breathe in the sonic surroundings, before queue jumping back into the club.

The opening refrains of ‘Waiting’ sample a harp, threatening to break into a black and white Hollywood coda. Instead, it drops into a fuzzy sub bass riff and a clattering of high hats that sound like a bird flapping its wings after its feeder was spiked with amphetamine. The accompanying vocals by Najia Bagi add another soulful dimension to this cut-up technique.

The musique concrete doesn’t end there, as Shortland continues to sculpt tracks from disparate sources, from the wooden vibes and 808 snares on ‘Memories’ to the leftfield synths and castanets on ‘Sophia’. This release is a journey through the indescribable aspects of the city’s nightlife. In expressing the neglected parts of the psyche before the morning arrives and the brain cells combust, Neko Neko remains defiant. Manchester may be a tale of two cities, but this city is ours.

Nathan McIlroy

We have the exclusive first play of the first track lifted from Neko Neko's album, 'Waiting (Feat Najia Bagi)':

The Handsome Family

Unseen
Loose

The Handsome Family are comprised of a husband and wife core, Rennie and Brett Sparks. Last month they released their latest album, Unseen, which follows 2013’s Wilderness and is their 11th in a career stretching back to 1993.

The alt-country duo purvey an endearing strain of dreamy Americana, ranging from country ballads to lilting banjo and piano tunes reminiscent of the fairground, all haunted by a sense of the beyond, which is menacing, hopeful and surreal.

Fans of the band’s best known song, ‘Far From Any Road’, will find tracks in the same vein on this album. ‘Gold’, the opening track, also released as a single, will certainly whet the same appetite. It’s a modern murder ballad whose lyrics betray an affection for the dusty deserts of the band’s New Mexico home and explore themes of longing.













The album proceeds from there on with a range of tunes, from the quirky ‘Tiny Tina’, a quaint lamentation over a missed opportunity to see the world's smallest horse, to tracks like ‘The Red Door’ or ‘Underneath The Falls’, whose gothic lyrics invoke the spirit of H.P. Lovecraft, Lord Dunsany and the weirder folk tales of the American tradition.

Unseen is an album of cowboy folk music for spectres and old gods, like if Johnny Cash read the Necronomicon. A sound which will be familiar to fans of the band and which adds to an already developed trend within their catalogue without sounding stale or unadventurous, it’s a testament to the rich imagination of the Sparks and the continuing vitality of the Handsome Family’s musical voice.

William Manson

Pareidolia

Pareidolia EP
Self-released

Pareidolia's EP is a funky kaleidoscope of sounds, referencing soul, jazz, drum and bass, and reggae.

Opening up, 'In The Silence' is an uplifting number that starts off slowly with warm, gentle keys, and builds to a rousing chorus. Its guitar riff is mean, and there's lots of breathy saxophone over skittering beats. But it's the chorus which is really powerful, with a stirring message relayed by Yemi Bolatiwa's strong, expressive vocals.

'You Don't Even Know' shows Bolatiwa as an authoritative vocalist as she sings poetic lyrics over another skittish beat. Her voice is both soulful and versatile on this sax-led drum and bass track. It may sound similar to before, but Pareidolia are masters at switching things up. Just when you think you know where you are, the song descends into a chaotic, jazzy jam, which is funky as hell.

Bookending the taster EP is 'Sinking Island', a dream of a reggae tune with a roving bass line and soft keyboards. The male and female vocals complement each other perfectly. There's a nice tempo switch where the song's laidback skank changes to an upbeat mix of blistering drums, percussion and wah wah. Yemi's passionate singing brings the track to a crescendo, before it settles back down into its head-bobbing groove. Lashings of smooth sax make this tune a heavenly listen.

The EP is a soulful experience. Make sure you're nice and comfy, because this is seriously mellow stuff.

Anna Tuck

Hip Hop Singles:

Foreign Interlood

Nowhere
Bare Noise Records

Foreign Interlood's 'Nowhere' is a laidback, lounging track combining poetic lyrics with the catchiest hook. This single from the Manchester trio has a loose, easy feel and a super smooth sound.

Relaxing beats and chilled out keys couple together to create a warm, soothing vibe, delivered by emcees Lupin and Hitchhiker’s well-crafted, original verses which span a range of topics and imagery. These unique rhymes are brought to an apex by the infectious chorus, and the rich, honeyed vocals of singer Melikz. This is slick, soulful hip hop from some of Manchester's freshest talent.














Skittles

Problematic
Propatop

'Problematic' is an honest, reflective look at self and relationships. In his raw, gritty voice, Skittles spills his soul in raps over a jazzy track. With brutal honesty, Skittles talks about the complexities of himself and an important relationship, all to a backdrop of muted horns and deep bass.

The sparse piano is a nice touch and adds a classical feel, and it's refreshing to hear such honesty from a man, especially in a genre which can have limiting ideas about ‘masculinity’.

It's clear that ‘Problematic’ is a cathartic piece for the artist, and it's this authenticity and depth of emotion that makes the track so powerful.












Anna Tuck