BBC Manchester Introducing's team of contributors were out and about on Monday at In The City to capture some of the bands playing the event.
A disappointingly sparse venue, a frustrating sound check, and jeans and t-shirts abound, but it didn't beat Beat The Radar. Their shruggy, hummable tunes, studied naivety and young poetic depression comes with lovely guitar and bass interplay and shoe gazing smiles. They warmed up as the set progressed and a more biting attitude set in. Ones to watch - classic Mancunian and very good at it.
Sporting some of the biggest hair at this year's In The City, Bear Driver were in danger of being memorable more for their appearance, peacock feathers and toy instruments, than for their sound. That is until they locked into their fine indie rhythms and uplifting drums, meshed them together with fun-soaked vocals and carried the sparse crowd off in a sea of euphoria. Catchy, exuberant stuff.
Clean and polished with one incongruous parka worn, the perfectly plucked guitars and soft harmonies of Life In Film come with a zeitgeisty Americana twang. Yet something feels overstudied. They are either fine indie pop with occasionally interesting edges or simply a Kings of Leon tribute act? I can't quite decide but there wasn't enough of value to make me want to hang around to make my mind up.
Frazer King are impossible to define, though describing these guys as naughty anarchic poets or a 'naughty' Coral comes close. Imagine a brass band that had been kidnapped by guitar wielding evil monkeys high on e-numbers. Flamenco guitars, group male harmonies, jazz, ska, folk
any attempt to break down this band is like forcing your brain to see in five dimensions. Their music is fun, frenetic, raising, distinct and thoroughly unpredictable, all of which force you to adopt a massive grin and uncontrollable toe-tapping madness. They are one great big fun, dark evil circus; not to be missed.
Led by the full fun and throwabout fancy of front woman Alison, Charlie and the Ghosts are becoming an intriguing prospect. They plough a garage rock furrow with increasing success and, thanks to their genuine commitment to their sound, are becoming the band they want to be. The brooding impressive side is starting to win through in their sound and if they let it have as much free reign as Alison gives herself on stage, riches may well be theirs.
Nadine Shah - Electric Boogaloo, 8.20pm (CH)
If all live debuts were as breathtaking as Nadine Shah's then the walls of the music industry as we know it would crumble to dust, and in their place proud palaces of hope and beauty would spring forth. Simple piano underpins a rich, husky-hued vocal that tells of 100 more years of heaviness than can possibly be contained in the waifish Geordie girl before us. Dolorous lyrical themes and straightforward arrangements fuse to create a spellbinding performance. She could sing a shopping list and it would be enrapturing. Outstanding, original and beautiful.
A bass guitar played with a bow, a violin, smoke and ominous vocals combine to create a powerful and captivating on-stage presence. Dramatic, spellbinding with a touch of darkness in parts make Blind Atlas a thoroughly hypnotic act. Their atmospheric numbers were balanced out by later tunes, which were lighter but no less appealing. There were shades of American rock, but with a haunting, uplifting and memorable tone all of their own. A powerful and mesmerising act well worth your attention.
The thin and frankly irritating sound of double drums and double synth marks this band as being a bit different. Not necessarily in a good way though, as rambling, jam like tunes that are neither frantic or innovative enough to work mark them out as a bunch of stereotypical students who have got together to do something 'random' and 'wacky' without and regard for musicality or meaning. No thank you.
- The Deaf Institute, 9.30pm (CH)
Reprising the double synth and drum combination of Munch Munch, but this time with the addition of electric guitar and lots of feeling. This is Clues' first show in the UK, and it feels a privilege to be in attendance, especially when one synth swaps to bass and things start to get properly exciting. Add in the spooky falsetto vocals, that could be those of a small boy forgotten in a cellar, the stuttering rhythms, the sinister frailty of the guitar and some stodgy square synth and Clues are engaging and honest. Yes please.
Swagger and brow-beating charisma alone are not enough to carry by-the-book music, especially when The Kings come across as incompetent, rather than rock and roll, their swagger a little too careless, rather than carefree. Promising intros, riffs and solos failed to deliver, dragged back into mediocre forgettable indie-chorus-by-numbers. If they manage to break out of their own rigid indie-song book structure and keep their front man the right side of cool rather than cartoon, they could go onto better things; as they are, they're fun but with no surprises.
Captivating and electric, featuring searing vocals and passion by the bucket full. The gathered throng were transfixed by the ambient guitar driven sound on show, as Frightened Rabbit presented the friendlier side of post-rock, all emotional clout and heartfelt vocals. Their music wraps you in a warm blanket and, on stage, they fascinate with the sheer amount of energy and actual sweat they pour into their music. A class act.
The bassist from electronic dance pop act Metronomy steers a new boat in the form of London quartet Your Twenties. On board with him are three others masterfully disguising their comparable inexperience, performing track after track of completely lovely songs in the depths of Moho's basement. The guys have the handsome looks, charming composure and pretty distinct sound cocktailed for success and the music is reminiscent of Rooney, layered with far more British vocals. With an upcoming single on hip label Neon Gold Records, their way to some larger degree of success is surely already paved.
Follow the links in the band names above to listen to them online at their websites.