Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Music blogs

Just noticed this good article on music blogs in Sunday's Observer, by Killian Fox. The article is fairly explicit about the increasingly important role the blogs play in spreading the word about new artists. If anyone's thinking of setting up one, don't worry about artists or labels coming after you (as long as you aren't silly enough to post whole albums in perpetuity) - they're almost always more than happy for the publicity. In fact, they're sending stuff out to bloggers constantly, as I'm sure the Manc music blog brigade can attest to.

Even this non-mp3 blog has been getting a lot more requests to post tracks and press releases from music labels and prs lately, most of them Manchester-based. I won't say trying to get me to listen to/post about music is a total waste of time, but chances are pretty slim that I'll end up writing anything. The tiny bit of music-related blogging I do on here is basically me mentioning gigs of bands I like that are coming up in Manchester. These bands are more and more likely to have released their best work sometime in the last century. I'm open to new music but I just don't care enough anymore to spend too much time trying to keep up with musical fashions.

I accept that as a media outlet you're going to get a certain amount of pr spam from club promoters and music bods, and that's fine. But sending me three emails a day about your sizzling band is probably just going to annoy me.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Manchester spring festivals

Yep, it's spring, and you know what that means... the Manc festival frenzy is officially beginning and it won't end until late Autumn. Here's your tear-and-save guide:

22-26 April
venues around Manc, and a bit in Lancaster too.

Moves celebrates movement on screen via a shitload of experimental short films, award-winning animation and enough talks n' workshops to keep all the flickheads and aspiring filmmakers in Manchester happy. The biggest event is probably the UK Premiere of the animated short film "I met the Walrus" which was nominated for an Oscar (pictured). But it's really all good. There should be some screenings outdoors, too, so if you walk by the big screen in Exchange Square and it's showing something more interesting than usual, that's probably what's going on. For a taster, check out these "ArtCast" podcasts that Folly has cooked up with Moves, featuring some of the best of the fest.


1-5 May

This year the theme of our technogeek extravaganza is social networking. In fact, Futuresonic promise us "a city centre overrun with 'unplugged' social networking." So, that's a city full of people talking to each other in the flesh? Hmmm. Not sure about that one. Seriously, though, some of these art projects are kind of cool, conceptually at least. On the music side we've got hip hop with RZA of Wu Tang Clan, old art-punkers Wire, mind-bending electroweirdlet Luke Vibert aka Wagon Christ, and a whole bunch of artists of the electronic persuasion that I'm probably not hip enough to have heard of.

Sounds From the Other City

Sunday May 4
venues around Salford, the Brooklyn of Manchester

The fourth chapter of this one-day blowout sees local bands descend on Salford Rock City, playing churches, random places, and some freaky old man pubs you'd never otherwise enter. Having each venue booked by a different promoter ensures a really bewildering mix of stuff, and this year the venue count has grown to 8. I like the sound of Hey! Manchester's gigs at the Salford Arms, and the eclectic lineup in the arty environs of Salford Restoration Office. Oh, and local heroes Performance and Lonelady are playing at Egerton Arms. But, really, it's best to just pick a venue that sounds good, park there for a while, and then maybe stumble over to another one, and then another one, in an increasingly beer-fuddled haze. You'll see some good bands, you'll see some bad bands. That's how it goes.

Queer up North
9-25 May, venues around Manc

Yeah, remember that whole fiasco this winter in which the Arts Council almost axed Queer up North's funding? But it was saved by a heartswelling groundswell of support and general outcry from the good people of Manchester, who said it was essential to the city's cultural well being? Well now's the time to put your money where your mouth is and book some tickets. We have: the slightly scary Sandra Bernhard revisiting her superfamous one-woman show, Without You I'm Nothing. Marisa Carnesky and Ivo Dimchev bringing the performance art, Justin Bond of Kiki and Herb, the awesome Club Brenda, Lesbian Pulp Fiction, a Scottish jazz singer and a film about a zombie named Otto. And that's just a sample...

Friday, April 04, 2008

Mike Leigh at Cornerhouse

This just in, from Gill Moore. If I wasn't going to be out of town I would definitely try to go to this...

Mike Leigh, international & award winning film director of "Secrets and Lies" "Vera Drake" "Life is Sweet" amongst others is previewing his new film "Happy-Go-Lucky" at the Cornerhouse on Tuesday eve at 8pm. He will be present and open for questions after the showing. There are still a few tickets left (as of today anyway) as this event didn't make the Cornerhouse brochure in time for printing !! So it hasn't been widely publicised. This is a great opportunity to see a fantastic director on his home patch (he was born in Salford.)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Flotsam and jetsam

A few bits and bobs:

The MIF fringe fest is coming back for more in Summer '09, and has started scouting around for acts and artists. Somewhat confusingly, its name has changed again. After being called Not Manchester International Festival and Not Part of Manchester International Festival it's now being called, simply, Not Part Of. Anyway, if you'd like to be involved, all the info is here: Not Part Of festival.

Maybe this is old news at this point, but I just heard about the rebranding of Wythenshawe. This was attempted with Ancoats/"New Islington" a year or so ago, and I think it's interesting that the folks involved in this project are openly stating that they're rebranding it. Is it just me who gets all squirmy when people talk about rebranding neighbourhoods, like they're deodorants or trainers rather than communities where people have been living quite happily for hundreds of years? Hmmm.

Krispy Kreme is about to hit Manchester like a spare tire. An outpost of this American donut chain is opening at Piccadilly Gardens next week. Have you seen these things? I renewed my acquaintance with them at the Trafford Centre drive-thru recently. They are fearsome. But tasty, dammit. Even if one of the sugarcoated devils contains enough saturated fat to keep a family of four alive for two weeks. Ah well, at least I'll now be able to get a a decent cup of brewed coffee in the city centre.
And don't give me that song and dance about Americanos being the same. They're not.

And, yes, I'm feeling much better now. Thank you to the many kind souls who sent in messages of solidarity during my long period of sickness and self-pity. I'm taking my massive 8-month-old bump to Ireland next week, so all will be quiet here on the blog.