SFTOC: Five acts to watch

Sounds from the Other City (SFTOC) commonly referred to as ‘the best day of the year’ in these parts returns in two weeks’ time with yet another stellar line up. While the festival usually spreads across a large section of my wonderful home city, SFTOC are celebrating their Quindecennial – fifteeenth birthday to us norms – by packing all the action into Regents’ Trading Estate.

Fifteen promoters – you get the idea now – were asked to pick just two of their favourite acts to play the Salford festival. While the line-up features widely touted up-and-comers like Black Midi, Spectres and Cocaine Piss, SFTOC is mostly treasured for it’s ability to unearth your favourite new band. Listen below to our top five picks, and get yourself a ticket!

Black Country, New Road

London-based Black Country, New Road lay down a well-tread journey into chaos. As yet the sardonic six-piece have only released one single, ‘Athen’s, France’, it starts nicely enough with dirgey guitars and acerbic lyrics ‘the curse of vultures, give me sourdough, my daily bread’ but soon derails into a terrifying dystopia. As the instruments swell, lead singer Isaac becomes frantic, his control slipping further and further with every line. By the time he sings ‘she hates every playlist she swears she made when she was 15’ he sounds exasperated, almost like he’s crying. It’s gripping and a sign of a band that aren’t afraid to break the rules.

Working Men’s Club

The sharp-edged sound of Todmorden trio ‘Working Men’s Club’ throws up images of sleazy velvet blazers and smoke-stained fingernails. Over swaggering riffs, Sydney Minski-Sargeant lays down gritty vocals that do nothing to hide his Yorkshire background. On latest single ‘Bad Blood’ he sings “be happy when the sun shines” simply because it doesn’t happen much up North. They’re unashamedly grandiose, giving you a rare chance to shed your insecurities and pretend you’re cool for a little while. They’ll do the rest.

Penelope Isles

If the sun doesn’t shine on the hallowed SFTOC concrete you can trust Isle-Of-Man-via-Brighton quartet Penelope Isles to bring it. Forged around sibling songwriters, Jack and Lilly Wolter, Penelope Isles blend fuzzy guitars and shimmering synths with kaleidoscopic splashes of psych-rock. Not in danger of being a one-trick-pony though, the band also have subtler songs that initially seep into your brain before becoming a flood. They’ve been known to stretch out their songs for up to nine minutes when playing live. Come, lose yourself in their haze.

Cocaine Piss

Yep that’s right there’s a band from Belgium called Cocaine Piss and not only that, they’re coming to Salford to send you fucking wild. The quartet make breathless, fraught noise music. Don’t be surprised to glimpse a sequin or a flash of glitter though because while most punk/noise bands define themselves with anger, Cocaine Piss raise the banner for inclusiveness. Take your clothes off, lob that wig you’ve kept secret for decades into the air; lose your fucking shit.

The Orielles

SFTOC love a good sibling band this year. The Orielles are made up of sisters Sidonie B and Esme Dee Hand Halford, guitarist Henry Carlyle Wade and Keyboardist Alex Stephens. They make plush indie pop that transports you to a sun-blitzed paradise. They’re not doing anything new but who cares when it sounds this good?

Sounds from the Other City takes place on Sunday May 5.

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