It doesn’t seem like a year since the last Sound City Festival in Liverpool. That’s probably because it’s not. Due to Covid Sound City 2021 was moved from it’s regular spring slot to the autumn. Now the event described in The Guardian’s Guide to Festivals 2022 as one of ‘the best for new music’, and as the place to see ’emerging indie, pop and alt-folk’ is back in it’s usual seasonal home. Sound City will take place from 30th April – 1st May at various venues in Liverpool City Centre. One of it’s unique selling points is the close proximity of all the venues. Unlike other urban festivals, like Live at Leeds or Neighbourhood in Manchester, all the venues are within easy walking distance of One to Another.
Headliners for the weekend are impressive. Saturday’s top slot is taken by Wigan indie darlings – The Lathums. Their set last year began with Alex Moore holding aloft an award for the ‘Number 1 Album’, proclaiming ‘this is for you’. The set was one of the festival’s highlights. Following on from a successful US tour, and on the back of a triumphant performance before 3000 adoring fans at Blackpool’s Empress Ballroom, I expect West Lancashire’s Fab Four to be on top form.
Sunday’s headliner is Self Esteem. Singer-songwriter Rebecca Lucy Taylor’s second album – Prioritise Pleasure – was one of the most hotly anticipated releases of 2021. Her witty, confessional pop songs covering themes of insecurity, comparison culture, misogyny, and self love – quite rightly harvested a bumper crop of accolades – Sunday Times and The Guardian Album of the Year, and BBC Music Introducing Artist Of The Year. Wherever she is playing, you better get there early.
Relating to that last point, it will be interesting to see what is going to happen concerning venues this year. The usual smaller venues like Jimmy’s, Kazimier Stockroom, and the lethal EBGBS – with it’s hidden steps and tricky low arches – are sure to be utilised. But where are the big hitters going to play? Usually they would be stationed in the ornate, Edwardian surroundings of the 1300 capacity Grand Central Hall. Due to on going financial issues the gates of the GCH are currently padlocked. The equally capacious Arts Club is already in use during Sound City. Replacement venues of equal size would mean trips away from the ‘Bold Street Delta’ to the distant corners of The Baltic Triangle or Regent Road, if those spaces are even available.
Artists bound to attract big crowds, wherever they are appearing, will be Leeds, indie, anti-establishment ragers Yard Act, and genre twisting, synth-pop prodigy Alfie Templeman. But if you’re looking for ideas about who to see further down the listings, here’s a few suggestions.
They’re not from New York City they’re from Rotherham, and where they’re from everyone’s ‘got a cousin or a mate whose best friends with Alex Turner’. They are The Reytons. Their album Kids off The Estate is full of loud, big riff indie guitar tunes about kids nicking from the corner shop, and men in hi-vis jackets drinking vodka in the local. A must see for fans of Arctic Monkeys and The K‘s.
Fiona Lennon is a Liverpool based singer-songwriter who’s influences included Fleetwood Mac, Alicia Keys and The Corrs. I recently saw her at The Cavern where, backed by her four piece band, she played a beguiling set of songs that contained elements of pop, rock, soul, and Americana. Standouts on the night were The Only One – a song that combined country guitar riffs with soulful vocals, and past single releases You Really Got a Hold On Me and A Little Longer.
If you like to dance then go see Casino. Playing banging, original material that uses as it’s reference points American soul, Tamala Motown and Stax, Casino play some proper 4-to-the floor stompers. You won’t be able to keep your feet and other bits still.
Take a touch of The Rolling Stones, a pinch of Led Zeppelin, a hint of The Faces, a mere whiff of Black Sabbath, mix it in a big old north Manchester melting pot and let it mellow for a while. Take it out and add the honeyed vocals of Charlie Jordan and you’ve got the recipe for the sound of Dirty Laces. They’ve played Salford Lads Club, headlined Manchester’s 600 capacity Gorilla venue, worked with Laurence Colbert (Ride), and Alex Quinn (Seatbelts). I’ve seen them a few times and they’ve always delivered.
Trying to select choices from such a long list of contenders is a difficult task. All the above, plus artists like local favourites Hushtones and Crawlers won’t disappoint, and alright (okay), described in oldmanblues.com as having the ‘stage presence of freshly uncaged hyenas’ must be worth a punt!
Wherever you end-up have a sound time and see some boss bands.