It’s no deeply hidden secret that Manchester is somewhat of a holy grail when it’s come to music.
Since the 1960’s, Manchester has been rifled with insanely delicious music. From the rambunctious Punk era of Buzzcocks and Sex Pistols, to the cesspit of incredible self loathing from the mighty Joy Division, with charges from The Smiths in the 80’s leading them to become the most highly sort after Indie band in history. Towards the end of the 80’s Manchester had the “Madchester” scene to guide everyone into the 90’s, with bands such as Happy Mondays, Stone Roses, New Order and The Charlatans. Then in the 90’s, the UK had Britpop, the era for the Gallagher brothers to pit themselves against London’s Blur. Arguably Oasis won this battle, (just look at their world presence, sales, all that jazz).
So here in the 21st century, Manchester has received an extreme makeover. In fact, it keeps receiving make overs. If you’ve seen St Trinians (hold on for a second), the make up scene where the girl changes about 500 times, Manchester’s music scene is currently going through this and has been since the 60’s. We can’t pick a style that suits us because they all do. Modern/Post-Modern/Post-Post-Modern. Whatever hipsters are calling it, it’s what Manchester is #1 at.
Now Manchester’s underground scene has always been famous, for being home to some of the weirdest, coolest and awe-inspiring music in very modern history. The most conspicuous act, abiding to all of these being WU-LYF, with their, anti-anything approach to media coverage. It was a cold day in Manchester (well that’s pretty much every day) when WU-LYF’s Ellery Thomas announced his departure with his leaving mark, the WU-LYF track, Triumph. But the fall of one band means the rise of another, as MONEY were soon to emerge from the ashes of WU-LYF. Although MONEY had been releasing their demos at the same time as WU-LYF, WU-LYF’s disgust to the mainstream was their perfect strategy. MONEY’s Post-Joy Division style came from Jamie Lee. MONEY’s Jamie Lee had the message instead of super-realisation. The belief that life isn’t just life, that it’s far more complex, beautiful, meaningful than people think of. Lee’s message of ‘enlightenment’ is the reason why The Shadow Of Heaven was received as a religious message. It was religious, just not in the traditional sense of what a religion is. MONEY’s religion is the people.
But to define these two bands as Manchester’s modern music scene would be nothing short of treason. Sure they’ve brought a definitive sound to one of the weirdest cities on Earth (with 500 cults for each new sub genre announced since Chillwave became a genre), but there is so much more to Manchester than this new take on anti-establishment that the Punk era wrote the book on.
Music styles don’t just die, they evolve. New Order didn’t just disappear, becoming Manchester’s only well recognised Electronic group. No Ceremony have bridged the gap for New Order with minimalistic reverbing, plugged into modern House styles. Just as New Order were evolved into No Ceremony, Joy Division (I tred on very thin ice here) have been adopted by the duo Hurts. It might not be Post-Punk or Punk at all, but Hurts have taken on board the many horrors that modern living entails, from the everyday tasks, to failing deeply in love with somehow who’ll destroy your world in five seconds flat.
In a more narrow, less detailed sense. Everything is evolving, adapting to new styles. The 21st century for Manchester has seen its musical history, explode into one small decade. It’s as if we’ve had our own big-bang in the past ten years. So it’s not as much as a battle in the sense of blood and gore. It’s the battle of evolution. The list of these evolutions is endless. Spanning from the likes of Delphic, to The 1975, to The Courteeners to Egyptian Hip-Hop, to even more.