When Sounds from the Other City first came along eight years ago, it gave the then often-overlooked Chapel Street area of Salford a massive shot in the arm. Now, with Islington Mill flourishing and surrounding locals such as The Kings Arms and the recently-reopened Eagle Inn (sister to Oldham Street's Castle Hotel) enjoying a renaissance, it's hard to imagine life without SFTOC on the May Day bank holiday weekend. Reassuringly, the festival's mission remains unchanged - a platform for leftfield art and music and emerging talent drawing thousands to Chapel Street and the Crescent on the city's eastern border with central Manchester. Here's five must-see acts if you're crossing the Irwell tomorrow:
1. Victories at Sea - 'Swim'
A tip of the hat to Underachievers, who have definitely pulled together the best lineup of the day. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to not want to spend the whole day at the Salford Arms given what's on offer. Birmingham has often been overlooked when it comes to new music, but not any more on the basis of fast-paced, instantly catchy tunes such as this effort from Victories at Sea. A good bit of speaker-shaking bass, reverb in abundance and a screechy feedback coda always goes down well here at Motel Towers.
Underachievers at The Salford Arms
2. Maria Minerva - 'Gloria'
"# This song is my testament #," Maria Minerva sings on 'Gloria', and she's not far wrong. Maria Jurr's output is so enchanting that this mixtape very nearly missed its delivery slot as your writer joyfully roamed Soundcloud. 'Gloria' is a standout track though, as Jurr's voice seductively soars up arpeggios and plays with rhythm in the most enchanting way. And like all truly memorable tracks, it's got a good floor-filling beat and a great hook - a perfect way to finish off the night.
Now Wave/Off with Their Heads at Islington Mill (headlining)
3. NASDAQ - 'Dead Peasants'
NASDAQ were namechecked by someone whose name escapes me, but whose opinion I trust, last year and shamefully, I've only just got round to giving them the attention they clearly deserve. Like all the bands on the Bad Uncle/Hear Here bill, they'll be soundtracking films with original scores. 'Dead Peasants', on record at least, is almost half an hour in length, but for crying out loud, don't let that scare you off as this is no background music. It's a difficult track to sum up. I guess it's a truly glorious adventure in constantly shifting time signatures and moods that never once runs the risk of becoming indulgent.
Bad Uncle & Hear Here present Soundtracks from the Other City, United Reform Church
4. Dancing Years - 'Borderline'
Dancing Years - formerly known as Joseph & David - follow in the footsteps of the epic pop storytelling tradition of acts such as Guillemots and The Miserable Rich, all soaring vocals and delicate orchestration. 'Borderline's contemplative opening piano chords form the perfect hook for this damned good minor-key yarn about heartbreak.
Hey! Manchester at St Philip's Church
5. Daniel Land and the Modern Painters - 'Eyes Wide Shut'
It's been a while since something so anthemnic - yet so genuinely haunting - has graced these ears. 'Eyes Wide Shut' progresses with ease and a warmth that's often missing from music like this. Hazy synths support bittersweet harmonies and all the crescendos are so perfectly placed. After a first album which demonstrated some promise, this early snippet from the band's forthcoming second longplayer The Space Between Us (full review forthcoming from senior Motel contributor and general man of distinction Steve Welch) shows a clear step forwards.
The Angel Centre (headlining)
Sounds from the Other City takes place in Salford's Chapel Street area on Sunday, May 6. The nearest train station is Salford Central and buses run to and from Shudehill Interchange in Manchester city centre. The wristband exchanges is open on the first floor of Islington Mill between 2.30pm and 9pm tomorrow - all tickets must be exchanged for a wristband.