Jamie XX & Illum Sphere | Gorilla | Friday 12 July


Some people seem destined to lead a double life – Jamie Smith is one of those men. Having risen to fame thanks to his work as the mastermind behind the sultry sound of The XX, he began doing DJ sets and remixes under his Jamie XX moniker, before eventually moving on to creating his own floor-fillers, becoming one of the most sought after producers of our time.

Jamie XX – Far Nearer on YouTube

Among the many names after his sound, Drake created his worldwide hit Take Care (featuring Rihanna) with the skeleton of the already-hugely-popular remix Jamie did of a Gil Scott Heron track for their collaboration album We’re New Here. Since the completion of that project, Smith moved back to crafting the dark and light of his band’s second album Coexist. Now, as The XX play various spaces for Manchester International Festival, Jamie XX brings along Illum Sphere for an all-too-rare solo set at Gorilla.

Tickets are £14 and available through http://www.skiddle.com/

Willis Earl Beal | Sacred Trinity Church | Friday 4 October

Willis Earl Beal’s story is often mentioned, but still bears repeating. Born in Chicago, Beal joined the US Army in his early 20’s before being discharged thanks to medical issues – he then worked a series of low paid jobs and became homeless for a while. Around the same time, he began to record music, leaving CD-R’s around the city as a means of distributing his work. Local press began to pick up on it, and the rest is history – now signed to Hot Charity (an imprint of XL records), Willis is truly one of a kind

Willis Earl Beal – Nothing Occurs official video

His voice is laced with the suffering and angst of his story – soulful and stirring, powerful and tender. His debut Manchester show in March 2012 at Trof Fallowfield is the stuff of legend – sauntering through the sold-out crowd to the stage, he sang largely acapella, with a reel-to-reel as his only backing, stamping and clapping as his percussion in support of his first release, Acousmatic Sorcery. He has matured as an artist since then, moving on from the no-fi to a fuller sound, with debut album Nobody Knows due out September 10th.

Tickets are £8 and available through http://www.seetickets.com/

Merchandise | Deaf Institute | Thursday 22 August

Despite the glut of fawning over them only starting recently, Merchandise have been around for a good few years now. Taking time to develop their sound – their first documented release was in 2009 – the band have got weirder and more brilliant with age, building up to the great anti-pop dissonance of their latest two releases, Children of Desire and Totale Nite.

Merchandise – Become What You Are via Youtube

Borne out of the hardcore scene, their work is filled with the emotion associated with punk, but expressed with a richness and emotional complexity, all luscious, expansive soundscapes and deep sonic texture. Pitchfork have repeatedly given them best new track and best new music, NME Radar can’t stop going on about them and new blog posts pour in every day of someone else falling in love with their favourite new band. Most of their music is available to download for free from their website – though the links keep breaking, as mediafire thinks that anything getting that amount of traffic must be illegal. This is their first ever Manchester show.

Tickets cost £8 and are available from http://www.seetickets.com/

Cold Cave | Deaf Institute | Sunday 11 August

Wesley Eisold is a riddle of a man. He’s been published in journals, runs his own printing press, and has performed in the Guggenheim. He’s also been in post-hardcord and noise bands like Ye Olde Maids, Some Girls and XO Skeletons, and he has writing credits on the first Fall Out Boy album somehow, too. Cold Cave is the brutally singular vision of Eisold, acting as a form of creative rebirth – backed by musicians he knows and trusts, the sound they create is a dark, synth pop.

Cold Cave – Love Comes Close video

Based out of New York, Cold Cave’s critically acclaimed self-released debut Love Comes Close was so spectacular – and gloriously bleak in places – that it convinced Matador Records to sign the band and do a re-pressing themselves. Follow up Cherish The Light Years garnered even stronger reviews – though Eisold has since taken his time to release another full-length, instead reverting back to being self-reliant, putting out a series of limited run 7″‘s as he further tests his creativity. This will be the first Cold Cave show in Manchester since 2011, and the final night of their select-date European tour.

Tickets are £8, available through http://www.skiddle.com/