Manchester music’s past, present and future join forces for an outstanding new charity LP in aid of the city’s homeless ***** Five stars

In times of crisis, you can always rely upon Mancunians to respond with unity and togetherness. No matter how tough things get, no matter how seemingly insurmountable the adversity, the city of Manchester always seems to embrace the challenge and come back even stronger.

      In recent times, of course, there have been numerous examples of that strength and resilience. Just recall how the city responded after the devastation of the 2017 Manchester Arena attack; or, more recently, witness how Mancunian communities have united in solidarity against the COVID-19 pandemic.

     And now, with the release of MancMade /// Acts of Hope, Manchester’s steely resolve is once more being celebrated in the form of an outstanding new charity compilation album. Curated by Ben Guy, frontman of Mancunian band Narcissus, and released on fledgling independent label 42’s Records, this impressive new compilation LP was initially designed to raise funds for the local charity MancSpirit in aid of their Creative Change Homeless Project. Planned for release long before the UK went into lockdown, the album has now taken on an even greater importance in the wake of coronavirus and its impact upon Manchester’s homeless and vulnerable.

      Comprising 18 tracks and a myriad of different artists and genres, MancMade is that rarest of things – a charity compilation whose vast quantity is matched by genuine quality. Moreover, it’s a record which provides a fascinating snapshot of Manchester’s music scene in 2020 – an eclectic, absorbing collection spanning legendary and influential figures to lesser known, though hotly-tipped emerging faces.

      In terms of the old guard, there’s plenty here to grab your attention. Opening track ‘Show Me The Truth’ sees Happy Mondays drummer Gaz Whelan and vocalist Rowetta team up for a slow-burning slice of cinematic soul-rock propelled by thunderous percussion and powerhouse vocals.

      Elsewhere, Brix and The Extricated – the band comprised of former Fall members – provide some thrilling new-wave power-pop with ‘Wolves’, whilst Factory Records favourites the Space Monkeys will seriously engage your dancing feet with their ‘90s baggy-infused banger ‘Give Me Some Space’.   

      A man who surely needs no introduction, guitar hero Johnny Marr collaborates with Mancunian acting royalty Maxine Peake on ‘The Priest’, an intense, invigorating blend of spoken word, trip-hop beats and soaring strings.    

      Another familiar name, author, broadcaster and musician Mark Radcliffe also pops up with his brand new project UNE, serving up the brilliantly bonkers techno-house odyssey ‘Iktsuarpok’.

      Manchester is, of course, a city renowned for its regenerative powers – and there’s plenty here to suggest that the city’s musical future is in very safe hands. A perfect chance to sample some Mancunian stars-in-waiting, the album has contributions from songstress Jess Kemp (rousing indie-folk number ‘Camden’); hip-hop wordsmith Dave Scott, aka ARGH KID (the witty gentrification tale ‘Neighbours’); atmospheric mood-rockers Ist Ist (the Joy Division-esque ‘Exist’); and fiery post-punk merchants LIINES (claustrophobic stomper ‘Never Wanted This’).

Fittingly, MancMade concludes with a unique collaboration between the album’s creators, Narcissus, and spoken word artist Dave Viney. Perfectly summing up the spirit of the album, ‘Our City’ is a rousing electronic-fuelled spoken word piece celebrating what it means to be a Mancunian.  

     Well worth your hard-earned pennies, MancMade /// Acts of Hope most certainly lives up to its name – a real statement of civic pride and radiant positivity at a time when we all desperately need it. Manchester – we’d expect nothing less from you.  

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