Words by Ian Pennington

We’re into the sixth week of 2014 now and really starting to see a packed listings schedule, with musicians and promoters alike crawling out of wintry hibernation.

Skipping swiftly past those Monday blues, a good example of the greater selection the closer you get to Easter is Tuesday 11th. Popular French synth rockers Phoenix tackle the vast Academy 1 audience, while across town at Soup Kitchen it’s up to chirpy chappy Ezra Furman to instil and pre-Springtime spring in your step.

There’s only one option for Wednesday night, not that it’s a bad one though. Kosmonaut’s free monthly slot in collaboration with shoegazing promoter Grey Lantern sees Scouse soundscapists D-r-o-h-n-e topping a bill that also includes similarly styled Espher and Blue Birds’ Call.

The big guns are blazing again by Thursday 13th. Pharoahe Monch’s well-crafted rhymes will be suited to the home of the jazz/blues/soul genre grouping, Band On The Wall. Or if prog-metal hybrids do more to tingle your ear drums then American English spelling favouring Dream Theater entertain at the Apollo, while local Manchester beardos Trojan Horse offer a downscaled version of a similar model, they’re launching their latest EP at the new Underland venue.

As ever with the following day, Friday 14th, you can go all-out lovey-dovey, shun it entirely or just be indifferent towards the whole thing. For the former, the aptly named Extra Love are embracing the occasion at Antwerp Mansion with the support of Feral Mouth and Kora Collective. 

The antithesis option is A Pale Horse Named Death, which unless you’re a certain way inclined, fails to conjure up romantic imagery, but does promise a rock bathed in a sea of distortion and reverb. Between them on the fence is Basia Bulat, who’ll be playing at Gullivers, supported by local medic slash singer songwriter Sukh.

For the weekend, best-of-2013 list bothering Parquet Courts tussle with Welsh lo-fi heroine Cate Le Bon for the limelight on Saturday 15th. They’re on at Academy 2 and Deaf Institute respectively.

And if the music to your ears is when paddle strikes a hollow ball, then why not check out the new Ping Pong Arch centre on the growing Trinity Row community, right next to the recently opened First Chop Brewery?

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