The North West has traditionally been one of the most vibrant music spots in the UK.
The home of The Beatles, The Smiths, Oasis and Bugzy Malone has given us album after album of genuine greatness.
2022 promises to be no different. With 2021 giving artists more freedom to enter studios and record material, industry experts are expecting a bumper year of great new records.
Here are five to look out for.
Liam Gallagher – C’mon You Know
One of Manchester’s most famous sons is about to launch his third solo effort, and he promises that it’s going to be his best one yet.
Liam Gallagher isn’t known for his modesty, so maybe we should be wary of false promises, but his previous releases surprised critics with their success.
His last album, Why Me? Why Not, was the UK’s best-selling vinyl record in 2019.
The Gallagher brother will back up the release of C’mon You Know with a return to Knebworth Park in June, scene of Oasis’s epic gig there 26 years ago.
The star will also appear at the home of his beloved Manchester City, the Etihad Stadium, in June, as well as Hampden Park later that month.
Blackhaine – And Salford Falls Apart
First-time listeners of Blackhaine’s music should steel themselves: it’s not an easy ride.
The artist, otherwise known as Lancashire-based Tom Heyes, forges a unique blend of metal and electro in his second EP And Salford Falls Apart, which is backed up by intense music videos of him dancing manically.
The dancing style, inspired by the Japanese art form butoh, was special enough to draw the attention of Kanye West, who hired Blackhaine to choreograph some of his live dance routines.
The EP itself draws on several themes, but centre around the poverty of working-class areas in the North West.
The album’s opening track, Blackpool, addresses the area’s former gambling capital, now blighted by drug abuse and problem gambling.
Black Lights on the M6, meanwhile, is about the motorway cutting through the region and conjures up a bleak, desolate atmosphere.
As we said previously, this album isn’t for the faint-hearted, but its honesty can’t be questioned.
The Wombats – Fix Yourself, Not the World
The trio from Liverpool is back on the scene with its fifth release, coming four years after Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life, which reached number 3 in the UK Album chart.
Things have started off well for The Wombats.
Their catchy single If You Ever Leave I’m Coming With You was named Radio X Record of the Week in August, and their UK tour announcement for April has been enthusiastically received.
Notable features of the album include its epic pixel-art cover, designed by eBoy, and the fact that each band member recorded their parts separately before sending them onto the album’s producers to piece together.
The technique was brought about due to the COVID-19 lockdown, but it might signal a new way of doing things for the band with future releases.
Jethro Tull – The Zealot Gene
Not many bands are still going strong after over half a century in the music business, but Jethro Tull certainly is one.
Their 22nd record is set for public release after the band announced it back in July.
The album is the first one following the band’s new deal with label Inside Out/Sony Music.
Not much is known about the new record, but it marks almost 20 years since their previous release, so fans are desperate to find out how the band sounds after all that time.
The band’s dissolution in 2011 means guitarist Martin Barre isn’t featured for the first time since 1969, with Joe Parrish stepping in instead.
Johnny Marr – Fever Dreams Pts 1-4
The genius guitarist behind The Smiths hits us with his fourth solo album in late February. Fever Dreams Pts 1-4 will be a double album featuring 16 tracks.
Marr says he’s been working on this album’s sound ever since he left The Smiths 35 years ago.
He describes the various strands of music on it as his ‘vocabulary of sound’, hinting that it could be his most complete record to date.
The musician also released a livestream at the time of the announcement.
Live at the Crazy Face Factory was a live recording available online for four days in November.
So, there you have it. Five albums that will define the North West music scene in 2022.
Rich in variety, they might just inspire the region’s next generation of artists to make an impact in the not-so-distant future.