Various Artists

This is

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Manchester's place in musical history is solid, having birthed genius, genre defining bands like the Smiths, Joy Division/New Order, and the Stone Roses. To make sure that Manchester bands circa 2001 receive the exposure they deserve, the online Manchester label Urbanite released This Is The compilation collects two tracks each from five of the label's flagship artists: Hub, My Mate Mark, Ithaca, Tribeca, and Twenty Four Hours. It's an extremely talented roster. My Mate Mark come across like a poetic combination of Lamb and the Beta Band. The band's "Sunny Daze" blends lush electronics with beautiful breathy vocals and baggy beats, creating an effortlessly cool swirl of sounds. Twenty Four Hours, the new project of A Certain Ratio's Jez Kerr, offers up two timeless jangle rock pieces along the lines of the Lilac Time and the La's. Legendary Smiths guitar god Johnny Marr provides the delicate, touching strumming on the band's "Imagine a Feeling." "New York Days" is a pretty, shuffling slice of optimistic melancholia, made more poignant after the sad events of September 2001. Its lyrics of "New York days, New York nights, they can be so right" are heartwarming. The track's gentle music is credited to former Swing Out Sister keyboardist Andy Connell. Ithaca works the same kind of magic for which Broadcast is revered. The sweet and pretty vocals and lush orchestration of "Allsight" are endlessly endearing. Tribeca match the pacifistic charm of It's Jo and Danny's Thugs Lounge with their two contributions, coming across like electric folk hippies on "Always Ask" and suggesting Dusty Springfield gone dub on "City Breeze." Hub are the only artists on the compilation that might need a bit of work. Their light, funky drum'n'bass and diva vocals aren't up to the influences (Neneh Cherry, Texas, Massive Attack) that their music suggests. Urbanite and its artists are onto something special, and they do Manchester's ancestry great justice.

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