Liverpool Sound City is bigger than ever this year, with added Expo at the Arena providing a showcase for local and global music/digital professionals, a gazillion bands and a raft of really rather interesting speakers and sessions. In short, there’s a lot going on out there. And not one Beatles tribute act. And you can’t do it all. So here’s our recommendations for catching the best of Sound City, by day, and by night.

This year, Kicking and Screening offers a three day marriage of music and football, with a mini film fest featuring classics of the genre (although no Escape To Victory, damn it) and documentaries, and the John Peel World Cup at Chavasse Park on Saturday.

We’re kicking off with Thursday today, and we’ll follow up with Friday and Saturday in the days before the fest kicks off. No, we can’t make it simpler for you. What do you think we are? A listings site? For accurate timings, check Sound City’s line up list. Oh, and don’t forget, by day the Conference features lots of great stuff – including a talk from Nelson George, perhaps the most influential and entertaining oral hip hip tour guide you’re ever likely to hear. On stage with the one and only Arthur Baker (yes, him!) – this is one keynote worth dropping everything for.

Also on Thursday, the warm and cuddly Simon Pursehouse (yes, the Sentric man) holds a Social Media Surgery. We think we should definitely go to that, and Mobile Roadie – one of the most successful music app makers – talks all things mobile, music and applications.

THURSDAY

Slow Club, Art Academy

Refreshingly winsome free new folk from Sheffield, Slow Club are always guarantee a good show in the city. Their new stuff, shinier and poppier than ever, should even find you skipping around the Art Academy with a kind of abandon.

Tina in the Green Dress, Bombed Out Church

Glittery doom pop, courtesy of electronic duo mixing sounds, textures and jacques Brel meets Goldfrapp imagery, to great effect.

Wonderlust, The Attic

Sprightly, almost vaudeville-tinged pop from Brooklyn, courtesy of these four genre-hopping lads. Expect big sing-a-long choruses. Can we say, if Maroon 5 were good they’d sound like this?

Sheepdogs, Binary Cell

Downhome Canadian blues from this tight-harmony foursome, reassuringly hirsute and plaidy, their Neil Young meets Allman Brothers hooks should sway those of a particular mid 70s AM Radio bent.

Death in Vegas, The Kazimier

Expect this to be one of the festival’s stand out events. Right back at the top of their game after a mid-period hiatus, DIV are firing their psychedelic electronic rock out on all cylinders again. Latest, blistering set Trans Love Energies is sure to feature high in the mix, but we’re holding out for some Zugaga.

Fossil Collective, Leaf (First floor)

Beautiful, blissed-out alt.folk (ex Vib Gyor), outta Leeds, Fossil Collective are making all the right noises, being signed to Dirty Hit, and making multi-layered, shimmering sounds which – we hope – translate to the live Leaf experience. But there are only two of them, so it’s a tall order.

Anna Anna, Mello Mello

A pleasing set of double positives here, in the form of the resurgent Parr Street venue, and a glitch pop excursion of sci-fi torch songs from Brazil’s Anna Anna: blending Laurie Anderson style whispered electronic fables and ethereal, glockenspiel and wind-chime sound collages. Weirdly wonderful.

All We Are, Leaf

Great, reverb-soaked soundscapes from Payper Tiger (and Liverpool’s) All We Are, should suit the laid-back cafe society of Leaf’s ground floor a treat. But this is no wallpaper soundtrack – there’s lots going on here: sample Trainspotting’s wide-screen treatment for starters, and you’ll be hooked.

∆ Alt J, Kazimier

With Breezeblocks being rotated on MTV (Gosh, MTV. We’d forgotten about that), ∆ Alt J are enjoying a string of over-subscribed gigs in festivals around Europe this spring, and this after a blinder of a support slot for Wild Beasts. Hard work pays off, it seems. Expect inventive, poly rhythmic pop and fun. Remember fun?

Django Django, Red Bull at the Garage

We make no excuse for going a bit weak at the knees at the return of Glasgow’s Django Django. So good they named them twice. Live they’re a little scratchier than their fizzy, art-pop excursions. They’re sort of Hot Chip meets Beta Band – via the first sightings of Franz Ferdinand. Chirpy, smart and echo-drenched songs capture what’s good about British music right now.

Forst Swords, Clutter and Dog Show, Screenadelica

Did anyone order three portions of electronic disturbances? We welcome a rare outing of Wirral’s dubby ghost poet (he paints pictures with sounds, right? That’s poetry innit?) and the Kazimier’s favourite techno terrorists, Dog Show, straight from their appearance at the centre of the earth last year. Clutter (AKA Shaun Blezard) ups the ante with his woozy, hypnotic dreamscapes. This one’s got Must See written all the way through it.

Jethro Fox, Wolstenholme Creative Space

One man sound machine Jethro Fox is pushing all the right buttons, right now. Catch him while you can, and you’ll get waves of 60s beach pop, reverb drenched harmonies, guitars and life-affirming beats. We’re claiming him as our own (he’s a LIPA kid) but he’s an Essex boy at heart.

For venue details, maps and everything we can’t be arsed cutting and pasting, you wanna head over to the official Sound City site. Go on. You can buy your festival wristbands (£45) and delegate tickets (£150) there too.

Liverpool Sound City
, 17-19 May
Various venues, Liverpool