The LMS team got together for a chat and a drink to discuss the musical highs and lows of 2013 in our fair city. And you know what; it was a pretty busy year!
We managed to attend in the region of 200 gigs, posted 120 live reviews, written 113 CD reviews, interviewed 48 bands and posted 274 new articles!! So thank you to all our contributors, of which we have over 40 currently active and supporting our local music scene.
Leeds saw the opening of two great new venues that are making their mark on our city. The First Direct Arena saw The Kaiser Chiefs return to their hometown and brought legendary names like Depeche Mode and Bruce Springsteen. Then there is the multi-faceted Belgrave Music Hall which has brought the likes of Dutch Uncles, Slow Club and Wet Nuns; alongside some great pizza and gourmet fish and chips.
Festival season seemed to be boom in 2013. Starting with probably my favourite multi-venue festival, Live at Leeds. Every year they manage to get the best up and coming artists to play amazing and intimate venues, LAL 2013 saw Rudimental play to a packed out O2 and George Ezra woo the Holy Trinity Church. Crooked Ways returned for a second year, establishing its roots with a headline set from The Enemy. The ever popular music lovers festival, Beacons, had headline sets from Django Django and Local Natives; we also saw this year develop in to a gourmet affair bringing some amazing food stalls. Anyone who went knows it was definitely the muddiest Leeds Festival we have ever seen, but it continued regardless, and brought Eminem and Biffy Clyro to Yorkshire. Bingley Festival saw the legendary Chic with Nile Rodgers top the bill, so all in all it was a pretty good year.
You can't talk of 2013 without mentioning everybodys' favourite venue, The Brudenell Social Club celebrating 100 years in business. It brought so many incredible one off gigs to the music lovers of Leeds, legends like Rocket from the Crypt, Shellac, Martha Reeves and ¡Forward, Russia!; all playing to the sold out venue.
The best Singles/EPs came from Jacobean Ruff, whose single 'Family' is a truly sublime, uplifting piece of folk that luxuriated in Sophie Pearson's stunningly crystalline vocal. The good folk at Visit Yorkshire liked it so much they used it in one of their adverts. On a different note, 'Fandango' is the first release by ijomojo, a great new band, all students of Leeds University. They set the bar high and I'm hoping for big things from these guys. With a great video, Dancing Years released the emotionally hard hitting, 'Here's To My Old Friends', which showcases one of the best upcoming bands from the Leeds. A personal favourite, Bearfoot Beware released Bruises and Business EP, this is head bobbing, grungy, punky math-rock at its best. If we venture a little further afield, Ghost Poets' 'Some Say So, So I Say Light', is a perfect blend of solid rhythm and hope, drowning darkness. Then there is Plastic Visions self-titled EP whose raucous raw energy, which can only be described as 'Dirtier than a pool party at Hugh Hefner's'. It was the year for Foals, and 'Inhaler' was an epic piece of indie-math-rock with one of the biggest choruses of the year.
As far as albums go, the first choice was pretty much unanimous, Hookworms - Pearl Mystic was the best album by a Leeds band, with its excellent edgy, shoegaze-y psychedelica now gratifyingly exposed on the national stage. In the running too is Knots by Crash of Rhinos. This has a beautiful energy and an incredible diversity throughout. Having self-produced his album, Roc Marciano knows how to lay down a cohesive project (giving UK hip hop outfit, S.A.S., some time in the spotlight). Marci Beaucoup is the kind of album you can put on any time. Also loved, is John Grants' tortured mish-mash masterpiece, Pale Green Ghosts. Back with their third album, Sky Larkin released Motto; jam packed full of fantastically constructed guitar pop and great hooks. Described by singer Matt Berninger as a collection of fun songs about death, The Nationals sixth album, Trouble Will Find Us was the one that finally cemented them in the popular consciousness. Brimming over with quietly beautiful songs of restrained emotional intensity, it confirmed Berninger as one of the most interesting pop lyricists working today.
Moving on to the best gigs (of the ones we attended), and first up is ¡Forward, Russia! As part of the Brudenell100; what a live experience! Those guys gave absolutely everything, supported by This Et Al was incredible! Allusondrugs at the Nation of Shopkeepers showed they were capable of delivering both coruscating riffage and unadulterated fun. Their performance a firestorm of grungy energy and they proved have the songs to back up the attitude. Down Radio at 360Clubs regular night at The Library, seeing these guys, I was completely blown away. It can't be described with words; you just need to go see for yourself.
Best Festival sets were from Department M in the Stylus for Live at Leeds, whose pitch perfect vocals and effortless stage presence, underpinned by precise and intense synths, provided one of the best performances of the day. Also, Savages set at Stylus, for Live at Leeds was intense, spiky and as dark as you could possibly wish the all-female post-punk music world conquerors to be. And then one of the great festival moments of the year, Ed Tudor Pole performing downstairs at The Hop at Long Division, who inspired a memorable near-riot when joined by members of the Michael Ainsley Band for set-closer and calling card 'Swords of a Thousand Men'. Overcoming the mud, Parquet courts on the Festival Republic Stage at Leeds Festival, used their guitars to create intriguing sounds and grungy rock like I have never heard. They left a lasting impression and I cannot wait to see them again. It is often the case; the artists you expect the least from are those that surprise you the most and this was certainly the case with Kate Nash's set on the Festival Republic stage. Gone were the piano ditties of her formative years and in their place were slightly unhinged fuzz punk songs full of infectious melodies. Nash offered everything a festival set should - vitality and engagement - and for that she deserved all the love she received. This was true girl power. I have to give a special mention to the oddest gig of the year; it had to be the event at the Hepworth Gallery, Mi Mye performing in a moving lift with, whose doors opened to a rather confused looking visitor to the venue.
But you know, none of this would happen without all of our fabulous venues and as a city, we are blessed with everything from the small intimate venues like Wharf Chambers, to Medium venues like the Wardrobe and their (oh so comfy) cinema seats. We really love the new Belgrave Music Hall, which is set to grow and become a staple within the Leeds Scene. And of course, The Brudenell, who consistently provide the best sound and the best gigs every year. To add to our many venues, we now have the First Direct Arena. I never thought I'd like it, being pretty much against the lack of intimacy you feel in arena venues, but Leeds has surpassed itself. Again, amazing acoustics and a great team behind it, make this a brilliant venue and a great addition to Leeds.
It can be all positive though. We did have a few pretty awful gigs; you can't go to that many and love them all! So, as much as Foals have given us some incredible songs, they managed to fall totally flat on the main stage at Leeds Festival. They held as much interest as the mud beneath my feet; their sounds just dissipated and were wholeheartedly dull from start to end! Deep Sea Arcade who played Stylus at Live at Leeds, the only band tedious and unoriginal enough to make one writer leave mid-set. Let's not forget Alice in Chains at the O2, who played with all the energy and conviction of an OAP during a heatwave. Yes, it was loud and all the pieces were in the right place, but, it was totally hollow. This was a band going through the motions and picking up the cheque, if there ever was one. Jerry Cantrell wore the peevish, frustrated look of a man who knew the game was up and he was right.
Then we consider the Idiot of the year and Kanye West has to be up there, or moreover, his ego! Trying to "take the power away from the confederate flag" by wearing it and including it on his merch. Really! At least he didn't try to do that with the swastika! Then there is Fake Bugg, or Jake Bugg as he is more commonly known. This nasally retentive cliché has nothing original about him.
To end on a high note, the positive side of doing what we do is that more often than not we find a diamond in the rough, the treasure that we can tell you about. They may not all be new, but we saw some of these artists for the first time this year. Cry Baby Cry, were the name on everyone's lips after playing a few gigs and a great set at Beacons Festival. Newly formed Brawlers are creating waves in the wider music scene, a must see live act. The Amazing Snakeheads are a Glaswegian 3-piece playing dirty, scuzzy blues-rock-and-roll in a Jim Jones Revue mould, who play great live shows and are destined for big things. A good one for those of you who like floating away, Oliver Wilde has an album out for you to download, make sure to check him out live. Down Radio are a fantastic, high energy, 'Yorkshire Rage Against the Machine'!
Our recommendation and must sees for 2014 are Post War Glamour Girls, if you haven't seen them already. Poised and ready to become the next big band to come out of Leeds with their imminent release of debut album 'Pink Fur'. Try Deadwall who again, have just launched their debut album, full of emotionally intelligent and arty grungy masterpieces and they are a great live band. Alternatively, do sample the upbeat sounds of Glass Caves, a band with as much talent as they have hair! Do not miss Brawlers; I saw their first gig in the basement of Crash Records, it was clear then, that they love what they do. A pure energy explosion on stage and they have in a few short months, managed (a well-deserved) Radio1 airplay! Or, how about The Coopers? After a relatively quiet year in 2013, mainstays Ryan and Chelsea were found moonlighting in Modo Stare. However, we are looking forward to some gigs and releasing new material. What say you Coopers?
So that is pretty much our most memorable moments of 2013 in Leeds. Let us know what your best and worst moments were. You can do this by adding your comment below. Tweet us @leedsmusicscene, or tell us via Facebook. Alternatively, you can Tag us in your favourite gig photos on Instagram, we are LeedsMusicScene, use the hashtag #LMS2013 on the social media sites.
Finally, thank you for all your support and we will look forward to bringing you the best of Leeds for 2014!
prog dance post punk
Jacobean Ruff are a young modern folk band based in Leeds, forming in mid 2012. Despite being relatively young, they have already gained notoriety on the Leeds gig scene, playing in various venues including Oporto, the Cockpit, the Wardrobe, the Brudenell, Nation of Shopkeepers and Carpe Diem, as well as beginning to establish themselves as a festival band, playing in 2013 alone Beacons, Live at Leeds, Tockwith Beer Festival and Lainfest, among others. Their music has often drawn comparisons with Mumford and Sons, Fleet Foxes and Laura Marling, and could easily be described as a blend of the three. Communion Leeds called it 'An exciting pairing of thoughtful, traditional folk styles and clever pop songwriting'.
Allusondrugs is a 5 piece alternative rock band
Down Radio use rock beats, dirty bass, extravert guitar playing and hip hop lyrics to capture a rawness in their music, that conveys the social relevance of their lyrical content.
Ex-Grammatics man, Owen Brinley's new project, a tomorrow's world vision of future pop music. Industrial rhythms and noise breaks smoothed over with swathes of lush eighties analogue synth.
Folk/rock band based in Leeds