Leeds Music Scene

2014 - A Year In Review : The team at LMS have penned our 'best of' moments from 2014, from gigs and festivals, to the best Albums and EPs from local artists and further afield. We collated our most memorable moments and what you should be seeing in 2015 ... not forgetting the all-important, Idiot of the year.

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Published on 17th January 2015.


2014 - A Year In Review

The team at LMS have penned our 'best of' moments from 2014, from gigs and festivals, to the best Albums and EPs from local artists and further afield. We collated our most memorable moments and what you should be seeing in 2015 ... not forgetting the all-important, Idiot of the year.

Contributors: Warren Barner, Neil Chapman, Katriona Gilmour, Jimmy Horrigan, Steven Knowles, Ryan Mitchell-Smith, Sam Monk, Paul Priest and Stewart Ramsay.

2014 saw a year full of changes, new beginnings and closures. We lost The Cockpit, the iconic gig venue that brought so many bands to Leeds and another promising venue, The Key Club, opened its doors for the first time. It was the year that saw the Leeds institution, Jumbo Records, change hands. Then we saw a few tears shed as The Witch Hunt played their last gig. It was also sad to see Castrovalva announce they were no more and another personal favourite, Penguin also disbanded.

All in all, it has been a great year for music and the team here at LMS penned our 'best of' moments from 2014, from gigs and festivals, to the best albums and EPs from local artists and further afield. We collated our most memorable moments and what you should be seeing in 2015... not forgetting the all-important, Idiot of the Year.

If you have any thoughts to add, please comment below, tweet us with the hashtag #LMSREVIEW2014 or comment on Facebook.

Best Albums of 2014

Topping the list has to be the long awaited debut release from Post War Glamour Girls, which really hit the spot and is on the LMS most played albums list of 2014. Followed closely is FOIL by Heart-Ships, the energy, theatre and fun of it all just got us all giddy and still does with every listen.

Vying for the top spot are Tomorrow We Sail, whose breath-taking debut album combines the very best post-rock and elements of folk, to create the stunning Those Who Caught The Sun In Flight. Sticking with the folk and country influence, Jon Palmer Acoustic Band who released Where The Mountains Meet The Sea, were winners in our eyes. Another favourite is Death Cap at Anglezarke by Then Thickens, a hidden gem that gets even better with every listen.

And of course, Blood the third album by our home boys, Pulled Apart by Horses, saw them take a different direction, venturing towards the more accessible alt rock, but still retaining their unmistakable sound and demonstrated their versatility.

Present Tense, from former Leeds residents Wild Beasts who produced another darkly pulsing and beguilingly seductive album that should have fared better than it did.

Album number four by the The Twilight Sad, Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave by, is possibly the Scottish act's best work yet and worthy of being in the top 5. As does the eponymous debut album by Jungle which was a great party soundtrack and a lasting memory of the summer of 2014. Or for something that sits between Jazz, Blues and Pop, Talk To Strangers by Suffolk born, Fiona Bevan is a beauty from start to end.

2014 cannot pass without a mention from the omnipotent Royal Blood, after a stellar performance at Live at Leeds, these boys went from strength to strength.

Best Singles/EPs of 2014

Allusondrugs, probably one of our favourite bands this year, brought us Nervous and many other singles, but this was the stand out track of all their releases with pop hooks and musical brilliance. I Trust The Hounds Are Hungry... by Kings gave us a full-on, doom-metal pop party rising from the ashes of legendary Leodensians Shields and Humanfly. Technically released in late 2013, but flourishing in 2014, the dark and brooding Autobahn's 'Autobahn 1', and in particular lead track 'Seizure' is a thing of rare shouty magnificence. This was the year that saw Dancing Years drop the piercingly heartfelt wonder, Here's To My Old Friends, lyrically beautiful with stunning production and composition. All round winner, Go Go EP by CryBabyCry, tips a nod to some familiar influences and was loved by all. Last one on the list is Maia's Finite World EP, which brought an out of this world, cosmic-folk aceness!

From a little further afield, we also loved Follow by Telegram; probably 30 seconds too long but let's not split hairs, it is a brilliantly infectious and passionate single from the Anglo-Welsh outfit. More prog/math-rock than one song should feasibly be able to contain, Castrovalva by Polymath was released at the end of 2014, to promote the Brighton band's debut EP, Reptiles.

Best Venues of 2014

The Brudenell Social Club is a winner every time for its quality and variety of gigs, atmosphere, prices, lay-out, sound and comfort. However, the Belgrave Music Hall has started to find its feet, branching out from its indie base to incorporate some edgier acts with a more urban vibe. It was also a wonderful moment when Long Division welcomed the arrival Unity Works, a fantastic addition to Wakefield. We still love the smaller venues though and Wharf Chambers is one of the greats. Long may it continue!

Best Festival

Voted No.1, by a long shot, was Live At Leeds, who continues to reign supreme amongst the festivals of the North East and each year they somehow manage to surpass themselves. We love Long Divison too, which feels like LAL's baby sister. A special mention to StrangeForms Festival for bringing us the best post-rock, post-metal and math-rock acts in one room (called 'probably the most exciting of the new crop of urban festivals' by one source) and High & Lonesome mini festival was a great day out.

Best Festival Set

From this year's Live At Leeds, little heralded American, San Fermin electrified The Belgrave with a set of beautiful and uplifting chamber pop. British Sea Power's re-enactment of their 'From The Sea To The Land Beyond' album at Beacons, with 90 minutes of Pathé footage of Britain's coastline, was a very special festival experience.

The brilliant Pulled Apart by Horses' headlining, mosh-pit inducing, set to round off Live At Leeds in the Brudenell was sweaty, euphoric mayhem and absolutely went off the Richter scale, topping off a brilliant day. Then there was Baby Godzilla, probably the best thing about Leeds Festival this year, oh and Gorgol Bordello, mad, crazy party fun. On the tamer end of the spectrum, Tomorrow We Sail at StrangeForms gained many new fans with their delicate and beautiful, folky post-rock. Their songs literally brought tears to your eyes with their tenderness and fragility. A highlight of High & Lonesome was Rachel Sermani at who was nothing short of spectacular.
Craziest gig of the year

This had to be seen to be believed. The consistent stage invasion of the Black Lips gig at The Brudenell, was ridiculous. Equipment got broken and the band refused to come back out for an encore. I can't blame them. I was disgusted at the behaviours of so called fans! My lasting memory was the geek in his flannel shirt and his girlfriend with her clutch bag and sensible shoes following the masses and looking so out of place as they danced on stage like they were at an 80s disco.

Then there was Falls at The Fox & Newt. Four, crazy, naked Welshmen who played everywhere except the stage. Guitar amps, bannisters, tables and even audience members were all used in the most ridiculous (yet brilliant) set I've seen in a long time.

And Morain at Ossett Academy, wow! The young rockers went down a storm at their old school come-back gig which saw an incredible response from a huge audience, who screamed and bounced and danced like it was a Beatles gig. The boys were detained for over 2 hours afterwards having pictures and signing CDs. A fabulous gig, but totally CRAZY!

Most memorable Gigs of 2014

It was a sad day, saying goodbye to The Witch Hunt at The Brudenell and one we will not forget. We can only hope that the songs are not lost forever and they come back soon! Then there was an intimate yet chaotic living room gig from our lads from Allusondrugs. It was hot, sweaty, loud and absolutely bloody awesome. Not forgetting, Micah P Hinson at the Brudenell whose twitchy performance, using a small notebook to cross off all the songs he'd played so he didn't repeat them. What can I say, it was strange but still wonderful.

Oh my... Midlake at Halifax Minster! Life after Tim Smith is going well for the Denton massive and seeing them in such a really old church was - well - spiritual. Even more so, Neutral Milk Hotel's triumphant return to the live scene saw them play Leeds Uni's Stylus in August, and the spine-tingling quasi-religious experience was everything that the many NMH aficionados present hoped it would be. Now, we do love a bit of Ed Sheeran too, and his performance at First Direct Arena was dynamic, slick and passionate. Brilliant stuff. So many to choose from...

There was American folk songstress Anais Mitchell with the pin sharp voice, in the intimate surrounds of the Brudenell Games Room. She was a charming presence, performing a wonderful set of both her own compositions and English folk standards. Destroy All Monsters put on a stupidly amazing line-up at Wharf Chambers, matched by stupidly amazing performances from Cleft, Axes, Alpha Male Tea Party and Delta Sleep. Finally, Omar at The Wardrobe did a funkathon of a set, the atmosphere was electric and everyone was loved the funky beats and soulful brass complimenting his behind the beat vocal prowess.

Seen for the first time in 2014 and loved

Sam - "Fighting Caravans gigged relentlessly last year which showed when they played an end of year show at the 360 Club. Frontman Danny has a great voice and magnetism to burn, quite an achievement given that he had his t-shirt tucked into his jeans. The trend of 2015?"

Steve - "I know Royal Blood were subsequently splattered all over rest of the year, but their teatime Live At Leeds set in May really did set the bar for live, raucous garage-rock very high indeed."

Stewart - "Embarrassed to say that 2014 was the first time I saw I Like Trains. Thankfully I made up for it by catching them three times in three months!"

Ryan - "I saw a captivating set from Eve May Rowlands at The Rock Bar in Leeds and she really impressed my song-writing senses with a really emotive performance familiar sounding, yet original tracks. An artist to watch out for!"

Jamie - "Gengahr produced some bloody spectacular psych-tinged goodness with a young Jonny Greenwood-esque guitarist that properly blew my socks off. I'd forgotten about these guys until now - just dug their demo cd out for another listen."

Idiot of the Year

This year it is a close call between Bono and U2 in conjunction with Apple for thinking that we'd all appreciate them ramming their new slice of bland into our iTunes without our permission!! It causing such outrage Apple had to issue guidelines as to how to remove the offensive item from our collections. Maybe the publicity itself drew attention to it, but come on; do you not have enough faith that the public will buy your music? ...No!? Well GIVE UP THEN!!

Also vying for coveted award is Jordan Mooney, the guy who said that the alternative Leeds scene was dying!! He tried a Kickstarter campaign for £6k to put on a circus cabaret at the O2 to 'resurrect' it. It was reported in the Yorkshire Post, but was swiftly taken down after a local backlash. I mean really...has he been living under a stone? The Leeds alternative music scene, music and other, is alive and kicking!! The amount of venues thriving, festivals and gigs growing year on year, prove that. One final idiot vote for Miley Cyrus - please, please, please just put your tongue away and f**k off!!

What are we looking forward to in 2015

We are looking forward to seeing whatever previous members of The Witch Hunt do next, pretty much any release from Clue Records, home of Allusondrugs, Forever Cult and Narcs.

We can't wait for the debut albums from the incredible Sam Airey and punk rockers Brawlers. We are also excitedly anticipating Laura Marling's next release, Short Movie, due to drop at the end of March. And to another Laura, a great singer Laura Kelly who uses a loop pedal with her guitar to create fabulous covers and some wonderful original material. Laura is a star in the making.

Our recommendation for the must see bands in 2015

You must be familiar with Allusondrugs as their name had been everywhere in 2014, if you have not had the chance to see one of their explosive live sets... put it as number one on your to do list.

For something a little more sedate, Strung To The Sky are a fabulous young duo who have a maturity to their performance style that is beyond their years.

Also try Leeds-based, dream-pop band Lenin, who played their first ever gig in December, but you could be forgiven aimed at thinking they'd been at it for years.

2015 will hopefully see the band making waves in their hometown and beyond. Big Love are definitely another worth checking out. Fuzzed up guitars and huge vocals, featuring past members of This Et Al and Laboratory Noise, they remain slightly mysterious at the moment with absolutely no internet presence. They played a packed out show in December to 'those in the know' and I hear they already have some prestigious support slots lined up for 2015.

Finally, Alvvays have received praise for their recent releases and are set to appear later this month at the Brudenell.

Thank you all for your support over the years and we hope to continue bringing you the very best music and music news from our glorious city. Let us know what you think and if you manage to get to see any of our recommendations.

'See you down the front' ... as they say.



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23 bands associated with this article.

Post War Glamour Girls

Tomorrow We Sail

Forever procrastinating future sailors making post-rock-folk-modern classical ambient music.

The Witch Hunt

Leeds based band with a sparkly sinister edge




Wakefield-based 3-piece


Allusondrugs is a 5 piece alternative rock band

I Like Trains

Melodramatic Popular Song

Fighting Caravans

5 piece alt-rock band with Americana/Blues overtones.

Sam Airey



"Gorgeous dream-pop from Leeds that's sure to bring a joyful/melancholy tear to your eye."