Sheffield: Music City
Def Leopard, Pulp, Arctic Monkeys, Richard Hawley, ABC, The Human League, Toddla T, Reverend & the Makers… heard of ‘em? Of course you have! Know where they’re from? You do now. Forget everything you knew about music, you’re in Sheffield now sucka!
Yep, there certainly seems to be something in the water here; ever since Neanderthal man first discovered how to bash his club on the ground in 4/4 the talent has flowed out of the city like a warm pint of ale at the tiny venue where you’ll be witnessing the next big thing play that gig.
So, what of the future, hmmm? Maybe, just maybe, one or more of the following will be adding themselves to our city’s already glistening roll of honour…
Words: Lewis Parker
Hey Sholay were signed on the back of sending out a demo cassette wrapped in fake Bear fur, which rather nicely sums up the bizarre way in which this five-piece’s collective mind works. Since then they have played NME Awards shows and had their songs showered with praise on the BBC’s ‘big’ Radio station. They recently unleashed their debut album, ‘((O))’, which combines off-kilter pop gusto with idiosyncratic prog-intricacy. Unique, talented and frequently eccentric, Hey Sholay are going to be much more than just a local interest in the very near future.
Currently the city’s premier pop protagonists, this well-read and well-dressed four piece boast esteemed admirers in the form of Richard Hawley and Steve Lamacq. Their second album, ‘Hold Fast’, saw The Crookes polish their sound to create ten tracks featuring infectious hooks and skyscrapering choruses full of rousing “oh oh oohs” and other such things. In George Waite, they are blessed with a singer whose soaring voice could make even the most blasé lyric sound like impassioned poetry; this group of lean, mean pop making machines look destined for big things.
Download: ‘American Girls’
Rarely have a band featured a more relevant adjective in their name. Creating music that falls somewhere between pop, punk and the mental processes of a Spaniel pumped full of kerosene and Red Bull and let loose in a fireworks factory, they’re impossible to ignore. That’s just as well, as rousing 3 minute frenzies such as ‘Hot Wet Sticky Flowers’, apart from conjuring some mildly disgusting mental imagery, would be wasted if they weren’t giving your ears the rollicking they deserve.
Download: ‘Hot Wet Sticky Flowers’
2012 has certainly been overwhelmingly positive for the Hot Soles. Since bagging the Best Unsigned Band gong at our very own awards shindig, the duo’s timeless blues-rock has steadily but loudly crept into the consciousness of the masses, culminating in them being chose to perform at Jessica Ennis’s homecoming in August (which, let’s be honest, is a bit of a big deal). The colossal energy invested in their live performances is becoming the stuff of legend ‘round ‘ere: there’s foot stomping, there’s fist pumping, and whilst the same can’t be said for frontman Kieran’s selection of impressively loud waistcoats, there’s proof that some good old rock ‘n’ roll fun never goes out of fashion.
Download: 'Razzle Dazzle'
The Ruby Jacks/William Barstow
From the atmospheric ‘The Sea is My Brother’ to the specialist foot-stomper ‘The Devil Within’, this four piece have mastered a sound that combines Black Keys style blues-rock with more contemporary indie nuances. Frontman William Barstow has in his possession a powerful and versatile set of pipes, equally comfortable delivering an impassioned wail at the head of his band and soaring soulfully over his more tender, Buckley-esque solo work. He is one of the most assured vocalists this city currently has to offer.
Download: ‘The Devil Within’ (The Ruby Jacks); ‘Cold, Cold Shoulder’ (William Barstow)
Listing their influences as ‘women, whisky and death’, debauched duo Rob and Alexis provide the musical equivalent of taking a beating from a prostitute in a back-alley – and loving every second of it. Their wild and raw blues-punk makes for an exhilarating prospect both live and on record, while their recent performances to large crowds at Reading and Leeds have only served to enhance their reputation as one of 2012’s most thrilling live prospects.
Download: ‘Why You So Cold?’
Man Made is Nile Marr (now, where have you heard that name before) creating guitar music that is all at once atmospheric, intense and above all truly captivating. His mesmeric vocals combined with his use of loops create a substantially textured sound that many solo-artists would find difficult to achieve – clearly, the Marr gene-pool is overflowing with talent.
Download: ‘All Mine’
Blue Lip Feel
Classic indie rock ‘n’ roll with more than a touch of glam thrown in. These four boys could have been plucked straight out of the seventies, their penchant for overblown guitar solos matching their similarly unrestrained hairstyles. They’re nothing if not fun, and add a refreshing element of glitz to an occasionally all too mundane genre.
Download: ‘Sky Suit’
See Emily Play
In a musical climate where the term ‘female solo-artist’ has essentially come to mean ‘sounds like Adele’, it is both impressive and refreshing that Emily Ireland manages to stand out. Boasting a voice reminiscent of Marina Diamandis (but without the grating pretention), she is a master of convincingly and powerfully conveying emotion through her music. ‘Fair Game’ is must hear: fragility and indecision transforming into haunting authority in a powerful three-minute package.
See here to help Emily raise money for a really worthwhile cause.
Download: ‘Fair Game’
As the name suggests, Ruth O’Hare is our resident animal lover extraordinaire – and she’s pretty handy behind a mic as well. An unimposing presence on-stage (often just her and a loop pedal), her sounds comes across as surprisingly complex, often consisting of several layers building throughout the song towards an entrancing crescendo. Blissful stuff from one of the most intriguing artists currently residing in our city – she does a pretty mean cover of Whigfield’s ‘Saturday Night’ too.
Download: ‘The Hunting Song’
There is much more to Frenetics than their name would imply. Yes, their music is often fast paced and frenzied (see: ‘See You on the Other Side’), but there are also moments where pop-melodiousness infiltrates their sound, occasionally morphing them into a more cultured outfit reminiscent of Television or the Buzzcocks. If they can continue to channel their rawness and energy onto record as they do on their debut ‘Broken Hand’ EP, they could have a very bright future indeed.
See here for videos and tracks.
Loud, dark, ridiculously good looking – Dead Sons are the rockstars around the place at the moment. With songs driven by the powerful, clobbering sticksmanship of Joseph Green, their sound was inspired by – and could quite easily bulldoze – the industrial landscapes of their upbringing. If having subjecting your ears to a full volume, full throttle indie-rock assault is your thing, then Dead Sons are putting the ‘steel’ in Steel City for your listening pleasure.
Download: ‘Room 54’
The Violet May
It’s rather apt that The Violet May have found a fan in Noel Gallagher – their everyman-grittiness and rock-star swagger certainly seems inspired by the former Oasis man in a more youthful incarnation. To a certain extent, so does their sound, though they shun the stadium sized choruses in favour of brooding punk menace, making them less ‘Live Forever’, more cigarettes and alcohol outside a grotty pub on a Friday night. And they’re all the better for it.
Download: ‘Jennifer Lies’