Sheffield Music Roundup – The Class Of 2012
We are blessed here in Sheffield when it comes to live acts.
Truly blessed. And a host of local acts are currently causing some major ripples in the musical ocean. These are just the tip of the iceberg. Mark Perkins tells us who they are, what they do and why he thinks they stand a chance of making it.
Who: Four local lads (well, Chesterfield), in a synth-rock band are always going to go down well in Sheffield
What: Favourable comparisons to Heaven 17, New Order and Talk Talk should give you a flavour of how they sound. The Starlings won a good fair few more fans with their recent Tramlines shows.
Why: It’s a well trodden path in these parts, with guitar and synth-led dance tracks to the fore, but they certainly have an ear for a catchy tune and they play them well. Their ‘Balearic’ sound is catchy and irresistible and will go down a storm both in the clubs and on the radio.
Playing: Sheffield Forum on 19th October.
Radio Friendly Unit Shifter: Brand new single Dark Arts is a brooding, star(t)ling slab of post punk.
Who: A guitar band with a line in high energy indie-rock.
What: No nonsense indie-guitar rock, catchy and then some, and with a string of storming live performances to back up those who are tipping this lot for success.
Why: Despite several line-up changes, the current incarnation really seems to be holding it together and be on the verge of big things. Their live shows are becoming a real talking point in Sheffield, and with a UK tour planned, and an appearance at the Icelandic Airwaves Festival, the wider world looks like it might be about to catch up.
Playing: Death2Disco at Notting Hill Arts Club, London (2nd Nov)
Radio Friendly Unit Shifter: Double A Side Proceed Advance/Lazy Baby Hurricane is a Super(grass) tight summarisation of their urgent/wistful tuneage.
Who: A 5 piece guitar band with a habit of doing things a bit differently.
What: Catchy, psychedelic tunes with visuals to match, and you never quite know what you’re in for when you see them play.
Why: They’ve appeared in masks, launched an EP on a USB stick attached to a model of a baby, played in front of weird and wonderful arty film projections and, to top all that, their songs are really very good. They recently won a place at the massive Exit Festival in Serbia after NME readers voted for them.
Playing: The Stone Roses in York on 21st October.
Radio Friendly Unit Shifter: Wishbone looks like the next single – the band are currently doing a compo for the best video – but In Bed with Old Nick is a lovely thing too.
Who: Brothers Leigh and Adam Greenwood, on vocals and guitar
What: Songs of real emotion, sung by Leigh who has a soaring, heart-stopping voice, and all backed by his brother’s fluid guitar playing.
Why: Everyone from Tom Robinson to The Guardian seem to be fans of these two, and it’s not hard to see why, as seeing them perform is an intimate, intense experience, but hugely rewarding.
Playing: Globe in Glossop on 14th Jan 2012.
Radio Friendly Unit Shifter: No Happier (free download) mixes the spindly transcendentalism of The Durutti Column with a pared-down Radiohead-like confidence/confessional.
David J Roch
Who: He had some success as Little Lost David a few years ago, and before that as a member of the band Curbar.
What: A very talented local singer, with an incredible voice, who now plays as part of a four piece band.
Why: His performances and album have been receiving rave reviews from the national press, so they must be doing something right, and one of his songs has been picked for a US TV reality show. A very individual and uniquely talented bloke.
Playing: His front room, for the forseeable future. David broke his foot just a couple of days ago.
Radio Friendly Unit Shifter: Hour of Need brings a deliciously creepy Flamenco to bear on Roch's bright songwriting.
Who: A solo singer, who accompanies herself on piano.
What: Sarah has a voice you simply have to hear, and she writes ballads you’ll be singing all day once they’re inside your head.
Why: It won’t be long before this stunning sounding voice is heard much more widely than just inside Soyo on a Monday night. She writes and sings beautifully crafted and emotional songs, which are both haunting and inspiring.
Playing: The Red House on Saturday 22nd October.
Radio Friendly Unit Shifter: Everyone Knows (Unplugged) is like Regina Spector with the unneccessary kookiness and distinctiveness removed.
The Book Club
Who: They’ve dropped the prefix ‘Joe Carnall and the…’, and are now just The Book Club.
What: A four-piece indie guitar band, formed from the ashes of much missed local band Milburn who called it a day in 2008. Milburn were inevitably in the shadow of Arctic Monkeys, so now the spotlight’s moved on, Joe and his pals should now be able to impress on their own merit.
Why: Throw in a bunch of cousins, some catchy tunes and choruses, and a plenty of witty banter – and the mix seems right for The Book Club to make a big impression very soon.
Playing: Lots of places, including The Foundry at The University of Sheffield on October 30th.
Radio Friendly Unit Shifter: Trying to Say showcases The Book Club's Crombie-smart tunes.
Who: Four piece indie-guitar band.
What: Very much in the in the vein of Alex Turner and co, but with their own edge to their sound and songs, they’ve built up a considerable local following.
Why: They supported Miles Kane on his tour, and Arctic Monkeys themselves at their recent homecoming gig, so they’re highly thought of. With their first single release, they may well be about to reach an even wider audience.
Playing: None on the go at the moment.
Radio Friendly Unit Shifter: Hardened Face is a rush of bewildered and bruising guitars.
The Violet May
Who: A five piece rock band, taking their name from a legendary Sheffield record shop (remember those?)
What: They’ve been creating quite a stir on the live scene since forming in 2009 and are seen by many as the remedy to the mass of twee indie acts currently on the scene.
Why: Their much praised EP ‘TV’ came out in the summer, and they’ve a UK tour lined up over the next few weeks. They’re on a mission to ‘show people that guitar music still has a heartbeat’ says lead singer Chris McLure. See our interview for more.
Playing: Sheffield's Crystal Ship Studios on 29th October, it's free entry too.
Radio Friendly Unit Shifter: TV is a brooding affair based around our increasingly celebrity orientated society.
Steve ‘Papa’ Edwards and The Big Strong Love
Who: A Sheffield music legend.
What: Soul, ska, reggae and the wonderful voice of Steve Edwards. You’ll not be able to see them without becoming infected by their joyous rhythmic sound.
Why: It’s hard not to enjoy the music of The Big Strong Love, it gets into every fibre of your being, and Steve has the voice to carry it all off. He’s written and produced for others in the past, and now seems to have decided to come out front and claim some of the limelight for himself.
Playing: None on the go at the moment.
Radio Friendly Unit Shifter: Steve collaborates with D Ramirez and Mara on Keep Us Together- a great house track with uplifting piano melodies which, along with Steve's memorable vocal, is sure to get you on the dancefloor.
Who: Duo, Charlie Watson and Rebecca Taylor.
What: Rebecca plays a variety of percussion instruments, including when I last saw them, a wooden chair. They play their own variety of indie folk/pop, so given the current appetite for such sounds, they should be very successful.
Why: They’re signed to Moshi Moshi records who’ve a proven track record with releases by Tilly and the Wall, Bloc Party and Florence and the Machine, and their live shows are fresh, quirky, instantly appealing.
Playing: Sadly, Slow Club are playing dates over in North America through November, but hopefully will be back on Sheffield soil very soon.
Radio Friendly Unit Shifter: Single Where I'm Waking off their sophomore album 'Paradise' features riffs delivered with furious delight and despondently romantic lyrics.
Nat Johnson and the Figureheads
Who: Formed from the remnants of the universally praised Monkey Swallows the Universe.
What: Nat made the brave decision to disband MSTU when they were at the height of their success, but her new band seems to be starting to create a similar level of interest.
Why: Her latest album is being recorded with the aid of pledges from her fan-base, and it should enable the rest of us to enjoy more of her delicate, beautiful music.
Playing: Sheffield City Hall in February to celebrate their album launch.
Radio Friendly Unit Shifter: Free download Straw and Hay is the first single off their hotly anticipated next album.
Who: Highly danceable music in the vein of Calvin Harris.
What: Electronic dance music has become a Sheffield speciality over the years, and this lot are worthy carriers of the torch.
Why: Their singles Dancefloor and Inside Out will already be familiar to clubbers across the land, and positive comments and support from several Radio 1 DJs all mean this year should be a big one for Shake Aletti.
Playing: No upcoming gigs currently, but keep an eye out on their website's gig page.
Radio Friendly Unit Shifter: Inside Out is a feel good, synth fueled hit, perfect for getting your party on to.
Who: Guitar and drum power duo Terence Trent B'arndance and Grim Westwood (possibly not their real names).
What: Power-death-blues-rock from Sheffield, Alabama, or so they would have you believe.
Why: There’s no one to compare with a drum and guitar combo who play deep-south (Yorkshire) swamp rock/blues, and this will certainly make them stand out from the crowd. Totally weird and very wonderful.
Playing: Catch them on 25th October at Club Fandago at the Bull And Gate, London.
Radio Friendly Unit Shifter: Revealing on their facebook earlier in the month they are due to release a new tune, but for now check out some of their other tracks.
Who: "Sheffield's next set of musical geniuses" apparently, according to Jon McClure of Reverend and The Makers.
What: Previously highlighted comparisons have spanned bands such as The Smiths, Orange Juice and The Everly Brothers.
Why: Noel Gallagher once stated "They've got good lyrics". Surely a huge compliment coming from the infamous insulter?
Playing: The Sheffield date of their current UK and European tour is 17th December at Queens Social Club.
Radio friendly Unit Shifter: I Remember Moonlight is the latest and final single taken from their debut 'Chasing After Ghosts'.
While She Sleeps
Who: Five young lads taking their own flavour of hardcore music to high places.
What: Success is panning out nicely for the boys, having already played across UK and Europe, and have even been endorsed by Fred Perry and Sheffield's own Drop Dead Clothing.
Why: Following in the footsteps of Sheffield's other hardcore success story Bring Me the Horizon, WSS are getting great press in North America and are starting 2012 with a bang, gigging alongside New Found glory and Sum 41 on the Kerrang! Tour.
Playing: Camden Underword, London on the 14th October
Radio Friendly Unit Shifter: Be(lie)ve showcases the boy's ability to mix up their aggressive sound with a meaningful and impassioned twist.
Who: They make awesome, garagey surf-pop and are, erm, best friends.
What: Describing themselves on their bandcamp as "Hot. Reckless. Totally insane", this four piece are making waves with their surf infused tunes, bringing a bit of the beach to Steel city.
Why: The guys have been playing support act to a lot of established artists down south as well as right here in Sheffield, and also recently been featured on BBC Introducing in Sheffield. Best Friends? Not only that, but one of the City's best new offerings too.
Playing: SOYO Live, free entry, 24th October.
Radio Friendly Unit Shifter: Ice Cream Dreams, from their debut EP, is a short and sweet catchy pop hit, enough to brighten up the greyest of days.
So those are our tips for the top. But who've we missed out? You can drop us a line with your contributions (using the headings 'who', 'what', 'why', 'playing' and 'Radio Friendly Unit Shifter') in the comments below!