Even though Leeds festival was done and dusted nearly two weeks ago, I feel like I've only just about recovered. Highlights including seeing The Cribs return to form, and Futuresound competition winners Post War Glamour Girls finally playing a stage grand enough for their sound, as they opened up the NME/Radio 1 tent in Leeds and followed some ageing pop-punk trio in Reading. It's September now though and with the festival season sadly fading away the city now approaches the busy autumn gig schedule.
In terms of venues, it looks like Leeds Arena is nearing completion and will soon be announcing the opening acts, whether these will be of any worth is open for debate. Whilst in Armley the bods at Metropolis (Wax:On/Hideout Festival) have announced a new warehouse venue full of promise by the name of Canal Mills. Simian Mobile Disco are DJing at the opening on the 29th September, and they have plenty of other events in the pipeline too including a Mr Scruff gig there next month. More details can be found here.
The third Constellations Festival has been announced for November 10th, with the first announcements including Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, Kindness and Haim, plus local bands Hookworms and Swimming Lessons (video below). This year it has switched universities and will be taking place down the road at Leeds Metropolitan University Union, more details are here.
Never ones to do things the conventional or easy way, post-rockers I Like Trains have announced a special gig inside the beautiful Leeds City Museum on October 13th to celebrate the release of their forthcoming Beacons EP. Tickets bought in the Upper Circle include a poster screen-printed for the occasion and a guided tour of the museum! No-one seems to have yet determined whether Alt-J count as a Leeds band or not, and whilst they aren’t my cuppa, they’ve attained a level of popularity few people could have fathomed. A recent announcement that they will be playing the 02 Academy in May next year was a surprising indicator of just how big they've become in such a short space of time.
The best new record that has been released locally since my last column has easily been Kebnekaise, the debut album from Halifax dwellers Wot Gorilla?. A highly energetic piece of math-rock/prog that never dwells long in one place, constantly flitting between rhythms and new directions, making for an unpredictable listening experience. The album demonstrates the bands ear for little hooks and melodies such as the short-lived chorus for 'is', and how they can successfully fuse these with their instrumental acrobatics. There are little flashes of hardcore urges throughout and they manage to keep a tight restraint on these so that when they do unleash themselves, such as with the crescendo on album closer 'Snow White', it carries a more memorable punch.
There have also been a few bands and records that I’ve wanted to mention on this column before, but didn’t find the space or the opportunity so I’m going to include them now...
Beginning with Soulmates Never Die, aka razor-witted Josh Lewis, who croaks humorous and frequently self-depreciating lyrics over a scuzzy acoustic, with some sparse percussion added to the lo-fi recordings. It sounds like the kind of simple, ten-a-penny stuff being recorded in bedrooms across the country every night - but few of those manage to do it with such endearing charm. He recently played a 6music session for Steve Lamacq which you can watch here.
Halifax bands seem to be the musical equivalent of First buses as the town has recently spawned another excitement worthy band in The Mt Sierra Trip. A very young bunch that seem quite unaware of just how talented they are. I put them on at a venue in town a few months ago and I’m not even sure they were all legally able to drink there. They released their self-titled debut EP online earlier this year, and it’s a shame we haven’t had a proper summer as it’s hazy layered guitars and unobtrusive vocals would have made it the perfect accompaniment for idling away sunny afternoons with. Fans of the sleepy, lo-fi riffs of Kurt Vile and Real Estate's idyllic tone can now look much closer to home.
This next album came out much earlier in the year and I should have included it here sooner to be honest. It's by the band Nope, a melting pot of talent, all having already made names for themselves with some great Leeds and Bradford bands including Cowtown and That Fucking Tank. Entitled Revision it opens with instrumental chop 'Black Mask', the shortest and most immediate of the LP’s 6 tracks, which is dominated by a glorious, triumphant riff. Vocals are sparse through the record, preferring to let the duelling guitars and drums do the talking, which as a result lends more influence to the monologue in the middle of the 18 minute sprawling krautrock infused behemoth that is album closer 'Crooked Staff'. A prominent feature throughout are the two drummers, and the feeling of grandiose they create when listening via headphones with them squaring up to each other somewhere in the back of the listener's brain, most effective when they are panned hard left and right on groove rocker 'Pentrich Rising'. The album is available on a pay what you want basis or a gatefold 12”, so head over to their bandcamp now and choose one. Nope – Revision
It shouldn't have escaped your attention that Leeds has produced a steady flow of decent heavy rock bands in the last couple of years, and riding amongst that wave alongside the likes of Hawkeyes and Blacklisters are Black Moth. Their debut album The Killing Jar, produced by rock and roll royalty Jim Sclavunos, was released in the spring and it's brimming with menacing stoner rock riffs. The five-piece are blessed (hmm, perhaps not the right word for such a sinister band) with a commanding frontwoman in Harriet Bevan, who's mid-atlantic drawl maintains a dark but sultry mood. They'll be touring with Turbowolf in October, and you can hear the new single below.
Upcoming Leeds gigs
10th Sept - Brudenell - Allo Darlin’ + Just Handshakes + T.O.Y.S.
21st Sept - The Cockpit - Beth Jeans Houghton
21st Sept - The Packhorse - Wet Nuns + John J Presley + Drenge
25th Sept- 02 Academy - Richard Hawley + Lisa Hannigan
26th Sept - Oporto - Sissy & the Blisters + Whales In Cubicles
2nd Oct - Nation of Shopkeepers - Palma Violets