The past few weeks in West Yorkshire have been an interesting time with a number of much loved bands deciding now is the time to embark on nostalgic journeys, lured back to celebrate anniversaries and the temptation of the live stage. Firstly you’re unlikely to have missed Forward Russia announcing a one-off comeback gig as part of the Brudenell Social Club’s 100th birthday celebrations (more of which later), news which turned DiS giddy with excitement. They impressively sold out the venue in less than a day, and if a iFR! resurrection alone isn't enough; they'll also be bringing back fellow local cult heroes This Et Al with them as support.
Black Wire were another band who similarly found themselves in the same spotlight when large swathes of the music press turned their attentions towards Yorkshire for a brief period in the mid-noughties. Thankfully they have been temporarily awakened with the help of the Jarman brothers who have persuaded them to support at their second ‘Cribsmas’ event at the 02 Academy on 18th December.
I Like Trains, or perhaps that should be iLiKETRAiNS on this occasion, seeing as the post-rockers pioneers have engaged their locomotive shaped juggernaut into reverse gear by announcing that they will be performing ‘Progress - Reform’ in full at the Brudenell on 12th December in honour of their tenth anniversary since forming the band. Indie-pop bastions The Lodger have also emerged from the woodwork with new material in the form of 'Fast', yet another timeless slice of quintessentially British guitar pop. You can download it for free from their bandcamp here. Even Embrace are plotting a comeback. Whilst this lot have been tempted into relearning old songs or digging out their British Rail insignia, it's no reflection on the current crop of Leeds musicians carrying the torch, of which plenty continue to impress…
Starting with promising newcomers Autobahn, who I really enjoyed when they opened for Merchandise back in September. It was an impressively tight performance from a band with a considerable amount of presence considering they couldn't have had many gigs under their belt by then. The five-piece have just released their debut three-track EP will be out now on 12” via Tough Love Records. The band name itself is more than a solid clue towards their musical inclinations, boasting wickedly sinister 80s era post-punk with splashes of Horrors-esque psychdrone. They play Belgrave Music Hall on 12th December with Kagoule.
Naturally, The Witch Hunt made their return on 31st October, following up their impressive singles salvo with a new 5 track EP entitled Little Book Of Hate. Not only have they augmented their name but the accompanying launch gig saw them unveil a new live formation with the addition of a drummer. A smart move that boosted the intensity of their already very strong live show, and it'll be interesting to see what the effect will be on their future songwriting. The first track to emerge from the EP was 'Army Man' (below; a composition more subtle and controlled than previous releases, with the aggression restricted by a tighter leash. Throughout the EP there is more experimentation both in terms of using Louisa's mighty voice, as well as cloaking each track in layers of ethereal ill-boding. Get the beautiful, splattered pink vinyl and listen out for standout track and live favourite, the ominously haunting 'Wide and Laughing'. They'll be playing Dead Young Records' Christmas Party at the Brudenell on 21st December.
Backyards have awakened from their hibernation and uncovered a new single glistening with melodic pop hooks and a disarming violin that claws at the heartstrings. They've not gone completely soft though, the other instruments adding a gritty edge; it's rather reminiscent of Idlewild post '100 Broken Windows'.
Heavy rocking three-piece Two Trick Horse have also returned with the fantastically titled new single Default Badass, whose two minute length is nothing on paper. It's shorter than one round of boxing. Yet in this time Two Trick Horse manage to forcefully cram an intense barrage of sludgy riffs and enough hardcore drum pounding to leave the listener bloodied on the ropes.
Another band with an evident love of hardcore are Bearfoot Beware who blend this with a shared admiration for yelpy math rock. They recently released their Bruises and Business EP (feat. Trellum below), which features frenetic guitar chords so bouncy you'd thing they were crafted from bungee rope. They play the Fox & Newt on Friday 29th November for their final gig of the year with Bradford's Koala.
Menace Beach were probably the finest new Leeds band to emerge this year, so I was very pleased to hear that they have signed to Memphis Industries and will be releasing a 5 track EP on the 13th January. With the first track to be previewed from it, 'Where I'm From', they've built from Nirvana-esque grunge and brightened it with warm fuzzy riffs and twinned vocal melodies, like a splash of oil oozing colours in the rain. It will undoubtedly be one of my first purchases of 2014.
Another band ending a fruitful year with news of signing to a decent label are Department M, who will be releasing their debut mini-album with Fierce Panda on 16th December. It houses their two previous singles from earlier in the year alongside 6 other cuts from their powerful live show. The half-hour album provides ample opportunity for Owen’s beautifully pure vocals to really take flight; soaring above the heavyweight mechanical drums punches, before bobbing and weaving through a battery of synth-pop and electronic experimentation.
Despite the many treasures on offer, Imp were one of the clear highlights of Long Division Festival on their home turf of Wakefield earlier this year. The four piece have just released their long-awaited debut through local stalwarts Philophobia Records entitled Moon Coastal Maine. It’s a carefree, genre bending journey beginning with a relaxed dose of surf rock, before changing gear after one minute and steering head-on into to the kind of Rubber Soul psychedelia influence rock that made Lonerism so popular. Without sticking there too long they again switch lanes with the buoyant ‘riff-pop’ harking back to a pre-noughties Weezer fronted by Brain Molko. All whilst constantly moving within the narrow lines of playful creativity, where so many other bands might veer into territory more solemn and serious. Hopefully Moon Coastal Maine will get the attention it most definitely deserves and won’t be swept away (excuse the pun) by the annual end-of-year-list-ageddon and #Tipsfor2014.
There's the usual feast of gigs available in the city this Winter, and the Brudenell Social Club have been busy arranging a banquet of epic proportions in honour of their hundredth birthday. Taking place from the end of November, Shellac have already kicked off proceedings, but further bookings include The Fall, Forward Russia, The Wedding Present, Superchunk, Loop and Rocket From The Crypt. A fitting celebration to the perpetually revolving door of varied talent both old and new that Nathan has firmly established on Queen's Road.
The hotly anticipated Belgrave Music Hall opened its doors in October, and has been enticing punters in their droves with its freshly baked pizza aromas and the warm alluring glow of neon lights. The spacious gig room possesses a towering stage with great sight lines, and they continue to boast an array of tempting bookings including Slow Club, Factory Floor, Braids and Forest Swords.
Fellow fans of lo-fi scuzzy indie-pop may want take a look at this gig being hosted at The Library by 360 Club on Friday 29th November. Headlined by Nervous Twitch (below) and also featuring the The See No Evils. Expect swinging 60s garage rock and plenty of good time rock and roll from the pair of them. Facebook event
There's a grand alldayer taking place at Eiger Studios on Saturday 7th December called Symposium. It boasts a huge list of local bands such as Micky P Kerr, Kleine Schweine, Cottonwoolf and Unwave, as well as some names from further afield such as Beans on Toast. Tickets are only £6, take a look at the facebook event for the full list of bands involved.
30th Nov – Belgrave Music Hall – Dutch Uncles + Outfit
4th Dec– The Wardrobe – Arthur Rigby & The Baskervylles + The Wooden Machine
6th Dec – The Cockpit – Los Campesinos! + Joanna Gruesome
8th Dec – Eiger Studios – Electric Soft Parade
11th Dec – Brudenell Social Club - Wooden Shjips
Finally, I won't bore you with another end of year list, but if you haven't checked out Cowtown's Dudes vs. Bad Dudes LP then now is the time as you've been missing a treat. Playful, inventive and damn catchy.