Local Music Scenes Part 1: Leeds
- By Liam Harrison
- July 25, 2013
Being formed in the brazen underbelly of West Yorkshire near Leeds, I half claim some sort of cultural origin there. Though often overshadowed by the likes of Manchester; Leeds and other surrounding areas in West Yorkshire have consistently been host to some of the most startlingly original acts of recent years, and this not-surprisingly hasn’t been limited to Kaiser Chiefs and Corinne Bailey Rae. The propensity for Leeds housing big-name acts has recently been increased due to the grand opening of the new ‘Leeds Arena’. In addition, there exists a wholly alternative scene beneath the cloth cap charm, occasionally rearing it’s head from a venue-housed manhole, which we’ll be concentrating on. Read on to find some of the highlights of the area.
One of the biggest bands to emerge from the area, Dinosaur Pile-up have recently released their second album, ‘Nature Nurture’ just last month. A great piece of the tried and tested pop-alt-rock mix, this track is a leap towards the mainstream for the Leeds band. However, it’s done in the best possible way, as songs such as single ‘Derail’ still feature their signature hard as nails sound, nuanced with a more pop-like mix. They form just one point in a spectrum of a host of Leeds-based ‘power pop meets hard rock’ bands.
On the side teetering towards noise and the ‘harder’ rock is ‘These Monsters’. Their recent album ‘Heroic Dose’, a tooth-rattling sledgehammer of an album, proved that the band were adaptable, contrasting strongly with their prog-rock meets sludge-rock lengthy debut, as it allowed the band to branch out, playing frenzied punk/hard rock and earning quite a name for themselves across the country, as well as likening them to friends ‘Pulled Apart By Horses’. It was also impressive on the part of guitarist-cum-singer Sam Pryor, who leapt at the lead-singer position and readjusted the band dynamic, arguably creating a more defined and better received sound. Their album release party, featuring Hawk Eyes and Backlisters was also very well received.
Also worthy of note is Leeds based band ‘Mahogany Hand Glider’. Released at the end of April, their EP ‘Bless the Fat’ is a crash-course in thoughtful, angular and funky Indie rock with a complex prog twist. As music that “sonically illustrates our obsession with space colonisation, our need to settle and create life beyond this small rock witch politely ponders it’s way around the sun”, it’s atmospheric, multi-faceted, sprawling, ambitious and paradoxically ever-changing yet ever the same. The release is on the recently established ‘Destroy All Records’ label, itself coming in the wake of the disbanding of legendary local label ‘Brew Records’. Being host to many local bands over the years, including ‘These Monsters’ and ‘Hawk Eyes’, the label will be sorely missed, helping the city of Leeds and its scene.
Also of ‘Destroy All Records’ is ‘Ikestra’, a fantastic leftfield indie pop act featuring compressed delay-funk guitars and excellent funk beats. Sounding a lot like the sampled world music of Remain In Light era Talking Heads, they temper this sound with toned down atmospheric breakdowns like in the centre of their title track. Creators of genuinely interesting music, their debut can be bought from bandcamp. They are also playing, along with acts such as fellow Leodensians ‘Swimming Lessons’ and ‘Sky Larkin’ at Fell Foot Sound Festival, near the Lake District, as well as ‘A Carefully Planned Festival’ with ‘The Physics House Band’ and Sheffield’s ‘Screaming Maldini’ in The Northern Quarter, Manchester.
Sky Larkin have also been busy recently, after their previous two albums, ‘The Golden Spike’ and ‘Kaleide’ have seen some of the most ear-pleasing Indie Rock to come out of Leeds for a long time, and their latest song ‘Motto’ appears to be a continuation of this. Dropping a couple of months back and packed with their traditional grinding guitars and lead singer Katie Harkin’s distinctively airy vocals, the track is a worthy addition to their repertoire, with the band seeming as focused as ever, particularly after a fantastic set at Sheffield’s ‘Tramlines Festival’.
The aforementioned Swimming Lessons are also a fantastic act, veering away from the more ‘rock’ based sound to a reverb-laden chillwave-y, experimental operation. The single ‘Doubles’ was warmly received, housing great production and creeping arpeggiating synth lines across a powerful vocal effort. They are definitely one to be watched, both at the upcoming Fell Foot Sound, and in the near future, and we’re expecting big things from them.