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LISTEN UP LEEDS: Discover the artists making Leeds the current hotbed for new music in the UK...
Leeds is one of the hottest cities for new music right now! Check out just some of our favourites that need to be on your radar for the new year.
We kick off this list with the socially savvy female Punk outfit VENUS GRRRLS. You can appreciate what the band are about just from their name. They are apologetically ferocious and are stamping their name firmly on the riot grrrl train. 2021 has been a great year for the five of them, with three lively Punk Rock singles causing a huge noise both in the Leeds scene and nationally. Last month they closed out their year by packaging these three singles into their 'Potions' EP.
The opener, 'Hate Me' leads with a dark and tempting rhythm with the vocals just teasing you in before the bands true power is exposed. The chorus then opens up in a flurry of shattering riffs and an onslaught of dense drums. What instantly stands out is the vocal power. Each line seems to land more viscous and with more of a growl than the last, carrying a deep resonance comparable only to a few modern female Rock vocalists such as Lia Metcalfe of The Mysterines. 'Sudocream Queen' is more melodic yet just as forceful with a huge anthemic chorus that begs to be sung back at the top of your lungs. The one brand new track on the EP 'Glisten' is perhaps their most complete release to date. It's dark and dreamy Grunge guitar line drifts across you as the vocals take on a more ethereal tone that is reminiscent of Wolf Alice's Ellie Rowsell. Yet, over the distortion you can constantly feel a tension building. Then, after one final moment of peace this tension is let loose in a flood of Rock power. The instrumentals are impenetrable and the vocals are infectiously catchy making it a track that demands to be performed in a live setting! So go check them out and see them in the new year!
Post-Punk quartet Yard Act have shot into the starlight throughout 2021 with an early EP and a string of recent singles which have made them arguably one of the most highly respected new bands in the UK. Their debut album is just around the corner and we for one can't wait! The new record 'The Overload' is out on the 21st of January next year, but what can you expect? Well, something that has remained constant throughout all their releases is the thickly accented social commentary dropped into an Indie Rock soundscape that prompts an almost deadpan euphoria. The kind of sounds that could make a room dance their hips off while remaining completely expressionless.
However, the three singles that come from their upcoming album have all offered something different. The title track arrives with a high energy Punk shuffle that "won't relent" just as the vocals say. The instrumentals are tightly wrapped with a prominent bass line intertwining with the hectic drum rhythm. The chorus has a layered vocal sound that gives the impression of the whole group singing as one. That kind of vocal camaraderie is infectious and provides one of their most melodic and singable moments. 'Land Of The Blind' radiates more of the deadpan atmosphere I mentioned. It stumbles along with a laid back vocal phrasing and an instrumental backing that is peppered with guitar subtleties that add textural depth. The lyrical phonetics stand out in this one with some fantastically tangled lines such as...
"We all get a commemorative fifty pence piece each
For the peace treaties breached
And the palms greased, that are never on the ends
Of the elbows digging the graves of the deceased"
The most recent single 'Payday' delivers a more direct and angsty instrumentation with a strange electro djembe drum sound, a persistent guitar grumble and a fuzzy riff that enters the chorus. Vocally, the social commentary almost verges into spoken word as it makes witty cynical observations. The chorus is their most expressionistic to date with the aggressive vocal line "take the money and RUN" proceeded by a peculiar contrast of an electronic whistling melody that is offset by various angst ridden screams of "TAKE" that can be heard in the distance. All three tracks are consistent in quality yet varied in tone and offer an accomplished balance of instrumental proficiency, lyrical content and vocal flow. 'The Overload' is no doubt one of the top albums to get excited for in the new year!
Rock collective Eades are unusual in the modern age in the fact that they are just that... a collective. Made up of songwriters, producers and session musicians, they offer direct and bright modern twists on retro aesthetics, from Garage-Rock to Post-Punk. Having 4 songwriters in their ranks results in a fresh blend of influences and thus a sound that can be hard to pin down. Yet, there music is always driven by thick riffs that simultaneously carry the warm surfer vibes of the American West coast and the cutting harshness of British Punk-Rock. The band are gearing up for their debut album 'Delusion Spree' which arrives in March next year and have so far given us two tasters of what is to come.
The first, 'Reno', is instantly infectious. The Garage Rock riff has a swagger to it and cuts through the marching drum pattern. However, it is the vocals that lead the charge. The layered vocals deliver a power that is feels purpose built for an underground sweaty basement gig with the whole room bouncing and chanting back in unison. The first half of the track is nothing too unique but it captures the essence of a catchy Garage track and pours it out in a suitably fuzzy dosage. Yet, halfway through the song drops down as we are greeted by a more subtle and intriguing female vocal before it changes tempo and opens up into a messy sonic ball pit. The vocals ramble over a crisp guitar line whilst the drums ramp up the energy for a moshworthy experience. The original tempo then returns but maintains this newfound energy and finishes in a thick rumbling wall of sound and that super catchy chorus. The latest single 'Ever Changing' expresses a more Art-Rock sound with a rhythm that never stagnates, beginning with a Post-Punk, Shame esc punch but quickly opening up with brighter and more intricate instrumental landscape. Again, the range of influence can be felt constantly, with the verses offering a vocal drawl and the chorus evoking memories of care free mid 00s ladish Indie perfect for dirty dancefloors and uni parties. This audible variance in style yet consistent quality among the collective makes their album one of the most highly anticipated for 2022.
'Big Softy' are a little known duo that are brand new on the scene. They released their debut single 'supercomputer' last month and we can guarantee that if you don't remember hearing it then you certainly haven't because it's not a song you forget. Its dancy rhythm and big, in-your-face echoed vocals demand your attention from the off. The verses are comparable to Bad Sounds, filled with a constant flood of tightly flowing monotone lyrics in a bass led groove.
The chorus then expands into an Indie/dance/electro fusion. The soaring vocal call of "where are you now" carries the drama of Kasabian's stadium fillers whilst the instrumentals are insanely dense for a band of just two, with a powerful bouncing beat, thick bassline and swelling guitar atmosphere providing the basis for electronic intricacies to dance as they please. 'Supercomputer' has to be a staple on your Indie party playlist but what is more exciting is the indications it gives for the band's future. As a debut single it makes a strong statement. It tells us that there is a bold new duo ready to emerge in 2022 armed with bold, dance-worthy concoctions.
If you're after a more blissful sound to ease you into the festive period then Indie Folk Singer-Songwriter Dez Rocksteady may be for you. The self professed 'Sweety Guy' has a knack for writing charmingly innocent love songs that are built for dark nights next to the fire wrapped in your favourite knitted jumper. He emerged at the start of 2020 with his debut EP filled with three stripped-back bedroom written love songs that all had that charming campfire vibe. He followed this up with a string of singles yet he really came into his own this January with the track 'Space To Breathe' that offered a slightly more built-up, spacey atmosphere. It is a sadder, more introspective number and in true Gen Z style it was this that really connected with fans.
After constant references to his Sweet Guy aesthetic he has finally put it into words on his latest two track release to close out the year. The first of the two is titled 'Sweety Guy' and leads with the chorus line "I'm not gonna lie, I'm a sweety guy for you". It is almost endearingly cringey as it doesn't hide behind convoluted metaphors, it just expresses his love as simply and directly as he feels it. Musically, it is bright and beautiful with his smooth vocals complimented by a twinkling chime melody in the backdrop. The B side '(Memories of) Summer In The Park' is a much more low-key and melancholic track as he reflects back longingly at summer days. As a pair, they offer the perfect contrasting feelings for December listening. Although not a Christmas song 'Sweety Guy' does fit the festive vibe with its cosy aesthetic and lyrics of coming home to the ones you love. Whereas 'Summer In The Park' has a colder atmosphere that has quite a lost and empty emotive effect that leaves you wishing for the warmth and comfort of 'Sweety Guy' once more. A great two-track offering to see you into the new year!
Although it may be a bit of a geographical stretch to include Halifax's Singer-Songwriter Ellur in this list, she is currently gearing up for her headline show/release party at Hyde Park Book Club and with her talent we couldn't not give her an honorable mention. With a confident string of lo-fi bedroom Rock singles in 2020, she earned both local and national recognition, gaining support from Spotify on multiple playlists that pit her alongside some of the UKs best solo female talents such as girl in red, Holly Humberstone and PIXEY. She continued her form this Summer with her most vibrant and colourful single to date, 'Moments'. At its base, the song is intimate, with her vocals holding an audible thoughtfulness and sensibility. The low key introspective word play makes the sound comparable to the likes of Phoebe Green & Abbie Ozard, however the instrumentals transform these vocals into a much brighter and performative display, mainly the synth melody that you would expect to hear from the likes of Indie giants Inhaler.
Her latest release 'Migraine' begins with more of an Electronic dance twist then her previous work. The thick 80s drum sound provides a solid bedrock but ample space for her vocals to really shine through. Throughout the track the controlled power of her voice is noticeable as it is rousing in its deepest moments and piercing in its highest. It always feels as though the track is building towards something and it doesn't disappoint. Along the way some clean and funky The 1975 esc guitar elements add texture to the sound. Yet it is not until the final moments that we are met by a shattering emotive performance as her vocals soar above the anthemic drum stabs and swirling distortion. It is certainly her most powerful and poignant release to date and sets things up very nicely for the new year. Be sure to make it down to her headline show on December 15th if you are in the Leeds area.
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