THIS year’s airwaves are likely to be dominated by commercial pop, but in Sheffield at least, 2013 is all about the guitar, as Star music writer Rachael Clegg discovers
SO FAR, this year’s looking good for Sheffield’s music scene.
The Arctic Monkeys are believed to be working on a new album in the Californian desert, according to Matt Helders’ mum’s tweet on the subject, I Monster releasing an album and electro pioneers Heaven 17 are planning some live dates.
Back in the Steel City, across its dozens of recording studios, city-based acts such as Dead Sons, Wet Nuns, I Monster’s Jarrod’s side project Regal Worm and Hey Sholay, to name a few, are making the finishing touches on albums set to be released this year.
Matthew ‘Bernie’ Byrne from Dead Sons says: “We’re releasing an album this year called Hollers and the Hymns. The album’s kind of a journey of everything we’ve done. The title track is one of the oldest songs we ever wrote together. The album includes some old stuff but there are some new sounds on there as well.”
And while Dead Sons are known for their slightly sinister-sounding alt rock, the album reveals another dimension to the band. “There are some softer sons on there too, ballads, I suppose,” says Bernie. “Well, as close to ballads as we get as a band.”
For Dead Sons at least, this year will be something of a milestone in the band’s career.
“This year’s going to be a turning point,” says Bernie. “Up to now we’ve been writing non-stop. We’ve really hit a vein of creativity and every song we write we feel we are getting better.”
This year, at least, the band can put its creativity to the test, with a full tour as well as Holler and the Hymns’ release.
“It’s going to be a very exciting year,” says Bernie.
I Monster - the city’s most hailed electronica act - is releasing its album of short stories this year.
It’s also an exciting year for Jarrod Gosling from electronica duo I Monster, whose side project, Regal Worm, releases its debut, Use and Ornament. The album’s a prog-rock, multi-layered, multi instrumental bonanza. The out-there album also comes with an amusing caution: “*WARNING. The penultimate track is twenty five minutes and forty three seconds long but it does involve an aunt turning into an ant. Your ears may be transported to Newport Pagnell in this instance.”
Back on earth, Sheffield’s lively indie pop rockers The Crookes are preparing for an unbelievably busy year. Last year’s release of Hold Fast proved so popular in Japan and Europe that the band are planning to visit the SXSW festival in Texas to secure a licensing deal for North and Latin America. Manager Penny Blackham said: “The band has an increasing fan base in Latin America. There have been quite a few magazine features on them and they’ve had a lot of airplay and this is all without any effort on our part. This year the band want to grasp this momentum and try and get the album out to Latin America and North America. So far this year’s looking really exciting.”
The Crookes’ musical ball is certainly rolling - fast. This year American blog There Goes the Fear listed the Crookes’ Hold Fast as their number-one album of 2012.
And if that wasn’t enough for a band named after a Sheffield suburb, Richard Hawley has asked the Crookes to support him on his UK tour this year.
“It will be the first time the band has supported anyone. It’s always been them doing it all for themselves,” says Blackham.
“But their work has really paid off and they are selling out venues in places like Holland and they sold out the Leadmill in November.”
Bromheads, in the meantime (formerly Bromheads’ Jacket) looks forward to releasing latest studio album Chora this April.
And of course Richard Hawley embarks on a full UK tour following the release of Standing at the Sky’s Edge. The tour follows a momentous year for Hawley, which was topped off with a guest appearance at Pulp’s closing show at Sheffield Arena.
As Blackham observes: “People have a lot more time for guitar bands outside of the UK, which is why the Crookes have been so popular - people love that classic British guitar rock act.”
This year looks to be one that is stacked with Sheffield talent, whether it’s the biggest band in the world or some of the city’s fast-rising acts.