The last 12 months have been eventful in the Steel City’s world of music – from Sheffield’s biggest band to breakthroughs with some of its smaller acts, 2014 has been a year of breaks, reunions and new releases, as well as new green shoots.
Indeed the latter are aplenty, according to producer Alan Smyth, from 2Fly Studios.
He says: “This last year has been pretty exciting for new bands coming through this year. We have seen loads of great acts – many of which have great names too. The Fontaines are a fabulous band, as are Jakata Club and there is a great new band called the Recroots too, who also have a fabulous name. It’s really good to see this stuff coming though.”
Other ‘ones to watch’ to have passed through the 2Fly production powerhouse include Beat the Bandit, the Vegas Six and MLD.
But not all new bands to watch out for next year are new-borns.
Alan says: “There’s a brilliant band called Extra Lives and that’s made up of some of the people from Smokers Die Younger. They are brilliant songwriters and definitely worth checking out.”
But his musical excitement started early last year.
Alan says: “We recorded Reverend and The Makers’ latest album, which is different to any of the dancy stuff they have done before, but as a classic-style album it is absolutely brilliant.
“It also marks a whole new chapter in Reverend and The Makers’ career.”
The band themselves have gigged tirelessly and carved a whole new fan base from playing in people’s houses. And this old school, grass roots and hard-working ethic has certainly paid off – the band is on an upward trajectory that’s fresh and bold.
And that is not all frontman Jon ‘the Reverend’ McClure has been up to – he has also found time to support another up-and-coming South Yorkshire act, folk duo Rita Payne.
Rhiannon Stutt, Rita Payne guitarist and singer, says: “We’ve had a great year – things are really starting to happen for us and we are lucky to have had support from people from the Sheffield music community like Jon and Martin Simpson.”
The duo released their debut album, We’re Getting There, Aren’t We? earlier last year and are looking forward to a tour of the UK and France in 2015.
Rhiannon says: “We’ve got so many bits and pieces coming up and all these seems to have come about without us having to plug away at every venue going. We are very lucky and the album seems to be selling really well.”
The duo’s plans also include recording an EP, although at the moment they are focusing on writing new material.
But, 2014 also saw the dramatic announcement that the city’s biggest export, Arctic Monkeys, would be taking a break following the release of their hugely successful fifth album, AM.
While the High Green quartet take a break, however, fellow global Sheffield stars 65daysofstatic are upping their musical ante as the band knuckle down to record a soundtrack to a video game.
City indie duo Slow Club have also been busy with the release of their latest album, Complete Surrender. The pair – Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor – will embark on a full UK tour which culminates at the Queens Social Club in Sheffield at the end of February.
Rotherham rockers Bring Me The Horizon have also had a smasher of a year, with a Wembley Arena gig and a string of festival appearances.
The year’s also seen the rise of young Bolton-on-Dearne quartet The Sherlocks, who have quickly become a household name in the indie rock world and are set for big things. Watch out too for Carousel, a quartet of teenagers from Beighton who already have one single and a string of gigs under their belts – their Arctic Monkeys-esque sound is sure to win a lot more fans in the coming months.
However, there have been some sad endings, too – Screaming Maldini, the city’s multi instrumental cult indie band, have split up, while last week saw the death of one of the city’s most beloved stars in Joe Cocker.
Cocker rose to fame with his stunning cover of The Beatles’ With a Little Help From My Friends, which he famously performed to a crowd of 400,000 people at Woodstock festival in 1969. This performance cemented the former Sheffield gas engineer’s success as a singer with the most powerful larynx on the planet.
In terms of Sheffield’s current scene, however, the most striking phenomenon is the sheer range of musical styles coming out of 2014 and to be released in 2015.
As Alan points out. “There is a huge diversity in Sheffield bands but that’s what has always made Sheffield’s music scene so unique.
“Liverpool is defined by the Beatles and ‘Merseybeat’, for example, but Sheffield isn’t like that.”
As for 2015, be ready for an eclectic onslaught of avant garde alt rock, indie anthems, delightful folk.
Not to mention the inevitable rise of bands like 65daysofstatic and Rita Payne.
Watch this space...