Much as I wonder whether anyone reads any of these end of year lists I’m a sucker for them so couldn’t resist putting together a list of records which I stumbled across this year. In all truth some of these came out well before 2016 but I’m often late to the party (only with music, I’m always awkwardly first at any real life party). Feel free to add your own ideas in the comments section or via Facebook or Twitter. Enjoy!
Youth Anthem’s Top Records discovered in 2016 (in no particular order!)
Nervous Twitch – Don’t Take My TV
I’ve been a massive fan of this Leeds garage rock band since we met a few years back at The Fenton. I’m now lucky to consider them friends and have been super happy to see them grow and grow as a band. Now slimmed down to a power-trio their latest album “Don’t Take My TV” is their finest hour yet. 60’s Bubble-Gum pop mixed with 70’s garage and 90’s Riot Grrl with riff after riff after riff. They played to a sell out crowd at one of our gigs this year and I might even break my rule of not repeating bands by having them back again soon.
I saw Ganglions play a pub basement a few months back and immediately (well after watching the other bands and then playing a set myself) went home and downloaded this EP. Ganglions have the full package, lovely people, incredible at their instruments, confident playing live and in spite of playing a genre of music which can often (for right or wrong reasons) be written off as inaccessible, cliquey or pretentious their songs are utterly welcoming, joyfully challenging and having all the jangly bits and the sing along bits in the right places. New favorite band!
The Cut Ups – The Nerves
I think it must be about ten years ago now that I first saw The Cut Ups play at the Windmill in Brixton. I remember putting their first album in my car CD player and listening to it the whole way through on the way back to Brighton. I was blown away but how urgent the music was; It was clearly punk rock but amongst all the riffs and noise were some of the most heart felt and important lyrics I’d ever heard. Every time I saw them thereafter I became a bigger fan and each album pulled me in even more (full of nostalgia I remember picking up their second album at another gig at the Brixton Windmill and listening to that one on the way back to Brighton). The Cut Ups have been in my life through three bands, a marriage, a Child and a move from Brighton to Leeds but they’re still one of the most important bands in the world and this album seals the deal.
Andew Cream – Self-Portrait
Even if Andrew wasn’t someone I’m lucky to call a pal this 12″ would still be on the list. Andrew has been plugging away as a solo singer/songwriter for quite some years now and over the last few he’s been backed on many occasions by the rhythm section from the ace Bolton pop-punk band Don Blake which gives his songs a bit more drive on record and lends the songs some lovely harmonies. This eight track album brings together all the songs Andrew’s been playing over the last couple of years and it’s a fantastic package (both musically and aesthetically). Musically we’re talking acoustic guitar, drums and bass playing folk influenced indie-pop with the odd touch of early 2000 “emo” ala Drive Through Records (to my ear anyway!). Nice one!
Martha – Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart
I have a feeling this cheeky little collection of bangers might be on a few other end of year lists but hey I’m not missing out! We were mega lucky to have Martha come and play at Youth Anthems way back when with Penny & The Sausages (a mega packed out one if memory serves me well). Their debut album “Courting Strong” was an absolute game changer – Beautiful South inspired indie-punk with a hefty touch of Motown and “Blisters in the pit of my Heart” repeats this trick; Instead of just giving us more of the same this time round they up the riffs, giving us solos and power chords that wouldn’t be out of place on an Iron Maiden album before throwing four part harmonies, acoustic breaks and moments of shoe-gaze all over the place. It’s no mistake that this one is produced by MJ from Hookworms, his incredible sound is all over the show here making an incredible album of songs one of the best of our generation. Unmissable.
Biscuithead and The Biscuit Badgers – Dinosaurs Ate My Caravan
I’m very aware that this came out in 2014 and this might look like a shameless plug for our February gig but I genuinely only discovered this album in 2016 after being badgered (ahem!) by members of Nervous Twitch, The Pop Up People and numerous other Leeds acts to get the band to one of our gigs. I genuinely listen to this album 4-5 times a week with my Daughter who loves it nearly as much as me. If the idea of a band mixing up They Might Be Giants, The Magnetic Fields and The Tiger Lillies with songs about Hermit Crabs, the science of snow and Soy Milk is up your street then tuck in!
Bon Iver – 22, A Million
I was really into the first Bon Iver album but found I really needed to be in the right mood for it as it’s a HEAAAAAVY listen (maan!) so I was mega delighted when the second album came out and instead of being more maudy lo-fi, ‘Ol Bon Iver had gone full 80’s synth. It did leave me wondering what tricky album number three would bring (a maudlin version of Duran Duran perhaps?) but instead this absolute classic came instead. Blending glitchy 90’s beats with a Daft Punk vocal sound (at times) over a rollercoaster of heartbreaking (and thankfully inspiring at times) lyrics the 80’s influences has moved from a fun pastiche to an art in itself. This is the soundtrack to a damn weird party but he’s more than welcome to come and play one of our gigs whenever he wants.
Crumbs – Demo
When I heard that Gem from Fancy Clap promotions was in a band with Stu from Molars and Jamie from Travels By Telephone I was very excited but then when I heard that Ruth from The Cost of Living was on vocals I began screaming SUPER GROUP! They are indeed super as this first demo shows (and I’m glad to hear they’ve been recording an album recently with everyone’s fav Leeds producer MJ at Suburban Home). With a lo-fi sound reminiscent of Beat Happening they also have a lovely spread of a Talking Heads via Devo new-wave sound and a whole lot of fun. They’re also amazing live as well as being some of the nicest people in Yorkshire.