This site is all about supporting new music, but contrary to what my inbox tells me, great music doesn’t just come from London and LA. Wherever there are creatively minded people with a message to share there is great music to be found, and if we all did more to support our local scenes maybe so many of them wouldn’t need to move to those big cities to stand a chance of following their passion. Breakthrough is a scheme that understands that all great bands and artists have to start somewhere. This new artist development program, working with Yorkshire and the Humber’s finest up-and-coming talents, decided to put on a series of three showcase gigs, in the hopes of sharing that message and getting people involved with their local scene. I dropped by Cafe Indie to bask in what this first batch of the area’s best and brightest rising stars had to offer.
The airy acoustic stylings of Rosh were first on the agenda. His gentle set was a little hard to make out at times, but in the blissful moments of quiet you finally got the chance to truly appreciate his music. His guitar work had an old world vibe, exploring unorthodox patterns and letting harmonics ring out. There were definite Nick Drake vibes sprinkled all throughout his set. Rosh’s vocals only served to add to the ethereal atmosphere. Soft and fleeting, like the faintest hint of a song caught on a breeze, his voice hung across the room with a soothing air of tranquility. These were songs superbly suited for those introspective autumn nights. Reminiscent at times of Belwood favourites The Last Dinosaur, it was a delightfully intimate start to the evening.
Let Man Loose however, soon shattered the calm with their effervescent set. Confident, collected, and undoubtedly cool, these lads combined bright indie melodies and infectious hooks with the grit and drive of bands like Queens of the Stone Age. Occasionally they even veered into heavier grooves and trippier solos in between their more accessible tracks. I would certainly have liked to see them explore this more experimental side a little further, and really let man loose, but as it stood their set felt highly slick and professional. They seemed truly at home on stage, utterly in their element, and almost certainly got everyone’s blood pumping.
Rocking up looking a bit like a young Springsteen, Joe Russell-Brown’s set was host to a number of different styles that all somehow felt at home. Covers of Dylan and The Pixies managed to fit together surprisingly well, something more than just Joe and the band’s unique take on them, there was something else tying everything together. It wasn’t until the bittersweet dream pop of Joe’s track ‘Post-Youth Depression’ that I finally saw the pattern. Oddly enough, given that one of Breakthrough aims is to help young people excel, Joe’s set embodied youth in all it’s forms. All of these songs captured some facet of what it means to be young. Whether it’s a case of feeling trapped and of pent-up frustrations, or of revelling in those priceless carefree days while they last, many of the joys and trails we face in our youth, externally or in our own heads, have been the same for the generations before us.
Diverse, thought-provoking and, let us not forget, most importantly still a ton of fun, Joe’s set was something that each and every person there could connect with. Regardless of age everyone had the chance to feel young that night. How many artists do you know that can offer such convivial contemplation, make you laugh and cheer and sing, and yet still strike a chord with you deep within. And how many of them are playing the small venues in your vicinity? Maybe more than you think; you never know unless you take a punt and check out the local talent. There’s great music like this everywhere, and you never know where the next big act may come from, but first that music relies on us to nurture it and help it grow.