When the Harrogate Advertiser started its ‘local releases of the year’ charting a year in the music scene in the Harrogate district 25 years ago it was mostly homemade cassette tapes and amateurish CDs.
In a sign of how much things have changed in that quarter century, receiving anything physical in the post from rock bands or singer-songwriters has almost completely disappeared in favour of well-produced releases which exist only in the digital ether of Soundcloud or Bandcamp.
Although the Harrogate Advertiser has remained the only media outlet attempting to cover the whole spectrum of local music talent, the powers of social media means there’s at least four local acts who’ve risen to national reknown recently – dynamic metal band Blood Youth, teenage singer-songwriter Billie Marten, synth dance pop duo Litany and electro-r’n’b master Scott Quinn – with only limited press coverage.
So if the list that makes up Harrogate Advertiser Gig Scene’s Local Releases of the Year 2018 has its shortcomings, it’s a product of the shortcomings of the time.
Harrogate Advertiser Gig Scene's Top 5 of 2018
1. Dan Webster: The Great Storm of Now (album)
What we said: “If anyone asks where’s the UK’s version of those much-hailed US cult geniuses such as Ty Seagall are, we’ve got one right here in Harrogate.”
2. Hell Fire Jack: Chain (album)
What we said: “Such is the merciless nature of this primeval garage band, it’s as if the Black Keys had transmogrified into Black Sabbath.”
3. Holly Rose Webber: The Nashville Sessions (EP).
What we said: “Holly’s latest impressive release reached number one in the country charts”
4. Karl Culley: Last! (album)
What we said: "The best songs of his career."
5. Misery Bids: e.p. 1 (EP).
What we said: "Misery Bids sound like the Dead Kennedys if they’d married Dinosaur Jr, fallen in love with pop, and been given just 10 minutes to get into the studio and get out."
Also in the running
1. Lence: Old Town Revival. (single/video)
What we said: "Intelligent rapping married to a memorable guitar line, soulful vocals by Isi Dee and subtle, skilful beats by Oh, My."
2. The Doubtful Bottle: Eye (single)
What we said: "The Doubtful Bottle may flirt with the dark melodrama of previous great British bands like Echo & The Bunnymen but they’re too sunny to fully embrace it."
3. Mark Rowen: Radiance (album)
What we said: "Radiance’s 11 tracks remind music fans how classic 70s prog bands such as Genesis, Pink Floyd and Rush evolved to survive and prosper as the hippy era gave way to yuppie rock times."
4. Hawthonn: Red Goddess: Of This Men Shall Know Nothing (album).
5. Ben Sowden: Left of Arc (album, produced at Homefire Studios, Harrogate)