“Everything’s Brilliant In Leeds!” yelled the Kaiser Chiefs around 2005, putting this northern indie powerhouse back on the musical map, but the truth is Leeds had been pumping out fabulously gritty indie pop, electro and funk punk for decades. It’s not all telephone banking and setting fire to festival toilets up there: here are my – personally selected, not in any way democratic, sorry Sisters Of Mercy fans – pick of the best ten records from Yorkshire’s rock’n’roll Valhalla.
10. Eleven Eleven – Dinosaur Pile-Up
Okay, okay, it should probably be at number 1111, but DPU’s latest album vastly outstrips its own title thanks to having the weight and girth of a gas giant and the impact of Thor’s hammer smacking you squarely in the eardrum.
9. Eagulls – Eagulls
The cream of Leeds’ current post-punk crop, Eagulls are a cranky clog in the machine of über-polished modern alt-rock and their 2014 debut album was pure, ferocious filth.
8. The Bright Lights And What I Should Have Learned – Duels
Unfairly overlooked during the post-Kaisers Leeds indie uprising, Duels were a fiery synth-pop prospect with the flounce of prime Pulp and the bite of Ziggy on catnip.
7. Raise The Alarm – The Sunshine Underground
Epic pop masters, The Sunshine Underground merged The Wedding Present’s indie pop thrash with Gang Of Four’s funk punk frivolity to create the refined sound of modern Leeds.
6. An Awesome Wave – Alt-J
And then there’s post-modern Leeds. The mysterious, un-Googleable origins of Alt-J disguised their roots, but today their pioneering minimalist glitch-indie debut stands as one of the city’s finest alt-rock achievements.
5. Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret – Soft Cell
Not exactly famed for its S&M sex dwarf scene, Leeds seemed an unlikely fount for Marc Almond’s leather-clad 80’s raunch-pop sensations, Soft Cell. But their debut album’s obsessions with porn cinemas, transvestite clubs and suburban mundanity lifted the lid on the city’s seamy underbelly, with ‘Tainted Love’ as its seductive rallying cry.
4. Employment – Kaiser Chiefs
The album around which the 00’s Leedsrock explosion revolved – see also ¡Forward Russia!, I Like Trains, Sky Larkin, Dead Disco, etc – Kaiser Chiefs’ four million-selling 2005 debut rejuvenated the town’s indie rock scene with its rubber-legged Britpop hooks and “woooOOOAAAHH!”s that could rouse the dead.
3. George Best – The Wedding Present
The very bedrock of indie music as we know it, the frenzied jangle-thrash and anguished teenage yowls of David Gedge’s 1987 debut epitomised the C86 scene thanks to such deathless classics as ‘My Favourite Dress’ and – oh yes – ‘Shatner’.
2. Entertainment! – Gang Of Four
Without this record, no Rapture, no ‘A-Punk’, no, um, RHCP. The foundation of funk-punk, Gang Of Four’s debut album advanced the dub and reggae influence of some quarters of the post-punk brigade to create a bass-heavy genre all of its own.
1. Seamonsters – The Wedding Present
Simply a towering masterpiece of indie rock distress, The Weddoes turned to producer Steve Albini to provide the dank, churning backdrop to the soul-scouring tales of obsession, bitterness and heartbreak of the 1991 third album. An eviscerating melodic Kraken of a record.