WHILE Sheffield recovers from its New Year hangover, already the city’s artists are gearing up for a manic year of releases, tours and collaborations.
Cinematic folk act Big Eyes Family Players prepares for their new release in spring, which is a follow-up to the band’s previous collaboration with illustrious folk singer-songwriter James Yorkston, which was simply entitled Folk Songs. The title for the forthcoming album is yet to be decided.
Meanwhile the increasingly popular blues stomp duo, Wet Nuns, are releasing a single in February, which will be accompanied by a UK tour in the same month.
The single – yet to be titled – marks the band’s emergence on to the national scene as one of the UK’s niche bands.
Few outfits can boast the ballsy alt punk sound that Wet Nuns have so effortlessly – and successfully – nailed.
The duo’s last single, Heaven’s Below, was well received by critics and was even remixed by Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders.
And when not remixing Wet Nuns releases, Matt Helders will be busy this year preparing for an epic North American tour with another blues duo – America’s Black Keys.
The tour marks the Monkeys’ increasing popularity in the US, in spite of the censoring of the title of their last album, Suck it and See.
The well-known British phrase was misinterpreted in the US as having lewd connotations.
But back on Sheffield turf, Alvarez Kings embark on a full European tour in February, which will take in Italy, Austria, Switzerland , Germany, Belgium and France.
The tour will be accompanied by an equally ambitious release schedule with five single releases, the first being Cold Conscience on February 27.
The releases will be on National Importance Records, with whom the band signed a year ago.
Hey Sholay will also be releasing their debut – yet to be titled – with Fierce Panda records this spring and already the Sheffield jangly-indie act are writing material for their second album. The band have been tipped as one of 2012’s must-see acts.
Equally industrious are The Crookes, who will release their second album, Hold Fast, in time for summer.
Band member George Waite said: “We’ve already got half of it finished – it’s coming along pretty quickly and we’re working at a studio in Leeds with a producer who we get on really well with – we’re not afraid to say no to his ideas and he’s not afraid to say which songs he doesn’t like.”
David Roche – aka Little Lost David – is also releasing an album this year entitled Skin and Bones.
The singer-songwriter’s Jeff Buckley-like falsetto vocals and swooning musicality make him one of the most gripping performers in the city, although by no means new to the scene.
But as producer Alan Smyth, who runs 2Fly Studios, reports, there are few new acts coming through.
“Much of the stuff we’ve had in the studio is that of established acts making new releases, though some have been brilliant.”
Among the stand-out artists, who are set to release material this year are Pete David and the Payroll Union.
“It is a real joy to work with a band which is so different,” says Smyth.
“The lyrics are intelligent and educational – many are based on historical stories.”
Reggae dub act Smiling Ivy have also been in the studio recording material for this year.
“They are a band what I would describe as a ‘band out of time’, says Smyth.
“They are one of those bands, like Pulp, that if they have the will to keep going they will make it as what they play isn’t trendy at the moment but these are the bands where you think ‘they could be massive.”
And fingers crossed, they will, along with all the other industrious bands throughout the city.