It said a lot that as the 2013 GIT Award was launched last week, two of last year’s nominees in the form of Loved Ones and Ninetails were in the process of unveiling new material to deserved praise from national press. What better evidence could there be of both the success of the awards, and the underlying strength of Liverpool’s music scene without which the awards themselves couldn’t exist? My view may well be slightly clouded on this matter, though, so I removed my so called “Liverpool goggles” and took to the internet to canvass some of the UK’s wisest music bloggers from Liverpool and beyond to give us their perspective on what they think Liverpool’s musical landscape looks like.
Favourite artists coming out of Liverpool at the moment?
“It’s probably between Bird and Wet Mouth as my absolute favourites at the moment. With Bird it’s great to see the progress they have made and stripping back to a three piece seems to have really been a real creative catalyst. If Wet Mouth can get a release or two out in 2013 then they have the potential to really expand their fan base. Shouts out too for Death At Sea, Tea Street Band and Stealing Sheep.”
Do you think that the scene in Liverpool is stronger now than it has been in the recent past?
“I do actually; there have been periods where I pretty much gave up on it. Too many clichéd Beatles/Cast/the La’s wannabe’s producing lame Sky Sports footie montage wankathons – like some horrible hybrid of The Farm crossed with the Zutons on an eternal ferry ride across the sea of mediocrity.”
Are new artists from Liverpool today indebted to their Scouse forefathers, or have they broken away from that?
“Oh bollocks to the Beatles, they did change music yes – but for the better? I mean they came along and sidelined the girl group sound (boo!) From birth I’ve been told, “but you were born and bred in Kensington (Liverpool) therefore it is the law you MUST like The Beatles and call everybody laaaaa and carry a tickling stick to denote your god given sense of humour.” I’d rather bands were indebted to the Bunnymen, the Stooges, The Pistols, Kate Bush, The Clash, there’s a whole world of music out there! Soak up it up from everywhere – after all ( to borrow a cliché) it’s not where you’re from it’s where you’re at that matters! But no, as previously mentioned I think bands can appreciate the past without being owned by it.”
Favourite bands from Liverpool at the moment?
“I’ve always liked Death At Sea and Dan Croll is pretty cool too.”
How strong do you feel that the music scene in Liverpool is at the moment?
“I think it’s growing, the last few years have seen Manchester and Birmingham touted as the epicentre of new music, but yeah, there’s always room for another ‘emerging’ space.”
Do you think that the sound of new Liverpool bands is still rooted in the history of the city or are they making a conscious decision to break with tradition?
“I feel like, with the internet and ease of access to music, influence isn’t so strictly rooted in geographical location any more. I don’t think there’s any conscious decision to break with tradition as who will know of or be indebted to ‘tradition’ because they live in Liverpool any less than because they live in London? The internet has continually opened up the idea of musical lineage.”
Favourite bands from Liverpool at the moment?
“Outfit are the band that immediately jump to mind when discussing Liverpool, having appeared on The Recommender and plenty of other blogs over the last year. Elsewhere, we’ve enjoyed the likes of Stealing Sheep, All We Are, Loved Ones and The Tea Street Band.”
Is there a perception that the music scene in Liverpool is strong at the moment or does it not seem so in comparison with other cities?
“It’s obviously quite hard to know if there is a better scene in Liverpool in 2012 without actually living there, but thankfully internet buzz doesn’t care for geography. Much like Brighton in these recent economic times, it seems that Liverpool has had it’s fair share of closing music venues; in one year Brighton suffered the closure of our Barfly, The Pressure Point, The Ocean Rooms and The Freebutt, all within 100 yards of each other in one corner of our city. Thankfully new venues, such as The Haunt and perhaps more importantly, The Green Door Store, opened within a few months, providing a fresh beacon for awesome new bands – perhaps in the same way your venue The Kazimier does – proving that a recession doesn’t quite kill, but in truth often trims the fat and can even evolve things.
A major difference between all other cities and Liverpool is that no others suffer the same Beatles hangover that seemed to continually stifle your city for decades. Has 2012 seen it break free from the mop top chains? Possibly, with some great bands – that sound absolutely nothing like The Beatles – arriving in 2012. However, I’m not sure if they’re part of a unified scene, or whether any of them are set for global domination, or just “pretty decent, you know, for Liverpool“. It shouldn’t be about the comparison of your local scene to it’s historical output, but in fact how you compare Liverpool in the context of the rest of the UK and indeed other countries.”
Evidently, the influence of the Beatles is still an over-riding assumption that is made when discussing music from Liverpool, but whether that’s an accurate reflection of Liverpool’s music since 1970 or not, you may well question whether its effect has been as negative as people seem to presume. There’s a lineage of bands right through to the La’s and the Coral who are undoubtedly indebted to the melodic sensibility of the Beatles, and that has only added to their appeal and value. That between them floated hundreds of unimaginative bands desperate to capitalise on their success is absolutely irrelevant; bad music has and always will exist for various different reasons, and it only serves to highlight the talents of whichever interesting new bands might be around at the time.
Regardless, as By The Sea recently put it to me in an interview, there’s a new movement of artists from the area who are conscious of the Scouse pre-conceptions that get projected onto them by the rest of the country, and as such they are now consciously trying to move away from that particularly stuffed pigeon-hole and wrong foot people’s assumptions. And whilst we’re on the subject of By The Sea, that none of our wise bloggers cited them as one of the strongest bands from the city at the moment just demonstrates the depth of quality new bands in Liverpool at the moment. Perhaps this depth is exactly why the GIT Award is worth having, because such a fertile new music scene is something that’s worth drawing attention to and encouraging, so that in ten years time we’re not left gazing nostalgically backwards and praying that another Outfit will materialise. The point isn’t even a sadistic regionalistic contest in which we measure ourselves up to the achievements of other cities and declare ourselves to be the victors; it’s simply the case that local institutions like the GIT Award are important in getting young artists out there, and not just on a regional, but on a national level.
The GIT Award 2013 is now open for entries. For full info, head here, otherwise yyou can send your entry of four tracks to firstname.lastname@example.org or post to The GIT Award, c/o Peter Guy, Liverpool Post & Echo, PO Box 48, Old Hall Street, Liverpool L69 3EB
The new Loved Ones single, “Weekends Are Ours”, is out on on the newly minted Witchfinder Records, and can be bought here. Ninetails’ ambitious new EP, “Slept And Did Not Sleep”, is out on Monday and should be picked up here.