Anyone concerned that the Yorkshire music scene is based on so much hype should be mollified by the fact that Kaiser Chiefs and Arctic Monkeys made number one with their second albums. Now they are joined in the top 10 by upstarts The Pigeon Detectives, who like the Kaisers, hail from Leeds and, similarly to the Arctics, proudly write from a local perspective.
This band that only released their debut single last year have benefited from the fevered search for the next big thing from the east of the Pennines, just like when Menswear hung on Britpop's coat tails or Northside jumped on the Madchester bandwagon. Yet one aspect suggests they may last longer than these latecomers and that is endorsement from more established bands.
Kaisers' drummer Nick Hodgson especially has sung their praises, just another example of well-known artists going out of their way to support younger acts. Think Arctics covering "Put Your Dukes Up John", by one time regular support act The Little Flames, or CSS plugging fellow Brazilians, electropop act Bonde Do Role.
Similar support has long been widely present in US hip-hop, where no rap star's career is complete without a boutique label and their own stable of nascent stars, as with Eminem and D12 or protégé 50 Cent and G-Unit. Hip-hop artists tend to build up regional support first, so rely on local ties before the majors come calling. Likewise, indie acts in far-off places set up their own support networks, as Bright Eyes did in Nebraska with his label Team Love.
Now, though, Britain's guitar pop fraternity have joined the club, with the scenes of West and South Yorkshire leading the charge. The leading bands have found a cohesion that prevents them from starting feuds in the way Oasis did with Blur. The Kaisers and Arctics both emerged from grounded, DIY roots that mitigate against diva-style posturing. So instead the Kaisers afford every courtesy to The Cribs, covering their "Another Number", while singer Ricky Wilson invited The Cribs' Ryan Jarman onto Never Mind The Buzzcocks when he presented the TV pop quiz.
Nor is it coincidence that The Cribs' album Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever has been produced by Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos, for similar roots are found in Scotland. His band began by playing warehouse gigs for Glasgow art students, though even before that Kapranos displayed punk values. During the Nineties, he and Franz drummer Paul Thomson cut their teeth with cult indie heroes Yummy Fur. In turn, their singer Jackie McKeown has gone on to form 1990s, a band acclaimed for their magnificent odes to decadence - and arguably the best connected band of the moment.
This month they performed at the reopened Royal Festival Hall in support of The Jesus And Mary Chain as part of Jarvis Cocker's Meltdown; and, yes, the Pulp frontman is a fan. Even before that, though, 1990s have built up a formidable set of endorsements, including The Long Blondes' Kate Jackson and Beth Ditto from The Gossip. When the group went to Brazil, they naturally fell in with CSS, whose lead singer Lovefoxx was only to happy to record backing vocals for a B-side.
Not that such support has been cultivated by McKeown. "Everyone in our band has done music for absolutely ages, so we've met a lot of people. We've had a lot of support from Franz and Belle & Sebastian, but we just know them going out in Glasgow. We don't think of them as bands, they're people we know. When we're out of town, we get talking to girls first because they're always the most interesting people."
McKeown may sound sleazy at this point, but when you listen to his band's music you realise they exude a joie de vivre that attracts people. And he is first to admit 1990s are the most uncompetitive bunch you could hope to meet. "People receive our music quite warmly live, so other bands are glad to have us as a support act."
While English and Scottish groups are keen to get in on the act, further out on the Celtic fringe you see bands take more naturally to solidarity. Long before the Kaisers and Arctics, power trio Ash ensured there was usually a band on the bill from their native Northern Ireland. From Backwater in their early days to current hot tips V//Formation, they can also slap themselves on the back for giving an early leg up to Snow Patrol.
One figure, though, has capped it all by essentially devising a direction for two previously listless artists. Jarvis Cocker has rarely been shy of namechecking deserving characters, from his guitarist and solo performer Richard Hawley to indie rock duo The Hours. Now he has gone further by imprinting his observational wit on Sheffield-via-France electropop duo The Lovers. Fred De Fred and Marion Benoist met in 2001, brought together by a mutual friend. On 11 September 2001, they entered a London studio to record a rocking number about the destruction of a city, only to hear later that day about the attack in New York.
Distracted from music by a burgeoning love affair, all went quiet until a year later they met Cocker in Paris at a Richard Hawley gig. The couple plied their Sheffield chums with wine, then took them on a tour of Montmartre bars. All this was forgotten until they were invited to record in Sheffield by producers Kevin Bacon and Joe Quarmby, only to find Cocker waiting with a song he had written.
This was "La Dégustation", inspired by that fateful wine-tasting night in Paris and now a track on their eponymous album. Cocker went on to write two more numbers for the duo, each reflecting their individual backgrounds. One is "Fred De Fred", while "Basque Country" refers to Benoist's time in New York as a bunny girl. Lines such as "Come drink my wine/If all that has passed your innocent lips is juice and tea and water" reminds us of Cocker's dry humour and deadpan lasciviousness. It also set the pair on the road to becoming The Lovers, Benoist admits.
"Jarvis had been discreetly standing in the corner observing, but he was very sensitive and he perfectly encapsulated our relationship. I'm half Fred's age and although we only met to work, there was something very strong between us. I was heartbroken after leaving New York and Fred had never had a home. Jarvis picked up on all those things."
Having now spent four years living in Sheffield, she is convinced that the city has always inspired cooperation between artists and it is only the rise of its music scene that has brought it to our attention. "They try to keep it a secret. So many times in London people ask why Sheffield, yet 20 years ago Fred decided to live there for a while. Everyone is very relaxed about the good and bad things in life."
We know how long Cocker struggled before he found fame, while the Kaisers had false starts and Franz themselves are indie veterans. Now a new generation of bands are rising ever more quickly to fame, let us hope they show similar empathy with less fortunate artists. The Lovers, meanwhile, wish to work with Eric Idle and if he can persuaded away from Hollywood and Broadway, maybe there is hope.Reuse content