The North is leading a cultural crusade, here’s why:

In the shadows of our once-thriving industrial heyday, the North has become an image depicted as a barren wasteland where the only excitement is putting a pound on a six-team football accumulator.

I guess out of this wasteland, a certain sound is mothballing and heading straight for the musical atmosphere of Britain. When you think of soft-sounding lyrics mixed with rhythmic guitars and synthesizers, you’re right to think of London because that is what is being advertised all over your Instagram. However, the North has been leading our own cultural revolution to kickstart the indie music era of the 20s. Just as I’m writing this piece, The Lathums’ battling anthem of ‘Fight On’ has just surpassed two million hits – the Wigan group are yet to release an album and are quickly building momentum to become the face of Manchester’s enriched indie marmalade that has been the flavour for Britain’s music since a bloke called Tony Wilson gave birth to the colonial giant that we know as “Madchester”.

Just across the Pennines, though, in Costa Del Newcastle, a new sound is brewing, it is rare that the sound of the North East launches itself out of the region, but this time the countdown to launch has no delays but other than to go face to face with the North West. This concept accumulates itself from two Geordie bands who have been flashing on and off my radar. The first band is none other than newcomers, The Baltics who are starting to gather a lot of momentum amongst the NE1 faithful. Their single ‘Carbon Theme Park’ has received just over 45,000 plays, and gives listeners a romantic insight to the grime and grit we endure, and we still manage to have barrels of laughs in. It’s almost like you’re swinging on a tarzy that is attached to a rustic gas pipe as you descend yourself into the catchy chorus and interchanging guitar speeds that have you feeling like you’re spinning constantly on a teacup roundabout on a beach in North Shields.

The Baltics are poised to become big – I don’t just mean they will headline Think Tank from time to time – but they’ll soon become an avid support band, supporting the best and gaining themselves enough momentum. 

These are lads, like The Lathums, are using boredom to deliver a creative pick ‘n mix of sounds that pump you up with energy. These lads will be turning small venues into shaking powerhouses. The next band that are also flying the flag of the region whilst shaking up the British indie scene are lads that have been on the region’s radar a bit longer than The Baltics, Spilt Milk – who are favourites amongst readers of NEVolume and have bagged themselves a slot at next year’s Hit The North festival. They are renowned for their lyrics that etch a picture of what it is like to be young and reckless in the North East as well as their sharp riffs, come witty quick lyrics that hit your ears like a machine gun turret.

This is all emulated in ‘Grey Street’, which does exemplify the nights out in Newcastle as well as the morning after, strolling to Tesco in shades and a fleece to get your hangover remedies. As well as ‘Grey Street’, the band have released their latest single, ‘Moving Target’, which emulates sounds and style that can be seen to be influenced from former Middlesbrough indie chart-toppers Maximo Park. Their latest release just tells of a love story that is decorated with a boat lit with fairy lights that rows itself across the Tyne, looking at two cities that have become a bloodline to many youths and much culture. This release surely deserves more attention as it fills your earphones with a rhythm that can only be found inside the texture of a Steak Beak being munched on The Metro whilst looking back at pictures of a relationship that has just become nothing other than nostalgic.

Time will tell whether the North East will be on a level with the North West, but that rocket is launching in the right places at the moment. The Lathums are surely the next big thing, and there is no sign they are going to peak and then die down. The Wigan lads are yet to make their actual mark on the scene, maybe their upcoming tour, set for Spring next year, can provide us with scenes of sing-alongs and mosh pits. And hopefully, the same fate awaits The Baltics as they have the same potential as The Lathums to shake up the musical atmosphere of the decade.

Jack McKenna


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