The top 10 bands from Yorkshire, as chosen by Milburn

a press shot of milburn

If you were an indie rock fan in the mid-2000s, you might remember it as something of a golden age of British music – NME-endorsed artists rocketed from relative obscurity to holding fort in the UK top 40, outsider indie became the mainstream and, stranger still, Pete Doherty was invited to model for a major fashion house. (No, seriously.)

Much of this indie explosion was centred around, and led by, artists from the north of England, whose mix of snotty, exuberant arrogance and genuinely verbose, insightful songwriting proved an intoxicating combination for the rest of the country. Part of this movement were Sheffield’s Milburn, whose status as enduring cult concern was cemented when, after 10 years out of the spotlight, they returned to a series of hometown gigs this year, tickets for which sold out in under five minutes.

To celebrate the band’s return and their new single, Take Me Home, Milburn frontman Joe Carnall joins us to toast the music of Yorkshire – the county that made him.

Arctic Monkeys (Sheffield)

“Firstly, let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way. There’s not much I can say about the Monkeys that hasn’t already been said by music fans all over the world, other than we spent our teen years playing in crappy Sheffield venues together, and that we’re all proud of what they’ve achieved. Alex will go down as one of the best songwriters of his generation.”

Paul Heaton – The Housemartins and The Beautiful South (Sheffield & Hull)

“Paul’s inclusion may be contested by some, not because of his lack of ability but because of his complex heritage. Although born in Cheshire, he spent some formative years in Sheffield before moving up to Hull to form The Housemartins. I’d like to think his Yorkshire roots are what influenced a penchant for witty and often dry lyrics. Moreover, he has the voice of a songbird – almost like a happy Morrissey.”

John Barry (York)

“When I found out that the man who gave James Bond his swagger came from our county, I knew he had to make my list. Not only did Barry perform and arrange the world famous James Bond Theme, he composed scores for 11 of the first Bond films. He’s also credited with many other huge Hollywood blockbusters and television series, including Born Free and Dances With Wolves, winning a total of 5 Academy Awards for his work. Any artist who can create such a unique sound, just as Barry did for Bond, deserves the utmost respect.”

Joe Cocker (Sheffield)

“If you’re from Sheffield you can’t really avoid Henderson’s Relish, football and Joe Cocker. What. A. Voice. I must admit I’d never grown up listening to any of his tunes, but his version of With A Little Help From My Friends manages to achieve something that is so rare: a Beatles cover that is better than the original. The fact that 2pac sampled the piano lick from Woman To Woman makes him pretty cool too.”

Gang Of Four (Leeds)

“Gang Of Four are a band I’d not heard of until my late 20s, when a studio engineer (and long-time friend) mentioned them in a session at his studio. A couple of friends and I then went on to play some of their tunes at his birthday party! For me, they epitomise the sound of the whole post-punk movement of the late 70s and early 80s. Listen to Natural’s Not In It to see what I’m getting at.

The Human League (Sheffield)

“Sheffield became famous in the late 70s for giving birth to synth pop and electronic bands such as Heaven 17 and Cabaret Voltaire. It was therefore only right that one of the flag-bearers of this genre made it into my list. I chose the Human League because Don’t You Want Me is Yorkshire’s biggest hit single of all time, selling over 1.5 million copies! Not sure about the side fringes though.”

Jarvis Cocker – Pulp and solo (Sheffield)

“I must confess to not liking Pulp when I was growing up (this is akin to blasphemy for Sheffield folk). They were the last big band to come from our city before the whole New Yorkshire scene of the 00s, and they just seemed a bit over-bearing and ‘past it’ at the time. God bless the arrogance of youth. Over the years I’ve grown to appreciate their music and Cocker’s (yes another one) lyrics in particular. Not only that, but they famously headlined Glastonbury at the last minute in 1995 and stole the show. I’m also a fan of Cocker’s solo work – Cunts Are Still Running The World seems particularly apt at present.”

Be-Bop Deluxe (Wakefield)

“I was introduced to Be-Bop Deluxe after I was roped into playing at our guitarist’s dad’s 50th birthday (I’m available for weddings and bar mitzvahs, too). They were part of a clutch of bands in the mid-70s who were charged with the task of moving guitar music on from the glam rock era. Think Elvis Costello meets Thin Lizzy. Listen to Maid In Heaven and see if you agree.”

Richard Hawley (Sheffield)

“Hawley is fast becoming the Godfather of the Sheffield music scene. After initially enjoying success with The Longpigs in the mid-90s, Hawley has, rather surprisingly, carved out a niche as a Yorkshire crooner. After his 2006 album Coles Corner was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, it seems that his rise was almost inevitable. I suppose it was only a matter of time before the world got to hear a voice that sometimes sounds as though it’s made from honey. Listen to Born Under A Bad Sign to hear what I mean.”

Reverend & The Makers (Sheffield)

“Ok, so I’m being a little biased with this last one. For the past five years I’ve been a Maker, so I’m in a pretty good position to make a judgement. After their debut album The State Of Things went gold in 2007, it seemed that the band may be on the same trajectory as their Simian counterparts. Although this didn’t quite materialise, the five-piece are set to release the follow up to 2015’s critically acclaimed Mirrors. Again, it’s the lyrical mastery which perhaps explains the band’s charm, however the McClure/Cosens songwriting partnership may account for its longevity. That and the fact that Jon – aka The Rev – has an almost unrivalled talent for self-promotion and hard work.”

You can hear Milburn’s new single, Take Me Home, below

Gang Of Four: What Happens Next