Our Top 5 Live Moments of 2023 was released on Wednesday, so it is time to turn our focus to the best tracks we have listened to this year from our favourite northern artists.
It was a strong year for UK single releases generally, so we must give a nod to the likes of Gengahr (A-Ladder), Jungle (Back On 74), The Last Dinner Party (Nothing Matters), Declan McKenna (Sympathy), and Blur (The Narcissist) who flew the flag for down south.
But what were we listening to up north, and who made our Top 10 this year?
We have strong representation from Scottish artists this year, along with a North Wales entrant, Yorkshire bands, and some big releases from the North West of England…
10 – THE SNUTS – GLORIA
Before confirming their third album for 2024, West Lothian four-piece, The Snuts, returned with this summer anthem. A step away from the politically charged record, Burn The Empire, Gloria is another delve into the romantic side of The Snuts. The beauty of “ordinary love” inspired the track, and with an opening line referencing meeting someone at Tesco, the band’s chart-topping success clearly hasn’t taken the boys too far off the ground.
9 – RIANNE DOWNEY – SONGBIRD
Another trip to Scotland for our second entry into the Top 10, and what a year it has been for Rianne Downey. If she wasn’t busy enough touring with Paul Heaton in the absence of Jacqui Abbott, performing huge festival slots around the UK, she was releasing brand new music. Songbird was our highlight of the new releases, and Rianne describes it as “a kitchen sink lament to the struggles of modern love.” A big single from someone with a big future!
8 – REVEREND & THE MAKERS – PROBLEMS
It was an impressive return for Reverend and the Makers in 2023, with Heatwave In The Cold North providing a twist in sonic direction for the Sheffield band. Frontman, Jon McClure, teased Problems by saying that his son couldn’t stop singing the chorus after hearing a preview in the house, and it wasn’t long before fans were doing the same at the Rev’s renowned live shows.
7 – THE LATHUMS – I KNOW PT. 1
Another number one album in 2023 for Wigan‘s ever-rising indie quartet, The Lathums, and this was the pick of the bunch. First teased at an acoustic record store performance in Leeds a year earlier, with a social media clip of the track exciting fans online, I Know Pt. 1 is clearly inspired by the early 1960’s R&B/soul scene. Perfect for Moore’s modern vocal spin, it is a song about love and heartbreak, and was an instant hit upon release due to its catchy lyrics and melody.
6 – BROOKE COMBE – PRAISE
If 2022 was Brooke Combe‘s breakthrough year, then 2023 was the year she really found her feet and evolved sonically. Praise was Brooke’s highlight, packed with attitude, an accomplished track which was testament to her development and maturity as an artist. She also wrapped up the first chapter of her career with the Black Is The New Gold eight-track album release.
5 – BLOSSOMS – TO DO LIST (AFTER THE BREAKUP) FT. FINDLAY
Stockport’s finest, Blossoms, recently confirmed a huge Wythenshawe Park show for 2024, along with a new album. And in 2023, we got the first taste of the new record in the shape of To Do List (After The Breakup), featuring talented singer-songwriter, Findlay. Tom Ogden delivered the goods once again, and after the success of this single, could more collaborations be on the way?
4 – EVERYTHING EVERYTHING – COLD REACTOR
Do Everything Everything ever put a foot wrong? For a band with the ability to regularly churn out new material, it is an incredible feat to release such high quality new music and to innovate so frequently with the sound. The art rock group could be one of the most underrated bands the North has produced, and another contender for Song of the Year was the catchy Cold Reactor.
3 – THE ROYSTON CLUB – I’M A LIAR
What a year for Wrexham indie band, The Royston Club, who released their incredible debut album, Shaking Hips & Crashing Cars. They also went on a headline tour and played a stand-out slot at Neighbourhood Weekender. For a packed out tent, they closed the set on an unheard song, a bold move to say the least. Fortunately, it turned out to be their best song to date in I’m A Liar, with an infectious riff, pre-chorus, and chorus.
2 – YARD ACT – THE TRENCHCOAT MUSEUM
Our runners up for the Best Song of 2023 is the jovial yet incredibly talented and innovative Leeds outfit, Yard Act. As they gear up for the second album following the breakthrough success of Mercury-nominated debut, The Overload, the post punk band take on a new electronically infused sound with lead single, The Trenchcoat Museum. The song was trialled on Yard Act’s most recent tour before the band took some time away, and if the new releases are anything to go by, 2024 is set to be another big year.
1 – THE BEATLES – NOW AND THEN
There was only one way to close out our Top 10 Northern Songs of 2023. Yes, The Beatles, in 2023! Created from a John Lennon 1970’s demo, Now And Then was dubbed the “final Beatles song” upon release, which was over 30 years on from its original planned release date. The sound was recovered by Peter Jackson and Giles Martin, who used modern AI and technology to do justice to the track. And it was worth the wait, a classic ballad from the iconic Liverpool quartet, and now some musical closure for the track that almost never was.
So these are our favourite songs from up north in 2023. Agree? Disagree? Have your say!
Follow us here:
You can check out all episodes of our podcast on Spotify, Apple and YouTube, including interviews with DMA’s, Clint Boon, Robbie Knox, The Wombats, Jamie Webster, Clinton Baptiste, Scheiffer Bates, Omid Djalili and plenty more!