When Storm Desmond reached land back in December, even the most pessimistic of forecasters failed to predict the devastation to come. With the UK 24-hour rainfall record round his neck, Desmond left a trail of destruction of which the Mongol hordes would be proud: 5000 households flooded out, 1600 Cumbrian bridges requiring safety checks, communications and utilities off-line for days. At the time of writing, there are still no trains into Scotland on the main west coast line.
And while the abiding memories are likely to be of communities banding together and helping each other out – everyone knows someone whose home or place of work was affected – the ripples of that weekend continue to be felt. Not least within the local music scene: from the local pubs who ran occasional open mics but are still drying out; to Carlisle’s Old Fire Station, only open since last summer, but with gigs from the likes of Wild Beasts and The View already an integral part of the city’s nightlife.
Fundraising to help those affected began almost right away, and barely a day has passed without someone organising a cake sale, running an auction or holding a gig. Rock For Recovery, a 30 track compilation drawn from acts right across Cumbria, is the latest effort. Aside from a handful of acts with a degree of wider national recognition (such as alt.rockers Colt 45), the rest are local stalwarts or newer artists for whom a gig in Kendal or Whitehaven might seem like a little adventure.
Compilations such as these also serve a barometer of where a local scene is at the moment and, as the name implies, the more melodic end of modern rock still has a grip in the (proper) north, alongside a smattering of folkier and singer-songwriter acts. If you need a few highlights, Droll Man have the market cornered for – ironically – sun-bleached desert rock, while The Coral-style pop of mylittlebrother‘s ‘If We Never Came Down’ has significant appeal. But the real surpise might be SMOPH and Caris Shekell‘s ‘Palette’, with its wash of post-trip-hop atmospherics – just the kind of thing to wind down to after a day spent on Blencathra.
Yet these are just details. For a couple of quid you get a warm fuzzy feeling and the chance to happen across a few artists you might never have otherwise heard of. Dig deep, and remind Desmond that he was a terrible guest and, frankly, a bit of a dick when he was here.