FOR an area of such rich cultural relevance, the North East’s music scene has often seemed a slight let-down compared to other more productive regions.
Recent times have, however, brought about a reversal in that trend - so much so that come the end of 2012 one could argue it’s in better health than ever.
Much of this has been down to impressive returns from established favourites.
Maximo Park, for instance, rediscovered their verve on new record The National Health, emerging confidently from a slump which had threatened to consign them to the gutter.
Fellow Geordies Little Comets - two-thirds of them from Jarrow - continued their development on second album Life Is Elsewhere.
And Northumberland’s Unthanks released two more albums in a typically prolific 12 months.
The Sunderland contingent did particularly well for itself.
Stepping well and truly out of their comfort zone, The Futureheads’ a capella record Rant proved a surprising success.
And comrades Field Music were being nominated for the Mercury Prize on the back of fourth album Plumb.
The Lake Poets - Martin Longstaff to his mother - also received recognition in winning this year’s Alan Hull prize - a gong reserved for the North East’s finest up-and-coming songwriters.
And South Shields’ own Natasha Haws enhanced her reputation tenfold with the unveiling of her debut self-titled LP.
My personal favourites from our neck of the woods though are Frankie & The Heartstrings, who, although quiet on the release front have nevertheless contributed massively with their Pop. Sex. Ltd. label.
Providing a platform from which others have shone, this pastime has already helped nurture some of the most exciting local acts going.
Together with Hull oddballs The Neat, Newcastle’-based singer-songwriter Fran O’Hanlon (aka Ajimal) has truly excelled under their guidance, producing emotional and cinematic sounds which already have him to the verge of national prominence.
Hometown companions Let’s Buy Happiness, meanwhile, have brought that notion even further, having been invited to play the SXSW showcase in Austin, Texas, while similarly situated rockers The Watchers also aren’t a million miles from a breakthrough.
Their continued excellence - along with Ajimal’s long awaited mini-album, Childhood - should render 2013 another memorable year for the region’s musical enthusiasts.
And, what’s more, it could at last see our scene live up to its undoubted potential.