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10 OF THE BEST BANDS FROM 2021 BY SAM SHINER

The Rah’s 

I have to begin with the boys that sent me an Instagram message in June asking if I’d ever considered managing a band, after I’d been raving about their album. I initially shirked the idea; I’ve no experience and it felt completely ridiculous. But after a brilliant zoom call, I said I’d give it a go because, as their amazing single states “If You Never Try, You’ll Never Know”! The Rah’s, from Prestonpans, East Lothian, released their amazing guitar-fuelled, anthem-filled debut album ‘When Does it Become Real?’ 7th May and have seen a huge surge in popularity this year. We are looking forward to getting back on tour in March with This Feeling and we can’t wait to see what 2022 brings! 

The Voyd

Hailing from Sunderland, the lovely The Voyd boys have been a stand out highlight for the past couple of years, with their infectious, up tempo guitar tunes and a really positive determination to succeed. It’s impossible not to enjoy the likes of ‘Be There’ and ‘Get Away’. They have written some of the catchiest tunes in the upcoming scene and are one of so many bands that have the right attitude and drive to be hugely successful. 

Brooke Combe 

I first discovered Brooke after seeing a video of her covering “Yes Sir, I Can Boogie”, which went viral on social media. A voice comparable to the likes of Amy Winehouse and Alicia Keys, a super cool image and a great guitarist, Brooke has a superstar quality I’ve not seen in such a long time. She has released a number of fantastic singles this year; A Game, Are You With Me?, Used to Love me and Impress You, all a perfect showcase of her soulful songwriting and singing talent. I have no doubt she will become a worldwide sensation! 

Louis Dunford

I first discovered Louis upon the release of “London’s Requiem”, a poignant melody accompanied by a piano and strings, singing of the drug issues and murders on the streets in London; something very close to Louis’s heart after he tragically lost his best friend Ben Kinsella as a teenager. He went on to release “The Morland EP” in January 2021 and with every song he lays his heart out in his music and often reflects on times growing up. I saw him at the new Lafayette in London in November and it was one of the best shows of the year. An incredibly humble, amazing person with a sensational talent. 

Spangled  

The talented and charismatic Spangled boys from Manchester have been a real highlight of my year. I watched them smash their debut festival appearance on the This Feeling stage at Isle of Wight and their most recent and fabulously titled single ‘Cosmic Vibrations’ is one of my favourite songs of 2021. They have an amazing energy, attitude and ambition and I hope to see their fan base rightly grow in 2022. A fantastically upbeat indie guitar band with a catalogue of catchy anthems already under their belts. 



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Dictator 

The second Scottish band in my top ten of the year, Dictator have been a constant on my on repeat playlists throughout 2021. The stunningly haunting ‘Moonlight’ was their first single release of the year in February, followed up by the equally stunning ‘Hide and Seek’ in April. Angelic vocals, thought provoking, storytelling lyrics and a gently building instrumental that showcases this band’s remarkable and special talent. Their most recent single ‘Candlemaker Row’ is another dramatic, thoughtful masterpiece. I once tweeted “I’ll eat my gig hat if Dictator don’t make it big” and I will stand by my word! 

The Skinner Brothers

Another cracking guitar band now pushing their way through the underground scene is London-based The Skinner Brothers. 2021 has been a huge year for them, releasing their August EP ‘Culture Non-Stop’, playing a sold out headline show in London and having supported Kasabian on their sold out UK tour, these boys mean business. In the swagger stakes, nobody comes close to the Skinner Bros. I watched their raucous, energetic performance at Isle of Wight and they had the crowd in the palms of their hands. A cracking band with a bright future.

Rianne Downey

Yet more talent coming through the Scottish music scene, Rianne has consistently wowed us for the past couple of years and stolen our hearts with her incredible covers, humble attitude and most of all her superstar talent. Rianne released her first single in February this year, the simply gorgeous ‘Fuel to the Flame’, which is now the title track for her EP released in September. A very special talent who brings a touch of class to the music scene with her unbelievable and unique country-esque voice; I predict a big year for her in 2022. 

The Royston Club

From Wrexham, Wales, the super talented The Royston Club have continuously proved themselves as one of the most exciting bands in the upcoming scene with extraordinary songwriting talent. During lockdown last year they did a sensational cover of The Beatles ‘Blackbird’ which was when I first started to properly listen and follow them. They released their magnificent second EP in October this year ‘lying here, wasting away’ which is a perfect snapshot of their versatility as a band. 

Black Pines 

Black Pines from London/Essex are a band that are relatively new to me but I was hooked instantly on the first listen of their most recent single ‘Chains’. They have an incredible, authentic sound with hints of The Black Keys, Royal Blood and even Bon Iver with their gorgeous track ‘Power’. Of all the bands that I’ve listened to in the last few years, none have struck me quite as quickly as Black Pines did. A brilliant band with a diamond of a lead singer; I’m excited to see what they’ll be doing next year. 

This top 10 was so hard to decide and I could’ve chosen 100 bands! Here’s to what promises to be a very exciting 2022 for the upcoming indie music scene!

Words by Sam Shiner