RGM 100 – Our alternative to the NME’s “Ones to watch” for 2021
Ah, new year. The perfect time to write a big ol’ list that tells people exactly what they’re going to like in the coming twelve months, from an entirely subjective viewpoint. Right?
We can’t pretend that we don’t love a good list, but we wanted to make this one a little different to the type you’ll find from other music publications. This list of rising stars, established scene heroes and impressive newcomers has been formulated with very little in the way of an entry criteria: if you’re putting out bangers, you’re in.
The selection you’re about to read is not only the writer’s favourites; these are the bands you told us you love, acts that are getting attention for all the right reasons and some of the best stuff we’ve had in the RGM inbox as of late. We can promise variety, too – there really is something for everyone in here!
Are you ready? Then here comes our list of the top 100 ones to watch for the coming year…
This trio describe themselves as “Madchester punk rock”, and this goes some way to describing how their native city’s indie swagger has found its way into their sound. Since the release of last year’s sophomore album ‘Dirt Mall’, Aerial Salad have been hotly tipped to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Slaves and IDLES in taking alternative sounds mainstream. 2021 could be the year that this band hits the big time.
Apollo Junction really put the work in when it comes to spreading their widescreen, arena-sized post-punk gospel. They keep fans and radio playlisters alike busy with a constant stream of singles; the latest, ‘On The Ropes’, drops later this month and will likely find the same enthusiastic reaction as previous cuts.
Dublin’s Arcwords have released a fine collection of indie-pop bops in the last couple of years, with the shimmering retrowave of ‘Give It a Minute’ the latest exciting chapter in the band’s developing sound. Expect more absolute tunes for 2021!
Arms & Hearts
England isn’t famous for its folk-punk scene, but anyone who looks within the genre on these isles will find some of the finest songwriting talent around. Arms & Hearts – alias Steve Millar – has built up an impressive discography in DIY fashion, reaching new heights with debut LP ‘The Distance Between’ last year. The album has been very well received, and this will only get better when we can finally hear it live.
Bakar’s unique mix of styles contains something for everyone; the Camden singer’s sound takes in rap, punk and the sleekest of pop, wrapped up in a modern indie sound. He’s already had a song featured in FIFA, performed for 1 Xtra and recent single ‘1st Time’ only garnered more of the same in terms of mainstream attention. The big time is calling.
Bang Bang Romeo
Yorkshire pop-rockers Bang Bang Romeo have already done some huge business – a single featuring example and a support slot for Pink at Wembley being just two of their achievements. Usually, such success would place a band beyond a ‘rising stars’ list like this, but you can’t help but feel BBR are headed even higher up the pop totem pole in the next twelve months.
Multi-talented Washington-based singer and producer Bartees Strange has been turning heads among music critics with his totally unique sound since the release of debut album ‘Live Forever’ last year. Jazz, hip-hop, punk and blues rub shoulders with classic indie rock from both sides of the Atlantic on the LP, which garnered universal acclaim upon its release. An astounding talent and, for now, a very well-kept secret.
Misery, suffering and all things unpleasant are the subject matter of Manchester punks Battery Farm, who tackle the worst things the world have to offer with a noise-as-catharsis approach. This isn’t to say that the four-piece’s brand of speed-punk is an unpleasant listen – the sound is adrenaline-pumping and the lyrics are more “trying to make sense of it all” than wallowing.
This band could be the next…oh, you get it. You’ll get why people are talking about this Cardiff quartet, too – their dreamy guitar pop sound is pretty much irresistible, and latest single ‘Say When’ (coming out on lovely surf-blue vinyl) will surely win a lot of attention.
London quartet BLOXX seek to keep up the momentum in 2021, following the release of debut album ‘Lie Out Loud’ last autumn. Their masterful fusion of indie and pure pop melody seems destined for bigger and bigger stages…like, ASAP.
The ferocious meeting point between hip-hop and performance poetry, Manchester-based duo Bodies have been taking any and all stages by storm – and have added to their repertoire with a cassette tape run of latest EP ‘Endless Summer’. They’ve been described as a cross between Scroobius Pip and John Cooper Clarke, but their energy and inventiveness is all their own.
Self-described “one-man punk band” from Newcastle, Bugman storms listeners with all the eccentricities of an old-school uni punk band, with an underlying pop sensibility that surprisingly works well among the weirdness. never a dull moment.
Scottish folk singer Caitlin Gilligan creates an array of truly timeless ballads, varying from good old-fashioned storytelling to the occasional protest song. A celebrated performer wherever she pops up, Gilligan has stated that a new EP is in the offing for 2021 and this is welcome news indeed.
Indie after dark is the order of the day for The Cavs, and from the sound, it could be placed at the jukebox of any bar in the cool parts of town. Single ‘Round The Town Where I Was Born’ has a moody self-assurance, a bluesy undercurrent and a fucking huge guitar solo going for it.
The North of England is turning out a surprisingly high amount of quality Americana these days, and Charlotte Mary is just another local adding their take on country to the mix. Latest single ‘Set Yourself Free’ is an uplifting ballad that will properly sweep you off your feet.
Folk-punk songwriter Chloë Glover didn’t get much chance to tour her excellent debut EP ‘Dark Matter’, as its release in March last year unfortunately coincided with…well, everything going to shit. The upside to this is that we still have plenty to look forward to from the Bournemouth native, whose live performances are every bit as brilliant as her recorded output.
Isle of Wight standouts Coach Party turned heads with their lo-fi-chic EP ‘Party Food’ last year, with their combination of multi-layered guitars and dreamy vocals earning them a spot on many end-of-year lists. No doubt 2021 will see more of the same for this bright new band.
Cardiff grunge revivalists Clwb Fuzz know how to create an atmosphere, taking in the reverb-drenched sonics of shoegaze and some punk spirit en route to creating a fully immersive sound. It clearly works – this year has started with them finding a place on Radio 1’s airwaves.
Crying Beauty Queens
Crying Beauty Queens can only be described as alternative rock in the broadest sense of the word, such is the range of influences the Manchester three-piece take in. The angular guitars of Fugazi meets some shimmering indie-pop jangle as this trio go heavy on the atmosphere. A unique entity worth getting to know.
An Australian residing in Italy, David Place has recently released album ‘Pandora’s Box’, recorded during the lengthy lockdowns of 2020. His first release in over a year, the LP proves that Place can turn a pleasant tune, whether taking on folk or a more bluesy sound.
The Dead Freights
The Dead Freights are influenced by hard rock and disco, grunge and pop, and likely everything in between, too. The result is a delightfully dark, glammed-up dirty disco affair, likely to get entire nightclubs moving after midnight.
Death of Guitar Pop
Southend ska duo Death of Guitar Pop already have a massive cult following, but there’s every reason to believe that 2021 will see them become the first of their genre to hit the big time since Madness. They’ve been turning out massive tune after massive tune for some time now, but upcoming album ‘Pukka Sounds’ could take things to new heights for Silky and Top Kat.
Cheshire’s Déjà Vega are hoping to carry forward the momentum from a busy 2020, which saw the release of their second album and a handful of gigs, plus a coveted slot on one of Tim Burgess’s Twitter listening parties. If this year includes all the indie-psych-noise trio’s pent-up gig energy, it’s going to be a noisy one.
The Demo have perfectly captured the sunshine of Britpop, multi-part harmonies and all, in new single ‘Apart’. They pile on the summertime vibes elsewhere in their discography, drawing from the most melodic guitar licks of the 00s garage revival to create an altogether good vibe.
The moody, bluesy rock ‘n’ roll of Dirty Laces has made them one of Manchester’s most talked-about new bands; they’ve supported Pete Doherty, played at an FC United match and even earned themselves a coveted Bands FC emblem. It’s almost a given at this point that these boys are rising stars.
Dream English Kid
Described as one of Manchester’s best-kept secrets, synth-drenched dreampop shoegazers Dream English Kid showed a glimpse of things to come with superb debut single ‘I See Red’ last spring. Keep checking for more updates, because you won’t want to miss what happens next.
Beloved on the UK punk scene, Norwich’s Ducking Punches have just released two new tracks – ‘All My Best Friends Are Cannibal Heads’ and ‘My Little Death’, their last releases before setting off to record a new album. If it’s anything like superb last album Alamort, it’s definitely one to look forward to.
Definite disciples of 60s guitar pop, Bournemouth’s Dumb Poets have started 2021 right with elegant new single ‘The Wonder That You Are’. Rich with tender instrumentation and a hint of country, whatever comes next will surely be just as lovely.
Leeds-based English Teacher fuse their eclectic sound (read: total disregard for genre) with surrealistic lyrics and an idosyncratic aesthetic. A wholly unique band, and one with big plans for 2021 that will surely thrill their growing audience.
Duo Ned Franc and Jon Moody have perfected the DIY disco style, self-producing the slickest of indie-pop bangers themselves to great effect. With toe-tapping bops that recall Daft Punk’s era as “sound of the summer”, Franc Moody’s homegrown electro party is primed to soundtrack the best dance you’ve got in you post-lockdown.
Hard rock with a hint of the mystical, Freya Beer has carried off comparisons to the likes of PJ Harvey as her debut singles filtered across the airwaves last year. With her big guitar sound complemented by whispers of the ethereal, this is one artist who will be making more waves as the year rolls on.
Courting major radio play and a top spot on the iTunes alternative charts thus far, Manchester-based indie anthem-merchants Garden Party look about ready to start commanding big audiences. Wait and see what 2021 brings!
Sheffield crew Gazillions dropped one of the catchiest indie tunes of 2020 in the form of ‘Reach The Sun’, and they’ve already followed it up with the swaggering, organ-tinged ‘Sentimental’. This is a band who have come straight out of the gate with a set of absolute bangers, and watching where they take things from here is an exciting prospect indeed.
Gen and the Degenerates
Liverpool post-punkers Gen and the Degenerates have wasted no time in announcing live dates for 2021 and their audience will be as eager as them to share in the eccentric energy of their live shows. This, they say is only the beginning of their plans for the year – and we’ll be waiting to hear what else they have in store.
Genesis Owusu is a name many are talking about in terms of great expectations for 2021. The Ghana-born, Australia-based singer and rapper has become a standout thanks to his off-kilter production aesthetics and merging of styles; funky basslines and guitar loops have found their way into the artist’s beguiling hip-hop, which will please indie fans and pop-people alike.
German five-piece Giant Rooks have taken their popularity on these shores to new heights every time they have visited, wowing festival crowds with their sleek synth sounds and earning some airtime on Radio X in the process. Every step they take feels like one closer to the biggest stages of their career.
Richard Lomax – alias Granfalloon – creates shimmering, ethereal folktronica that stands entirely apart from his contemporaries on Manchester’s music scene. Sprawling sonic experimentations swirl around his delicate folk compositions in a way that rewards repeat listens.
Grotbags have gained themselves quite a following in Manchester and beyond with a pretty simple formula: fuzzy, poppy punk hooks and a refusal to take themselves or anything else seriously. Pop-punk in spirit, the sound is perfect modern lo-fi rock and the inclusion of saxophone really keeps things interesting. This band is always, always entertaining.
Hands Off Gretel
Neon-daubed hyperactive punks Hands Off Gretel have been making waves on various alternative scenes for a few years now, and have plans to go even further with a massive UK tour planned for this year. Their edgy aesthetics and feminist message will resonate even further as they barnstorm the country.
You may notice a fair few entries on this list from varied types of ska; this is because 2021 finds the genre’s new bands in rude form, and the scene primed for an upswing in attention as a result. Manchester ska-punks Harijan are a prime example of why – punk attitude with the dance-friendly energy of two-tone thrown in. Their debut album was recently released by legendary punk imprint TNS and it’s very much worth a listen.
Just before the pandemic hit, Bristol singer-songwriter Harri Mason was finding new audiences across the country, on a DIY mini-tour to promote album ‘The New Normal’. Luckily, her songs retain their considerable charm in livestreamed context, and so you can still appreciate her varied output via YouTube for the time being.
Yorkshire singer-songwriter Harriet Rose has seen her Americana-tinged anthems win a slew of year-end plaudits across the country scene both here and in the USA. Will 2021 bring more of the same? Almost certainly.
The Helicopter of The Holy Ghost
A new band made up of some familiar faces, the intriguingly-named Helicopter of The Holy Ghost is a group of former Britpoppers including Bluetones man Mark Morriss and Billy Reeves – formerly of Theaudience and more recently a BBC Radio presenter. The group’s upcoming debut album features tracks written by Reeves before his career was curtailed by a near-fatal car accident two decades ago.
Manchester post-punk-dream-pop-sci-fi-psych collective Hello Cosmos captured our attention late last year with debut album ‘Dream Harder’. In fact, we described the title track as “utterly thrilling […] future perfect joy”. Their expansive, genre-bending sound is unlike much else on the scene at the moment and we’re beyond excited to see what 2021 brings – especially if we get to see them take their vision to the stage.
Speedy punks Incisions have been favourites on Manchester’s heavy scene for a while, with a a full-throttle sound reminiscent at times of early LA hardcore. New album ‘BLISS’ is coming soon, and it’s going to hit hard, fast and loud.
If history has taught us nothing else about music, it’s that there is never a bad time for a disco revival. Fusing dancefloor-filling throwback funk with indie rock is Inego, a Manchester band whose tunes were made to move to. While a lockdown dance party will have to suffice for now, hopefully this band can get the people grooving again this year.
Purveyors of greyscale post-punk with great guitar hooks in that time-honoured Manchester tradition, IST IST have built up a sizeable following with their take on the genre at both its moodiest and most anthemic. A (hopeful) return to live music this year will surely see these lads grow their already impressive stature.
Chicago bedroom pop wonderkids j. pastel wowed us last year with debut single ‘Senegal’, all lush synths and twinkling guitars. While they haven’t provided many updates since, it appears a new single is soon to come – and if it’s anything like their first release, it will be very much worth waiting for.
This ambitious upstart band has been a total hive of activity since forming in 2019, and didn’t let lockdown stop them either! A handful of top-drawer releases under their belt and the Manc indie-pop-rockers don’t look to be slowing down any time soon. We reckon you’ll all know these tunes soon enough.
It’s been a while since we’ve heard a new release from Newcastle band Kahuna, whose blend of ska-punk and indie has made them live favourites across their home city. That being said, they have made it clear that they are keeping busy, and you’ll want to be the first to know when they bring out something new.
Earlestown post-punk favourites The K’s were one of many bands who didn’t let lockdown slow them down too much; they dropped new single ‘TV’ in October, clocked up over 1.5 million streams on Spotify and have revived their weekly Friday lockdown livestreams. If they keep moving this fast, you’ll want to keep tabs on them!
Funk-rocker Kellindo undoubtedly has an impressive CV, having performed with the likes of Prince and Stevie Wonder. He impressed us in his own right, however, with single ‘Long Gone’ at the end of last year; he has said a full-blown “rock opera” is to follow. Definitely worth keeping an eye out for.
Kyris may only be a handful of singles into their career, but their soulful indie-pop-rock is already winning fans in their home city of Manchester; the band’s single ‘Talk’ was featured on XS Manchester recently, and we’re sure that there is much more to come from these guys.
The Last Clouds
Like so many other bands, Manchester duo The Last Clouds are clamouring to get back to the stage as soon as possible. No doubt their fans are equally eager to see the indie-electronica two-piece bring their expansive, anthemic soundscapes to a live audience once again.
‘Ones to watch’ isn’t all about bands you’ve not heard yet – we’re here to make our picks for those from the recent crop of rising stars set to go stratospheric, too. The Lathums are surely at the top of that choice; their infectious, poppy indie has won them a place on the BBC’s ‘Sound of 2021’ list, and they were recently seen playing their brilliantly ska-tinged single ‘I See Your Ghost’ on Soccer AM. This is just the start for the Wigan lads.
Indie-folk songwriter Laura Farrow has been building momentum on the Manchester music scene for some time now, displaying a knack for writing catchy choruses in the process. She’s currently in the studio working on a follow-up to the ‘Waiting For Something’ EP, and there is little doubt the results will be as enjoyable as that debut release.
The Lottery Winners
2020 was a big one for Greater Manchester indie-pop collective The Lottery Winners; their debut album smashed its way to number 23 in the UK Album Chart. Nevertheless, the band deserve “ones to watch” status for this year because they are truly only going to get bigger and better as time goes on.
From Atlanta, Georgia comes alt-pop/indie duo Lowertown, whose hazy vocals and delicately psyched-out production recalls the most blissful acoustic moments of 90s college rock. The teenage duo have already built a reputation for regularly putting out new records, and we have a feeling that everyone will be talking about their uniquely atmospheric sound before too long.
A former member of one time Mercury-nominees New Young Pony Club, Lou Hayter has turned her hand to immaculately-crafted retrowave pop bangers, gaining national radio airplay in recent months with a series of fantastic releases. It’s hard to imagine 80s-indebted tunes like these not finding a wider audience this year.
Welsh ‘space pop’ outfit Lunar Bird are ready to hypnotise you. Their otherworldly, dreamy sound was employed to great effect on recent single ‘Swallow Man Aviary’, and their unique sound is only going to garner more attention as this year progresses.
Swagger, swagger and more swagger is the order of the day for Manchester mob M-40, whose super-popular EP ‘Play The Game’ dropped last summer. With a year’s worth of festival slots to catch up on, you’ll definitely get your fix of their punchy garage rock next time you’re in the fields – wherever that may be.
A classic indie snarl. Psych-rock aesthetics. Big ol’ bluesy riffs. Add them all together and what do you have? Birmingham band Marstone, a group who know how to tame some beastly guitar hooks as they straddle the line between indie and good old fashioned hard rock. A band who know what they’re doing, and do it loud.
The music of Leeds-born singer-songwriter Mathew Kerry defies definition; such is his broad palette of influences. Vaguely acoustic, distinctly DIY and with a range of guitar tunings at his disposal, 2019’s ‘Okie Dokie?’ EP was a highlight from the unsigned world. Keep an eye out for what he releases next, and keep yourself entertained with his wonderfully eclectic radio show in the meantime.
Meet Me @ The Altar
Energetic upstarts from the Florida-Georgia line, Meet Me @ The Altar are showing the the pop-punk sound isn’t the sole preserve of whiny teenage boys with their upbeat, catchy releases gaining momentum beyond the usual alt scenes. Praised for their positive lyrics and fresh guitar-work, this band’s take on a familiar genre is a distinct enough recipe to raise the potential of mainstream success.
The Moon Kids
Indie bravado and classic post-punk moodiness link up wonderfully in the music of Glasgow’s Moon Kids, who have been gaining fans everywhere from their native Scotland to the United States in the past couple of years. Every single sounds bigger than the last and the venues they play may soon match.
The term “indie-folk” can conjure up a particular image; all handclaps and whispered group backing vocals. Thankfully none of this is the case with Kingston-Upon-Thames outfit Morning Crush, whose sound is very much heartfelt and real. A couple of singles into their existence, the prospect of a full-length record is a wonderful one and we hope to see it become reality before too long.
Boasting a big, soulful garage rock sound, Merseyside band The Mysterines are showing all the signs of a big year ahead; highlights of 2020 included two big single releases and a collab with the Modfather himself, Paul Weller. With a rescheduled tour on the horizon, who knows what the future holds?
Cumbrian indie songwriter Nat Dempsey is a fresh face on the Northern music scene, but he knows how to make a first impression. The 19-year-old can write stomping indie bangers as well as catchy hooks, and earned himself some airtime from 6 Music’s Steve Lamaq as a result. He’s going places for sure.
The pet project of multi-instrumentalist Otabek Salamov, NEEDSHES are one of the most unique prospects to have ended up in our inbox in the last 12 months. With an eclectic electro-indie-dance-rock vibe that varies immensely from song to song, most everyone will find something to love about this oddball Uzbekistani group.
Melodic lead guitar and soulful lead vocals give a distinctly summery feel to the music of indie four-piece NoVacancies, who are filling the pause in live festivities by releasing another single this week. It’s almost certain to be a Tune, with a capital T.
Olivia Browse gives a slacker-pop edge to her solo songwriter output, with help from generous amounts of reverb and a strong sense of aesthetic. The catchiness of the songs helps – and it has all added up to make the London native a favourite on the Manchester music circuit.
Olly Flavell is a singer-songwriter with outstanding pop sensibilities; he has released a series of singles with mass-appeal potential, largely while grafting on Manchester’s DIY circuit. With new music to come this year, it is only a matter of time before his name is permanently fixed to radio playlists across the land.
The Pagans S.O.H.
Genre-bending? The intention is more like total genre obliteration from Midlands collective Pagans S.O.H. Jazz? Funk? Metal? Rap? Anything goes – and the more the merrier, we say. Livestreams and the occasional single release have broken up their lockdowns, and the promise of more new material plus real-life festival dates could make for a really exciting 2021 from this unique band.
Manchester band Palava ply their trade in post-punk; not the gothy kind, more like the variety whose choruses are meant to fill big venues. They’ve already released a collection of singles and gained some impressive support slots, no doubt with more to follow.
Making a name for themselves on Sheffield’s live circuit over the last few years, alt rock two-piece Perfectparachutepicture are distinctive for more than just their name, bringing a big riff sound to many an appreciative audience. Be ready to be there when they get back to it.
Brighton’s rising stars Porridge Radio serve up moody, rocking indie with a definite 90s-throwback lean, and their combination of melody, slacker-pop vibes and and underlying punk sensibility have won them more than enough admirers so far; the band were nominated for a Mercury Prize last year. Keep tabs on them – the only way is (further) up from here.
You’re going to want to dance for this one, trust us. Reclaim Vienna bring a truly mighty synth sound that will get your heart beating and your feet moving. The vocal delivery is the best of 80s synth rock, but the overall atmosphere is a wholly modern one. This deserves to be heard in as big a room as possible.
Their reputation for stomping indie bangers precedes them at this point. The Reytons have big plans for 2021, with the first leg of their planned tour already sold out and big new single ‘Red Smoke’ hitting the airwaves. Sheffield already knows what these lads are about, and the rest of the listening public is about to find out.
The Rosadocs have long been favourites here at RGM, ranking among our best Sheffield bands at the end of 2019 and gaining good reviews for their releases since then. Fans of straight-ahead indie rock will love them, especially when their big choruses can be heard live again.
The Ruby Tuesdays
Hard-rocking indie riffers Ruby Tuesday have built up a rabid fanbase as of late – they can boast a top 5 vinyl release, over 10,000 streams on Spotify and an audience that stretches far beyond their native Blackburn, Lancashire. Hot prospects for 2021? Certainly.
East Lancashire group Saint Michael have that reverb-drenched, melodic indie charm that recalls 80s guitar pop down to a T. Their recent releases have seen them feature a lot on our Spotify playlists, and this time round is no different. Press play, sit back and enjoy.
Mainstay of the Sheffield circuit, Sam Tucker? (question mark very much a stylistic choice) has worked his way onto increasingly bigger gig and festival slots with his great stage presence and exceptionally catchy tunes. Influenced by the likes of (early) Frank Turner and with a sense of humour that often shines through lyrically, Tucker(?) has become a firm favourite on any live music scene he has reached thus far.
Manchester’s Saytr Play know how to make their brand of indie-disco post-punk sound sexy, heartfelt or ever-so-danceable, depending on the record. They also command the stage for energetic live shows, which we hope will make a welcome return this year.
Scarlet are an alt rock band who have been building a steady following across the country for the past few years. Their sound, a combination of pop-rock and some punkier shades, is big enough to take them to any stages they want to play in the future.
Elegantly day-glo retro indie-poppers Seamonsters recall the likes of Orange Juice and Pulp with their synth shenanigans – they’re due to get in the studio soon, to work on the follow-up to the superb ‘How To Be Famous’. Not a moment too soon, in our opinion.
Thousands of bands have been described as indie, and it means very different things depending on who you’re listening to. In the case of Wigan noiseniks Shallow Waters, their take on the genre involves Britpop swagger with grunge guitars and psych sonics. A melting pot of guitar groove wizardry. Get to know ’em before everyone else does.
Scottish supremos Shambolics pride themselves on a set of influences dating back to the 50s and 60s, and the result is a delightful jangle-pop sound that is sure to lift anyone’s spirits. A number #2 hit on the vinyl charts and some high-profile collaborators including Kyle Falconer from The View show that there’s a real appetite for the band’s upbeat throwbacks.
Sinclair’s fare is raucous rock ‘n’ roll drawn from a range of influences. Their lyrics are social commentary with swagger and if their first two singles are anything to go by, things could get real exciting real fast in the near future.
A wonderful melting pot of modern emo-punk, 80s indie sonics and the UK’s burgeoning ‘queercore’ scene, South Yorkshire’s Slash Fiction know how to write choruses you’ll just love to sing along to, as soon as you can see them live. In the meantime, debut single ‘For Matt’ and a collection of acoustic session uploads will have to do the trick.
Funky bass, bleeping synths, motorik beats and a classic post-punk vocal delivery. These are the key ingredients for the sound of Sweeping Promises, a Boston art-rock band whose frenetic punky energy is rendered perfectly danceable by its moving and occasionally grooving rhythm section. A genuinely exciting listen.
Those Fucking Snowflakes
Among the most exciting prospects from Blackpool’s underrated rock scene, math-jazz-noise-rockers Those Fucking Snowflakes are not afraid to tackle the overtly political. Titles like ‘By The Power of Barnard Castle’ and ‘Straight Wealthy White Male Suffrage’ deliver exactly what they promise, but the band’s infectious energy and surprisingly catchy choruses are also a big part of why they’re getting a lot of attention heading into 2021.
Toodles & the Hectic Pity
Bristol folk-punk three-piece Toodles & the Hectic Pity had two EPs to promote in 2020; like everyone else, this was made a lot harder by all that has happened. Still, the trio weren’t put off by such trivialities, and can still be found livestreaming to fill the gaps until they can make a very welcome return to stages across the country.
A purveyor of pure fingerpicked balladry, Toria Wooff is perhaps the folkiest artist on this list. Her songs carry a vintage flavour with more than a hint of magic, and this year promises her first new music since 2019’s acclaimed ‘Badlands’ EP. Undoubtedly one to watch.
Stoke mob The Underclass are politically outspoken, proud in their celebration of mod culture and have been known to crop up in Stoke City Football Club’s video packages. Their raw indie rock ‘n’ roll sound matches their identity as celebrants of the genre’s working class roots. Refreshingly honest.
Footstomping indie with attitude creeping in from the shadows is what Urban Theory delivered on debut single ‘Living The Dream But Discussing The Nightmare’ last year. Firm favourites on Manchester’s live scene, their energy and big choruses are likely to win more fans this year.
We The North
We The North aren’t afraid to get down and dirty with some hard rock riffage. The Manchester indie crew boast a real stomping groove that only a frontman taking on bass can provide and, most importantly, some BIG tunes.
Grunge throwbacks Weekend Recovery have started 2021 off with a surprise – literally. Their latest single ‘Surprise’ drops later this month, followed by a much-anticipated album. Be ready for that one!
All-girl grungy punks WITCH FEVER pack a real noise-rock punch, with a sound that’s simultaneously lo-fi and certifiably massive. Audiences will surely get down to the front early and take notice when they take to the stage to support IDLES on their upcoming tour.
A true Manc throwback, Y-Key Operators load their catchy tunes with all the hallmarks of a rainy city anthem, specifically giving the Madchester sound a reload. However, latest single ‘The Town Where You Were Born’ has taken things in a different definition, combining their big indie sound with a slice of pure dub.
Quasi-spoken-word post-punk crew Yard Act merge spindly guitar riffery with a delivery that’s dry almost to the point of satire, recalling Mark E. Smith as well as Mclusky at their most lyrically acerbic. A cult following beckons.