I landed back in the UK after spending 10 months in North America on June 23rd. This was, coincidentally I must add, EU referendum day. The first thing I did back in my homeland was exercise my democratic right and try (in vain) to keep Brexit as nothing more than one of Nigel Farage’s wet dreams.
Waking up, on my first morning, back home had a positively apocalyptic feel to it. The country has gone into meltdown in the aftermath of the vote. Resignations and leadership contests everywhere you look and the pound in free fall. England crashing out of the Euros (in very embarrassing circumstances) and the Chilcot report only emphasising the fact that the country is in turmoil. Boris as foreign secretary is the cherry on the cake.
I could start preaching now in more depth about my political views on all the chaos, but you could probably find them very easily on your Facebook feed. What I want to say though is that I believe the country will be alright eventually, and in the meantime there’s still a heap of incredibly talented UK artists for you to get your ears around. The perfect soundtrack to blocking out the fear radiating from the news.
Listen to a few of these new artists and you’ll feel a lot more positive about the prospects of the United Kingdom once again:
1)The Bay Rays
There’s nothing better than ramshackle rock and roll. It’s energetic, chaotic and immersive. It makes you forget everything happening outside for a couple of brief moments whilst the guitars take over your psyche. Kent’s The Bay Rays may only have two songs on soundcloud but they are two of the best cures for despondency you’ll find.
Who would have known Croydon would be an artistic hub these days? Bellevue Days are not only one of the best bands coming out of the Croydon, but one of the most promising alternative rock acts the UK has to offer. It’s deep, brooding and menacing at times, but also has a certain grandeur that sets them apart. Their recent Sad Boy EP, is nothing short of epic and lead single “Ripped Jeans” is my song of the year so far. I love this band.
Normally when a band is plucked out of school during their GCSEs they have faded into obscurity by the time they are 20. Hampshire’s Blaenavon have bucked that trend by not throwing themselves in at the deep end. After their debut EP, Koso, dropped 4 years ago they took a step back to complete their A-levels before releasing a second EP, Miss World, last October. Both were equally excellent, but Koso was full of more immediate teenage angst whereas Miss World was dark and brooding. Their debut album, due in the Autumn looks set to combine the two. Recent single “I Will Be The World” has upped the excitement for that release.
Cambridge’s Bloody Knees made a name for themselves with their face-melting brand of old-school rock music. 2013’s Bloody Knees EP and 2014’sStitches EP were sludgy-skater rock at it’s purest form: songs about smashing your face up, that still make you want to find an adrenaline rush at all costs. Over a year since their last release new single, “I Want It All” sees the band maturing with a melodic rock ballad that Nirvana could well have written. Frontman Bradley Griffiths doing his very best Kurt Cobain impression on the track does nothing to quell this comparison either.
Changing the tune slightly from alt-rock. London’s Dahlia Sleeps make a mesmerising, twisting electro-pop sound. It swirls its way into your subconscious – the type of music to get lost to. Ever since I first heard “Black and Blue,” I’ve lost many an hour listening to this band.
There’s nothing better in, supposed, bad times than some British wit. This London three-piece specialise in some noisy indie-pop that is defined by frontman, Rich Mandell’s, witty observations on life. They’ve just released their debut album, You Might Be Right, on Alcopop! Records and it’s a real corker.
7)The Magic Gang
These four lads are one of the best new bands right now. Churning out indie-pop melodies to die for, they have carved a countrywide reputation for themselves, and look set to break this year. If their songs continue to be as good as their debut EP, imaginatively titled EP, they will be very successful. Along with their impressive output as a band (they claim to have 50+ songs written), the members of The Magic Gang are prolific parts of Brighton’s scene. Each member has at least one other project on the go and with this, they are also part of the Echochamp collective. This is a group of bands, that perform, write and record together. The collective has now become a label in its own right and appears to be the foundation on which the Brighton scene is built.
8)The Japanese House
Londoner Amber Bain’s third musical guise (she was previously behind Cubs and then Leon) seems to be her resonating frequency. Combining her delicate voice with synth-pop that oozes like honey, she has found a sound that will melt both your ears and your heart. Her song “Still”, was Zane Lowe’s last ever hottest record in the world before leaving for Apple. A stamp of approval Bain didn’t need, as she’s found her sound regardless.
One of my favourite bands right now. The four-piece, led by front-woman Millie Duthie, make music that worms its way into your consciousness. It’s a unique mix that switches from nonchalance and head-in-the-clouds musings to feet-on-the-ground grit in seconds. It is worth checking these guys out for the bass-line on “Car Crash” alone; new track “Motherlode’ is a peach as well.
10)Willie J Healey
If there’s a trend to the artists in this list (which I hope there isn’t) it’ll be something to do with witty lyrics and powerful voices. Willie J Healey has both: some of the best lyrics on the circuit and a deep baritone that tops singers 3 times his age. Mix all this talent with a penchant for having fun and you get something quite special. EP, Saturday Night Feeling, emphasises this point and is one of the best releases of 2016 so far.
Alas Salvation. That’s the name of the early contender for album of the year. Yak’s debut LP is ramshackle rock and roll at it’s exceptional best. It’s quite hard at times to believe that anyone but Jack White and Mick jagger’s love child could create a record quite so perfect as it is unrefined. If you do one thing after reading this article, go and listen to that album.
As always, I’ve got a bag full of other names to check out if this has go your juices flowing. Just get in touch and I’d be happy to chat.
Keep calm and carry on. British music is in safe hands.