While British cities like London and Manchester are typically home to thriving music scenes, of course the best talent isn’t restricted to the most populous areas. Here are ten of our favourite bands from places you’ve probably never been to.
Sure there’s a very clear British eccentricity to them, but with the heights they’ve scaled and the things they’ve achieved it’s sometimes easy to forget that not only are Muse not from outer space or something, but they’re from a small town in the depths of the South West. Indeed, there’s a sense of frustration and hopeless boredom that comes from being in the middle of nowhere on their debut album ‘Showbiz’, but Muse’s astronomical success and grandiose ideas took them well beyond the boundaries of their hometown. Their ability to craft what is on paper extremely challenging, unconventional and uncommercial ingredients into songs that are undeniably massive and built for levelling stadiums remains potent to the point that they often fool fans of “cooler” underground music into thinking that they’re Coldplay, and in 2009 two homecoming shows dubbed A Seaside Rendezvous put Teignmouth in the spotlight.
Deaf Havana (Hunstanton)
Deaf Havana’s uber-honest lyrics are inspired mainly by the lives of their members, meaning their home of Hunstanton in Norfolk often crops up in their songs. There are tracks overtly dedicated to the landmarks Boston Square and the picturesque pier of the seaside town in their discography, and it’s not uncommon for Deaf Havana fans to post photos of their pilgrimages to the town on social media. The quintet has long been one of the leading lights of the current British rock music scene, with fourth album ‘All These Countless Nights’ (released earlier this year) deservedly achieving a Top 5 spot in the UK Albums Chart. The last few months saw them complete a triumphant UK tour, and their summer plans so far include playing Slam Dunk Festival and British Summertime.
Employed to Serve (Woking)
Holy Roar Records have been one of the UK’s best independent labels for hardcore and heavy music for over a decade now, and have dedicated themselves to giving a platform to the best talent from all corners of the country. One of the stars of the label’s past couple of years have been Employed to Serve from Woking. In the game of frenetic and pummelling metallic hardcore channelling Botch, The Dillinger Escape Plan and Norma Jean, Employed to Serve are one of the best on the planet right now with a relentless debut in ‘Greyer Than You Remember’ and searing, visceral live shows. Their second record ‘The Warmth of a Dying Sun’ out on 19th May details an ambition beyond that, with the band setting foot into altogether bigger territories.
Don Broco (Bedford)
The ‘lying by a pool in suave suits’ image Don Broco pushed in support of second album ‘Automatic’ doesn’t exactly scream ‘Britain’, let alone Bedford, the county town of Bedfordshire. The lads met at school, but only decided to form a band after going to university. While Don Broco were grouped with the British rock scene for a lot of their career, the genius 80s influences and toning down their initial crunchy guitars in favour of more pop dynamics on ‘Automatic’ saw them attract a following from more mainstream sources like Made In Chelsea. Now, though, they seem bigger than ever. They’re set to play a headline show at Alexandra Palace in November, and a return to more heavy influences on new single ‘Pretty’ has thrown any expectations for their as-yet-unannounced third album completely up in the air.
Warning from Harlow, Essex, set the standard in the 21st century for emotionally charged soul-on-sleeve doom with their second and final album ‘Watching From A Distance’. Their catalogue of work may be small but their influence spread far further, with some of the most exciting bands the metal world has to offer today like the wonderful Pallbearer directly channelling Warning’s poignant despondency. ‘Watching From A Distance’ is like trudging through an emotional quagmire, the colossal but ponderous instrumentals the perfect foundation for Patrick Walker’s breath-taking and heart-wrenching vocal performance, stripped of all barriers and simply laid bare. Walker carried the spirit of Warning into his current band 40 Watt Sun, but recently Warning have reunited to play a limited run of shows performing ‘Watching From A Distance’ in full including a UK date at Damnation Festival in November. Catch us weeping down the front.
Marmozets have always expressed their Yorkshire pride – their glee at any “Yorkshire!” chants at live shows speaks for itself. Hailing from the market town of Bingley on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, the quintet (made up of two sets of siblings) have been cherished as one of the best rising acts and most original talents the British rock scene has to offer. Honestly, it’s not hard to see why, with debut album ‘The Weird And Wonderful Marmozets’ showcasing everything from frenetic, frenzied heavy tracks to radio-friendly hits to epic, heart-wrenching piano ballads. Reading and Leeds festivals are said to be Marmozets’ UK live return following their time away from the stage recording their long-awaited new album, which should be out before the year’s up. The rest of 2017 should be a busy few months for them, and who knows? Perhaps a slot at Bingley Music Live may call.
Party Cannon (Dunfermline)
Slam is one of metal’s most absurd niches, a subgenre of a subgenre of a subgenre that often sees death metal bands taking the brutality of both their sound and their aesthetics to frankly ridiculous levels, reaping both glorious and laughable results. Party Cannon, from Dunfermline, Scotland, are very much a band in on the joke, subverting the usual guts and gore with deliberately ludicrous and light-hearted imagery. The artwork for their ‘Partied In Half’ EP remains a work of utter genius, and a festival poster making the rounds on the internet a couple of years ago displaying their colourful and happy logo amid countless indecipherable scrawls is the stuff of legend. None of this would matter though if they didn’t actually slam, and slam they do; their tongues may be planted firmly in their cheeks, but the sonic annihilation of their music is serious indeed.
Milk Teeth (Stroud)
Recent Soundsphere interviewees Milk Teeth call Stroud, Gloucestershire home. It’s a relaxed, picturesque town that seems to be the antithesis to the quartet’s earth-shaking, grungy guitars, as well as being far too small to house the deafening sound of the quartet’s shoutalong pop choruses. They’ve followed a relentless touring schedule since their debut album ‘Vile Child’ was released last year and built up enough of a profile to earn plenty of “ones to watch” and “new staples of British rock” labels (especially lately, with singer Becky gracing the cover of Kerrang! this week). Having just announced a massive signing to Roadrunner Records with a new EP and tour for the end of summer in tow, ‘Milk Teeth’ should be a name you won’t be able to escape from in next to no time.
Formed by guitarist/vocalist Andy Cairns and drummer Fyfe Ewing from Ballyclare and Larne respectively in Northern Ireland’s County Antrim, Therapy? became one of the definitive British alternative rock bands of the 90s at a time when bands like The Smashing Pumpkins dominated the US but Britpop ruled at home. Their most commercially successful album ‘Troublegum’ is as perfect a rock record as they come, overflowing with flawless songs destined for radio but played with a punk edge and distinct weirdo personality. Twenty years on though, they’ve become one of the most underrated cult bands we have, continuing to put out albums like 2015’s ‘Disquiet’ which can live alongside their classic material housing their instantly identifiable style of angular and heavy yet stupidly catchy anthems.
Killarney’s claim to fame might be Hollywood actor Michael Fassbender right now, but judging by epic, stadium-beckoning cuts on debut album ‘Afterthoughts’, fellow residents Greywind may be taking his place in the not-so-distant future. The woodlands of their south-west Ireland home are the perfect visual companion to their lofty, robust rock led by soaring vocals, as shown in the duo’s music videos. Having famed soprano singer Mary Culloty O’Sullivan as a mother and an interest in bands like My Chemical Romance and Thrice growing up surely hinted at a musical career for siblings Paul and Steph O’Sullivan, and jetting to Texas to record their first full-length as well as playing a debut (sold-out) headline show in London surely pencils them in for big things on a worldwide scale.