The 5 best indie bands/artists you’ve never heard… | by Dan Harrison | Jan, 2022
Before we get into the nitty gritty of one man’s prophecy on the future of “that rock n roll” (™ Alex Turner), I’ll declare a vested interested.
All of the artists in this blog hail from my unashamedly modest home region — the West Midlands.
For that, I make absolutely zero apologies.
Why? Because the UK’s heartland is in the throes of a cultural renaissance. Its music scene is gathering colossal momentum.
Let’s face it, compared to our cousins in, say, the north west, we’ve provided little to take the airwaves or (what’s left of) the music press by storm for some time…and even if we did, we’re just far too self-deprecating round here to celebrate it, right?
All jokes and partiality aside, the West Midlands is sizzling with new music talent right now — with the five artists referenced below among those leading the charge.
But if investigating for yourself — at one of Digbeth’s uber-cool venues or our beloved sweatbox The Sunflower Lounge — is a step too far right now, you can always take my word for it (then proceed to send yourself down a YouTube or Spotify rabbit hole).
Anyway, enjoy this take on the Best of the West (Midlands). And, contrary to another Alex Turner line, believe the hype…
If you haven’t heard of this quartet yet, it won’t be long before you do.
Combining monstrous riffs, adrenaline-filled choruses and 70s disco beats, the boys from Birmingham have style and substance by the bucketload.
They’ve bagged support slots with the likes of DMAs, The Twang and The Snuts, played sold-out dates all over the UK and stole the show at several of last summer’s festivals.
Furthermore, their biggest single to date, ‘In My Element’, racked up just shy of a million streams and became a mini TV hit (it was used on BT Sport’s boxing coverage, as well as the Netflix show The Circle).
Their 2021 releases hit the spot too. ‘Time Of Our Lives’ was their rousing victory march out of lockdown, while follow-up Cruella is perhaps their boldest, brashest effort to date.
The tunes are getting bigger — and the venues are about to as well…
KEY TRACK: In My Element — A powerhouse indie dancefloor stomper to send beer and limbs flying at venues across the land.
There’s a whirl of feverish hype building around overpass.
2022 began with two sold-out dates at Birmingham’s favourite sweatbox venue The Sunflower Lounge and a HUGE support slot with indie legends The Wombats.
They’re fast becoming TikTok sensations too — amassing more than 23,000 followers on the social media platform already.
Factor in their first UK headline tour at the end of last year and this band are going places.
What about the music, you may ask?
Pulsating Joy Division-esque basslines, irresistible guitar hooks and soaring vocals — overpass are the perfect package of glorious, indie-rock infectiousness.
KEY TRACK: Changes — a riff-tastic, radio-ready number about “how nothing in life is permanent”.
There’s a magnificent, arena-sized sparkle to Candid’s sound.
Sure, they can do foot-to-the-floor indie like the best of them — but there’s something far more euphoric, arresting and emotionally honest about the Coventry four-piece.
Stirring synth-like hooks underpin their sound (check out singles ‘Pulling Away’ and late 2021 released ‘Wasted Time’), alongside Rob Latimer’s glorious vocals.
Candid are a rapidly-evolving sonic beast who are destined for the bigger venues (who’d bet against them soon outgrowing the 1,100 capacity HMV Empire in their home city which they’ve already headlined?).
They can mix it up too — as demonstrated by a series of lockdown covers on their YouTube channel (see their brilliant version of Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass’).
KEY TRACK: Through All The Fighting — A highly-emotive departure from the Candid norm, BBC WM Introducing’s Tim Senna hailed this anthem as “the West Midlands’ answer to Don’t Look Back In Anger”. Say no more…
This English-Canadian artist draws on vast concoction of influences from American post-punk to 80s synth and 90s slack.
Sharp, energetic, candid and defiant — YNES is a real force of nature in modern music.
Her music stutters, pivots and bristles with punkish attitude, while remaining remarkably fun and catchy.
DIY imperfection at its finest.
YNES’ efforts aren’t going unnoticed either — in 2021, she graced the main stage at BigFoot Festival as well as being selected to play Isle of Wight Festival.
KEY TRACK: God’s Little Punching Bag — Three and a bit minutes of opening your arms and saying “do your fucking worst”.
The Novus have been described as “Black Sabbath’s art-raged grandchildren”.
One of the standout acts on the region’s underground scene for some time, they continue to turn heads with striking appearances, manic live shows and their own brand of brooding, guitar-fuelled rock.
Setting The Novus and their gut-busting anthems apart is frontman Connor Hill.
He is a spell-binding, menacing and provocative presence that makes the band’s live shows so captivating.
KEY TRACK: I Serve Not — A deep, dark, dirty explosion of post-punk rage.