Indie Underground was set up by me last year with one sole purpose; to help give some form of publicity to new upcoming rock bands who deserve as much attention and success as they can get. From post punk to indie rock to grunge, the current music scene is absolutely buzzing, and the impact DIY independent music is having on the industry is blinding. With the help from ‘zone lords’ This Feeling in particular, as well as small venues like Nambucca, The Water Rats, Lexington, Windmill Brixton, and The Horn (to name but a few), the current rock scene is unbelievably good, and this list will round up the top 25 bands you need to know. Essentially what inspired me to write this piece was an unbelievably naive and inaccurate statement from The Sherlocks (who champion bland, shitty, landfill indie in their music) about being ‘the pioneers of guitar music when our new album drops.’ The stupidity in this comment is that a) The Sherlocks aren’t that good, let’s be honest, and b) the pioneers of modern day guitar rock are right here already.
Many of these bands are destined to explode sooner or later, so get on them while you can. And the truth is, if you think there aren’t enough good guitar rock bands, you simply aren’t looking hard enough.
Edit: since this post’s publication I’ve become a huge fan of one other incredible band…head down to number 26 to see who they are, and check ’em out in my playlist at the end
1. False Heads
False Heads are the best band right now, fact. They have this heavy, killer presence both live and on record and their backing from Iggy Pop and The Libertines’ Gary is very much deserved. Luke is a legend, and his lyrics and riffs are backed up by the aggressive power of bassist Jake and drummer Barney. Packing a brain explosive punch, False Heads are a killer force, and you’d be mad not to take notice of them.
For fans of: anti-establishment rock, in your face blaring riffs, killer bass-lines
Top tracks: Slew & Weigh In
Paves are pure class; a raucous rock four piece from London, they are a classic indie rock band with a slightly heavy, rough edge. Their charisma and confidence is blistering, and they have this unapproachable attitude which makes their sound even more bold and exciting. They really are leading this resurgence in DIY guitar rock’n’roll, and really excite me as a new band. Luke’s voice is full of raw indie grit too, just adding to their intense aura.
For fans of: in your face indie rock, blistering guitar riffs, quirky and lively rock’n’roll
Top tracks: Baby & Take Me While I’m Here
This four piece are a blistering explosive mess of raucous post punk indie. Their energy and attitude is undeniable, and they’re possibly one of the country’s most promising new bands. Max is a sick vocalist, with really raw rough punk vocals, and David and Oliver on guitar just add to the intense sound the band have, backed up by James’s Libertines-esque drumming. The lyrics are messy and blaring too, and the band always deliver 110% live.
For fans of: gritty post punk, raucous indie rock, wild mosh-pits and hectic live sets
Top tracks: So Far Out & Fuck Yeah
A recently formed band, BREED are a killer four piece from the Essex area. They’re really intense and heavy live, and Jake’s voice and charisma as a frontman is blinding. There’s this immense force the band have, and I was lucky enough to catch them live last month; I really was blown away by the harsh rock grit they have, and the unapproachable aura they have as a band.
For fans of: statement rock music, anthemic post punk, raw and honest rock’n’roll
Top track: Starman
5. The Wholls
A deeply brooding, intense force of indie rock, The Wholls are a killer group. From Bedford, they have a really rough gritty sound, and they just have a crazily unique edge. Arturo’s voice has this rough punk gravel to it, and this is backed up by heavy indie infused guitar. They always draw brilliant crowds live too, and just listening to their broodingly sensual tracks makes you want to get up and mosh.
For fans of: cutting edge indie rock, powerful mosh pits, energetic fun rock’n’roll
Top tracks: Angry Faces & X21
6. The Blinders
A harrowingly brooding, deeply sensual rock band, The Blinders seriously channel post Led Zeppelin vibes in their music. There’s a raw bitterness to the tracks, and the band don’t shy away from political commentaries or social observations either. Their music is packed with raw grit and a DIY bite; it’s messy, rough round the edges rock, which is a blinding sound for any band to have.
For fans of: Led Zeppelin, blaring guitar riffs, sensually romanticised lyrics
Top tracks: Ramona Flowers & ICB Blues
A band full of artsy indie charm and a rough post punk bite, 485C are one of the most meticulous bans I know. The five piece play together perfectly in sync, and the harrowing pain and richness to Adam’s voice layers over the delicately heavy guitar and raucous drumming perfectly. There’s something captivating and mesmerising about the band, and their whole image and sound leaves nothing to be desired whatsoever.
For fans of: progressive artsy rock and unique art movements, 80s indie, unorthodox guitar rock
Top tracks: Primal Concerns & American Walls
8. Strange Bones
Full of fucked up punk angst and heavy politically charged aggression, Strange Bones are creating their own version of punk music. Riff wise, the band are blinding, and create the heaviest most raucous pieces of music I’ve ever heard. Their lyrics reflect all sorts of political issues, and the band are so abrasive and confident that they scream anti-Tory slogans all over the place. Live, their crowds are hectic, reflecting the insanity you get on stage. The balaclava and rat masks used by the band just add to their unorthodox nature and sheer punk authenticity.
For fans of: rough mosh pits, heavy blaring riffs, unpolished messy punk
Top tracks: Pussy Galore’s Flying Circus & Big Sister Is Watching
9. Concrete Caverns
One of my favourite local bands, Concrete Caverns are a lively force of raw indie rock, with a carefully polished indie rock sound. Joseph’s voice is really rough and raw, and this is backed up by Liam and Zach who are both killer guitarists. What I love about this band (aside from how lovely they are in person) is the catchiness of their riffs and sheer brilliance of their Britrock sound. They’re unreal live too, and are full of energy and skill and talent which they showcase on stage brilliantly.
For fans of: Arctic Monkeys, old school authentically British rock’n’roll, boldly catchy riffs
Top tracks: Jenny & That’s Why
This three piece are an immensely fun band live, and pack their sets with a heavily intense feel. Their sound really is a burst of power and aggressive riffs, which gives the band a killer aura. I really enjoyed seeing them live a couple months back, and their tracks have that head-banger feel which makes them all the more intense to listen to.
For fans of: loud heavy riffs, blaring rowdy rock, experimental vocal distortions
Top tracks: Feel It & Sucker
11. The Scruff
Where do I even begin with The Scruff! I saw them live for the first time in 2015 supporting The Bohicas, and have been gripped ever since. They have a really classic, pure rock sound to their music, and Adam’s voice is authentically British, with the bold accent coming through giving it an almost nostalgic feel. They’re full of energy too, and use blaring guitar distortions and highly amped up effects to give their music even more of a bite.
For fans of: Britpop, old school rock from the 70s like The Jam, evocative guitar rock
Top tracks: Leave It Alone & Bricks and Bottles
12. Yes Problem
Heavy, loud and intense; Yes Problem are one of my favourite bands to have discovered this year. They have this pure grunge/ punk sound to them, with two bass guitars being used alongside one lead to give the band this hectic heaviness. The power they have is blinding, and when I saw them a couple months back at the Brixton Windmill I was stunned by the sound they were able to create.
For fans of: proper gritty punk, heavy blaring riffs, killer DIY rock
One of my favourite new bands, hands down, Rosko are a sick four piece who are crazily unique in terms of sound and style. They fuse indie and punk with reggae and hip hop, and have just enough talent and meticulous skill to pull this off with ease. Bruce’s vocal is sick too, and his rapping on stage alongside filthy heavy rock’n’roll riffs gives the band a very quirky Jamie T/ The Streets kinda vibe.
For fans of: indie grime, hip-hop infused punk with elements of rap and reggae, Jamie T, The Streets
Top track: The Boys
This band really excited me when I saw then live the other month at Nambucca, mainly due to their unique boldness, charismatic flare, and artistic fashionable style. Something about them has a really classic late 60s/ mid 70s feel, and their whole look and sound gives you that classic rock’n’roll feel. Their riffs are blaring, and the whole look and sound they have is killer- quite something for a band who are only a year old or so! They’re a thrilling force, and I would highly recommend catching them live at some point.
For fans of: Hendrix, 70s rock’n’roll, rock music with a creative and artistic flare
Top tracks: Walking On Water & Surrender To The Night
15. The Americas
Another blinding band, The Americas are (again) one of my favourites. Like seriously seriously good. Despite the name, there’s a quintessentially British sound to the band, with bluesy post grunge elements to their music. Their tracks ooze confidence and attitude, which is so key to rock’n’roll, and they merge desert grunge with post punk sounds wonderfully. There’s an authentic rock power and boldness to the band, and their clever branding with the American flag and the classic red, white and blue colours adds to the band’s image brilliantly.
For fans of: desert grunge, vintage rock’n’roll with a classically retro edge, infused with a fresh youthful vibrancy
Top tracks: Hot Minute & Tenth Day of May
A band heading up the indie scene in London, Sisteray are one of the coolest upcoming bands. Guitar rock at its best, Niall, Dan, Mick and Marco have a wonderful chemistry and all play wonderfully together. Their latest EP is full of political and social commentaries, and it’s refreshing to see a band fiercely channelling anti-austerity and anti-establishment views in their music. And if there was ever a band to be the face of London’s indie rock scene, then Sisteray would be strong contenders. They’re very smart and unique too in terms of their recordings, with their EP 15 Minutes essentially an artistic/ political project based on Andy Warhol.
For fans of: anti-establishment rock’n’roll, classic rock music, Brit-pop/ noughties post punk
Top tracks: A Wise Man Said & Queen’s English
Literally every blog post I do similar to this one features Mummy, and the reason behind that it simple; they are the best. The face of DIY punk, Mummy are a raucous, loud, aggressive force of authentic punk music. This archaic feel to them is thrilling and gripping, and the heavy crashing nature of the guitar gives their music a brain-explosive edge. Live, the band are truly thrilling and their DIY bite makes them an unreal force of punk rock in the London music scene.
For fans of: gritty DIY punk bands like Wonk Unit and Pizzatramp, music with a bit of character and humour, punchy dirty riffs
Top tracks: Hey & Busy Doing Nothing
18. Nova Twins
Two of my favourite ladies, Nova Twins are proof that two people with guitars is all you need for that heavy aggressive punk sound which is becoming so dominant in the underground DIY punk scene. Killer riffs and hooks are blazing in their tracks, with cocky raw vocals (both sung and screamed) used to build up this sense of hardcore intensity. Nova Twins have the perfect punk look going on too, and their unique approach to music gives them a real edge. ‘London is calling back’ indeed.
For fans of: DIY punk (i.e. Wonk Unit, Mummy, Calva Louise), dirty bass lines, catchy riffs and killer guitar hooks
Top track: Bassline Bitch
19. The Black Roses
Indie rock buoyancy comes your way with The Black Roses, who capture this brilliantly nostalgic 2000s indie sound perfectly. Arctic Monkeys are a clear influence on the band, yet their recent EP Utopia pushes them into a more individual, unique sphere of their own. They know that the classic roots of indie rock (i.e. two guitars, a bass and drum kit) work just as well as more unique musical variations coming through into the industry, and the band’s determination to retain a sense of classic indie rock to their music is paying off, as they really are killing it right now.
For fans of: noughties indie rock, quirky guitar riffs, anything Alex Turner related
Top tracks: She Makes The Rain Dance & Bad Habits
20. Calva Louise
Calva Louise are one of the most insane bands I’ve ever seen live; Alizon on bass and Ben on drums build up an aura of heavy punk angst, all completed by Jess who is an unreal front woman. As a guitarist she is insane, with an unreal guitar and pedal board, and the killer screams she projects adds to the killer punk intensity the band have. There’s a very meticulous disciplined feel to their music too; the band practice every day, and the cutting throat perfection of every riff they play is evidence of this. The way Jess, Alizon and Ben play together is outstanding, and the riotous archaic punk sound they create is blinding.
For fans of: killer punk, raspy screeching vocals, heavy rich guitar riffs
Top tracks: Living In The Wild & I’m Gonna Do Well
21. October Drift
Manic chaos and hectic raw unorthodox filth hits you in the face with October Drift. The band use heavy killer riffs, with amped up chaotic guitar, to create this undeniably strong sound which really is mindblowing. Kiran’s voice too is deep and dark and raw, which adds an element of brooding mystery to the band’s sound. Live, they are one of the coolest most exciting bands I’ve ever seen, and the complex grunge edge they have is electrifying. There’s a harrowing brooding feel to their lyrics too, especially the line ‘cherry red, like the blood that’s rushing to my head’.
For fans of: uncompromising grunge, deep and dark lyrics, rock music oozing in attitude and confidence
Top tracks: Cherry Red & Cinnamon Girl
22. J.W. Paris
Yet another blog piece on J.W. Paris (no surprise there), I can’t stress how sick this band are. The three piece blend raw gritty vocals with heavy bluesy guitar and grunge infused rock’n’roll. Their sound and image and live presence is unbelievable, and the way Aaron and Dan sound when they sing together is mindblowing. There’s a filthy gravel to the band, with a very special quality of abrasive honesty to their brooding lyrics. This rough DIY edge shines through, and every single track that band come up with is killer.
For fans of: grunge and blues music, gritty messy rock’n’roll, chaotic messy bass lines
Top tracks: Wanted More & Berlin
23. Wonk Unit
DIY punk! Such a sick, exciting concept in rock music, and it was introduced to me back last year by Wonk Unit. The kings of DIY punk (they record and produce on an independent label and host Wonkfest every year), Wonk Unit are one of the sickest bands I know. Alex is a wonderful frontman, and Pwosion is genuinely one of my favourite people ever. What the band channel is heavy punk aggression, through their roaring riffs and bass lines and Alex’s cutting edge vocal which has this cocky London sound so unique to the authentic roots of punk music. Their humour and quirky image (such as their ‘dinosaurs are wankers’ slogan) makes them all the more fun and exciting.
For fans of: the London underground punk scene, skate culture, DIY independent punk music
Top tracks: We Are The England & Nan
Guitar rock doesn’t necessarily have to be hardcore and heavy; a lot of the time it can have a more buoyant indie sound, whilst maintaining a certain rawness and proper rock edge, and this is something Pages do perfectly. The way Matt and Danny play guitar together is brilliant and they are one of my favourite local bands to see live. The band have been turning towards a more heavier sound recently, and there are really exciting prospects ahead of them. There’s a sense of chilled, light indie to their music, but the band can still lose it completely on stage, resulting in these really raw bursts of powerful rock’n’roll.
For fans of: bands like Foals and Wolf Alice, soothing indie rock
Top tracks: Keep Your Love & The Road
Yonaka are fast becoming a really big band, but now is your chance to catch them in small venues whilst you still can. The group contrast raw, distorted, heavy guitar with Theresa’s clear, cutting edge vocals which collide with the heaviness of the guitar and drums perfectly. Her voice is unreal, and the ability she has to adapt her vocal range throughout the tracks the band play really is blinding. On one hand there’s a very disciplined meticulous feel to their music, yet on the other hand the band really do lose their shit live which makes for undeniably raucous and exciting performances, drawing dancing and mosh pits from their crowds.
For fans of: heavy guitar, rich riffs and powerful bass lines, deep and rich vocals
Top tracks: Pride & Gods and Lovers
26. Bang Bang Romeo
Powerful, 60s infused rock’n’roll vibrancy is what you get from Sheffield four-piece Bang Bang Romeo. Authentic rock dynamism and unapproachable bold vocals give Bang Bang Romeo a very special edge; there’s something very unapproachable and dark about them, their bold rock sound laced with a very delicate, refined aura. Riff wise, there’s a distorted artsy elegance to their tracks, particularly the brooding opening of Carnival. Heavy distortions and richly heavy and deep rock authenticity sets the foundations for Bang Bang Romeo’s unreal sound. One of my favourite elements of Bang Bang Romeo is (of course) the quality of Anastasia’s vocal; fuck, she can sing. Kinda like this generation’s Alanis Morissette or Janis Joplin, the unbelievable intensity and power of her raucous rock vocal adds to the band’s brooding Led Zeppelin-esque vibe. The atmospheric cutting edge the band have is blinding, and I can’t recommend them to rock’n’roll fans highly enough.
For fans of: post-60s rock’n’roll, explosively intense vocals, vibrant & creative rock music
Top tracks: Chemical & Carnival
You can listen to these killer bands on my Spotify playlist below:
© Photo credits: Alex Cabré (Yonaka), Alberto Pezzali (Sisteray), Emma Swann (Calva Louise), Rob Blackham (BlackWaters), Sahera Walker (485C and The Scruff), Andrei Saceanu (Concrete Caverns), Cath Dupuy (Nova Twins), Sam Gill (J.W. Paris), Caitlin Young (Pages), Andy Hughes (The Americas)