Enveloped in the hills of South West England and grounded in roots from centuries past, Bristol holds an enormous wealth of creative talent. From bars on boats to art galleries in former toilets, the thriving independent spirit of Bristol is the perfect place to discover new musical talent. Here are our top picks from Bristol’s music scene.
Ema Sierra is a writer and musician based in Bristol. A teller of intimate stories, Ema’s atmospheric laid-back sounds are set with a voice that floats steadily over distant, droning guitars. Having started out as a solo-project, Ema Sierra has recruited three band members in the release of her new track, ‘Hexy Go Mouse’. Her and the band will be playing at Bristol’s Dot to Dot this year.
After the storming success of their recent tours with Royal Blood, Bristolian Alt-rockers Turbowolf (see main image) are back on the road to promote their incredible new album, ‘Two Hands’. From slow and sludgy Black Sabbath-esque riffs to the frantic beats of ‘American Minors’, Turbowolf have delivered an album of unassailable sonic adventure.
Singer/songwriter Jack Cookson has been on the Bristol scene for a couple of years now. He combines elements of blues and folk, with his debut album ‘Resolt and Resolve’ bringing beautifully laced folklore and fiery, foot stomping tones. Listen to the album here:
Fenne Lily’s tenderly plucked strings and blissful tones are reminiscent of the likes of Laura Marling and Daughter. Having supported Marika Hackman at her homecoming gig at the Louisiana, Fenne’s soothing lullabies are textured with murmuring, sombre tones.
Bristolian trio Tamu Massif’s considered production is captivatingly enigmatic, with razor-sharp pop sensibilities and hints of melancholy, set with a laid-back, surf-pop vibe. Tamu Massif will be playing at Bristol’s Dot to Dot:
Patchwork Guilt is a solo-project of ‘bedroom tinkerings’ that started in 2014. Self-described as a figmental band ranging from folk to pop, to mildly psychedelic, Patchwork Guilt acts as a pleasing slice of dream-pop in Bristol’s fruitful musical cake.
Irresistibly catchy, Foreign Affairs are a rock-folk trio hailing from Bristol whose musical influences range from the best of English folk, American country and modern pop. Starting off as two brothers in 2012, the duo recruited a third member in the wake of their 20-date tour, which includes their debut at Glastonbury Festival this summer.
High Climbers are a French/Australian duo who specify in guitar, organ and vocal arrangements. Lo-fi and ambient, High Climbers dreamy, laid-back approach to post-rock is refreshing.
After gaining considerable attention through her digital releases, Natalie Holmes’ soaring vocals of witty lyricism are set against heartwarming acoustics in her latest EP, ‘Over and Out’. Listen to her beautifully honest and level-headed pop/folk tunes here:
Probably one of the youngest bands in the Bristol scene, The Jacques are two sets of brothers who’ve been described as “the bastard teenage love child of cockney guitar pop and just about anything that came out of New York during the early 00’s”. Having supported the Libertines at their Hyde Park gig last summer, The Jacques are a prime example of British indie music at its best.
Drawing his vocal influences from the worlds of soul and blues, Sam’s powerful and unique voice thunders through carefully considered, folksy guitar lines. With stand out lyrics and remarkable vocal talent, you can catch Sam at Dot to Dot Festival this year.
New Palace Talkies
New Palace Talkies is a 7-piece revolving-door folk band led by Tom Stevens. The combination of skittering percussion and rhythmic guitar, set with Tom’s soulful melodies create intricate textural pop music that revels in its own complications.
Scarlet Rascal’s sound merges post-punk with dirty blues. Their intense, slate-grey modernistic approach to punk justifies comparisons to the likes of The Fall and Joy Division, with front-man Luke Brookes’ thundering voice reminiscent to the late great Ian Curtis. Their new single ‘Venus’ will be released 27th April
Battling guitar lines and relentless energy, Fossette are a four-piece indie band hailing from Bristol. With just two tracks available online but a wealth of talent we can’t wait to hear more.
Little Dusty is a female-fronted, lo-fi folk band. Guitarists Sam and Dave’s intermittent guitars are gently intertwined, while a skittering drumbeat is coated with singer Nicola Rodgers’ lulling vocals. They too will be at Bristol’s Dot to Dot 23rd May.
Having made grounds in the global blogosphere with his debut single, ‘Knock Out Ginger’, Rob Bravery is certainly one to watch in the Bristol scene. The ambient, ominous detuned synths running against an electronic current are perfectly combined with Rob’s unique, eerie vocals. Meticulously patterned, Bravery’s track is hauntingly soulful.
Elder Island is the brainchild of Katy Sargent, David Harvard and Luke Thornton. Together their sound comprises cello and soulful female vocals, enwreathed in a multi-layered chorus of guitar, keys, bass and beats. The band met whilst studying in Bristol and have been creating music intermittently since. Listen to The Big Unknown here:
A decidedly abstract singer, 18 year old Rhian Teasdale sings distinct folk tales, while her stirring voice booms over a piano, a slight echo of Joanna Newsome seeps through. Part of the Chiverin music family, RHAIN has a voice with such magnetism it cannot be missed.
Originally from the Isle of Wight, Champs have made a name for themselves as purveyors of breezily melodic indie rock crossed with Abba inspired, pop-sprung harmonies. Compared to the likes of Neil Young and Fleet Foxes, their recent work with producer Dimitri Tikovoi has added a new dimension to their sound.
Tom Quentin Leigh
Thom Quentin Leigh is a Bristol based singer-songwriter, who divides his time between university, recording homemade demos and playing gigs. His latest track, ‘Flurry’, is about ‘a person’s love for someone turning rotten from the inside out, and the growing strain within telling themselves that everything’s fine when it’s not”. Interesting stuff.
To find out more about any of the artists here, simply click on the red band/artist name to link through to their Twitter profile, where you can follow and them to keep track of the next time they'll be playing near you.
We'll have another list for you soon, so until then, KEEP THE FAITH - the bands are out there, and let us know if there's a band that would make a good addition to this list or future lists!