We called 2017 as the year of the British guitar band, and 2018 looks set to cement that beyond these shores. Britannia rules the radio waves - once again.
The boundary-pushing diversity and creativity on display from British Youth are quite remarkable. Making it one of the hardest years ever to cut down to 20 bands for this list. Off-kilter song structures and jazz permeate the musical output. We see electro combining with post-punk and splitting the musical atom before the year is out. And the kindling of a reemergence of reggae, as a rising force.
One of the most vital and invigorating periods in British music is upon us. Youth have found their voice and are soundtracking our lives. Some are angry; some are reflective - they all have something to say.
Welcome to the British New Wave.
The band who may arguably define 2018 - Nervous Conditions take the free spirit of the original jazzmen, smash it headlong into punk and create something viscerally new. Must see live band.
Take neoclassical soundscapes and hammer them into a dark and angular portrait. Imagine a bitter artist, after a sleepless three-day bender, finally putting pen to paper. They will be playing The 100 Club as part of our SubcultureLive gigs series early in 2018.
A London band that came to our attention following their much-lauded appearances at Brixton Windmill. Their slow tempo disjointed art-pop is not quite like anything else on the scene right now, and the band don't seem to care about that fact one way or the other, neither trying too hard to be different nor trying to conform to the usual alternative tropes. This attitude and approach have also resulted in surprisingly accessible songs.
Selhurst band worth risking permanent hearing damage for. With a scarce online presence, these new London upstarts want to be seen live. Keep your eyes peeled for them playing a SubcultureLive show at The 100 Club early in 2018.
THE PALE WHITE
Roaring rock riffs, big tunes and penchant for dark sunglasses on gloomy days. All the attributes to make serious indie waves in 2018.
DRUG STORE ROMEOS
Experimental, psychedelic indie from one of London’s youngest additions to a powerful live scene. Now is the time to see them developing their craft and playing small venues.
Drawing on diverse influences that include Nina Simone, Amy Winehouse, The Pixies and zine culture, Yanya's lo-fi grimy-jazz-pop is undeniably catchy while tackling hefty subjects such as social injustice and the refugee crisis.
With a sound that could have been inspired by Blur's 1997 swipe at grunge 'Song 2', Calva Louise offers an effervescence seldom seen and heard among alternative-rock bands and manage to summon a huge live sound for a three-piece.
With a healthy disregard for ideas established by the preceding generation 19-year-old Suzi Wu's debut EP, 'Teenage Witch' has garnered high profile attention with its genre-blurring self-taught DIY urban-pop. Comparisons to other London accented musical upsetters include Ian Drury and The Slits, but listen to Teenage Witch to make up your own mind and you're likely to come to the conclusion that Suzi Wu makes music however she wants.
Hailing from South London Benny Mails caused a lot of excitement when he dropped his debut mixtape 'Aware' back in November 2017. His sound and style sits perfectly between South London compatriots King Krule and (his close friend) Loyle Carner. With meticulous and eclectic beats his music is sometimes challenging, taking in a wide range of inspiration from jazz to punk as well as UK Hip Hop and grime.
It's easy to the hear influences that make up the basis of Touts' sound, The Jam, The Clash and The Pogues to name just a few. The band released their second EP 'Lit' on 10th November, heralded by its politically charged lead single 'Bomb Scare'.
A young singer/songwriter whose epic melancholy provides the perfect medium for songs many of which are inspired by the world's current political landscape. 'Vacant In The 21st Century' boasts the productions skills of The Maccabees' Hugo White.
The Producer and DJ (formerly known as Throwing Shade)’s acclaimed debut album saw her strip back on the production compared to the releases under her previous moniker invoking fond memories New Wave icons like New Order.
Mush are aiming to ‘capture the imagination of the pockets of weird indie rockers, slackers and freaks around the country’. We’re in - refreshingly different band. Keeping it real up North.
Bubblegum punk with Spector-esque production. Discovered as a teenage street busker in the streets of her native Glasgow, LUCIA has supported the likes of Black Honey, The Big Moon and The Undertones as well as lauded appearances at Scotland's T in the Park and Tenement Trail festivals. Watch out for new single 'Melted Ice Cream' in January 2018.
The London quintet offers up a bleak portrayal of modern life. Singer Lewis Duffin’s spoken-word style delivery lends itself to storytelling perfectly. Lurid, honest and intensely captivating.
Multi-instrumentalist Jacob Allen has echoes of early Amy Winehouse. Taking lo-fi soul and infusing it with various Jazz elements whilst crooning over the top with his plaintive falsetto.
Husky Loops are a band dead set on genre bending with every release. A dark, brooding force with deep and dirty grooves. On the cusp of indie electro brilliance.
The Scottish Britpop revivalists blend Oasis’ swagger, Las’s style melody and Verve inspired vocals to create a supergroup sound you didn’t know you needed. But ultimately you do.
Filled with scuzzy guitars and bursting with energy the London punk 4-piece have been boiling under the surface since 2016’s debut single tulip but this year they look set to explode.
Listen to our British New Wave 2018 Spotify playlist, featuring many of the artists in the list above. A particularly tough year to cut down - it includes great bands on our long list that we couldn't fit into the final round-up.