Coventry's had a unique and often overlooked history, tucked away in the West Midlands. The Coventry Blitz meant that the city had more reason than most to embrace modernity in the post-war years, and its manufacturing dominated economy attracted immigrants from across the Commonwealth from the late 1940s onwards. As a result, the city enjoyed a vibrant and thriving period throughout the 1960s.
The decline of the British Motor Industry meant that Coventry was hit harder than many other cities by the unemployment and recession that swept the UK in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was the scene that inspired The Specials' 'Ghost Town'. The Specials and The Selecter became Coventry's musical heroes, and the city has also spawned The Primitives and The Enemy in the decades that followed.
In recent years Coventry was named as UK City of Culture for 2021, and venues such as The Tin strive to provide an environment to nurture new talent, while the Godiva Festival gives a platform to local artists and draws bigger acts to the city. We take a look at 10 Coventry bands to hear now.
The formation of Mara Falls was initiated by guitarist Peter Black who was later joined by Parisian bassist Lola Rose before returning home to be joined by drummer Peter Szots. The resulting trio has a presence that feels like it could scale to any space, from intimate club to inevitable stadium support slots and Summer festival stages. For fans of White Lies, Band Of Skulls, check out their 'Thanks To You' below.
Another band making some big anthemic sounds despite being at the earlier end of their career, Candid operate in the indie spectrum around the same wavelengths as The Amazons and The Sherlocks, with familiar nods to the like of The Arctic Monkeys and Oasis. Candid's latest 'Breathless' is available to stream on most music platforms now.
With an ambitious conceptual and theatrical approach to punk, tackling subjects such as sexuality and intersectionality full on are Cov Five-piece Deathsex Bloodbath. Their biog makes fictional (presumably) claims of the band's decades-long history of hits history and their latest EP 'Swipe Right' is framed in the world of dating apps. Watch the band's trailer for the EP below.
With some crossover of band members with the previously mentioned Deathsex Bloodbath, Duck Thieves are fronted by Justin Wing Chung Hui whose falsetto vocals and deft guitar skills are instantly very likeable. Aside from obvious comparisons to other successful falsetto fronted bands (Sparks and Wild Beasts are two that spring to mind) Duck Thieves are not shy of issues of identity, society and injustices therein.
Hard driving rock sounds that could be mistaken for Rancho De La Luna in origin if their Coventry roots were not already disclosed. Check out their rawly captured performance of their song 'You're So Cold' below.
An indie/Britrock four-piece who've just scored their first This Feeling gig supporting Australian visitors PLANET, a sound benchmark for many guitar-based bands in recent years. Listen to Blvff's 'Antisocial' below, and you'll agree that these guys will fit right into the This Feeling scene.
As you might expect from the city that played a big part in the revival of ska in Britain and the formation of 2 Tone, there's still a healthy amount of reggae and ska thriving in Coventry. One such band, Barbd Wire count the legendary Pauline Black among their fans and have appeared on David Rodigan's BBC Radio 1Xtra earlier this year. If that's not enough credentials take a listen to 'Stayin' In'.
Rooted N Booted
Another band who seem to draw much of their direction from Coventry's rich musical history, Rooted N Booted describe themselves as a "mash-up of reggae, ska, punk and dub... the NuTone sound that the 21st Century needs".
With their list of ingredient genres, it will be no surprise that Rooted N Booted have supported The Selecter, The Beat and Bad Manners. The band also had the honour of opening the main stage at Coventry's respected Godiva Festival a couple of years ago.
Hailing from Coventry's nearby neighbour Kenilworth, Free Galaxy are a heavy riffing four-piece that manage to straddle the gap between alternative rock and indie revival. Listen to their debut single 'Everlasting' below to judge for yourself which camp they fit in to. Either way, they're another band who will no doubt find a following on the live scene, both locally and further afield.
It's always worth taking a moment to remember that there are more ways to emerge musically than touring around tiny clubs in a deathtrap of a van along with your instruments and amps. Pop Singer-songwriter, Emma McGann has a first class degree in Music Composition, crowdfunds her work via Patreon, has given a TEDx Talk on her songwriting, video live streams with her fans and supporters - the list of ways she engages with her audience and self-publishes goes on. These may not be methods that many would traditionally associate with getting noticed as a new musician but for Emma, it has won her fans and acclaim from Nancy Sinatra and Kylie Minogue among others. Emma's crowdfunded album 'B.R.A.V.E.' is out now.