Welcome to Northern Exposure’s ‘Best of 2017’ . This isn’t a ones to watch list – that’s coming soon. This list is the cream of the crop of the hundreds of bands we’ve seen this year. Here’s the list of whom we feel have left a lasting impression on us and the ones that will make an even bigger impact on the scene in 2018.
There is nothing we love more at Northern Exposure than female-led indie rock groups and Calva Louise tick all our boxes. The London-based trio (Jess Allanic, Alizon Taho, Ben Parker) mix grunge, punk and pop effortlessly, resulting in an upbeat fusion that’s impossible to tear your eyes and ears away from. Jess has a strong female voice that provides the group’s identity. There is definitely a lot more than meets the eye with this band, never missing a note, the band are well rehearsed and full of an insatiable energy that is completely mesmerising. Jess is an inspiration for young female musicians with her fast firing lyrics, quirky charm and face-melting vocals. We have only had the privilege of seeing the band once in Sheffield but we had to choose one band from this list that we said you must see live, Calva Louise would take that crown.
There was a time when music was considered an art form. Sadly, it seems that these days, too many bands play it safe, and the same regurgitated sounds drown out our radio playlists. Well, those days are at an end, and all hail The Blinders, the most exciting band we have come across in a very long time. They are fresh, original and are impossible to pin down to one specific genre, due to the diverseness and uniqueness of their sound. Lyrics and sound are not enough for us – the music must move you and trust us, it does. These songs have a purpose, they are thought provoking and lyrically, there’s a lot going on. Music with a message can be a very powerful force. Check out ‘Brave New World’ below…
Trampolene, the Welsh three-piece alternative rock band are currently storming their way around the UK festival and gig circuit, and have been touring as special guests with Liam Gallagher on five sold-out arena shows this December. Jack Jones, Wayne Thomas and Rob Steele write and perform with a unique, raw edge. Think Clash, Kinks, Sex Pistols but only gentler somehow. Jack Jones is also a member of Peter Doherty’s touring band, The Puta Madres, playing lead guitar when he has a spare minute. Trampolene have released six EPs in the last three years and their debut album, Swansea to Hornsea was released on 27th October.
QUEEN ZEE AND THE SASSTONES
Liverpudlians Queen Zee & The Sasstones, are a glittering force of pop-punk who have barged through a myriad of manufactured bands delivering frantic, chaotic and breathtaking shows for their often bewildered and always entertained audiences. Bringing with them hedonistic fun and excess abound through their performances and recordings, their earworm melodies and endearing tracks often comment on the life and struggles of themselves and their audiences be that personal, social or political, making them speakers and entertainers combined. Check out ‘Boy’ live from Leeds Festival.
BANG BANG ROMEO
Vastly saturated in talent, Bang Bang Romeo is the highly emotive, Yorkshire based 3-piece. Atmospheric soundscapes are gradually built through layering of the twisted imaginings of Tarantino – big juicy guitar sounds from Ross Cameron and soulful drums from Richard Gartland. The dramatic siren that is Anastasia Walker, a sassy cocktail of Grace Slick and Stevie Nicks with the smokiness of Lauren Bacall. Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones, Florence and the Machine, and The Who are listed as band influences yet we are scratching the surface here. One song can flicker through so many genres and styles it is often hard to hang your hat on any one style or influence but this is what makes them so unique and places them here on our ‘cream of the crop’ list. Check out latest single “Natural Born Astronaut’.
Paves, recently described as the ‘London face of rock n roll’ have come even further since being described by Fred Perry Subculture as “One of the most exciting new bands”. With Luke Shield on lead vocals and guitar, Mike Whitaker on lead guitar, Perry Read on bass and backing vocals and Tom Triggs on drums, they approach their lyrics and music with equal care, crafting epic songs such as ‘Take Me While I’m Here’ and more recently, ‘Baby’ which has received evening airplay on Radio X.
The summer just gone been an absolute smash for SHEAFS. Festivals up and down the country, performing to audiences peaking close to 2000 people. Reactions still feel slightly surreal but not undeserved. Nor should they be unexpected. Award wins prove this. More gigs, bigger crowds, new cities prove this. With new single, This Is Not A Protest doing exceptionally well it’s undeniable that this band is going from strength to strength.
This explosive Blackpool foursome, with Spub Newburn on drums, Bobby Bentham on guitar and vocals, Jack Bentham on guitar and Will Bentham on bass, can always be counted on to serve us a mash-up of distorted post-punk anthems and catchy indie riffs creating their unique commentary on life in our times. Known for their amazing Strange Bones t-shirts: ‘Scum’ and ‘Theresa is a Terrorist’ to name but two (readily available online and on tour), the boys are always keen to share their views and educate the masses where politics is concerned through merch and music – they certainly pull no punches and use their platform to educate. With a recent tour behind them and new recording ahead of them, we predict big things next year.
Cabbage are cemented as one of Northern Exposure’s favourite bands and with good reason, the band are a seamless blend of artistry and activism and are one of the great idiosyncratic talents to come out of Manchester. Frustrated by the lack of bands saying anything meaningful and lashing out at the world’s many injustices, Cabbage are made up of the ever so friendly Lee Broadbent (vocals), Joe Martin (vocals, guitar), Eoghan Clifford (guitar), Stephen Evans (bass) and Asa Morley (drums). In the past year, they’ve covered some of history’s most recent controversial events and issues, taking on everything from political corruption, to Jimmy Saville’s covered up atrocities. Live, the band are a mind-blowing, fearless mash up of inexhaustible pandemonium and subversive humour. If you are yet to see the band, catch them in February on tour. All details on the links below.
THE GARAGE FLOWERS
Originally from Bristol and now settled in London, self-proclaimed ‘drunken guitar pop’ legends The Garage Flowers have released their new single ‘Hello Tango’. Titled in memory of an old friend’s attempts at picking up girls, the track oozes bad boy antics and sketchy shenanigans. You can usually find Joe Capaldi (vocals), Jonny Webber (guitar), Greg Edwards (drums) and Michael Serapinas (bass) smoking bugs on the window ledges of high rise buildings according to their Facebook story. Times have been a little more transient for Joe and Jonny, however, and the song centres on what they got up to whilst living out of a car for a while.
Bringing a snarling, grizzly amalgamation of rock and punk to their gigs, energetic quartet BlackWaters are experiencing a much-deserved degree of unprecedented exposure. From Guildford, (via Sheffield), these four lads are set to melt your face off with their unparalleled energy. Their tracks convey angst and ecstasy in their purest forms; check out ‘Let the Good Times Roll’ below if you need an example.
The Kavaliers, a five-piece band from Doncaster have recently been working with Alan Smyth (music producer for Arctic Monkeys, Pulp) on new single ‘The Right Thing’ and this is a group to look out for. After watching the band play for This Feeling earlier this year Rachel snapped them up for management. The Kavaliers can definitely be seen as a rarity and join the succession of successful up and coming bands from Doncaster.
THE VELVET HANDS
Garage rockers, The Velvet Hands, have a real Stones or Strokes feel to them. They have released a string of standout DIY singles, and their live set which we witnessed at The Hawley last week has brought them into our sights. The Velvet Hands may be fresh out of the traps, but have already been compared to The Damned, The Stones and The Strokes, played shows with landmark live club, This Feeling, been the surprise hit at The Great Escape Festival, and earned a 60 second interview on the Steve Lamacq show and BBC London record of the week and interview with Gary Crowley.