A city rich in history, the roots of Southampton go deep, even with its music scene. God forbid, we’re not talking about Craig David, or the drummer from Coldplay. From the fabled Joiners Arms to its towering Guildhall, Southampton today is a burgeoning hub for alternative upstarts; whether they’re from the city or they’re flocking from further reaches of the south coast. Some of the city’s talents have started punching their way into the peripherals of stardom, while the rest have found home in the city’s grassroots hive of house shows and punk all-dayers. Grab your paddle, it’s time to venture deep up the Solent and get acquainted with 10 of Southampton’s most ear-catching acts:
Remember how exciting it was to witness My Chemical Romance blossoming around their Three Cheers… era? The instantly recognisable imagery, the vaudevillian sense of performance, the defiant outsiders’ stance? Creeper are undoubtedly on the brink of something similar, and potentially something even bigger. Third EP, The Stranger, flaunts the sextet’s sinister and theatrical side, refining their contagious punk-rock sound and delivering it with aplomb. Read our lips: this is the most exciting band not only in Southampton, but in Britain right now.
Essential Tracks: The Honeymoon Suite, Black Mass, Henley’s Ghost
Arguably the biggest metal band to erupt from the land of the Solent, the road has been long for Bury Tomorrow as they near their 10th birthday this year. Not only have they been dealing out crushing metal riffs with searing bursts of melody for a decade now, but they’ve been dealing them in spades, much to the ignorance of a larger audience for which they are destined and deserving of. Their fourth studio album, Earthbound, got 2016 off to a roaring start, and with it came a stern message: Bury Tomorrow will no longer be derided with that polarising ‘Metalcore’ brand, and as they finally advance to landmark status on the metal map, would you dare you deny them?
Essential Tracks: The Eternal, Lionheart, Man On Fire
You may have caught this hotly-tipped quintet taking on The 1975’s Sex (and sounding slicker than a barrel of lubed-up eels while doing so), but Faux’s self-proclaimed ‘dirty pop’ has also landed them support slots at a rapid-fire rate in its own right, opening for everyone from Turnover to Black Peaks. If you’re big on sharp melodic hooks and simply massive indie-rock choruses, say no more: 2016 is Faux’s time to shine, fresh out the studio and ready to ‘touch the road’ faster than Skepta could ever hope to rap (10 points to anyone who gets that naff reference).
Essential Tracks: Swimmingly, Patterns, Backbone
There are seldom words to explain just how breathtakingly intricate and immersive Signals.’ sound is. As a quartet of young, accomplished craftsmen/craftswoman who have gathered a cult national following, it’s even more of an eye-opener when they present their progressive indie-pop on stage with not a single beat missed. Full of a certain charisma which you just can’t afford to ignore these days, Signals. recently worked with Southampton-based producer Neil Kennedy on single Lungs Apart – who knows what this promising collaboration will have in store for us in 2016? Whatever it brings, expect it to come with flourishes of colourful and articulate energy.
Essential Tracks: Lungs Apart, Sleep Talk, Dawn / Come Out The Blue
Find Them: www.facebook.com/signalsuk
The experience of listening to Cold Holding’s EP from last year, In Dust Or What Remains, is about as cathartic as running to the edge of a cliff and screaming until your throat is in tatters. Dishevelled, moody and incredibly troubled. What this duo have unleashed is guttural hardcore stripped to its bare bones, but there’s also a bittersweet beauty amongst their distorted entanglements. Expect to see Cold Holding breaking out from the scene of south coast house shows and into Europe with Portsmouth mob Scared Of Everything in May; it’s a short run of dates, but it will no doubt be the first of many mainland excursions for this pair.
Essential Tracks: Lose Hope, Just Hands, In Dust Or What Remains
Find Them: www.facebook.com/coldholding
Neil Kennedy is something of a local legend as a producer based out of The Ranch Production House in Southampton: he’s manned the desk for a handful of the UK’s hottest alternative talents (Creeper, Milk Teeth and Press to MECO, to name a few), but while his place of work may be a mecca for the country’s fast-rising punk crop, Ghost Cub is a venture of Kennedy’s own doing. Shrouded in mystery with just two soaring alt-rock bangers to their name, the next steps for Kennedy’s young and elusive project are as unpredictable as the weather, but Ghost Cub are nonetheless on the cusp of something even bigger than Kennedy’s peers.
Essential Tracks: American Hymn, Rope
Find Them: www.facebook.com/Ghost-Cub
This electro-rock quintet are acclaimed in their home city after forming six years ago and tearing up the local circuit time and time again. Bridging the gaps between the neon-lit stylings of Depeche Mode, the industrial angst of Nine Inch Nails and the angular indie punch of Bloc Party, SomaHigh’s combo of buzzing synths and thundering beats has indeed proven killer enough to earn the four-piece support slots alongside the likes of Does It Offend You, Yeah? and Cage The Elephant. Keep an eye out for SomaHigh’s on festival bills nationwide this year as their latest EP, Tough Love, takes them to staggering new heights.
Essential Tracks: Tough Love, In Your Bubble, Human Error
Five Miles North of Nowhere
If you are of the opinion that punk rock has lost its bite as of late, get ready for a firm wallop to the face in the form of Five Miles North Of Nowhere. Abrasive but with a refreshing ear for ballsy rock ‘n’ roll riffs nonetheless, frontman Elliot Jones has his fair share of explosive moments amidst a backdrop of spiky, unrelenting hooks which channel shades of Marmozets and Every Time I Die. While they finish work on a brand spanking new EP, get stuck into their latest offering, Less Talk More Action: it is music that to either do your dirtiest dancing or hang from the rafters to… Whatever floats your boat.
Essential Tracks: A Slice Of Fried Gold, Reverse The Time, Set It Off
Embodying the DIY spirit that makes Southampton’s underground scene so worthy of your time and adoration, indie trio Beat Easton have bubbled below the radar with the same charm that made bands like American Football and Death Cab For Cutie so beloved. Having released just seven tracks over the course of nearly three years, the band transcended into more psychedelic territories on their 2015 release In Situ; an EP that sparkles with its dreamy guitar tones and delicate emo sensibilities.
Essential Tracks: February 26, Seam, Indentations
To end this guide to Southampton’s greatest talents, meet the most unique, thought-provoking and downright barmiest of them all: Grant Sharkey, a double-bass-slapping poet who has set himself the mission of releasing an album every six months until 2033. An arduous task and a fool’s errand, you may think, but Sharkey is already on album six (out of 40) and is showing no signs of losing momentum, picketing X Factor auditions and dishing out razor-sharp wit along the way. Don’t think that, with songs like The Power Of F*ck, Grant Sharkey is a comedy artist – he is hilarious, but more importantly he is radical, he is forward-thinking, and he is funkier than a Funky Pigeon flying high above Funkytown.
Essential Tracks: The Power Of F*ck, Feed The Kids, I’m Sorry To Hear You’re A Racist
Written By: Danny Randon