Black Lives Matter: Current Black Artists Who Should Be On Your Radar
In the wake of the protests in the US and political unrest the world over, we at Bring the Noise UK wanted to shine a spotlight on some of the best Black musicians in music. We have been doing this in a series of articles, the first of which highlighted legends throughout history. This second part of the series features some of the greatest Black musicians in the alternative music scene today.
Animals As Leaders
It’s pretty safe to say that anyone who’s ever heard the Animals As Leaders break-out track CAFO was instantly floored by those sweeping guitar runs in the opening. While both rhythm guitarist Javier Reyes and drummer Matt Garstka are both extremely talented musicians, lead guitarist Tosin Abasi is clearly the one in the spotlight, with his unmatched thumb-thumping technique. Just listening to some more of their instrumental songs, such as Arithmophobia, The Brain Dance, or The Woven Web drives the point home: Animals As Leaders are a djent force to be reckoned with, and they aren’t planning to go away anytime soon.
Since forming in 2017, musical activists Fever 333 have been one of the most vital voices in rock music. The band, comprised of vocalist Jason Aalon Butler, guitarist Stephen Harrison and drummer Aric Improta, are committed to a revolutionary cause and the ‘333’ in their name represents the three C’s that create the foundation for the project: COMMUNITY, CHARITY and CHANGE. If you’ve ever been lucky enough to see one of Fever 333‘s live demonstrations, you’ll know that alongside a hard-hitting performance they deliver a hard-hitting message, which also rings true for the band’s powerful releases: their Made An America EP and debut album STRENGTH IN NUMB333RS.
From underground pop-punks to rising stars, Neck Deep have become a household name in alternative music over the last eight years. As they gear up to release their new album, All Distortions Are Intentional, on 24th July 2020 via Hopeless Records, the band’s recent singles Lowlife, When You Know and Fall have confirmed that the evolution in their sound is set to be their biggest and boldest yet. Following the tragic events in Minneapolis, Neck Deep‘s drummer Dani Washington has launched The Rain Awareness Campaign, for victims of Black prejudice and discrimination. Dani’s clothing brand, The Rain Supply, have designed special items and is donating proceeds to Black Lives Matter and The George Floyd Memorial Funds. You can also check out a video of Dani and his friends raising awareness for The Rain Awareness Campaign HERE.
Run The Jewels
Hip-hop duo Run The Jewels released their powerful and fitting new album, RTJ4, earlier than planned amidst the Black Lives Matter movement, and with it they released the following statement: “Fuck it, why wait. The world is infested with bullshit so here’s something raw to listen to while you deal with it all. We hope it brings you some joy. Stay safe and hopeful out there and thank you for giving two friends the chance to be heard and do what they love. With sincere love and gratitude, Jaime and Mike.” The duo have offered the album as a pay-what-you-want with the option to donate – all proceeds will be going to the Mass Defense Program, a network of lawyers, legal workers and law students providing legal support for political activists, protesters and movements for social change. Not only is the album excellent, but the money being raised is for an incredibly important cause, so get your copy and donate HERE.
The Brittany Howard rock outfit were responsible for one of the best-crafted albums of the previous decade with Sound and Colour. Their breakout single Gimme All Your Love is the product of raw, unbridled emotion on the part of the queer frontwoman, who has gone on to release a stunning solo album in the past year.
Dance Gavin Dance
In their fifteen-year history, Dance Gavin Dance have put out nine studio albums, one EP, and one live album. None of it would be possible, however, without the mind of one Will Swan. He’s kept the band going through multiple line-up changes, even replacing longtime screamer Jon Mess at one point. Aside from composing most of the music in DGD, the man also plays in a few other bands – Secret Band, Sianvar, Royal Coda – and runs his own independent label, Blue Swan Records, signing other post-hardcore acts such as Hail the Sun. He’s clearly got a surplus of talent, but luckily it seems that Will Swan won’t be stopping anytime soon.
Oceans of Slumber
Oceans of Slumber, fronted by the powerhouse that is Cammie Gilbert and her beautiful voice, are a doom metal band from Texas who really lean into the gothic aesthetic. Their 2018 album, The Banished Heart, was met with widespread critical acclaim, and they are gearing up to release their self-titled album in September this year! You should definitely be keeping your eyes on this band.
Jesus Piece are a band that demand your attention and with good reason. They fully deserve it. The energy in their punishing music takes all of the most aggressive aspects from every corner of the heavy music world, and blends it together to create something truly unique. In 2018 the band released their debut full-length album Only Self via Southern Lord Records, and have grabbed the world by the scruff of the neck and have forced them to take notice. You want riffs? You want breakdowns? Then look no further, Jesus Piece have got you covered and it won’t be long until they are rubbing shoulders with the biggest players in the scene.
An innovative and exciting new(ish) musical project launched in the wake of Trump’s election, this project is known for their brass-led covers of metal and/or protest songs. One of their rotating vocalists is Sophia Urista, a woman whose voice must be heard to be believed, and the reason their cover of Tool’s The Pot went viral on YouTube. If you haven’t watched that video yet, where have you been?
Only one album in and this incredibly outspoken Black feminist punk band has already secured support slots with the likes of Sleater Kinney and Bikini Kill. So we can’t really go wrong in recommending them, right? Right. Their debut album, Sistahs, earned them a lot of attention, including a live session with KEXP and critical commendation for their stripped-back and raw, bass-driven approach to making music. An essential one to check out.
London duo Nova Twins launched into 2020 with their outstanding debut album Who Are The Girls? – in fact, we were so impressed that we gave it full marks (check out our review HERE). Released through Jason Aalon Butler’s 333 Wreckords Crew, Who Are The Girls? cements Amy Love and Georgia South as trailblazers and rightly so: not only do they completely warp genres to create their inimitable trademark sound, they also use their platform to champion inclusivity and diversity. Nova Twins have recently launched their Voices For The Unheard chat series, which shines light on some incredible POC who are smashing it within their industry. The first episode features singer/songwriter Connie Constance, rock/metal TV presenter and Kerrang! Radio Breakfast Show host Sophie K, and The Noisettes’ bassist/lead vocalist Shingai. It’s well worth a watch, check it out on the band’s IGTV HERE and be sure to tune into the upcoming episodes.
Heavy rock trio Vodun have been turning heads since their formation in 2012, blending groove-driven rock with psych, soul and spiritual influences to create a fierce and fiery sound. The band’s 2018 sophomore album Ascend explores the strength of femininity and the power of sharing wisdom through family generations – vocalist Chantal Brown (aka Oya)’s mother even features on the spoken-word interludes that weave between Ascend’s tracks. Album closer For Your Kin feels particularly apt as we reflect and educate ourselves on Black history, inspired by Chantal’s late grandmother Annie Parker-Brown who was born in Virginia in the first slave port in the US. As Chantal says, “we’ve fought racism and ignorance before. Our ancestors fought it, and we should draw inspiration from them.” We very much agree.
US metallers Tetrarch are back and ready to release their sophomore album Unstable (penned for release in autumn of this year). The band’s latest single I’m Not Right has been taking the quartet to new heights, with its intense heavy riffs and hard-hitting, shout-from-the-top-of-your-lungs chorus. Tetrarch broke some serious ground with their 2017 debut full-length FREAK, which was championed on several iTunes charts: debuting within the Top 200 chart, at #3 on the metal charts and #17 on the rock charts. Followed by relentless touring, including headline shows, major tour supports and appearances at some of North America’s largest festivals, Tetrarch are showing no signs of slowing, fast becoming a household name in metal.
Alternative metal quintet Defences are fast-becoming ones to watch. Since the self-release of their 2017 debut album, With Might and Main, and following singles Grow, Losing Time and Shatter, the five-piece have garnered support from Kerrang! Radio, BBC Radio 1, Rock Sound, Kerrang! Magazine and more, supported by a huge 2.2 million streams (and counting) on Spotify. It’s no surprise Defences are getting so much attention, Cherry Duesbury‘s stunning vocals soar over captivating elements of melodic metal, check out any of the tracks mentioned above and you’ll be instantly hooked. Although live plans are halted across the globe, Defences recently appeared on Download TV as part of The Takeover series – we’re excited to see what else is in store for the up-and-coming five-piece!
Earlier this year Loathe released their spine-tingling album I Let It In And It Took Everything, cementing themselves as a force to be reckoned – even earning a fan in Deftones vocalist Chino Moreno. The band’s new material sees them defy genre constraints, bringing together elements of post-metal and post-rock in their own unique way, which translates exceptionally well in a live atmosphere – evident from the band’s UK headline tour in February which welcomed venue upgrades and sold-out shows aplenty. Loathe have released a t-shirt in support of Black Lives Matter, to raise money for the Floyd family Go Fund Me campaign. At the time of writing this they’ve impressively raised over £6000 so far, you can grab your tee and raise money for the very important cause HERE.
In a deathcore scene that has been dominated for so long by pretty boys with floppy fringes and skinny jeans, Oceano have arrived, turned the scene on its head and become front runners in a very short space of time. In little over ten years the band have dropped five crushingly heavy albums, culminating in 2017’s Revelation, which showed the band pushing themselves further than ever before in terms of technicality, which in turn pushed them to the very forefront of the genre. Adam Warren is up there with the best vocalists in the business and owns some of the most iron clad vocal chords you are ever likely to hear. A supremely heavy, water-tight band that show no signs of slowing up any time soon.
Brooklyn’s Proper are musical shapeshifters, honest political opinion and raw emotion push their sound in ever changing directions. Hip-hop, pop, emo and the fury of punk create an almost exhausting soundscape for some incredibly catchy songs.
There are few bands that can combine the aggression of hardcore with the rawest battle rap. HO99O9 not only combine this, but they push the sounds to surprising new levels.
There are few people who tackle politics and race in a more direct manner. MIA takes the subjects of race, gender and politics and turns them into pop bangers. A legend in today’s music scene.
This expansive collective of rappers redefined the genre with creative songwriting and production. Their members have continued to push the genre with Tyler the Creator, Syd, Earl Sweatshirt and Frank Ocean, consistently releasing genre defining albums.
Thanks for reading and please remember to educate yourself, keep spreading the word and practice anti-racism everyday. You can check out the first features in our Black Lives Matter series HERE.
Want to help the cause? Here’s a document with a list of places to donate to and petitions to sign, as well as some PDFs of useful books to educate yourselves further: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-0KC83vYfVQ-2freQveH43PWxuab2uWDEGolzrNoIks/mobilebasic?fbclid=IwAR0FlY3euYo5_guY82SH_mwv7xuMrtQBk-LUKjpqkEFzo2gQqNODojn6ZPM