Brighton. B-Town. London-on-Sea. Call it what you will, but one thing is certain the city’s music scene is booming at the moment.
Despite a recent interview with a ‘local’ bemoaning the scene lack of opportunities to play and venues closing due to gentrification new bands, and scenes, keep emerging.
From the moody vibes of Happy Couple, the pop majesty of BABii, the visceral hardcore of DITZ, Watchcries searing metal, the sheer beauty of Abi Wade, the jazz workouts of Ebi Soda, the wonky pop or Bloom, the sonic attack of Map 71 and the acid punk of The Emperors of Ice Cream, Brighton offers something for everyone’s tastes and mood.
Here are a selection of bands that are definitely worth checking out and seeing live.
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It’s possible that Squid are the UK’s best band at the moment. So far they’ve not put a foot wrong self-releasing a slew of singles, the incredible debut 'LINO' 12”, one of the strongest Speedy Wunderground singles club 7” and the glorious 'Town Centre' EP, again on Speedy.
Their ability to play with post-punk, motoric, straight pop whilst adding flourishes of stomping disco has made them heroes of the underground and any venue they’ve played at.
This is a band that doesn’t only live up the hype they surpass it.
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Penelope Isles take all the best bits of The Magic Numbers, shimmering melodies, heavenly harmonies and mix that with a DIY ethos, and the right amount of guitar fuzz and distortion, to keep you on your toes and paying attention.
Their debut album ‘Until The Tide Creeps In’, released through Bella Union, feels like an instant classic. This feel like just the beginning for this lo-fi quartet as their live shows just keep getting better and better.
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A band who have been gaining traction over the past year is Hanya. This shoegazing trio is fronted by Heather Sheret who is the owner of one of the best voices in music today. Her ability to switch from delicate pristine vocals to a fractious roar mid breath and then back again is, well, breath-taking.
Part of the reason is down to drummer Jack Watkins and bassist Ben Varnes crafting these deep rhythms that give Sheret space to whisper and roar. Live they create truly a mesmerising and unforgettable experience.
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One of Brighton’s best kept secrets is Merlin Tonto. This proggy indie disco trio effortlessly merge a dance floor sensibility with an avant-garde flair.
Live, Merlin Tonto are in their element, as drummer Steffan Eliades and bassist Miles Boyd get locked in that groove and that gives Owen Thomas room where he can improvise a bit more with his electronics.
This is what ESG could have sounded like if they’d embraced more Krautrock vibes than No-Wave.
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LC Pumpkin/The Estate Agents
Two bands that sum up Brighton’s DIY/Lo-Fi attitude are LC Pumpkin and The Estate Agents. LC Pumpkin is a one man banjo, drum machine band who’s songs have an undeniable ramshackle charm. Imagine Robert Gordon covering Thee Oh Sees and you’re close.
The Estate Agents on the other hand are straight up DIY punk. Their songs are filled with bile and anger, which anyone who has ever had to deal with an Estate Agent has. Their debut album consisted of 10 songs in 12 minutes released on the fantastic Gob Nation.
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Hip-hop heavy weights Normanton Street have been pillars of Brighton’s live scene for as long as anyone can remember. Their ability to combine Daisy Age fun, Conscious flows and a tight musicality sets them apart from other crews in the city. Front woman Phoebe Frayer is in possession of a voice that needs to be heard live.
Rumour has it that Normanton have been locked away working on their highly anticipated debut album.
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Brighton’s jazz scene is in fine from at the moment. The Verdict, Patterns and the Dome regularly put on forward thinking jazz events and the Brighton Alternative Jazz Festival just keeps getting better and better each year.
The city is also home to some exquisite bands one that seems to exemplify this is Yadasofi. This hard bop inspired sextet formed in 2018 and released their debut single ‘Negev’ a year later.
‘Simcha’ manages to combine Afrobeat, Latin and more standard jazz to create something that feels classic and contemporary at the same time. These are definitely ones to watch.
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Words: Nick Roseblade
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