Bristol Is Bulging At The Seams With New Music

A quick primer featuring some red-hot groups...

Bristol is the city that made me fall in love with music. I played my first ‘proper’ gigs here, met a myriad of artists and producers and people from all walks of the industry. The city has birthed one of the biggest guitar-heavyweights in recent times, that being IDLES, as well as having a stacked roster of artists coming from this end of the country – Massive Attack, Portishead and Heavy Lungs, to name a few. 

Over the past few years, I have had constant exposure to some of the most exciting up-and-comers from all corners of Bristol, especially this year. Some I’ve been lucky enough to share a stage with, others I’ve caught live in some of the best dive spots in the city. 

Grandmas House

Grandmas House have remained a staple of the Bristol scene since their debut single, 2020’s monstrous number ‘Devil’s Advocate’. The trio’s initial sound over time has evolved into some of the gnarliest punk the country, let alone Bristol, has to offer. New single ‘How Does It Feel?’ will confirm that for you, with its blink-and-you’ll-miss-it runtime and thundering instrumental. The guitars are scratchy and jagged, vocal work frantic, drums hammering – the classic Grandmas House package. 

Though using ‘punk’ as an umbrella term for their sound is acceptable, they are a group who throw down a smattering of other influences also. Elements of 90s-tinted alt rock, pop song repetition, noise, indie rock… the list goes on. Despite the array of influence, the music is quintessentially Grandmas House.

With a massive UK tour commencing in Spring 2023, this noisy trio are only going up, especially as their releases have maintained a consistent high calibre, and their live shows only increase in noteworthiness. 

Check out: ‘How Does It Feel?’, ‘Body’, ‘Always Happy’

Gold Fever

Some bands play with the more mysterious, enigmatic approach, and brand-new three-piece Gold Fever are one of them. Slowly developing a refined and polished sound over the last couple of years, Gold Fever threw down their gauntlet with debut single ‘Que Sera’, a unique package of rock, dance music and pop, recently followed up by a faultless debut live performance, at Bristol favourite The Crofter’s Rights.

Frontman and guitarist Oscar JD Sault effortlessly combines intricate, layered lyricism with infectious hooks, atop of the thunderous instrumentals spurred on by drummer Callum Wright and bassist Emily Andrews. Carefully curated guitar tones are beefed up with ambient and sparkling synthesisers, with additional instrumentation delivering an 80s-inspired, new wave edge. 

Gold Fever bring a new sound to the table, and it is one done exceptionally. It is a sound one would struggle to pinpoint to one genre, but the Gold Fever sound remains cohesive, compelling and candescent. 

Check out: ‘Que Sera’

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Saloon Dion

A name as fun as this means the band behind it have to be just as fun. And that is absolutely the case here. This Bristol quintet deliver a razor-sharp sound, fuelled with dance energy and punk riffs. 2022’s ‘Pressure’ gives you everything you need to know; noisy guitars, pounding drums and delectable gang vocals from the band. Previous singles like ‘VHS’ lean into the more dance-energy of the band, running with more Talking Heads influence than brash punk. Small details like adding cowbells and fizzy synthesisers to a traditionally stripped back, aggressive sound gives Saloon Dion the upper hand on much of the scene. 

They are a band who take themselves seriously enough to be making a name for themselves, but not so seriously that they stop having fun. Their live shows are frantic and frenetic, an audio assault on the senses – but one that is brimming with enjoyment, sweat and unfiltered bangers. 

Saloon Dion are heading on a transatlantic voyage next year, thanks to SXSW festival in Texas, plus an appearance in New York City. Not bad for a band born out of the ashes of some of Bristol’s favourite fallen local bands. 

Check out: ‘Pressure’, ‘VHS’ and ‘Throbber’ 

Getdown Services

Getdown Services are a duo combining electronic music with pure guitar energy. An amalgamation of influences, with essences of artists like The Streets, MGMT and Justice hearable in their discography, Getdown Services bring the party but retain an edge. Latest single ‘Throbber’, a collaboration with none other than Saloon Dion, is a raucous four-on-the-floor stomper, driving basses, bitter vocal delivery and wailing guitars. 

Despite the fact the duo is divided, with one in Bristol and one in Manchester (50% is in Bristol, this list isn’t cheating), Getdown Services seem to never stop, with gig announcements seeming to come from every direction. Their live show is a stripped back setup, with guitar, vocals and everything in between coming from triggered backing tracks and samples courtesy of a (often precariously placed) laptop. Often lacking shirts, the duo brings every drop of energy they have to the stage, making them one of Bristol’s most exciting outfits – especially live. 

Check out: ‘Throbber’, ‘M5 Overdrive’, ‘Push That Button’

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The Pleasure Dome

Since their inception in the summer of 2019, raucous trio The Pleasure Dome have relentlessly made a name for themselves with high-quality, consistent releases and stellar live performances. 2022 EP ‘Chaos Chaos Revolution’ was a concise dose of unadulterated punk rock. The EP, recorded live at Brighton Electric, gives four tracks of unrelenting noise, serving a signature blend of punk rock with thrash metal moments. 

New single ‘If Meaning’ is jagged and fast, its verses driven by thumping drums and bass guitar. Frontman Bobby Spender’s vocal performances expertly balance charisma with all-out shrieks and yells, executed superbly over angular guitar riffs sweating with distortion and commotion. With an upcoming hometown show at The Crofter’s Rights in December with L’Objectif and Getdown Services, followed by a slew of dates in January in France, Belgium and Holland, The Pleasure Dome have their foot to the floor, and show zero signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Check out: ‘Chaos Chaos Revolution’, ‘Do You Know Better’, ‘If Meaning’

Words: James Mellen

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