Feature: 25 Bands to Watch in 2018

Feature: 25 Bands to Watch in 2018

With 2017 a dim and distant memory, it’s time to look forward to what a new year will bring. And that means it’s time to launch our list of bands to keep an eye on over the next few months.

In previous years, we’ve put the spotlight on a wealth of now familiar names; Pvris, Code Orange, Black Peaks, Creeper, Milk Teeth, Black Foxxes, Boston Manor, Counterfeit and more. We don’t want to toot our horn, but we guess we have a good eye for talent. Since launching in 2012, we’ve always taken great pride in introducing and supporting emerging talent and 2018 will be no different.

To kick things off, here are 25 bands you need to watch in 2018.

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Holding Absence

After an impressive debut year, This Welsh quartet have all the ingredients for an even better 2018. Having played a wealth of headline shows and support slots alongside Casey, Young Guns, We Are The Ocean, and Blood Youth, there is no slowing down for Holding Absence. First of all, they’ll be teaming up with fellow up-and-comers Loathe for a split EP and co-headline tour in February and March respectively.

The latter is sure to add to their already small-but-stellar set of songs. Recent single, ‘Saint Cecilia’ serves as a harmonious rush with a powerful, soaring chorus that highlights the vocal prowess of Lucas Woodland. Whereas older cuts such as ‘Heaven Knows’ and ‘Dream of Me’ expand beyond the post-hardcore bubble many have tied the Cardiff group too. (SR)

Stand Atlantic

Having received plenty of praise with their latest EP, ‘Sidewinder’ in recent months, it’s no surprise Stand Atlantic feature on this list of bands to watch in 2018. And it’s a spot rightly deserved as the Sydney trio delivered a fun and infectious set of songs upon its release this past September.

On songs such as ‘Coffee at Midnight’ and ‘Mess I Made’, the trio made up of vocalist/guitarist Bonnie Fraser, bassist David Potter and drummer Jonno Panichi, flourish with urgency and an equal dosage of upbeat pop and rock being the icing on the cake. Overall, ‘Sidewinder’ has handed Stand Atlantic a big wave of momentum going into 2018.

Although new material might be a bit too much to ask, we have a feeling we’ll be seeing the Aussie three-piece gracing these shores once again in 2018. (SR)

Nervus

Nervus subtly made their introduction at the tail end of 2016 with their debut full-length; ‘Permanent Rainbow’. Fast-forward 12 months or so and their status has certainly grown. Fuelled by tours alongside Creeper and Kamikaze Girls amongst various other shows and festival spots, the Watford-based quartet look set to have an exciting 2018.

For starters there is the small matter of their sophomore album, ‘Everything Dies’. Set for release in March through the much celebrated Big Scary Monsters label, it promises to keep the DIY aesthetic of their debut yet takes a more confrontational. While its predecessor saw chief songwriter Em Foster use her words as catharsis as she battled with addiction and gender dysphoria. ‘Everything Dies’ sees Foster and company demonstrate their angst at a society that is unwilling to accept there are more than two genders.

In Foster, Nervus have one of the most honest and direct songwriters in the UK indie punk scene right now. Her willingness to confront and be outspoken means Nervus won’t be ignored in 2018. Add to that a splash of infectious melodic punk and you’re left with a band that demands your attention. (SR)

Movements

If you’re a fan of US emo rock then you’ll already know California’s Movements are on the cusp of great things. Last October’s debut full-length, ‘Feel Something’, won over a growing crowd of admirers for it’s intricate, honest songwriting and well-executed musicianship.

Through a collection of deeply personal songs; ‘Colorblind’, ‘Daylily’, ‘Deadly Dull’ and ‘Fever Dream’, vocalist Patrick Miranda paints a troubled yet beautifully painted picture. It’s a record that ebbed and flowed on the listener’s emotions but wrapped in a reassuring comfort and trust.

Although a UK debut was unfortunately postponed late last year, the word-of-mouth momentum ‘Feel Something’ has received since its release surely means it won’t be long until Movements make up for lost time. (SR)

Giver

Anyone who dares pitch a band as sounding like they’re having fun on record, risks giving that artist the reputation of being the dreaded “party band” with only one trick up their sleeve. One listen to Giver’s upcoming debut full-length, ‘Where the Cycle Breaks’, proves that the Cologne five-piece are a much grittier and creative outlet than any party rockers, but do sound like a group of people having the time of their lives across the record’s eleven tracks.

Hardcore fans yearning for the scorching punk cacophony of The Hope Conspiracy are sure to get a kick out of Giver’s barnstorming pace and delivery, while fans of While She Sleeps and Create to Inspire searching for more intense jams could connect with the hooks on ‘Where the Cycle Breaks’ immediately. With a late January released expected via Holy Roar Records and a co-headlining UK tour with the equally amazing Up River to follow shortly after, Giver are sure to become known to a much wider crowd this year. (AD)

Cold Years

With a sound rooted in Americana, blues and good old rock ‘n’ roll, you’d think Cold Years were from New Jersey. However, it turns out the quartet call Aberdeen, Scotland their home. Led by vocalist/guitarist Ross Gordon, Cold Years have been winning over admirers in recent years with their brand of heartfelt, driving rock and its punk undertones.

Having released two EP’s so far with 2016’s ‘Death Chasers’ especially turning many heads, March sees the Scottish four-piece return with a third EP titled ‘Northern Blue’. Leadoff single, ‘Miss You To Death’, picks up where they left off with Gordon’s weathered, gravelly raspy voice brilliantly combining with an anthemic chorus full of melancholy. Although they may not sound like the abundance of fellow countrymen and women we’ve heard in recent years, Cold Years are set to join them in making a noise throughout the UK. (SR)

Lightcliffe

At the back end of 2017, London quartet Lightcliffe impressed us with ‘For A While’; five slices of thoroughly honest emo and blissful indie that is executed with warmth. Songs such as ‘Drapes’ and ‘Staring at Your Bedroom Floor’ capture this perfectly, while ‘Winter’ sweetly drifts in with slow tempo and plucky guitars. Overall, Lightcliffe offer a progressive take on the familliar emo sound.

They are also just one of many shining beacons from the ever-impressive Failure By Design Records roster which boasts fellow up-and-comers itoldyouiwouldeatyou (you can expect to hear more from them this year too), Weatherstate and Guillotine.

Even though new material might not be so imminent, they’re not at home twiddling their thumbs. For starters, they’re hitting the road this month with Canadian emo rockers and fellow FBD Records label mates – Heavy Hearts. With shows throughout England scheduled alongside a small venture into Europe, Lightcliffe are beginning with 2018 with purpose. We’re sure it’ll be the first of many outings in the coming months. (SR)

Wess Meets West

For some, Wess Meets West have been a long kept secret since forming in 2005. However, 2018 looks set to change that as the New Haven, Connecticut four-piece will be adding to their extensive catalogue with a new full-length set to be released in the UK through Hassle Records (Frank Iero, Casey, Brutus, Lonely the Brave). Album number three is expected in the first half of 2018 and promises to continue their trend of producing ambitious-yet-stunning, instrumental rock. While their increasing use of electronica and live programming will surely add to their layered and spirited sound.

As recent single, ‘Direct Experience’, showed, Wess Meets West have the ability to gently grab your attention and pull you in with each note. Having played alongside emo/post-rock standouts such as The Appleseed Cast, This Will Destroy You, and Caspian, a visit to the UK/Europe is also in the pipeline. Be prepared to be taken on a breathtaking and cathartic musical journey. (SR)

Homesafe

This Chicago four-piece have been gaining a steady following in recent years. With Knuckle Puck bassist Ryan Rumchaks partly at the helm on vocals and guitar, Homesafe ended 2017 by inking a deal with Pure Noise Records (Knocked Loose, Seaway, Boston Manor, The Story So Far).

Their debut full-length is pencilled in for a spring/summer release. It follows their addictive 2016 release, ‘Evermore’. Over the course of its eight songs, Rumchaks along with co-vocalist and bassist Tyler Albertson, drummer Emanuel Duran, and guitar Joe Colesby, effortlessly transcend between the fine lines of emo, pop-punk and melodic rock. The combination of edgy, driving hooks and impassioned vocals on songs such as ‘Hourglass’ and ‘Guts’ definitely sparked our interest in Homesafe. (SR)

Lifetight

In the space of just over six months, posi hardcore quartet Lifetight have covered a lot of ground, wasting no time in building a following throughout the UK. Their debut EP, ‘Self-Tightled’, was released last November and offers four heavy, groove-filled slices of hardcore. With comparisons to Beartooth and Stray From The Path, songs such as ‘Big Boy House’ and ‘Misguided’ thrive with a metallic crunch and stomping tempo.

In a live setting, their sound is accompanied by their hunger for life and overall positive message as vocalist Thomas Smith speaks about unity, mental health and turning negative thoughts on their head. Having played alongside rising names such as Our Hollow, Our Home, Catch Fire, and Canvas, 2018 should see Lifetight keep up the momentum with several UK and European shows already pencilled in for the first half of the year. We also hear new material is also in the works. It’s clear Lifetight have a restless work ethic and are ones not to ignore in the coming months. (SR)

Acadia

Hailing from Portland, Maine, Acadia specialise in producing impassioned alternative rock. The quintet will be releasing their second EP, ‘All Heart’, in early February and promises to be one of 2018’s hidden gems. Its mix of raw lyrics and soaring choruses is delivered with a thrilling and compelling energy.

Led by vocalist Jameson Trudel, songs such as ‘Callisto’ and ‘Raymond Arthur’ are thoroughly honest with an underlying matureness adding to their tight-knit sound. While recent single, ‘Dryspell’, echoes The Hotelier’s softer, introspective moments. There are also hints of Pianos Become The Teeth and The Dangerous Summer.

Although a UK visit is unlikely, Acadia are sure ones to watch from afar. (SR)

Super Whatevr

Having signed to Hopeless Records early in 2017 with the re-release of their debut EP ’Good Luck’, California’s Super Whatevr are set for a wild 2018. Their sound is somewhere in the cross-section of emo, indie-rock, and punk, with weighty lyrics bordering on uncomfortably honest and aggressive melodies to dance around to.

After dropping a handful of singles and extensive touring throughout 2017 with the likes of Drug Chruch and Hot Mulligan, Super Whatevr have amassed a sizeable following already. Their debut album ’Never Nothing’ is set to drop in January, with three tracks released already: ’For You’, ’Bloomfield’, and ’Kathrin With a K’, all of which display a confidence in their indie-rock sound. Armed with songs like these, Super Whatevr will no doubt gather even more momentum as 2018 progresses. (BM)

SPQR

SPQR are a self-described art rock band, but listening to their debut EP, ’The House That Doubt Built’, it’s clear there’s a lot of punk influence there. As far as debuts go, SPQR’s was something special, taking us all on an adventure through singer Peter Harrison’s psyche, and it’s a rough ride. It’s hard not to become infatuated with his honesty, especially on track ’Dystopia’, a low-fi piano ballad recorded in Harrison’s living room.

A couple of successful EP release shows towards the end of the year have cemented the band’s presence as one of the most promising up-and-coming punk acts for 2018, and any future releases will be met with high expectations. (BM)

Tijuana Bibles

With a successful chain of singles and EPs in their trajectory, we’re backing Glaswegian quartet Tijuana Bibles to make some massive strides in 2018. Following shows this year headlining revered hometown venues St. Luke’s and King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, 2018 can only get bigger for them.

Boasting smash singles ‘Pariah’ and ‘Catacomb’, Tijuana Bibles appear deceptively slick at first glance, demonstrating influences from Queens of the Stone Age and Arctic Monkeys, before the distortion pedals kick in and dirty splatters of The Jesus Lizard and Pissed Jeans show off where this band’s interest truly lies. Embracing noise, disorientation, and chaos as a coating to their catchy melodies, this is a band who let their twisted sense character define their sound, which easily turns them into the standout band among their straightforward 2000’s indie-revivalist contemporaries. Whether a new record surfaces or not, Tijuana Bibles are consistently touring, so expect to see them at a venue near you in the coming months. (AD)

Gleemer

We’ve found ourselves in somewhat of a shoegaze revival as of late. Numerous bands have been adopting the style, but rarely do any perform it as expertly as Gleemer. Though they’ve been putting out releases for a while, their latest effort ’Anymore’ has garnered them some well-deserved attention, including a spot on tour with Hundredth.

The band’s ethereal indie-rock sound is somewhat more controlled than the cocktail-of-noise shoegaze of old, but they wear their influences on their sleeves; creating emotionally charged songs with dizzying melodies and fuzzy riffs. 2018 will likely see a lot of touring for Gleemer, as they hurtle the genre into the hearts of music fans everywhere. (BM)

Broadsea

2017 was a wild ride for North Scotland dynamos Broadsea. The four-piece left their mark all over the country, playing various shows with everyone from Toy Mountains to Huxtable, and even played a blinding set at this year’s NXNE Festival in Deeside. Among all of this, they even found the time to release their debut EP ‘Manmade Horizons’.

Built upon their members’ combined love of immersive post-rock and arena-ready hooks of latter-day Biffy Clyro and Foo Fighters, Broadsea can switch from assertive and in-your-face to restrained and immersive in a moment’s notice. But the planet-sized choruses on tracks like ‘Wynd’ and ‘Seventh Side’ is where their songwriting really stands out, as the combined talents of each musician merges to create unbreakable melodic passages that make listeners feel like they’re standing on top of the world. 2018 is sure to bring further tour opportunities for these guys and we urge you not to miss out on them. (AD)

Hold Close

Hold Close are a pop-punk band with way more bite than bark. Channelling more aggressive bands such as ‘Mend, Move On’-era Trophy Eyes and early Neck Deep, Hold Close come at the listener with an unrelenting grit. Their Hopeless Records debut, ’I’ll Never Go Back’ was released this past October and has thrown them out of the muddle of generic pop-punk bands and into the spotlight with dynamic tracks such as ’Blue Dream’ displaying both a vigorous and a soft side to the band’s music.

2018 looks set to be an exciting time for the Midwest quintet. A run of US shows alongside fellow pop-punk up-and-comers Bearings is sure to be the first of many support slots. As for new music, you can expect a full-length album to come out late 2018. (BM)

Barely Civil

It’s a tale as old as time, but embryonic bands often face similar problems of line-up changes and stop-start momentum. Formed in 2012, Wisconsin’s Barely Civil are one such act, yet their promise shone through on 2016’s ‘Year Of The Dog’ EP, which served as a catalogue of their sound to date. Sure, there’s a roughhewn charm, but there’s also a confidence in the arrangements and instrumentation that hints at big things to come.

Taking cues from emo stalwarts Prawn, there’s a delicate lightness to their sound to match the moments of bombast. Expect big things… (RM)

BLXPLTN

Since forming in 2013, Austin, Texas duo BLXPLTN (pronounced ‘Blaxploitation’) have become an unstoppable force of energetic political punk, making large amounts of noise with relatively little gear to make it with. And the results of their protest-heavy experimentation can be found on their two full-length albums ‘Black Cop Down’ and ‘New York Fascist Week’, the latter featuring artwork of a giant Donald Trump snorting body parts like cocaine.

At a time when race relations and political alignment in the USA has devolved into a stark ‘Us vs. Them’ mentality, BLXPLTN’s outspoken rallies against injustices towards people of colour and the need for individuals to educate themselves on their country’s dark history. It’s a message that has felt absent from the rock community up until this point. Their autonomous blend of hardcore and industrial music, with flourishes of electronica and hip-hop on top, is everything a fan of intense music could desire. Expect to hear their single ‘Education Destruction’ and possibly a tonne of new music from the duo throughout 2018. (AD)

Closer

Last year, Brooklyn’s Real Life Buildings dropped ‘Significant Weather’, an excellent indie-rock record awash with melodies and textures. However, even though Closer is made up of members of the aforementioned group, the final output is a world away from the day job.

Melodic hardcore is the order of the day, and if debut single ‘Gift Shop’ is anything to go by we could be in for a frenetic and frenzied treat when ‘All This Will Be’ drops. Switching between high octane, breathless vocals and moments of light and clarity, it’s an urgent and compelling listen that thrills even in its quieter moments. Expect Closer to start 2018 off with a bang! (RM)

The Spills

It feels like an age – and then some – since we last had new material from Wakefield’s The Spills

, but hopefully 2018 will set things right. Marrying the frayed kinetic energy of early Idlewild with some deliciously spiky pop hooks, the quartet wowed us on 2015’s ‘Collecting Dust’.

Since then, they’ve kept busy with some sporadic live shows, including opening for buddies Tellison during the ‘Contact! Contact!’ anniversary shows last year, but would it be too bold to ask for another prime slice of razor-sharp indie-rock? Fingers crossed 2018 doesn’t let us down. (RM)

NRVS

Edinburgh based post-hardcore crew NRVS (pronounced ‘nerves’) played their first show at the end of September with the reasonably large task of opening for Blessthefall and Blood Youth at Glasgow’s iconic G2 venue. However, their groove-laden and infectiously melodic hardcore made them more than up for the task.

Since that show, they’ve been up and down Scotland, supporting big hitters Employed to Serve, as well as appearing at Glasgow’s annual hardcore gathering Friends With Benefest alongside established local names including Swallows and Rainfalls.

With their tasty singles ‘Zero’ and ‘Everyone Knows, Nobody Talks About It’ offering high octane blasts of claustrophobic metalcore arrangements merged with expansive choruses, NRVS are a band that work all their inner turmoil into their art and the result is intense and memorable. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for this lot, as the potential release of a fuller collection of songs, is set to take the UK’s melodic hardcore scene by storm. (AD)

Toy Cars

Combining elements of indie, emo, folk and good ol’ fashioned blue-collar rock, New Jersey’s Toy Cars are difficult to pin down, yet manage to blend styles seamlessly to create a sound that stays true to all of these influences.

First coming to our attention on 2016’s excellent ‘Sleeping Patterns’, the quartet will drop a full-length in January that promises to show further evolution of their exciting sound. (RM)

Alkanes

Last April, Aberdeen/Inverness based trio Alkanes posted a live video of their performance at Inverurie’s ‘Family Fun Day’ charity event to their Facebook page. Halfway through their performance, they get interrupted by a full pipe band that marches by their stage drowning out their icy alt-rock with bagpipes fully ablaze. This is one of the many struggles the group have gone through since forming in 2014, yet through lineup changes, show cancellations and various strifes, they’ve persevered and become a tighter unit for it.

With 2017 bringing support spots for more established names like Allusondrugs and Holding Absence, Alkanes have won over bigger audiences with their sharp and heavy hitting slabs of riffage developed by a shared love of modern rock innovators from Reuben to Alexisonfire. The latter band has inspired the screaming and singing vocal trade-offs between frontman Dale Sutherland and drummer Gary Wilson, who merge their hardcore and indie influences into one cohesive sound.

2018 promises new music from the trio as a follow up to their killer debut EP, ‘A Different Kind of Perfect’, so don’t miss out, otherwise, you may as well just go listen to a pipe band instead. (AD)

HMLTD

At two points during ‘To the Door’, one of many singles released by London curveballs HMLTD, the songs arrangement switches from a galloping Spaghetti Western-esque melody played on twangy guitars into a broken down section of icy electronica laced by trap synthesisers. This is not so much a band that doesn’t play by the rules, as a band that refuses to acknowledge a rulebook existed in the first place.

Since the release of their 2016 double A-side release, ‘Stained/Is This What You Wanted?’, the six-piece have developed a rabid cult following. Their avant-garde songwriting incorporates traditional rock structures, sporadic bursts of bombastic electronics, and cinematic backdrops. Combine this sound with their outlandish stage outfits and flamboyant performance of theatrical frontman Henry Spychalski, and you’re presented with a musical proposition that resembles absolutely nothing else happening on any circuit right now.

With several double A-sides already under their arsenal, 2018 hints at being the year that HMLTD raise the bar with a fuller collection of songs that truly define what it means to be in a punk band. (AD)

Words by Sêan Reid (SR), Rob Mair (RM), Andy Davidson (AD) and Ben Mills (BM).

Nervous photo credit: Derek Bremner | Barely Civil photo credit: Lainey Koch Photography | Closer photo credit: Chris Lawless | The Spills photo credit: Skysail Studios | Hold Close photo credit: Jacob Brent | Movements photo credit: Kurt Cuffy | Gleemer photo credit: Jack Garland