Headquarters: Glasgow, Scotland
Check out: “Babes Never Die,” “Sea Hearts,” “Ready For The Magic”
Also featuring just two members, and proving that good things often come in small packages, are indie-rockers Honeyblood. Displaying the kind of lo-fi, garage-rock stylings that are normally associated with California, not Caledonia, Stina Marie Claire Tweeddale and Cat Myers are one of the U.K.’s hottest alt bands. Come summertime and those window-down car journeys, this is the band to stick on the stereo.
Headquarters: Cardiff, South Wales
Check out: “Fall To Pieces,” “A House That’s Not Quite Home,” “That Pretty Dress”
You might remember them from our 10 best U.K. pop-punk bands feature, and Junior are back again for this list because, well, they’re just really great. Plenty of melody? Check. Lots of pop-punk bounce? You betcha! A fondness for concept records? “Hold-up, that’s not very pop punk,” we hear you cry. Well, Junior aren’t your average pop-punk band: their last EP, JuniorLand, had a high concept which revolved around postwar American suburbia. Intrigued? Want to hear more? New music from the Welsh trio is expected soon!
Headquarters: Motherwell, Scotland
Check out: “Release The Hounds,” “Under The Storm,” “Castles”
It’s rap-rock, kind of, but not like you’ve heard before. Ever wanted to hear a Scotsman rap over a bit of alt-rock? Us neither, to be honest, but thanks to the LaFontaines, you now can! And the thing is, it actually sounds really good! 2015’s debut album, Class, was equal parts vitriolic and victorious, and latest tune “Release The Hounds” continues the band’s lyrical social commentary. There’s no one else out there quite like them, and that makes the LaFontaines worthy of your time.
Headquarters: Stroud, Gloucestershire
Check out: “Brain Food,” “Brickwork,” “Swear Jar”
The Wonder Years, New Found Glory, Taking Back Sunday… the Hopeless Records roster is in fine shape right now, but one of the label’s most exciting bands has to be U.K. grunge four-piece Milk Teeth. Last year’s debut full-length, Vile Child, saw the band well and truly arrive as a force to be reckoned with in the alternative scene, and despite the departure of guitarist and vocalist Josh Bannister threatening to blow the Milk Teeth ship off course, Becky Blomfield and co. emerged from 2016 triumphant. Their upcoming U.K. tour with Creeper is going to be something very special indeed.
Headquarters: Exeter, Devon
Check out: “Respect,” “Gone With The Wind,” “Pet Sematary” (Ramones cover)
Indie-punk trio Muncie Girls channel a rebellion against social norms into their sprightly outsider anthems. The best example of this is “Respect,” a song which sees frontwoman Lande Hekt go on the attack against rape culture and “LAD” culture: “For the next few years you can laugh and joke about your next victim/But when you’re all grown-up and your daughter cries will you be sorry you did this?” It’s powerful stuff, performed by three people whose love for punk rock is undeniable. Speaking of punk, Muncie Girls’ cover of the Ramones classic “Pet Sematary” is a total banger.
Headquarters: Manchester, Greater Manchester
Check out: “There’s A Honey” …that’s all they’ve got out right now, but it’s really fucking good, so we’ll let them off ruining our format
They’ve only got one song officially released at the moment, but what a song it is. Produced by Matty Healy of the 1975, Pale Waves’ “There’s A Honey” is the best indie-pop song we’ve heard in what feels like forever. If the next tunes to emerge from this band are anywhere near as good as this, we’re going to have something seriously special on our hands. Seriously, Matty thinks it’s great, and Matty is great; so, you know, you should listen to it.
Headquarters: North London, London
Check out: “The Great Beyond,” “Entombed,” “Arabella”
Puppies are lovely, and so are Puppy. The London three-piece sound like what Weezer might if Rivers Cuomo had more of a fondness for big, hulking riffs. There’s a real tenderness to frontman Jock Norton’s vocals, but don’t let that fool you—there’s plenty of bite to this band’s music. They’re also joining Creeper and Milk Teeth for that U.K. tour we mentioned, so if we’re judging them on the kind of company they keep, they pass the test with flying colors.
Headquarters: Liverpool, Merseyside
Check out: “Your Control,” “Alone,” “Anyway”
Scarlet.’s debut album, Effigy, was the best DIY indie-rock album of 2016, yet in the cruelest of circumstances, not many people seemed to take notice. And that’s a great shame, because Scarlet. are fucking brilliant. With an indie-rock sound that touches on shoegaze and even a tad on pop punk, the Liverpool rockers are the U.K. underground’s best-kept secret. Their album isn’t even on the major streaming services, so if you want to check out the band’s stuff, you’ll have to head over to their Bandcamp page. And you really should, because Effigy is a gem of a record.
Headquarters: Ayrshire, Scotland
Check out: “La Di Da,” “Animal,” “Weirdo”
They’re all over the U.K. music press at the moment, and rightly so, because Scotland’s VUKOVI are changing what it means to be a pop-rock band. Yes, there are catchy choruses aplenty, but this band’s poppiness is blended with some serious riffing and intricate song structures. Shout-out frontwoman Janine Shilstone for her performance in the “La Di Da” video, too; you wouldn’t catch us acting so chill around a whopping big snake!
Headquarters: Liverpool, Merseyside
Check out: “Footprints,” “Lonely Smiles,” “Eastbound & Down”
Phew, we made it to the 20th band! We’ve saved one of the best for last, too. Pop-punk princes WSTR were another band to feature in our recent article on U.K. pop punk, and they pop up again here because they’re just so darn catchy! Seriously, just try and keep the chorus of “Footprints” out of your head. It ain’t happening. If you love the likes of Neck Deep and State Champs, you can’t go wrong with these guys!