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[Photos via Passionflower/Spotify, Adjust The Sails, Gold Steps/Spotify, The Maguas/Spotify]

10 unsigned emo bands to keep an eye on in 2021

How many unsigned emo bands can you remember from the 2000s? Probably few enough to count on one hand, right? Well, fortunately, times are changing.

Long gone are the days when all of our favorite music came through labels such as Fueled By Ramen. Now, streaming services give us an unlimited assortment of new music at our disposal. That includes, of course, rising artists who are still waiting for their big break into the scene.

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Read on for 10 up-and-coming emo outfits who you should definitely be watching this year.


Don’t be surprised if you’ve never heard this name until now. Sleeplore only debuted in 2020, but singer-songwriter Clyde Rosencrance has been active for a while. His first single under the project, “Let Go,” is clearly a dreamy culmination of 15 years’ worth of experience. Powerful and poignant, we wouldn’t be surprised to see this track become an emo staple of the 2020s.


Listen to any part of joyful.‘s discography and you’ll be convinced you missed them in the 2000s. It’s an easy mistake. The band could fit seamlessly in a playlist alongside scene greats such as All Time Low and the Academy Is Though they boast a totally nostalgic emo sound, this outfit released their very first single in 2020. Take a listen to their most recent track, “Pilot Light,” and you’ll understand why their breakout seems imminent.

Sister Sandy

If you prefer emo music with a raw, indie-rock vibe, then go add Sister Sandy to all of your playlists. They have no shortage of songs to choose from. The band first debuted in 2018 with their album, Whirlpooland have released two more full-lengths since. Be sure to listen to their latest, Path, for a good idea of everything they have to offer going forward.

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Gold Steps

Good news for anyone who’s ever wondered what a culmination of damn near every alternative style would sound like. Gold Steps take eclecticism to a whole new level. The band fuse elements of pop punk, post-hardcore and more for something uniquely their own. The cathartic emo vocals and lyrics are just the cherry on top. The band put out their most recent single, “Under Attack,” in 2019, so here’s hoping for new releases in 2021.

Upon Your Dead Body

Listen to anything by Upon Your Dead Body and you won’t be surprised that they cite the Used and Circa Survive as influences. This duo (yes, you read that right) are about as melodic and sad as they come. They just dropped a new single, “Alone For The Holidays,” in December, and it’s got us stoked for whatever is next.

Adjust The Sails

There’s a good reason that Adjust The Sails has amassed a pretty considerable following over just a few years. A “sad dude with rad tunes,” singer-songwriter Shane Hurst doesn’t shy away from any feeling, no matter how heart-wrenching. Backed only by an acoustic guitar and drums, the emotionally charged narratives shine right through. Stream his latest track, “Home,” and be on the lookout for more releases this year.

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Midsummer have only released a handful of tracks since their 2019 debut. Trust us: You won’t get bored listening to them. This heavy-leaning rock band incorporate a dynamic range of alternative sounds in a way that’s emo as hell. Their latest track, “Wonder,” is a stylistic and emotional masterpiece. Here’s hoping for a debut album in the not-so-distant future.


If you’re not listening to Passionflower already, go ahead and change that right now. The 2000s post-hardcore influence behind their sound is obvious, making them an easy new favorite for any fan of nostalgic emo. Founded in 2017, the band dropped their latest single, “Neverland,” in December. If you can’t get enough, fear not. Their debut album, To Bloom Is To Grow, is due for release in 2021.

Loyalty To Me

Loyalty To Me describe themselves as “radio emo.” Give them a listen and you’ll see why that’s the most appropriate label ever. Having debuted with their single “Radio Off” in 2018, the band are undeniably modern. But don’t think that means they won’t hit you with some seriously emo vibes. If they’re indicative at all of the next emo/pop-punk wave, we couldn’t be more excited for the future. For a good sample, check out their 2020 EP, Clash // Coexist.

Read more: 10 emo songs from the 2000s that sounded surprisingly upbeat

The Maguas

Another totally progressive band with clear 2000s roots, the Maguas have been scratching that new emo itch since 2018. Their sound is powerfully melodic, making their lyrics all the more hard-hitting. Check out their 2020 EP, One Of Us Is Lyingand join us in anxiously anticipating their forthcoming record.

Which unsigned bands do you know of who are keeping the scene emo as hell? Let us know in the comments!