Every six months or thereabouts, a celebrity will make an absurd sweeping statement about the state of music: “Guitar music is dead!” “Nobody ever listens to albums anymore!” they cry. This time around, the dubious honour falls to Adam Levine who, despite being a prominent frontman of a band, wisely observed that “there aren’t any bands anymore” in an interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music. As is often the way, it’s better to let the music do the talking, so here are just a few of the bands Adam Levine might have momentarily forgotten about.
With tight melodies spanning a variety of influences, Paul Thomas Anderson-directed visuals, and one of the most universally acclaimed albums of 2020, there’s a strong claim to be made that the Haim sisters of the Valley are the band of the moment.
Wolf Alice’s ability to produce scuzzy mosh-pit anthems in one breath and generational ballads like ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’ in the next might be unparalleled. Their upcoming third album ‘Blue Weekend’ can’t come quick enough.
3The Big Moon
On their latest record, The Big Moon swapped overdriven guitars for softer keyboard-driven melodies and socially conscious lyrics, without ever losing the swagger of their charmingly haphazard debut, ‘Love In The 4th Dimension.’ Whatever planet they venture off to next, it’s sure to be worth a listen.
Started by a teenage Conor Oberst, Bright Eyes remain the most enduring and renowned of Oberst’s musical projects; a perfect home for some of the 21st century’s most remarkable songwriting. While the band took a nine-year hiatus in 2011, comeback record ‘Down In The Weeds, Where The World Once Was’ proved that Bright Eyes weren’t buried yet.
From figureheads of the emo and pop-punk revolution in the late 00s to purveyors of infectious, neon-infused synth-pop with 2017’s ‘After Laughter’, the longevity of Paramore is a testament to the versatility and continued relatability of Hayley Williams and co.
Having cut their teeth in the Windmill scene in Brixton in 2015, Goat Girl’s sound evokes everything from late 70s post-punk and psychedelia to 90s grunge, with a healthy dose of political awareness and generational angst.
Sincerity is scary but it’s also cool as hell. Californian three-piece MUNA make versatile electro-pop with real feeling and those same songs you cry alone to in your bedroom quickly become melancholic anthems on the dancefloor.
If bands aren’t over yet, then neither are supergroups. The collaboration between indie heavyweights Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, and Julien Baker may have only yielded one EP – and the raddest custom suits imaginable – so far, but the impact of their brilliant eponymous record has easily stretched beyond its six track runtime.
Listening to a Vampire Weekend record outside of summer doesn’t feel quite right. Overcoming the pejorative label of ‘yacht rock’ to become Grammy and critical darlings, the band still has something of an unfashionably earnest sensibility to them – a natural successor to Paul Simon and his forrays into worldbeat music.
The resident sad dads of indie rock. The National have been in their poetic feelings since 2001 but thanks to a Taylor Swift profile boost and their exquisitely tender eighth record ‘I Am Easy To Find’, the band continues to go from strength to strength.
11Black Country, New Road
Perhaps the hardest for Adam Levine to ignore simply on account of their size, the experimental septet just released their much-hyped debut ‘For the first time’ earlier this year and continue to delight in alternative circles with their sprawling, jazz-infused strangeness.
Brighton four-piece Porridge Radio might have started off with a lo-fi Bandcamp sound but their latest record ‘Every Bad’ built on these humble beginnings only to blow them out of the water with a sumptuously strange and raw power. Particularly notable is the charisma of frontwoman Dana Margolin, whose brooding intensity is highly reminiscent of Kurt Cobain.
The Staveley-Taylor sisters are much more than just their familial harmonies – with fiery and sweet guitar melodies, a wide array of musical influences, and a propensity for tongue-in-cheek lyrics – but when you hear them warming up with ‘A Case of You’ in a dingy hallway, ‘heavenly’ might be the only suitable word.
“Alright, you big loud mouth / And thanks very much for the Twix.” It’s exceptionally easy to get spoken word wrong, which is what makes Dry Cleaning’s off-kilter brilliance all the more special, as they couple aloof and humourous poetry with the energy of a Sonic Youth riff.
Upon first listen, 100 Gecs’ breakout track ‘money machine’ feels like the sweet spot between a meme and a fever dream. Once you embrace the gloriously irreverent clusterfuck of sound, hyperpop trailblazers Dylan Brady and Laura Les are there to welcome you.
The New York trio are two albums in and both have been spectacularly good – think somewhere between Diiv and Fleetwood Mac, Tame Impala and The Byrds. Frontperson Julia Cummings’ magnetic energy and ethereal vocals are hypnotising.
Ireland had become a “hot pot of political energy” when queer indie rockers Pillow Queens formed. The band’s lyrics may not explicitly reference politics but it’s inextricable from their grungy, powerful sound – a fire running through its heart just like the River Liffey.
Whether or not Bloc Party are still synonymous with the zenith of British indie, sneakily watching Skins on the family telly, and “running on…bravado”, Kele Okereke’s band have retained their wry outsider status as they continue to evolve and experiment sonically.
Don’t panic but at 18 years old, ‘Mr Brightside’ is officially an adult. The fact that their first ever single might define them forever hasn’t phased The Killers though, as they continue to release stellar music, sell out stadiums and even headline Glasto, as they did in 2019.
If it were a just world, The Beths’ ‘Future Me Hates Me’ would have been the song of the summer in 2018. The New Zealand band add self-deprecating songwriting to bright, catchy hooks for a frankly delightful burst of pop-punk.
Few bands sound as raw and vulnerable as Big Thief. The Brooklyn folk rock four-piece never veer into saccharine territory or stick to conventional melodies, and Adrianne Lenker’s vocals drift and ache with genuine feeling.
When you see them live, Foals might well be the best band on earth. Unshakeable guitar anthems and masterfully atmospheric soundscapes have granted them longevity over many of their mid-2000s indie rock counterparts.
23Years & Years
Years & Years have been making vibrant synth-pop for a while now, but frontman Olly Alexander’s starring role in Channel 4’s delightful and devastating ‘It’s A Sin’ served as a timely reminder of the necessity for euphoric queer anthems, even today.
Salmon Cat is bedroom pop under the influence. The NiNE8 supergroup’s hazy blend of jangly guitars, smooth beats, and ghostly sweet vocals courtesy of Jess Smyth (aka Biig Piig) results in an intoxicating tranquillity.
There’s an almost medieval quality to Fleet Foxes’ eponymous debut now, with its triumphant harmonies and pastoral simplicity; it’s music from a more carefree time. From the sound of their last record, the band’s warmth and optimism haven’t left them yet either, like a wave returning to the shore.
With the grit of a Tarantino western and old-timey spunk of Nancy Sinatra, Black Honey’s brand of cinematic rock is pure Americana; music as stylish as their accompanying music videos.