Ones to watch in 2021 – inc. Joy Crookes, Junodream and more

Posted on 3 February 2021
By Alex Usher
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As we delve deeper into 2021, we’re getting excited about a whole lot of new music coming our way – perhaps one bonus of artists reacting to being on lockdown last year!

As 2021 started pulling it’s socks up, we’ve already been treated to fantastic releases from the likes of Shame and Fredo.

With highly anticipated releases from giants like Foo Fighters and Slowthai tantalisingly imminent – but here at Purple Revolver HQ, we’re eager to explore the smaller artists too.

Wondering what names to be on the lookout for this year? Look no further, we’ve got you sorted. From Liverpool to London, this is our top 10 guide for what up-and-coming UK artists to watch out for this year.

10) Courting:

Why not start off local? Liverpool lads Courting have been making a buzz in the city for a while now, having played alongside bands like Sports Team and Feet they’re gradually cementing themselves as one of the most important voices in the Liverpool scene.

Their 2021 looks promising, with the release of debut ep ‘The Grand National’ due to drop in April, alongside an appearance at Futurama festival at the Invisible Wind Factory (headlined by no other than Joy Division’s Peter Hook!)

Courting’s most recent single Popshop! is a refreshing take on the modern indie-punk sound, as the Liverpool lads sing about a ‘lads-on-tour’ trip to Pontins over raw jangly guitars.

For fans of: Talking Heads, The Strokes, Parquet Courts, The Libertines, Sports Team

9) Squid:

Squid started life as an ambient post-punk band back in 2017, but since then their sound has only grown. Traces of the ambience remain, but it has largely been replaced by a more colourful, fun aesthetic. Tracks like The Cleaner and Houseplants are some of the grooviest tracks to come from the indie-sphere in recent years, guaranteed to get you moving with their driving bass lines and pulsing drums.

Their updated post-punk sound is stylish but original; Squid don’t seem to take it too seriously and this fun only adds to their appeal. Squid’s debut album Bright Green Field drops in May, and lead single Narrator is nothing short of an experimental alt-rock monster – watch this space!

For fans of: Talking Heads, Radiohead, Black Midi

8) Joy Crookes:

One of the coolest and slickest voices from the UK right now, Joy Crookes is without a doubt one to put on your radar. You’ve most likely heard You & Me Song in an O2 advert over the past few months, but don’t let that be your only exposure to her. Tracks like No Hands, Easy and London Mine are some of the comfiest and smoothest R&B tracks to emerge from London’s music scene, you do not want to sleep on her.

For fans of: Arlo Parks, Jorja Smith, Loyle Carner

7) Dead Animals:

Nathaniel Reid has slowly been dropping an impressive catalogue on SoundCloud under the Dead Animals name, dipping his toe in a range of genres over the years, from punk, to pop, to soul, to electronic. His 2020 Taxi Driver EP brought us a brooding edge that we had only seen glimpses of in single Cut Off The Head earlier that year.

The Ep delves into the character of the films protagonist Travis Bickle, with American Hero being a highlight; an abrasive tune with a rager of a chorus that begs to be heard live. Dead Animals has dark catalogue that promises excellence in the years to come.

For fans of: Idles, Slowthai, Nine Inch Nails


Ambient, moody R&B perfect for these dark winter nights. BERWYN has steadily been making some buzz in the underground scene throughout 2020, and latest single Vinyl is easily him at his best. Catchy hooks over slick lo-fi production that feels familiar and fuzzy is what BERWYN excels at; bringing back memories you didn’t even know you had.

For fans of: Knucks, Slowthai, Loyle Carner, James Blake

5) Stone:

Loud, scouse bangers; the sort you’ll blare from your speakers at 3am after one too many. The band formally known as The Bohos transformed themselves in 2019 to a louder, new-wave sound now going by the name Stone.

Mammoth tracks like Stay Silent are a breath of fresh air on the Liverpool scene, feeling like a fitting summary for what life has become for twenty-somethings, constantly disassociating on social media and throughout their day-to-day. Sell-out crowds at Liverpool Olympia and Invisible Wind Factory are just the start of things to come.

For fans of: Slaves, Idles, Queens of the Stone Age, Dinosaur Jr., Shame

4) Greentea Peng:

R&B artist Greentea Peng has been crafting lush soulful singles that teleport you to a sunny summers day in the city with ease at a rapid rate since 2018. Hu Man and Spells are incredible examples of Peng’s ability to effortlessly create a vibe that you’ll want on repeat all day.

With an immaculate blend of psychedelia and soul thrown into the mix. 2020 was a big year for her too, having appeared on The Streets’ 2020 album None Of Us Are Getting Out Of This Life Alive, it seems like Greentea Peng is getting the break she deserves.

For fans of: Jorja Smith, Loyle Carner, SHY FX, Lianne La Havas

3) Junodream:

This London band burst onto the scene in 2018 with an original blend of space-rock that has only evolved and matured with time. 2019’s Nobody Wants You shows Junodream at their best, showcasing beautifully layered guitars over rolling drums, eventually exploding into a roaring chorus. Junodream sound urgent, and their new single Eden Burns is no exception.

The haunting ambience of their earlier work is still present but is now accompanied alongside spiralling riffs and lyrics delving into the horrors of the 2019 Australian bush fires.

Their sound echoes remnants of Coldplay’s 2002 album A Rush of Blood to the Head if it were doused in reverb and jacked up on steroids, while others scream Radiohead’s In Rainbows. In short, Junodream are easily one of the most exciting bands in the UK right now.

For fans of: Radiohead, Slowdive, Kasabian, Nothing But Thieves, Joy Division.

2) Easy Life:

Easy Life have been busy these last few years dropping anything you can name, from single after single, to EP’s and mixtapes; pretty much everything except an album. Perhaps 2021 will be the year we finally get to hear the Leicester lads bring their signature ‘sad-boy’ R&B indie blend to a full LP.

Catchy hooks are to be expected when it comes to Easy Life – look no further than singles nightmares or peanut butter¸ and their newest single daydreams is no exception. Whether Easy Life will push their sound for a full LP is another question, but there is no doubt that they are an essential addition to your playlists.

For fans of: Mac Miller, Bakar, Loyle Carner, Brockhampton, Mac Demarco

1) Black Country, New Road:

Black Country, New Road burst onto the scene with their 2019 debut track Sunglasses, which was nothing but a stroke of genius. The near 9-minute epic displays song writing and composition at a level that most seasoned musicians would only dream of achieving.

The tune carries exuberant confidence that only builds over the run-time, with blaring guitars, soaring saxophone and angsty spoken vocals all colliding together to create a frenzy of passionate noise. Since then, the London rockers’ dense post-punk sound has been the talk of the town on online forums and social media pages amongst music lovers.

Despite only having four songs to their name, their debut album For the First Time drops this Friday to big expectations. Although teaser tracks Track X & Science Fair have not topped the heights of Sunglasses, they have hinted towards a matured sound that could sound sensational in a full-length project. Mercury Prize – watch out!

For fans of: Black Midi, Shame, Fontaines D.C., Idles