Well, we made it – it’s finally the end of 2018! This year has certainly had its ups and downs, but it gave us a lot of great music – if you want to see our pick of the best albums of 2018, go check out our previous post on Insanity’s picks for our favourite records of the year! And with a new year, comes a new list from Insanity’s Music Team – our Class of 2019! These are the bands and artists that caught our attention in 2018, and that we feel are going to break out in 2019 and make it big. Check out our top 15 recommendations now, because if you don’t, you’re going to regret it – get those bragging rights in early.
FOR FANS OF: Sleater-Kinney, Dream Wife.
Unapologetically loud and unapologetically feminist, London/Brighton punk band PUSSYLIQUOR are taking down the patriarchy one fierce song at a time. Releasing their debut EP, WHAT OF IT, in 2018, and gaining a quick reputation across both cities due to their incendiary and electric live shows, PUSSYLIQUOR are set to take this even further in the coming year, and we for one can’t wait.
CATCH THEM LIVE: They’ll be headlining Egham’s very own Forester’s Arms on Saturday 26th January as part of the REBEL GIRLS night! Tickets are £3 advance or £5 on the door.
FOR FANS OF: The Stranglers, Sleaford Mods.
Hotel Lux have rapidly become one of London’s most exciting new bands, appearing out of the same South London scene that’s given us bands such as Shame, and Goat Girl in recent years- and yes, Hotel Lux are every bit as great as their rocking predecessors. Dealing with often macabre subject matter, the band craft gritty, deliciously dark ‘pub rock’, with the release of a phenomenal single, ‘The Last Hangman’ in November 2018. The release of the single also coincided with their first ever headline gig; no doubt what will be the first of many.
CATCH THEM LIVE: The band will finish up 2018 playing at Brixton’s Windmill for New Year’s Eve, with their only as-of-yet announced gig of 2019 being a support slot for the superb Dilly Dally at Brighton’s Hope & Ruin on January 31st.
FOR FANS OF: Pavement, Miles Kane.
It’s hard to put into words the sheer chaotic energy that explodes at every show by West-London-Via-Cambridge band Sports Team. They’ve gained a reputation for whipping up their often sold-out crowds into a frenzy with their own brand of guitar music, led by frontman Alex Rice, who leads the band through – and helps create a lot of – the frantic unhinged performance that their fantastic live shows have become known for. They released a cracker of a debut EP, Winter Nets, in 2018, followed up with a run of great singles, including ‘Margate’ – and to celebrate, took bus-load of fans down to the titular seaside town for its release. Above all their punk chaotic nature, Sports Team, are, at their heart, here for a good time – and they make sure their audience has one too.
CATCH THEM LIVE: They’ve just announced a huge headline tour throughout March 2019, including a date at Camden’s iconic Electric Ballroom on Friday 22nd March.
Amyl & The Sniffers
FOR FANS OF: Dead Kennedys, Sex Pistols.
If you’re looking for irreverent punk that makes you want to equal parts have a boogie and yet also smash something up, then look no further than Aussie band Amyl & The Sniffers. They almost literally tore down London’s Moth Club earlier this year, and when listening to ‘Cup of Destiny’, a fantastic release from 2018, it’s clear to see why. It might be heavily steeped in the tradition of classic three-chord punk, but the way that Amyl & The Sniffers do it makes it feel so incredibly fresh and new, with absolute barrel loads of energy. ‘Cup of Destiny’ really goes for it on every level, which is really the entire ethos of the band summed up in one – it’s loud, it’s cheeky, and it’s very, very good.
CATCH THEM LIVE: No 2019 UK dates have been announced for the Aussie punks as of yet, so keep an eye out.
FOR FANS OF: Jaws, Spring King.
2018 has been one hell of a year for indie-punk-rockers King Nun. Signed to Dirty Hit – the label responsible for The 1975, and Pale Waves amongst others – the band released their debut EP, I Have Love, to huge acclaim from fans and critics alike. The EP shows how carefully the band have improved and honed their sound since their first singles, making this anything other than just another standard indie record, and landing King Nun a very well deserved spot on our list.
CATCH THEM LIVE: No upcoming dates as of yet, so again, one to keep an eye out for.
FOR FANS OF: Loyle Carner, Rejjie Snow.
Bakar’s debut mixtape, which dropped in early 2018, is difficult to pin down musically – which just adds to its charm and utter, utter brilliance. Borrowing just as much from the punk history of his native Camden as he does from the hip-hop he’s been a lifelong fan of. It blends seamlessly, creating something so unique – something so incredible Bakar, that he’s gained a whole load of industry attention along the way from the likes of Vice, Fred Perry, and Clash. It’s indie, but it’s not just indie – and it’s not just punk, or hip-hop, or rap either. It’s a seamless mix, like only Bakar can make.
CATCH THEM LIVE: No dates announced as of yet.
FOR FANS OF: Octavian, Kojey Radical.
Bringing a bold complexity to the UK grime scene is Northampton born rapper, slowthai. Breaking onto the scene with his debut track ‘Jiggle’, which he admits he made as a joke, it nevertheless set him on the path to becoming one of the most exciting up-and-coming rappers in the UK scene. The past year has seen him play shows with a whole host of established acts, including a support slot for the Kent punk duo Slaves, and when listening to slowthai’s latest release, ‘Doorman’, it’s clear to see why. He spits brilliantly theatrical, socially aware lyrics over a beat that harks back to the classic days of punk, and it’s immediately obvious why he’s being tipped for great things in 2019.
CATCH THEM LIVE: Catch him around the UK this spring, including a London date at York Hall in Bethnal Green on April 1st.
FOR FANS OF: The Fall, IDLES.
Prowling around the stage like a young, Irish Mark E. Smith, Fontaines D.C. frontman Grian Chatten delivers line after line of barked, poetic disillusionment, all against a sea of raging guitars and thrashing post-punk. Having been praised and shouted about by the likes of 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq, and fellow punks Shame, who took them on tour with them across the UK, Fontaines D.C. have released a steady stream of phenomenal singles throughout 2018, culminating in the December release of ‘Too Real’, which despite its late arrival, made many people’s end of year lists. With rumours of an album to be released some time in 2019, Fontaines D.C. have well and truly made their mark on not just Dublin, but in fact, the entire music scene.
CATCH THEM LIVE: They’re playing London’s the Garage on the 17th of April, but it’s already sold out so try and catch them in Brighton at the Haunt on the 18th instead.
FOR FANS OF: The Blinders, The Orielles.
Sorry are a chameleonic band, refusing to ever fit into one style of music – not at the whim of some label or manager, but because at the heart of the band, is a desire to simply make the music they want to, regardless of what that sounds like. Blending fuzzy, woozy guitars alongside beats more reminiscent of electronica – particularly noticeable on early 2018’s ‘2 Down 2 Dance’ – they released the incredible ‘Starstruck’, a perfect blend of all the influences that the band draws on. They’ve released a number of demos, known as the Home Demo/ns tapes, further igniting the anticipation for their first full-length (as of yet, unannounced, but we can hope) album.
CATCH THEM LIVE: They’ll be playing at Camden’s iconic venue, Dingwalls, on the 28th March.
FOR FANS OF: Phoebe Bridgers, Dermot Kennedy.
Building on her well-received debut EP, Something American, the singer released a whole host of brilliant singles this past year, finishing up with the incredibly catchy ‘Love Has All Been Done Before’ at the end of the year. 2018 has seen her play festivals up and down the UK as well as a US tour, and has garnered her press attention from the likes of Rolling Stone, DIY, and NME – the latter of which compared her to ’90s icons Alanis Morissette and Courtney Love, as well as folk and ballad legends Bob Dylan, and Leonard Cohen. They completely hit the nail on the head there, as her music seamlessly transitions from the riff-driven ‘Uh Huh’, to the folk-drenched, emotional ‘Furious’, brilliantly showcasing the young singer’s ability to change her sound to something just-as-brilliant in a split second.
CATCH THEM LIVE: No solo gigs announced as of yet, but she’s been announced for Neighbourhood Weekender in May, and Tunbridge Wells’ Black Deer Festival in June.
FOR FANS OF: Tom Grennan, Clean Cut Kid.
Previously tipped as one of the BBC’s Sound of 2018, the singer-songwriter is fresh off winning the Critic’s Choice at the BRIT Awards. November saw the release of his debut EP, Dead Boys, with the titular title track summing up his music’s whole ethos – that he’s different from other guitar and indie bands, with his songs dealing with social consciousness and political awareness, and issues such as mental health, and toxic masculinity. Personally, he strives to bring a new light to guitar music, with lyrics dealing with important, real life concerns as opposed to the regurgitated banality he’s often been outspoken against.
CATCH THEM LIVE: He’ll be playing the Electric Brixton on the 28th February.
FOR FANS OF: Talking Heads, Death Grips.
Black Midi are something of an enigma. They rapidly became one of – if not the most – talked about guitar bands on the London scene, despite having no tracks online or able to listen to anywhere up until the release of ‘bmbmbm’ in May. As it is with most phenomenons, stories about their incendiary live performances and captivating noise-rock have passed on through word of mouth, leaving them a band that you desperately need to see to believe.
CATCH THEM LIVE: Their entire tour unsurprisingly sold out ridiculously quickly, so you won’t be able to make it to their January 25th gig at London’s Bloc, but keep an eye out for any future announcements.
FOR FANS OF: Alvvays, My Bloody Valentine.
East London’s flirting. are providing anxiety pop to the masses. As much as a group therapy project as they are one of the finest shoegaze-y, dreampop-y bands currently around, they released their debut EP, This Would Be Funny If It Were Happening To Anyone But Me in 2018, which features some incredible tracks, most notably the soft-yet-biting ‘Lilac’, and ‘Peppermint’, that is at times heartbreaking, and at others akin to what Sonic Youth would be doing if they too were twenty-somethings living in East London in 2018. If indie-art-rock-with-an-edge is your kind of thing, then look no further than flirting.
CATCH THEM LIVE: They haven’t announced anything as of yet for 2019.
FOR FANS OF: Blaenavon, Superfood.
Indoor Pets have had a very mixed year. Formerly known as Get Inuit, they announced a debut album, set for release on March 8th, played a whole host of dates up and down the UK alongside Bad Sounds – and had £10,000 worth of equipment stolen from their van. Many bands would crumble when being hit with such a loss, but not Indoor Pets – they sprung back, better than ever, with the help of a fundraiser selling tea towels to fans, and released ‘Being Strange’, a belter of an indie-rock track from the power-pop group that, if this is anything to go by, sets up very, very big things for the release of Be Content in 2019.
CATCH THEM LIVE: They’ll be playing their biggest London headline show to date at Scala on April 17th.
FOR FANS OF: Wolf Alice, Hinds.
First breaking onto the scene with their 2017 single, ‘Ants’, the Los Angeles glam rockers released their debut, self-titled album early in 2018, and bolstered this growing acclaim with a slew of shows that started to get the band noticed for the notoriety of their in-your-face, wild performances. Indebted to punk pioneers like the legendary Iggy Pop, Starcrawler are as much known for their blood-spitting (yes, literally) and antagonistic live shows as they are for their grungy, glam-dripping rock, and together, it culminates in a band that are set to make huge, very stormy waves in the coming year.
CATCH THEM LIVE: As of yet, no tour dates have been announced.
By: PHOEBE HAGAN