Opinion: Top 10 bands to watch in Manchester

Since the 80’s, Manchester has been the capital of the British music scene. From The Smiths to The Courteeners, from Joy Division to Oasis, no other city has had more of an impact on music in this country. But the iconic days of the Hacienda and Factory records are behind us.

This article is not going to dwell on the past, but instead look to the future. Whilst The Sherlocks, Cabbage and The Blossoms are currently flying the Manchester flag high, here is a countdown of the top 10 bands to watch in Manchester.


The Slow Readers Club are known for their strong basslines combined with synthy melodies. Mix these with front man Aaron Starkie’s vocal range and you get an expansive and atmospheric sound that sets them apart. Their distinctive sound, along with their live performances, have given them quite the cult following despite limited radio play. Their 2020 album ‘The Joy Of The Return’ is absolutely worth a listen.

9) CARNIVAL CLUB (Bandcamp)

This is an alt-rock quartet who formed while studying together in Xaverian 6th Form College, who look like they are going to become Manchester’s very own version of Royal Blood. Since their raunchy debut single House of Cards put them on the map, they have released music that does not so much as ask for your attention but demands it. Their heavy baselines, powerful guitar riffs and wailing vocals have convinced many that this a band that are going places. Having already hosted a number of sold out shows in Manchester, and promises of more singles to come, these are definitely ones to watch out for.

8) IST IST (Website)

This is a band who have been around since 2014, but their sound is even older than that, drawing inspiration from top post punk bands such as Joy Division and Interpol. It is their melodramatic vocals, carried by fantastic drumming and melodic guitar, that give their sound a modern twist. Whilst it has been said in the past that their sound is ‘too out-there’ for mainstream success, I think their new album Architecture feels like they’re really in the mood to make 2020 their year.

7) MATTER OF MIND (Website)

Not only are Matter of Mind Manchester’s answer to Bullet For My Valentine, they’re also the angsty teenage Manchester band my youth was missing. Their latest single Poison Ivy showcases what they’re all about: heavy hitting melodies interlaced with cascading vocals. What sets these guys apart though is their production. Their sound is incorporated with flecks of screamo and electronica, which gives their sound fantastic depth and balance.

6) SAYTR PLAY (Website)

Looking at the members of this band, you would be forgiven for thinking they were a punk rock band. In fact, this Manchester quartet are an Indie band with a sound that draws inspiration from folk and rock. They’ve had a lot of air-time on Radio X and rightfully so. Their bouncy and dulcet guitar riffs have earned them comparisons to bands such as Blur and The Vaccines. They also have a top front man in Fred Farrell. What’s not to love?

5) JAMES HOLT (Website)

James Holt creates melodic, alternative rock that harks back to a time when chart music was better. His vocals are strikingly similar to John Lennon’s and his riffs would not sound out of place on a Kinks record. One of the more unique artists on this list, Holt’s swirling melodies and crooning vocals serve as breath of fresh air in an era when some music is becoming increasingly derivative and repetitive. He often plays Manchester, so those of you who are local should definitely keep an eye out.

4) THE K’S (Facebook)

Hailing from Earlestown, this band will need no introduction to regular listeners of Radio X. The band of the moment, The K’s are quickly building a reputation for roof-raising gigs and mosh-inducing hooks. Their most well-known song, Sarajevo, is one of the best indie anthems of the last few years. With an album on the way, it seems pretty clear that these boys are going to go far. Anyone who is fan of The Sherlock’s will certainly enjoy these.

3) HOT MILK (Website)

Hot Milk are undoubtedly one of the most exciting bands in Manchester right now. Their self-description of ‘sad songs with happy melodies’ is a simple way of summing up how they contrast emotional and reflective lyrics with energetic, head-banging hooks. What is most interesting about this band is they have two lead singers, Han Mee and Jim Shaw, which allows for some very interesting experimentation. Mee is particularly impressive and sounds like a British Hayley Williams. Having already supported bands such as You Me At 6 and Enter Shikari, the sky is the limit for this band.  


This quartet formed in Fallowfield are sure to tickle your ear buds. With captivating lyrics that are, at times, introspective and metaphorical, and perhaps the catchiest guitar riffs on this list, The Covasettes are surely about to take the rest of the UK by storm. We are still awaiting their first album, but the quality and polished nature of their singles have meant they have already been turning heads. They are also building up a reputation for being one of the best live bands in the city having supported The Sherlock’s, and even selling out venues on their own. Watch this space.

1) NO HOT ASHES (Facebook)

Taking the number one spot is No Hot Ashes. A band from Cheadle, they have been on a lot of people’s radars for a while, with early singles such as Skank and Easy Peeler grabbing a lot of attention for their funk-influenced guitar and relatable lyrics. Isaac Taylor, the vocalist, is particularly captivating, with a huskiness and grit rarely seen in Indie music. However, this band truly announced themselves with their staggering debut album, Hardship Starship. This album maintains the signature funky vibe of their early work but marries it with fantastic verses and catchy choruses. This is a band who have experimented and found themselves a sound which feels complete and polished. Surely the next big thing to come out of Manchester.

So there you have it; 10 bands to keep an eye on in Manchester. Try to support the bands as much as you can in as independent way as possible to keep the fervent scene going in Manchester and beyond.

Do you think we missed any bands out? Let us know!

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Categories: Opinion

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2 replies »

  1. I will certainly give James Holt a listen after reading your article Cameron. Good article about what Manchester has done well at for many years, produce great bands.

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