Northern Stars: 9 Bands to Watch in 2017

Wondering which hot new acts to keep an eye on over the next 12 months? We asked some trusted bands and artists in Leeds, Liverpool and Manchester to tell us their Ones to Watch...

Feature | 06 Jan 2017

The Blinders

At the end of the year we crossed paths with a beautifully deranged band from Doncaster called The Blinders. John Robb of Louder than War was the first to mention them to us and we have since then become very close friends and associates. There's nothing more admirable than youthful angst and fury; perfect beginnings.

Not only that but there are three of them and five of us, and eight is a very balanced number of people to have a very good time – it would also fit both bands in a normal splitter van with a driver. The Blinders have a cataclysmic way of climbing in your guts on and off record: we are holy fans. [Chosen by Cabbage]

a n z.

Anna-Marie Odubote aka anz is set to do big things in 2017 with promising productions already catching the ears of tastemakers such as Murlo, Amy Becker and Elijah of Butterz, and MCs such as Jammz who used the beat from her track Mission for Just Eat, from his Underdog Season Vol. 1 mixtape with Jack Dat earlier this year.

She's adept at constructing colourful, weighty cuts in a variety of different styles and tempos from 100-140bpm, as well as blending these with fine acumen in her dope DJ sets. Expect to see talented 'yung-anz' (as her SoundCloud avatar is smartly named) tearing up clubs in the UK and beyond, with vibes aplenty. [Balraj Samrai, Swing Ting Records]

Eleanor Nelly

My tip is definitely Eleanor Nelly. There aren't too many country/folk artists from Liverpool so it's great to have someone like her representing for that genre – aside from being perfectly original, her songwriting shows maturity well ahead of her years. I had the opportunity to perform with her a while back with the Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, at Liverpool International Music Festival, and she was excellent.

A lot of great things coming her way soon; looking forward to the new music she'll be bringing to the Liverpool scene. Wishing her good luck, knowing she won't need it. [XamVolo]

Silent Cities

Simon Maddison AKA Silent Cities is an incredible soundscape artist, originally from the Northeast but now residing in Liverpool. Toying with acoustic guitar sounds transformed using brooding and expansive effects (including delay, reverse and reverb), the cherry on top really is his voice, which soars above the rest in angelic fashion.

Comparisons to an electro-folk Jeff Buckley can be forgiven when you hear his music live and on record, but that's not all: his music also has this incredible world feel too. Listen and you'll be hooked. [Natalie McCool]

Cavalier Song

I know I've released a record for these guys on God Unknown Records, but Cavalier Song deserve to be known for their creative, artistic statement of intent. Part King Crimson, part Philip Glass, with a mixture of The Fall and Sonic Youth thrown in for good measure. They are sparse but heavy; loud but cinematic. Mark Greenwood's dark tales are interweaved through the light and beauty of the music, creating a perfect juxtaposition. Their new LP is gearing up to be a mighty beast. [Jason Stoll, Mugstar/ Sex Swing/ God Unknown Records]

Kinder Meccano

Performing with the new music ensemble ACM (Almost Credible Music) and as prolific solo artists in their own right, it's the duo pairing of composers and performers Michael Cutting and Vitalija Glovackyte under their Kinder Meccano moniker that has us excited. Based in Manchester/Salford, theirs is a world of hidden machine music, amplified by homemade pick-ups, shining 16-bit threads of melody and zen-like process music, mingling performance and playfulness. Very much our sort of thing.

Live the experience feels like a lab ritual involving obsolete technology and fizzing electronics. Commendably and completely its own thing and surprisingly easy on the ear – go see 'em. [Benjamin Duvall, Ex-Easter Island Head]


Howes produced one of my favourite albums of the year (3.5 Degrees), and played a great improvised set when we shared a bill with him and Virginia Wing at Soup Kitchen back in September. Despite his main instrument being a modular synth, there's lots of interesting Max for Live programming that powers things behind the scene on his laptop, and that kind of hybrid analogue/digital set-up is something that interests me greatly (and does away with the retro/analogue fetishism going on at the moment).

There’s a lovely warm, organic, pastoral feel to his improvisations, perhaps owing to them being recorded straight to cassette, as well as to his delicate touch on the old synth. [Matthew Benn, Hookworms / XAM Duo]

Luxury Death

My one to watch is Luxury Death, part of both the PNKSLM and Hardly Art families. Meg and Ben make cool indie-pop – Painkiller was the song that caught my ear; it wouldn't be out of place next to The Pains of Being Pure At Heart on a Spotify playlist. Their somewhat dark, reflective lyrics, plus fuzzy dual male/female vocals and jingle-jangle guitar make the perfect piece of pop. They have a bunch of dates next year; I'll certainly be getting a ticket. [Faith Holgate, PINS]


XAM Duo is Matt Benn from Hookworms and Chris from another great Leeds band, Deadwall. It's modular synth-based stuff with live programming and some sweet sax on it as well. We're not exactly connoisseurs of the genre, but we caught them playing a show at Wharf Chambers in Leeds a couple of months ago and were totally blown away. It takes a lot to make us stand still and not mess around for half an hour but XAM Duo did just that. Really looking forward to catching them again in future! [Naomi Baguley, Bruising]