UK Locals on the Rise

Our music writers discuss their favourite 'local' artists from their hometowns across the country.

multiple writers
20th November 2020

As we are based in Newcastle, The Courier gives a lot of focus to the huge number of undeniably talented Geordie artists that make our city as culture-rich as it is. However, here our writers share highlights from across the country, and praise their favourite local artists from their hometowns.

Easy Life

Easy Life are a quintet from Leicestershire whose musical genre is a fusion of alternative/indie, with hip hop and jazz influences. Composed of the members Murray, Oliver, Sam, Lewis and Jordan, they met around Leicestershire and formed the band in mid-2017 after all being involved in the Leicester music scene beforehand. Since then they have gone from strength to strength, signing with Island Records in 2019 with subsequent performances at Glastonbury and Coachella the following summer.

In an interview with BBC Music, Murray (the frontman) says the “ultimate goal for Easy Life is just to make seminal albums that people listen to and they’re like this is a sign of the times” (sic) and I think they do just that. Not only in the sense that their music appeals to a variety of different tastes due to their multitude of influences and the substituting between spoken word and song, but for me personally, their music has been the soundtrack (so far) to my University experience and I’ll definitely look back in the years to come and feel nostalgic about their songs.

I think they have the potential to be well established in the music industry with time and, seeing as just 2 years into their journey they signed with one of the biggest global record labels, I have no doubt their success will continue. Growing up in the same area as them and one member being a couple of years above me at school, I think it’s refreshing to see a band acknowledging where they are from, even when it is somewhere that is usually overlooked. This down to earth attitude perfectly combines with the nature of their music and the different topics that are sung/spoke about provides easy listening that can be adapted to any mood or social situation. 

Charlotte Airey

Ezra Collective

Over 100 years after the birth of the Jazz Age, have a listen to the fresh band which keeps the embers alight in Britain — Ezra Collective. Born out of Tomorrow’s Warriors, a London youth club for jazz, Ezra Collective hit the ground running in 2016 and have not slowed down since. The energised brothers TJ (bass) and Femi Koleoso (drums) have become the heartbeat of the London hip hop and jazz scene, whilst Joe Armon-Jones (keys), Dylan Jones (trumpet) and James Mollison (saxophone) are innovating the sound of contemporary jazz, one gig at a time.

Of course, their reach is not extended to gigs. Their recorded music captures the energy and joy behind their playing, best illustrated in their recent album, You Can’t Steal My Joy (2019). The title track has a vigour unheard of since the days of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. 'Space is the Place' and 'What am I to Do?' tone down the energy with trip hop and contemporary psychedelic vibes, reminiscent of A Tribe Called Quest or Kendrick Lamar. Underpinning these tracks is a quintessentially jazzy allure, flaunted in their new single, 'Footprints', reinventing the Wayne Shorter jazz-blues standard for the compilation Blue Note Re:imagined, released in October. These tracks may foretell British jazz’s future. In short, they are worth your time.

Beyond their music, they are using their sudden fame altruistically. Femi hints at starting future projects like the now de-funded Tomorrow's Warriors which formed them, and TJ is currently a youth worker for Power the Fight, combating youth violence in London. In British arts' current atmosphere of uncertainty, the occasional shred of hope can make all the difference. Ezra Collective may be this shred, both inside and outside of music.

Josh Smith

The Magic Gang

Following the breakout release of The Magic Gang’s self-titled debut album in 2018, the Brighton-based band have gone from strength to strength.

Formed in 2013, the four-piece group effortlessly blend elements of pop, alt rock and indie to form their own melodic, laid back sound. Taking inspiration form the rich harmonies of acts such as The Beach Boys and the lyric ingenuity from the likes of Alex Turner, the group have undoubtedly set themselves apart from the rest of the mass of up and coming guitar bands - their first album hailed by a number of publications as among the best debuts of 2018, landing in the top 20 on the official UK albums chart.

The vocal-heavy group have set themselves apart from the crowd with an almost Traveling Wilburys style vocal arrangement.  The combination of three confident frontmen could have led to chaos, but instead, we are treated to seamless harmonies. Their sophomore album – Death of the Party, released earlier this year – sees the group explore elements of multiple new genres whilst still managing to stay true to their indie, pop roots. Throughout the album aspects of Motown, Funk, Gospel and even Disco work together to produce an even more accomplished listen.

The lyrical content of this album has also appeared to mature somewhat. Almost every track on their debut album was centred around romance or heartbreak. However lyrically, this album appears to have much more substance – again resulting in a positive and reassuring listen, whilst simultaneously recognising that despite all our best efforts, sometimes things just don’t go the way we plan. The result is an album that manages to be even more triumphant than their first. The Magic Gang serve as a joyful reminder of the simple pleasures of clean harmonies, amiable guitars and celebratory music.

Rachael McCreanor

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