Emerging Musicians and Bands from Sheffield: a Pink Wafer Guide
The sheer variety of musical talent that’s coming out of Sheffield right now is off the chain. From hip-hop to folk to cosmic punk it’s pretty much all happening in the Steel City. Here are our recommendations of some of the top emerging, unsigned, and local Sheffield bands that deserve your attention in 2019.
Alternative hip-hop artist Otis Mensah has been making waves across the UK and internationally with his lyrical skills, his thought-provoking and poetic lyrics. and the cutting-edge experimental hip-hop producers he has worked with. Picking up support slots with the likes of Wu-Tang Clan’s Killah Priest and Mahalia, this artist’s rise has been a joy to behold.
2018 was a big year for Otis who, in October, was appointed as the first Poet Laureate of Sheffield by the iconic Lord Mayor Magid Magid during his eventful time in office. Watch this space for big things from Otis in 2019!
Check out the jazzy and introspective Oh Jane.
This stunning jazz-rock quintet have somehow captured their massive live sound and energy in their new album Momento Mori, which the following video comes from. King Capisce combine saxophone, bass, drums, and big guitar sounds, to create epic walls-of-sound, offset by delicate and captivating moments.
It’s lush, melodic, and beautiful, even at it’s noisiest moments. Check it out, and hear their whole album on Bandcamp.
Before Breakfast are one the most striking bands in Sheffield right now.
The pop-folk quartet write clever songs, and beautiful harmonies. They also write incredibly honestly and frankly about some hugely important and difficult topics. Their debut EP, Sticky Sweet is eminently worth your time. With the promise of much more to come in 2019, we can’t wait to see where Before Breakfast are headed.
Check them out on Bandcamp.
The Rheingans Sisters
Sheffield is home to some of the UK’s most critically acclaimed folk musicians, and The Rheingans Sisters are a prime example. The pair are absolutely loved in folk circles across the UK, and their latest album Bright Field features some staggeringly beautiful moments.
Watch the video for their award-winning single Mackerel, which beautifully explores themes of life and death in Senja, a remote island in north-west Norway.
Dead Slow Hoot
Self-proclaimed ‘indie sad boys’ Dead Slow Hoot are one of the most original indie bands in Sheffield right now. Their 2019 album No Reunions, which is out on Philophobia Music, represents the band’s growing maturity, and comes highly recommended. They’re also some of the nicest people you will ever meet.
They’ve written some big, spooky anthems, and their whole vibe is fresh and fun. Check out this big scary single from last year, I hope you never say a word.
Katie Pham and the Moonbathers
Dreamy and jazzy, Katie Pham with her caramelly voice sounds like an angsty Nina Persson. I especially enjoy the Voyager EP. Katie Pham’s songs are charming and brilliant, and her distinctly jazzy take on indie (if you could call it that) is really refreshing.
These folks are one of several exciting acts that are coming out of the Blancmange Lounge collective, along with the likes of Jackie Moonbather, Rosey PM, and others.
Check out this live video of Thick Cut.
Renegade Brass Band
There’s a lot of brass talent in the Steel City, but no one can claim to have done as much for that reputation as the original heavyweights – Renegade Brass Band. Regularly gigging across Europe, there’s a good reason that these party starters are so in demand.
Check out the moody and groovy EAF – a great example of these guys at their best.
Mango Rescue Team
The tropical carnival extravaganza known as Mango Rescue Team are a wild latin-punk troupe known for their tremendous ability to get people sweaty and moving. The originators of Sheffield’s psychedelic and tropical ‘scene,’ Mango Rescue Team have made a name for themselves at festivals across the UK like Boomtown and Shambala.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve listened to Jim Ghedi’s latest album, A Hymn for Ancient Land. It’s one of the most beautiful, soothing collection of songs I’ve heard in recent times. It pays tribute to Sheffield and its surrounding countryside, enveloping you in lush, pastoral soundscapes.
Check out this live video of Home for Moss Valley, which comes from that incredible record.
James Ewan Tait
James Ewan Tait has been producing some uniquely enjoyable music over the past year or so. His recent EP, Everything, loads, all the time, forever, is a rich journey condensed into four masterfully crafted songs. Combining the art of song-writing with inspired lyricism, experimental guitar work and big, crooning vocals, James Ewan Tait comes highly recommended.
His new live video for Lime Grove shows him, in my opinion, at his best ever.
Tsarzi’s eccentric debut record Last Decade of Love was one of our favourite records of 2018. On the surface, Tsarzi is playful, even comic. A closer listen reveals a much darker, disturbing side. Drawing on elements of musical theatre and alternative pop, Tsarzi does something really quite daring and we are super impressed.
Listen to Last Decade of Love on Bandcamp.
Rogue Siesta create soulful, bluesy reggae with elements of rock, and they are experts at getting a crowd moving.
This Sheffield band pull off super tight reggae and dub rhythms, and execute the whole thing perfectly. Their warm and fuzzy vibes make them an absolute joy to see live, and in short, Rogue Siesta represent a large proportion of what’s good about music in Sheffield.
Watch this high-energy live video of their banger, Bear Trap.
Fresh on the scene in 2019, Coco Don’t are like nothing we’ve seen before. Gritty, yet nostalgic, there’s something punk, and something post-indie about them. We’re super excited to see what’s to come from this band.
The hugely talented Franz Von is a rapper and emcee who creates socially hip-hop and jungle fusion rooted in African rhythms. His EP Escapism is a blistering debut release, and his live shows with his Leeds-based band are an absolute treat.
Check out his insane video for Energy Waves.
Jackie Moonbather smashed the ball out of the park with his album The Month of May. This single Love Theme From May, along with beautiful visuals from GRIT multimedia, is simply masterful. The whole record emanates an irresistible charm, melding together humour, sensuality, and an atmosphere of optimism and hope.
It’s like DIY soul – or something – with bags of charm, and some delicious grooves. Watch the stunning video for Love Theme from May.
Life Aquatic Band
Life Aquatic Band are a zany, brassy, folk-funk-punk outfit that have been making waves in Sheffield for some time.
Their songs are intelligent and catchy, and their live shows are a delight. Paint is Blue is a dreamy, melancholic classic.
Be sure to check out their latest single, Keep the Rain Away, too.
Dutch singer-songwriter LIO is a vocalist of the highest order, and recent months have seen her earn support slots with the likes of Stevie Parker, Slow Club and While She Sleeps.
After flying solo for several for several years, LIO now works with a full live band, and it’s taken her sound to the next level. Check out her stunning video for Growing Pains.
Oh Papa create dreamy surf pop music, and deliver it with understated brilliance. Their debut EP Papa Al, which interestingly pays tribute to songwriter Jack Davies’ grandfather, is an absolute pleasure, and the perfect listen on a Sunday afternoon.
Check out the wistful Clock Watching, from that same record.
K.O.G & The Zongo Brigade
K.O.G & The Zongo Brigade have been taking festivals all over the world by storm with their incredible afro-fusion sounds, led by the force-of-nature that is K.O.G. Seamlessly blending traditional African music with everything from hip-hop to funk, K.O.G & The Zongo Brigade are the most surprising, and most important band in Sheffield right now.
Check out this massive party banger, Turn up the music and find out what the fuss is all about.
TYNI is doing something unlike anyone else in Sheffield at the moment and it’s very cool. A lot of character, and a lot of fun.
Check out the lyric video for her pop anthem, Fighter.
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Header image: Rob Blackham