The Five Best UK Bands You've Never Heard Of

For the glory of Mother Britain!
For the glory of Mother Britain!
Rob Webb

There's a reason you associate our accent with fashionable music of the last fifty years. We've produced some great bands. The thing is, there's a whole undercurrent you're missing out on over there. You know you have favorite obscure American bands, who you'd go and see whenever they come through town to small crowds and no acclaim whatsoever? It's the same with any country's music scene. Bands bubble under, never getting the necessary big break, and certainly never crossing the ocean. Here's a few of my favorites from back home.

See also: The Five Worst British Import Bands


A ska-metal band from Milton Keynes, a town famous only for being planned by an American and thus the subject of much derision in the UK for its adherence to straight lines and an understandable layout. Capdown themselves are a strange beast, one minute furious ska (which, with bands like (Spunge) and Four Foot Fingers, was all the rage in the UK in the late '90s and early 2000s as another generation grew up to re-discover The Specials) and the next minute breaking into stoner metal. Sometimes both these things happen at once. It's odd how well both genres blend together.

Victorian English Gentlemens Club

Some of the finest angular art-rock of the early 2000s came from this sharply dressed Cardiff group, whose eponymous debut album deserved about 25129867 times more acclaim than it actually received. A series of songs about characters around South Wales that sound a bit like Pixies went to art school and developed a finer appreciation for hallucinogens, it's catchy the whole way through. You can still buy it on iTunes. You'll be humming each of the tunes for a week, especially the utterly demented "My Son Spells Backwards."


Forward, Russia!

A quite insane group from Hull, which is the British equivalent of modern-day Detroit but with none of the glorious history or industry, Forward Russia! decided that song titles were a bourgeois construct and that principle dictated they should simply number each song as they wrote them. Debut album Give Me A Wall (the name another glorious hat-tip to communism) was an improbably great indie record. full of synths, jagged guitar, and breathy vocals. It's a wonder they never really caught on, but then when your best song is called "Fifteen Pt. 1" you might be a hard sell.

Queen Adreena

A sound best described as the product of too many drugs, London's Queen Adreena sound like the product of a schizophrenic falling into an amplifier, with panic and edginess pervading the quiet and fury filling the noise. Singer Katie-Jane Garside sings like she's permanently on the edge of a full-on breakdown. Kind of like a low-rent, slightly more authentic and noisy version of Garbage, and a product of the same era.


From the same Oxford scene that produced Radiohead, and to a much lesser extent BritPop heroes Supergrass, Drugstore are the band that was tipped for big things but fell by the wayside. Nevertheless, they have some truly lovely songs, most of which can be found on debut album White Magic For Lovers. They've even got a duet with Thom Yorke, as presented here. Maybe a British Sixpence None The Richer, but much better than that sounds.

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