10 British Indie and Alternative Acts You Need to Listen to | Article by Indie Accent


10 British Indie and Alternative Acts You Need to Listen to

Writer Aradi Priyanto

Cover Image from NME


Beyond all the famed British household names, if you dig a little deeper there are some great emerging and underrated acts that are currently rocking the local alternative and indie scene. Each have different styles and influences, mixing jazz, punk, indie rock, R&B, soul and rap to create their unique sounds, here are 10 current favorites that you should give a listen.


Star track: There’s A Reason Why (I Never Returned Your Calls)
Track to listen to: Charlemagne

The band are quickly establishing themselves as firm favorites in the U.K. scene, releasing their third album to acclaim from critics and fans this year. The band has a groovy sound, indie rock with an electro pop, disco feel. Now regulars on the top bills of many indie festivals around the nation, they pack each show with their stylish singalong floor-fillers.

Charlemagne is the bands breakthrough tune, from their self-titled breakthrough album. The opening synth riff will get you hooked straightaway and introduces you to their sharp lyrics. From their second album, Cool Like You, There’s A Reason Why (I Never Returned Your Calls) brings an 80s vibe, featuring groovy synths, a bassline that gets you dancing along and lyrics that get you signing along, bringing big festival energy with every listen.

The Magic Gang

Star track: Take Back The Track and Think
Track to listen to: How Can I Compete

An indie outfit that weaves thoughtful lyrics on relationships and heartbreaks and pretty melodies with cool guitar-pop. The band’s knack for writing relatable and catchy tunes is evident on their self-titled debut album. Exciting new singles for their up and coming second album however, have brought out the bands groovier side, without losing any of the charm.

The lead track on their debut album, How Can I Compete, features the band’s much-loved lyrics on romance, sunny harmonies and fun guitar parts. Think and Take Back The Track are the star singles for their upcoming second album, Death Of The Party, that are sure to get you on your feet. Different from their indie rock roots, both are soul-inspired, funkier tunes, with memorable choruses, but the melodies still serve up that same dose of charisma.


Star track: Heavenly Maybe and Icarus
Track to listen to: Heavenly Maybe

Gengahr is a psychedelic rock band out of Hackney, London who have nailed the subtle, gloomy, psychedelic rock vibe. Their name is a play on Gengar, one of the original Pokémon, because they were forced to rename after discovering an artist already using their previous name, RES, on iTunes. They released their latest album, "Sanctuary", and recruited an old friend, Jack Steadman of Bombay Bicycle Club, as their producer.

Their single, Heavenly Maybe, is full of bright, groovy guitar and deep vocals. Within the first five seconds, the guitar illuminates the track and creates exciting energy for the first verse leading into the rest of the song.


Star track: Stop This Flame
Track to listen to: Strange and Lately

Celeste is the current rising star of British soul and R&B, garnering lots of attention for her voice as well as her versatility. Late 2019 she won both a Brit Award and a BBC Music Award as well as being voted by critics in a BBC poll as the 2020’s predicted breakthrough artist. She’s only released two EPs, with her self-titled debut album coming out later this year

Stop This Flame is her first single of the year, a jazzy, piano-driven R&B anthem that shows off her powerful voice. Strange is a tune that got her widespread attention, shows her other more tender side, a simple arrangement with a soft piano and string sections, her beautiful voice and lyrics capture the melancholic mood perfectly. On Lately, her soulful vocals sit perfectly on top of a well-layered jazz instrumental with a smooth bassline and drum work.

Sam Fender

Star track: Hypersonic Missiles
Track to listen to: Will We Talk and That Sound

The rising star of British indie rock at the moment, the singer-songwriter has burst into the scene, showing exceptional writing skills and a sound which is a new, invigorated take on the classic guitar rock recipe. He has particularly impressed because of his ability to fit themes such as inequality and toxic masculinity into some festival-ready indie anthems.

Hypersonic Missiles, the title track of his debut album, is a massive, gritty anthem that takes you by surprise. High energy guitar riffs and saxophone solos gets you up whilst it’s sharp lyrics which talk about wars and the kids in Gaza get you thinking. That Sound is another arena rocking effort, whilst Will We Talk talks about relatable relationship uncertainty.

Loyle Carner

Star track: Ottolenghi
Track to listen to: Damselfly and Ain’t Nothing Changed

A different voice in the U.K. rap game, the London rapper has poetic lyricism and flow that is usually delivered on jazzy, soulful instrumentals. his lyrics are sentimental and emotional, and you can hear it in his voice. He touches on relatable, personal topics on friends and family and about being broken and vulnerable. Wholesome and honest music at its purest.

Ottolenghi, from his second album Not Waving, But Drowning he is in his storytelling best, helped by the beautiful vocals of Jordan Rakei and moody pianos and keys. Damselfly, features vocals from Tom Misch, smooth guitar work and talks about love and loss. On Ain’t Nothing Changed gentle guitar riffs contrast with a saxophone riff and booming bass as he raps about the stagnancy of life. Both are from his highly praised debut Yesterday’s Gone.


Star track: Hell N Back
Track to listen to: Big Dreams

Another genre-bending London artist, his truly unique musical style combines indie rock, rap and punk. His energetic debut album Badkid was praised for being very experimental, even incorporating elements of alternative R&B, even a little bit of soul. His recent EP, Will You Be My Yellow? which features Dominic Fike, shows a more calm and cool side of his music.

Big Dreams is from his Badkid mixtape, and it is lively alternative indie rock with plenty of youthful energy, about trying to make it to the big time. Hell N Back, is chilled out, groovy R&B with elements of reggae. It’s a breezy tune that needs to be on any summer playlist. His music is thematically strong as well, fitting perfectly with the warm, yellow theme of the EP.


Star track: Doormank
Track to listen to: T N Biscuits

The rapper has captured the attention for his outspokenness and musical style. His critically acclaimed, highly political album, Nothing Great About Britain is a masterstroke. He has got a distinct flow with punk-rap vigor throughout yet still succeeds in getting the message in his lyrics across. A unique, alternative artist, he recently collaborated with experimental rock band Gorillaz and punk rock duo Slaves on a fun track called Momentary Bliss.

On Nothing Great About Britain, he talks about everything from drugs, poverty and the economy to class wars. On Doorman, a fast-paced, electro-punk collaboration with Mura Masa, the instrumental matches his explosive, high-energy flow. T N Biscuits sees him, full of attitude and swagger, lay down bold bars on a heavy, bouncy U.K. grime type beat.


Star track: LAIDBACKk
Track to listen to: SIGN ON and MOVE

The project of 24-year-old Jordan Cardy, who first released mixtapes through SoundCloud. Legendary Britpop band Blur’s Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon both contributed to his skate-punk styled debut album SCUM. Another one to watch, he is very versatile and creative, and this is apparent in his songs. Coxon plays lead guitar on star track LAIDBACK.

LAIDBACK is a memorable, catchy, easy-going indie rock love song. SIGN ON packs a punch, with plenty of youthful zing in its guitar riffs and clever lyrical word play. MOVE shows his range, opting for a heavy, bouncy techno rock instrumental in which he lays down a rap flow. His more recent work shows off his American 90s hip hop and punk-rock influences.


Star track: Heaven Up There
Track to listen to: Live Well and Bitter

This London band delivers soft, melodic sounds with pretty guitar parts. The band are two albums in already, and perhaps are not as popular compared to the other bands on the list, but give their own refreshing take to the genre. Their music is pure, with cool guitar work and breezy basslines, bringing brilliant storytelling and a feel-good indie vibe to every track.

Two tunes from debut album So Long Forever, Live Well and Bitter are examples of the band’s brilliance, with warm melodies and harmonies. They are both up-beat tracks with gently uplifting basslines. Heaven Up There, from their follow-up album, is an ethereal experience, a deeply reflective tune which showcases front man Leo Wyndham’s vocals.