Punktastic Picks: Volume 3

By Gem Rogers

After a brief hiatus, like a band who broke up in 2019 only to make an immediate post-lockdown comeback, Punktastic Picks is making its overenthusiastic return to your screens and devices. Hooray!

For those who missed our previous editions, (Volume One and Volume Two are still available for your reading and listening pleasure, should you desire), Punktastic Picks is the space we use to shout about ten of our favourite new and upcoming artists from across the wonderful world of alternative music. These are the bands we reckon you’ll fall in love with just as much as we have, the ones who’ll be taking over playlists, line-ups and hearts in the very near future.

Ready to get listening? Hit that play button, and read more about the artists featured in this volume below. Enjoy!

Is it possible to fall in love with an artist after just one single? Well, when it sounds like ‘At What Cost’, the answer is yes… Very yes. This one is for the emo pop kids, and Los Angeles based artist Amanda Tran has made the most promising of starts on this new venture;  ‘At What Cost’ is sprinkled with irresistible effervescence and glitter that keeps us coming back for more (and singing along at the tops of our lungs – sorry not sorry, neighbours). It may be early days, but we’re pretty damn confident this is the start of a bright and beautiful journey for In The Mourning – and we’re also really, really impatient for more. Soon, please?!

Find In The Mourning: Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

Imagine, if you will, grabbing all your favourite Motion City Soundtrack albums, and smashing them at high speed into some ‘After Laughter’-era Paramore. Now imagine that, instead of just making a horrific mess of splintered CDs (who are we kidding, as if anyone uses CDs anymore), you instead generated an all new band, full of the self-deprecating, snappy wit of MCS, and all the addictive, synth-pop hooks of Paramore… Welcome to City Mouth. If you’ve ever spent fair chunks of your life feeling like a worthless failure, the Chicago group have a new home for you in the form of debut album ‘Coping Machine’ – but far from feeling depressing, this is a place to feel comforted, understood, and to dance your troubles away. City Mouth aren’t just the band we want right now – they’re the band we need.

Find City Mouth: Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

Ready to immerse yourself in a world where darkness and pop collide with spectacular and enticing effect? Leeds trio Artio are more than happy to take you there, and to be honest, after listening to latest EP ‘Shapeshifter: As Above’, we’d probably follow them just about anywhere. Addictive and insistent beats pair with glistening, polished melodies that are bursting with confidence; Artio have a level of accomplished skill that belies their young age, and some seriously phenomenal vocals from Hol Brazill. When it comes to exciting new homegrown talent, put Artio at the top of your ‘must listen’ lists, and we promise you won’t regret it.

Find Artio: Facebook / Instagram

If you think you know what you’re getting in for when you hit play on Colour & Shade’s latest EP, ‘Hostile Grounds’, give it a minute – it’s almost certainly going to take you by surprise. Taking a lot of cues from metalcore in their blend of melody and heaviness, the Aussie band don’t stop there; there are chuggy breakdowns, planet-sized guitar solos, choirs, and brilliantly executed pop sounds all on offer across the five tracks. Luckily, if that sounds like just your thing, the band also have a full length, self-titled album under their belts, and the 2018 release is a great place to start your Colour & Shade journey. It’s a sound they’ve tightly refined and paired with a serious emotional punch on ‘Hostile Grounds’, putting them firmly on our ‘Ones To Watch’ radar – and trust us, they should definitely be on yours too.

Find Colour & Shade: Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

Did someone say mid-2000s emo revival? Count. Us. In. Arizona’s First And Forever are utterly and unashamedly influenced by just about all of your favourite emo legends and it shows, but best of all, they manage to do it without sounding derivative or falling into tribute act territory – this music is a love letter to all your most angsty, emo-fringed emotions, and bloody hell do we adore every moment… BRB, just fetching our studded belts and hair dye… But seriously, if you can manage to listen to recent EP ‘Let This Love Lie Dead’ (yeah, told you it was emo) without doing a wailing singalong, staring out of a rainy window pretending to be in a music video, or breaking out into a big solo mosh around the room, we can’t help you. Give First and Forever some love, and they might just mend the gaping hole in your sad, sad heart – at the very least, their hyperactive Instagram feed should keep you entertained until you forget about your woes. Really. It’s a trip.

Find First And Forever: Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

When it comes to fusing multiple influences and styles into alternative music, many artists still play it safe – but not DE’WAYNE. Each slice of debut album ‘Stains’, released on Hopeless Records, feels like an adventure as he explores a vast playground of rap, punk, pop and rock, and does it better than just about anyone who’s tried it before; every song is just effortlessly bloody brilliant, and whether you need tracks to hype yourself up for a long day ahead, or something to blast out of your car on cross-country road trips, you’ll struggle to find anything that fits the bill better than this. Self-assured in its experimental feel with plenty of biting hooks, ‘Stains’ is exactly the kind of sound we need to shake up the alternative scene, and DE’WAYNE is doing it in damn fine style.

Find DE’WAYNE: Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

It’s been a few years since Louisiana’s Hey Thanks! put any new music out, but new single ‘From Me 2 U’ has put a glossy new coat of paint on their earlier pop punk sound that has us all kinds of excited for their new era – although there’s still plenty to love in their earlier releases, including single ‘Missouri Business’ (yeah, we’re obsessed with this too) and EP ‘Nothing It Would Change, Nothing I Could Say’, which has heart and love bursting from its scrappy pop punk sides. We might not have any dates for more new music yet, but we’ll be keeping a close eye (ear?) out, and if energetic, glossy, fun-filled pop punk is your bag, we wholeheartedly recommend you do the same.

Find Hey Thanks!: Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

Listening to the debut release from Norwegian newcomers Fixation, it’s hard to imagine a band fitting this much variety into a full length album, never mind a four track EP. ‘Global Suicide’ sees massive, futuristic rock soundscapes that bring the same kind of ambitious ideas as bands like Muse into intensely memorable five minute chunks. In contrast to Muse, though, Fixation feel much more grounded, not allowing the grandiose to overtake their songs entirely – it’s an incredibly impressive, mature debut for anyone who loves heaviness and melody in equal measure, and with more new music on the horizon, we’re looking forward to seeing where they go from here.

Find Fixation: Facebook / Instagram

‘Mega anthems with beats and melodies that will make you want to dance until the soles fall off your beloved Vans, and for another few hours after that’. Sound appealing? Hi, Never Loved would like to make your acquaintance! With music as sunny as their native Florida and as snappy as the resident gators, taking Never Loved’s debut album ‘Over It’ for a spin is, quite simply, the right thing to do if you want to brighten your day. Hitting pop punk at the poppier end of the scale, their ability to create melancholic yet upbeat earworms like ‘On & On It Goes’, riffy-electro-monsters like ‘Sunshine’, and fuzzy punk in the form of ‘Gasoline’ – and cram it all into one debut album – is more than enough to mark Never Loved out as a band for the future.

Find Never Loved: Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

‘TDH2S’ has barely left our minds for more than a few minutes since we first heard it earlier this year, so it seems only right for the new kings of pop punk, Magnolia Park, to round out this edition of Punktastic Picks. The minutes we aren’t spinning debut EP ‘Dream Eater’ on repeat are spent on, well, all their other songs, including latest single ‘Tonight’ (this band DO NOT REST, apparently); classic, bright, varied pop punk at its absolute best, Magnolia Park have really come into their own this year, and we can already picture the endless dancing and crowdsurfing sessions we’ll have at gigs-yet-to-come. Join us for a singalong at the barrier?

Find Magnolia Park: Facebook / Instagram / Twitter