Words: Josh Fundafunda
As you can never have too many bands on your radar, here are a couple of UK based bands worth keeping your eyes and ears on at the moment.
Photo: Popped Music
First up is October Drift, a group bringing a fresh energy to their pop-inspired rock. Their breakout album Forever Whatever released in 2020 made quite the impression. It’s popularity, boosted by relentless touring, earned them spots across high profile festivals line- ups, quickly making a name for the group. It would be foolish to ignore the addictive ‘Losing my Touch”, an instant classic. Opening an album with a bang is a good way to make an impact, and this song alone cemented the group in my mind. Overall, it’s an impressive first release from the group. A little formulaic, but had me excited for their next venture.
Their next and most recent album, I Don’t Belong Anywhere, arrived two years later, and cranks the energy up to 11. Seeming to have grown past the first release, October Drift have upped the intensity for the better, making for a much more engaging listen. The album starts out heavy; tracks like “Waltzer” and “Insects” burst with frustration and anxieties about trying to fight what’s out of your control. Both the vivid lyrics and raw instrumentation are some of their most engaging yet. These feelings of loss and regret weigh heavy throughout the remainder of the album. The group makes it clear just how hard Covid hit them; just as they were hitting their stride, everything threatened to fall apart. With that in mind, it’s clear why this album is packed with energy.
The group balances this raw emotion with solid song composition that glues the project together. Take “Ever After”, a standout song from this album. Starting off with a hypnotic organ, the song slowly builds around the lyrics of a long-lost love grown cold from growing older. When it finally reaches boiling point, it feels like bittersweet closure. The group isn’t afraid to slow things down either. The album’s closing song “Old and Distant Memory” is a song filled with the regret of missed opportunities. It’s a refreshing change of pace on this project, trading the heavy guitar and drums for more melancholy strings and pianos. Intimate vocals from Kiran Roy coax you through the song and the album drifts off like a lullaby. What has stayed consistent through this song and many others on this project is a repeated “cold” feeling building out of those anxieties.
October Drift is at their best when they rely on the strength of their song structure – it’s what makes them such a compelling live performance. They look to keep up the pressure setting themselves up to be a staple of UK live rock music.
Photo: Holly Whitaker
On the other end of the spectrum is SCORS, a four-man team that are about as new onto the scene as you can get. This London based group has been playing together since their high-school days. Now, taking their music to the next level, the band blends indie rock with jazz and lounge music. A classic combo that is as moody as it is heavy with melodies. They have only released a handful of songs across a couple platforms, but they are carving out a comfortable niche for themselves.
Currently, they’ve got one full ep our titled Punting. It contains most of their released songs to date, and is a good window into the sound you can expect from the group. They wear their influences heavy on their sleeves. The baritone vocals of singer Jake Passmore are reminiscent of King Krule and the rest of the band follows suit. Each song comes with an easy-going warmth that is quick to wrap you up.
“Under the Sea” starts off slow, literally sounding as if performed on the ocean’s floor, before being jumpstarted. It’s a straight forward love song and feels as innocent as the lyrics. Through their eyes, love is “salt water serenades” and “drowned spirits” that wash over you. The driving drums and electric guitar build the song to be a great pick-me-up. The following track, “You and I Get Along”, plays with tempo in as well. As the song continues, so does the speed and intensity of the bands playing – almost overwhelming you by the end. What began as a slick lounge song, surges into a cacophony of jazz and rock, really flexing their musical muscles.
Their latest release, a single titled “Karaoke at the Black Sheep Lounge”, is a groovy track that would feel right at home in any dimly lit, smoke filled bar. It’s another step away from their rock-infused ep, and leans more heavily into the smooth lounge genre. Hypnotic baselines from Max Rampton fill out the song and the group really loosens up, swinging in and out of rhythm like any jazz band should. The last minute of the song picks up the pace with rolling drum brakes, a smooth outro for a smooth track. Like October Drift, SCORS is probably best experienced live.
Besides a few radio mixes posted to their SoundCloud, the group has been silent since that last single. Even their back catalogue is sparse – one noteworthy live demo is “How’s Our Favourite Girl”, where Drummer (and surprise harmonicist!) Stix serenades.
Intermittent SoundCloud-posting aside, it’s been almost two years since their last official release. Thankfully, their recent return to live performances might be an indication of their return. Hopefully fans aren’t left waiting too long for these groups to return as their discographies leave you wanting more.