2021 Ones to Watch – North-East

This year, we’re going around the regions of the UK, bringing you our ones to watch for 2021. First up, our north-east writer Jay Landman has picked his five artists being tipped to have breakout years from up north.


Grunge/Pop-Punk group, Abnorm, released their debut single ‘Citrus’ in September 2020, announcing their arrival onto the Newcastle scene in spectacular fashion. Abbie’s powerful vocals and impressive range take centre-stage; if this approach is repeated with other releases it is likely to become part of Abnorm’s signature sound, boding very well for future success. The impact of their debut single, coupled with the anticipated potential the band has, consolidates them – in our eyes – as ones to watch.

Listen to: ‘Citrus’

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says "BBC MUSIC introducing... NORTH EAST"

Sing Again Syren

Sing Again Syren are a true power-trio with the skills and talent needed to make it big. One listen to their discography proves this: huge riffs, powerful vocals, and a gigantic sound then further complemented by the confidence the band exudes; they know they’re better-than-good, and this gives them an edge. The ambition and talent is there for the Rock band – if Sing Again Syren continue getting the right opportunities then there is very little to stop them.

Listen to: ‘Jenny’

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CREDIT: Adam Kennedy

Twist Helix

One of the North East’s heavy hitters, Twist Helix are signed to Spanish label Paul Back Music and are constantly adding to their network of industry-supporters, as well as their ever-growing fanbase. They are a prolific trio known for their incredibly stunning live shows packed with energy and LED-visuals. Having a discography of three albums further helps them to stand out, regionally and nationally, as a majority of artists still rely upon singles (or the occasional EP) to reach new audiences. Once live shows return, it will only be a matter of time until we see Twist Helix playing gigs and festivals all over the UK.

Listen to: ‘Louder’

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CREDIT: Jay Dawson

Leopard Rays

Hailing from Hartlepool, the Alt-Rock quartet channel their energy into a ferocious fervour on record and easily match this with their live shows, which have seen them play around the North East of England as well as Manchester and London. Leopard Rays are placed to do well considering the current context of increasing anger and anxiety stemming from political and social issues. Artists like Idles, Slaves and Fat White Family have exploded due to their ability to encapsulate such feelings in their songs and, as such, Leopard Rays could well follow a similar route.

Listen to: ‘Brother’

Image may contain: 3 people, people standing, sky, grass, outdoor and nature


Jazz-fusion quintet LYRAS introduced themselves to the Newcastle music scene through their debut single ‘Don’t Keep Me Awake’, released in October this year, and quickly established themselves as a wonderful breath of fresh air. LYRAS have many strings to their bow: the proficient musicianship being a key component, exemplified by lead vocalist Ada Francis being shortlisted in 2019 as an ‘Emerging Scottish Artist’ by the Quaich Project and other band members having held residencies at the prestigious Sage, Gateshead. We expect the group to continue doing well in the near future.

Listen to: ‘Don’t Keep Me Awake’

Image may contain: 5 people, people standing
CREDIT: Megan Savage

Facebook Links: Abnorm, Sing Again Syren, Twist Helix, Leopard Rays, and LYRAS

Spotify Links: Abnorm, Sing Again Syren, Twist Helix, Leopard Rays, and LYRAS

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