Reasons To Be Cheerful – 2021.

Okay. 2020 is over. Finished. Done with. Don’t look back. Nothing to see there. Turn to the light. Look ahead. Let us focus on the future. With that spirit in mind, after you’ve quaffed your New Year Bubbly in your family bubble, here are a few bands that you can bring you some joy in 2021.

The Kendos.

Brothers Louis and Isaac Grover, Nathan Farley and Tom Welsh are incredibly young and remarkably talented. Based around Merseyside, in 2020 they released their debut single – Rule The Real, a slice of indie rock with a side of psychedelia that at first listen put me in mind of The Seahorses. Their tender years mean they have time on their side. If they don’t progress in 2021, I can predict big things for them in 2022 or even 2023 and still say, ‘I told you so, you heard it here first’.

Paint Me In Colour.

These indie-pop raiders, who include amongst their influences artists as varied as Pink Floyd and Aretha Franklin, didn’t let the problems of 2020 get in their way. Olivia Springer, Matt Johnson and Sam Pierpoint have made the most of a bad year. They performed some out-door, socially distanced, guerilla gigs in Liverpool City Centre, filmed a video with a minor flash mob of extras invited via social media, and completed a great debut EP/mini album – Labels Opinions & Preconceptions. The album is an ideal glimpse into the multi-faceted, quirky world of PMIC. There are great songs on here that as well as exhibiting Olivia springer’s soaring, soulful voice, highlight the bands many influences. There are elements of concept album rock (opening song Hello), and tracks like the singles Feel It and 1968 (a song about the year Springer’s grandparents got married)that drip with reggae and African beats while never straying to far from their soulful, pop mainstay. Here’s hoping their hard work pays off.

The Sway.

Liverpool five-piece The Sway refreshingly combine a delightful use of melody and harmony with a brash confidence. With three singer-songwriters in the band, and members swapping roles many times during their live sets I’ve previously likened their style to that of the Ajax football team of the 1970’s. Total Music. Outwardly their music seems effortless. There’s no wasted space and yet every little chord and riff seems to fit exactly where it is. In many ways they remind me of The Coral in their early days. Their confidence stems not from the bravado that some young bands feel is a requisite for success, but from a total belief in the their talent and ability. It’s not ego. It’s just fact. If you don’t get it now, one day you will. Do yourself a favour and prepare yourself for ’21 by checking out their 2020 single Don’t You Wanna Be (Happy).

The Luka State.

Not really ‘One’s-to-Watch’. We’ve been following the fortunes of The Luka State here at Halfway 2 Nowhere for a while now. This is more of an event to look out for. Winsford indie guitar rockers The Luka State release their long awaited debut album Fall In Fall Out in January 2021. Containing some of their best hard hitting, live songs including Kick In The Teeth, Feel It, and Bury Me, recorded almost as live(but with guitar and vocal overdubs) it’s quality should be assured. Their previous single releases have all managed to capture the electric, raw, Clash-like energy of the band and I hope the album can do the same. If so then it can propel The Luka State forward on a national level. People should be talking about this band in the same breathe as The K’s and The Skylights.

Andrew Cushin.

Geographically outside of my north-west remit but someone who undoubtedly has a big 2021 ahead of him. I have been lucky enough to catch Newcastle’s Andrew Cushin live on a couple of occasions and his solo performances have been simply stunning. His single releases in 2020 – It’s Gonna Get Better, Waiting For The Rain and Where’s My Family Gone are raw, emotional, moving mini kitchen sink dramas. He paints it the way it is, warts and all. Having caught the ear of Noel Gallagher and signed a record deal with Virgin, Cushin has developed a bigger sound for his touching, melodic tunes. Cushin has said that this recorded, bigger sound is his line of travel and that he hopes to emulate the progress of another north east talent Sam Fender. I feel that in 2021 he can eclipse the achievements of his Novocastrian neighbour.

So there it is. Bring on the jabs, open the doors, and I’ll see you in 2021. I’ll be at the back by the bar.

Ian Dunphy

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