It’s been a tough year for everyone in the music industry due to COVID-19, bands and artists have struggled to make content due to not being able to gig! However some great things have come out of this year, including plenty of new music and some incredible live stream gigs.
Here at The Pentatonic we were set to have our busiest year ever, with gigs planned for every weekend! Unfortunately we had to cancel all our gigs this year. During lockdown we launched a podcast under our ‘Nobody Talks Anymore’ brand, our host Sam Shiner was in conversation with several bands and artists, chatting to them about all things music. Later in the year we were able to run some social distanced events, including weekly acoustic gigs in Manchester and an industry networking event with some amazing guests. We are busy planning for 2021 and hopefully we can get back to putting on some fantastic gigs with some of the best up and coming bands.
We have decided to bring back our annual ‘Pentatonic Picks Top 10 List” for another year, where we choose 10 bands who we think are going to be big in 2021!
#10 – THE HACIENDAS
Despite the band only forming in March of this year, they have burst onto the Manchester music scene! Manchester band The Haciendas, having named themselves after one of the city’s most famous nightclubs, have the classic Manchester attitude mixed with influences from classic rock. I was lucky enough to see the band’s debut performance back in July at MMTV, at first I thought the band had been around for years until I realised this was the first time they had ever played live! The band have been using their social media pages to their advantage and growing their fanbase by the day. The Haciendas released their debut single ‘It’s Not Too late’ on 11th December and so far they have already been awarded Track Of The Month by Indie Rocks! It’s safe to say that The Haciendas are going to be ones to watch in 2021, that is why they take the #10 spot on our ‘Big In 2021’ list!
#9 – CASUALS
South Manchester band ‘Casuals’ may not be a band you have heard of just yet, but a band you most definitely check out! We have worked alongside the band from the very start of their existence, giving them their first gig alongside our roster band Broke Casino at their SOLD OUT Manchester show back in March 2019. Since then the band have been on a roll, releasing 4 amazing singles which are available on all major streaming platforms. These singles have secured the band a slot at Car Fest North & South in 2021! We can’t wait to see Casuals back on stage next year and we also can’t wait for new music, which is on the horizon for the lads. We predict a bright future for Casuals, which is why they take the #9 spot on our ‘Big In 2021’ list!
#8 – THE LUTRAS
Scottish quartet ‘The Lutras’ have had a great couple of years. Their independant debut release ‘Run And Hide’ gained the band 100,000 combined streams. Since then the band have sold out 2 headline shows in their hometown of Dumfries and have also played at iconic venue King Tuts in Glasgow! The Lutras also made a trip over to Manchester earlier this year to play a headline show for us. The band have just released their first ever Christmas single ‘Give It Up For Christmas’, it’s got a classic christmas song vibe but with a Lutras twist, if you haven’t heard it yet, make sure you get it on. The Lutras have been tipped to be one of Scotland’s best up and coming bands and we would love to have them back in Manchester when gigs are back up and running. That is why The Lutras take our #8 spot on our ‘Big In 2021’ list!
#7 – THE A.V. CLUB
Warrington based indie-pop band The A.V. Club have impressed us here at The Pentatonic this year! They kicked the year off by releasing their debut EP ‘Youthful Illusions’ back in April which contained 6 instant hits with hints of 80s nostalgia, however the band didn’t stop there they went on to release 2 more singles ‘Over U’ and ‘Real Love’ which gained them the support of Radio X! The bands online presence is to be admired by other up and coming bands, as well as being amazing songwriters and performers, the lads know how to make their social media pages look incredible. Their talents for creating content makes the band stand out from the rest. We predict a huge future for The A.V. Club, it won’t be long until the band are playing sell out shows across the UK. That is why The A.V. Club take our #7 spot on our ‘Big In 2021’ list!
#6 – FLECHETTES
As some of you may know, there have been plenty of top notch bands coming out of Wigan recently. For us Flechettes stand out as one of the best, we have had the pleasure of having the band on gigs during the early days of their formation, as well as frontman ‘Jack Heaton’ being part of our management roster as a solo artist. The bands latest single ‘Chasing Youth’ went down a storm with their fanbase, after having difficulties recording the track due to COVID restrictions! The band have created an indie-rock banger with their catchy lyrics and huge guitar riffs. It’s always nice to see a band who engages with their fanbase using social media, Flechettes always take the time to reply to fans and interact with them, which has gained them an extremely loyal fanbase which is growing by the day. Although the band have had a tough year, they have taken it in their stride and continue to write and rehearse ready to get back on stage. We were lucky enough to see Flechettes live this year at the socially distanced festival ‘MM Fest’ . It was nice to see the band play an incredible set full of unreleased tunes which has made us excited for what is to come next year. Here at The Pentatonic we have been really lucky to have an exclusive preview of the bands next single which is the perfect follow up to ‘Chasing Youth’. We believe 2021 will be a great year for Flechettes and we wouldn’t be surprised if they followed in the footsteps of fellow Wigan band ‘The Lathums’ and had a fast rise to the top! That is why Flechettes take out #6 spot on our ‘Big In 2021’ list!
#5 – JAMES HARTLEY
Bury singer/songwriter James Hartley, formally known as frontman of unsigned Manchester band ‘Kastella’, has had a fantastic year since deciding to go solo and form his own backing band. James has released a total of 4 singles so far which have gained him over 30,000 combined streams on Spotify which is an impressive feat considering he has only played 1 gig with his band! James has possibly released one of our favourite songs of this year, his single ‘What I Gotta Do?’ released on 7th August has the huge sound of a summer anthem, with a massive chorus and funky bassline. The song was produced by George Fitzgibbon who is a member of Stockport band Fuzzy Sun who have supported the likes of Two Door Cinema Club. Having attended a rehearsal with James and the band, we are very excited to see what 2021 has in store, as their live set is currently being pieced together. We can also expect plenty more new music from James, and if his latest single is anything to go by, we are all in for a treat! The band have already announced their first gig of 2021, for their second ever live performance they will be headlining Sidney & Matilda in Sheffield on Saturday 6th March for Northern Exposure, we are really looking forward to the return of live music! We predict that James Hartley is going to have a very bright future and hope that 2021 is going to be a fantastic year for himself and the band and that all their hard work behind the scenes will eventually pay off. That is why James Hartley is taking the #5 spot on our ‘Big In 2021’ list!
#4 – GARDEN PARTY
Garden Party have been a stand out band for us here at The Pentatonic this year, a band we have been lucky enough to become mates with. In the summer they released their much anticipated debut single ‘Tomorrow’ which gave Garden Party their own distinctive sound. Since then the band had been pushing their debut single which secured them radio play on Radio X, they had also been teasing new music alongside the odd virtual performance. The band needed to release a follow up single that would engage and grow their fanbase, it was no easy task, however, Garden Party delivered in a big way. Their latest single ‘In The Middle’ was an instant hit with the bands fanbase and an instant hit at The Pentatonic HQ! ‘In The Middle’ entered the Official ITunes Alternative Charts at #34, the band started a campaign to see if they could reach the top spot. Over the space of just 48 hours, Garden Party’s campaign had paid off as they reached the #1 spot on the Official ITunes Alternative Charts! A massive achievement for the band, all their hard work finally started to pay off. The band have since released their latest single on vinyl which can now be purchased online. For a band that haven’t even performed in front of an audience yet, Garden Party haven’t had a bad 2020! We are looking forward to following the bands journey into 2021 as we predict big things will happen. That is why Garden Party take the #4 spot on our ‘Big In 2021’ list!
#3 – COBAIN JONES
19 year old singer/songwriter from Manchester Cobain Jones has been on our radar for a while now and we have had the pleasure of having Cobain on several gigs here at The Pentatonic. At the age of 18 Cobain Jones had already landed himself a slot at Kendal Calling after being invited to play at Tim Peaks Diner by Mr Tim Burgess himself after an exciting Twitter exchange. 2020 has been a pretty big year for Cobain Jones, having started the year as an unsigned solo artist, to leaving the year with a record deal, being signed to Run On Records and Modern Sky UK and working on forming a band for when live gigs can return! We were delighted when we heard the news of Cobain being signed as we have seen first hand just how much hard work he puts into his music and performances. Cobain has released 2 singles since he has been signed, ‘Hooked’ and ‘Wonder’ were recorded at Parr Street Studios in Liverpool and produced by James Skelly of The Coral. Listening to both songs you can hear Cobain’ inspiration from The Beatles but with a modern twist, something refreshing to hear. Cobain has recently worked with Manchester based photographer and videographer Sam Crowston, who has worked with the likes of The Blinders, The Lathums, Red Rum Club, Jamie Webster and now Cobain Jones. Together they have created a 3 part miniseries giving you an insight into the life of Cobain Jones and growing up on a council estate on the outskirts of Manchester. Part 1 and 2 of this amazing miniseries are available to watch now from Cobain Jones’ Youtube channel. What is next for Cobain Jones? We predict a big future for the singer/songwriter from Manchester hopefully Cobain will return to the stage in 2021 with his brand new band, we can see Cobain’s name on some big festival lineups next year. That is why Cobain Jones is taking the #3 spot on our ‘Big In 2021’ list!
#2 – THE CLAUSE
Birmingham rock n roll 4 piece The Clause have been described as having a 60’s swagger, 80’s groove with a 90’s attack, and we couldn’t agree more! We saw the band perform as one of the last gigs before the COVID lockdown in March, supporting Callow Youth with our management roster band Broke Casino at The Deaf Institute in Manchester, The Clause certainly know how to perform, one of the best live bands we have seen in a long time! However the band haven’t actually released any new music in 2020, apart from a remix of hit single ‘In My Element’ by electronic music producer Oliver Jones, better known as Skream. The band also channelled their inner wedding band with some incredible online cover songs. This hasn’t stopped the band from making a name for themselves as they have continued to work behind the scenes to make sure 2021 is their year. So far The Clause have sold out several shows in their hometown of Birmingham and have started to tour the rest of the country, building their following in every city they play. The band have been teasing that new music is on the horizon, having stated they have recorded an albums worth of their best material yet! Exciting times ahead for The Clause as they are on the cusp of becoming one of the UK’s next big bands! That is why The Clause take the #2 spot on our ‘Big In 2021’ list!
#1 – STANLEYS
Having not even made the ‘Big In 2020’ list last year, we felt Wigan guitar band Stanleys more than deserved the top spot on this years ‘Big In 2021’ list! Here at The Pentatonic we have been aware of Stanleys for a while now, having had them on a few gigs before their rise to the top of the Manchester unsigned music scene. We remember having a meeting with the lads earlier this year to chat to them about their upcoming single ‘A Better Life’, little did we know, this would be the start of something special for the band. Stanleys have no doubt had an amazing 12 months, releasing their debut single ‘A Better Life’ back in January, which has reached 100,000 streams on Spotify, the band then went on to release follow up single ‘Measured In Gold’ in March. Stanleys have been championed by XS Manchester, Mainly Manchester, Scotts Menswear, Radio X and many more. The band have been on a roll ever since the release of their singles, securing spots supporting The Lottery Winners and The Slow Readers Club and slots on major festivals such as Liverpool Sound City, Kendal Calling, Hit The North and Bingley Weekender. Unfortunately due to COVID all these slots were cancelled, however they have all now been rescheduled to next year, so 2021 has a lot in store for Stanleys! Stanleys took over the DW Stadium in Wigan back in September for a one off virtual live performance which the band later released on a special limited edition vinyl. Stanleys have gone from being a band no one had really heard of, to one of the most talked about bands on the scene. With new music coming in 2021, the future’s looking bright for Stanleys. Having had a sneaky listen to some new tunes, i can say that you will be very impressed when you hear what the lads have been working on. That is why Stanleys take the top spot on our ‘Big In 2021’ list!
2020 has been a great year for new music, it has been really hard to just pick 10 bands and artists to make this years ‘Big In 2021’ list. So we would like to give special mentions to 5 bands and artists who almost made the list, next year we might have to do a top 20 list!
1 – Jess Kemp
2 – Aligners
3 – The Royston Club
4 – Afternoon People
5 – Manifesto
All of these bands and artists deserve an amazing 2021 and we can’t wait to see what the new year has in store for them!