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10 best breakthrough bands of 2021

Indie radio DJ and new band guru Soph (aka Purpl Mac) takes us through the best releases this year from under the radar artists.

As an under the radar DJ, Matthew kindly asked me if I could list my favourite bands of 2021. This is always a difficult exercise as I listened to thousands of bands this year!

Many bands deserve to be mentioned, but the point is to give a sample of my favourites. So here we go, sharing 10 of my favourite bands of 2021 and focusing on the ones that are less mainstream, as is my speciality as a DJ on


10. The Shop Window

This one is for Britpop and jangle melody lovers. Kent-based The Shop Window released their debut album The State of Being Human in July with a strong selection of singles.

They're a group of passionate artists investing all in their music. Favourite songs: 'Out of Reach' and 'Ride It'.


9. The Silver Lines

The Silver Lines released two singles this year and have a total of five other singles in their back catalogue, all of which are really good too. My favourite song this year from them is 'Alive'.

They're an indie rock/punk band from Birmingham with a cool rock attitude and one band to follow in the future.


8. Veps

Veps are a young indie band featuring four Norwegian girls, one of my favourites of this year. They released the EP Open the Door in June which features the single 'Ecstasy', a fun song that immediately caught my attention.


7. The Criticals

The Criticals are a Nashville-based rock band. I enjoyed all their singles released this year and their EP released in August.

My favourite song of theirs is 'High Life Clinic'. The lyrics are perfectly delivered and I loved the melodies on the rest of their songs.


6. The Islas

The Islas are an indie band from Norwich and they released their debut EP Oblivion in August. All the songs are very well delivered.

I especially loved the collaboration on the song 'All the Same' with artist Emily Parish.


5. Sunstinger

As a fan of the Jesus and the Mary Chain, I fell in love with Sunstinger's EP, Beyond the Frame. I especially love the song 'All My Friends Are High' and 'Shadows'.

Shoegaze lovers will love this EP from this Scottish band.


4. The Silver Bars

I discovered The Silver Bars in January this year and they've been a constant favourite. They've just kept releasing brilliant songs this entire year. I particularly enjoyed listening to their EP No Luxuries and it remains one of my most listened to artists this year.

A song worth checking out is 'Man in the Sky'. A must for any fans of The Strokes.


3. Dictator

Dictator won the SAMA (Scottish Alternative Music Awards) in Scotland for best new alternative/rock band this year and I'm not surprised as they've released quality songs over the past two years.

The West Lothian band have managed to create their own unique, signature sound, which is not always easy. I often hear bands that are good but they just sound like many others, so Dictator definitely stand out.

My favourite song of theirs is 'Moonlight'.


2. New Candys

New Candys are a Venice based shoegaze/psych alternative rock band that released their album Vyvyd in June. One of my favourite albums this year as the mix of guitar and electronic sounds are very impressive and well produced.

They are supporting the Dandy Warhols next year on tour which is a good sign and will surely increase their fanbase.

I love the song 'Begin Again', one of the most chilled out and introspective on the album.


1. The Skinner Brothers

My number one breakthrough artist of 2021 is The Skinner Brothers. This year they released two EPs of excellent quality, Culture Non-Stop and Iconic.

Everything in the songs is perfectly delivered (lyrics, melody) and they truly have this rebel rock attitude I like. I absolutely love the songs 'Iconic' and 'Low'.


Thanks to Matthew for asking me to share my thoughts on my favourite artists this year. If you are interested in new bands, follows me on Twitter @Macaronpurpl or Instagram @purplmac.


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