Brighton is a coastal town in the south east of England that became popular with Victorian day-trippers from London wanting to catch some sun in the 1800s. Since then, its vibrancy has burgeoned as a settlement for liberals and hipsters, becoming a top residence for cool gay people and African-American expats specialising in soul food. Brighton is a hip place for hip people, but it’s also somewhere creative types with a will to be weird can go and be themselves. And nowhere is this better exemplified than in the music coming out of Brighton right now.
The Brighton music scene is rich and magnificently bizarre. Other British bands like Joanna Gruesome have shifted down there to tap into the creepy occultist energy said to be omnipresent in Brighton, while Brighton groups such as British Sea Power, The Go! Team and The Maccabees justify its standing as an important rock city.
Here are three of Brighton’s uncanny and emerging finest.
Royal Blood’s Come on Over
Royal Blood don’t seem weird enough to be placed on this list, but they are from Brighton, and they’re odd enough to have attempted an epic stadium rock sound despite only consisting of two band members. It took Led Zeppelin five members to create a sound this big, but Mike Kerr (vocals, bass) and Ben Thatcher (drums) do the job astoundingly well as a duo.
Royal Blood were featured on this blog last year as a band to watch, but they’ve since become a lot more significant, with the Arctic Monkeys hand-selecting them to be their support act.
Keel Her’s Rosswell
Keel Her is the creative sobriquet of Brighton bedroom pop performer, Rose Keeler-Schäffeler. Bedroom artistry usually refers to eccentrically hermitical types that make music in the confines of their own homes and rarely engage with the outer world. Keeler-Schäffeler is seriously esoteric; someone who is described as a UFO fanatic and genuine believer in extra-terrestrial happenings. This obsession defines much of her music.
The thing is that for all of Keel Her’s inaccessible private life, the girl has an enviable knack for producing blinding pop melodies. Her voice and style is pretty unique, but it’s Keel Her’s otherworldly rate of making music that sets her apart. Her Soundcloud page is updated at the speed of knots, with Keeler-Schäffeler adding song after song, all day every day. Some Hit, some miss, all are special.
The Wytches’ Wire Frame Mattress
The Wytches originally come from Peterborough but took refuge amongst the outcaste oddities of Brighton. Their sound shares more in common with American surfer-rock, though; it’s their pagan psychedelic overtones that really put them in another league. They sound like unhinged kids in need of exorcisms, but the sheer brilliance of their killer riffs and stinging vocals makes The Wytches something to behold.
It’s stuff like this that ought to be making British music a powerhouse of integral individuality, but that’s not how things work in this day and age, unfortunately.