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Feel good sounds to lift the spirits: Local acts to listen to during lockdown

By Heather Large | Entertainment | Published:

It's often said that music soothes the soul.

Much like exercise, it has been shown to increase oxytocin and serotonin levels in your brain, both of which can be instant mood-boosters.

Listening to your favourite band, singer or song can be a good way to relax and forget about your worries for a while.

And it's always good to discover new music that you can add to your playlists.

So if you're looking to broaden your music collection and fancy supporting some Midland artists we've put together a list of 10 well-worth a listen:

Sophielou

Sophielou

She has been writing songs inspired by the world around her since she was just 14 years old and last year saw the release of her debut album, Soul Search.

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The contemporary RnB singer, from Wolverhampton describes her music as “conscious but cool”.

She has already gathered a loyal following since her third EP, Out With The Old, in 2017, which hit the top 10 on the iTunes R&B charts.

Describing Soul Search, Sophielou, whose real name is Sophie Louise Nedrick, said: “The main theme of the album is about being yourself. It’s about life, love and hurt.

“I’ve tried to make every song individual, I don’t like to put myself in a box. I like to have songs that make people think but then I also like to have a bit of fun with my music too.

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"There is some rap, some spoken word and then straight singing. I always put myself into my music.”

To listen see linktr.ee/sophieloulife

Ryan Evans

Ryan Evans

Wolverhampton artist Ryan Evans has been making waves across the music scene since being named 'Best Singer/Songwriter' at the Black Country Music Awards.

Last year he released his debut EP The Punk Poet and followed it up with a tribute to Dudley-born Manchester United player Duncan Edwards.

Co-written with Ian Dowdeswell, 21 Candles is full of his open and honest lyrics championing the life of the footballing hero who died at the age of 21.

“I was really inspired by his story and I wanted to write a song about it,” Evans originally said about his new release. "I’ve been writing songs for 10 years and I think this is the best song I’ve ever written. It sends tingles down the spine."

See www.facebook.com/RyanEvansOfficial

Jen North

Jen North

Jen, who lives in Bridgnorth, is an acoustic singer-songwriter whose music ranges from popular covers to ballads.

She is building up a loyal following and has been featured heavily as “one to watch” by BBC Introducing and has played venues in London and Birmingham, as well as supporting bands such as ‘80s favourites Go West and China Crisis.

The 18-year-old also performed at the BBC Music Day gig that launched the new Albert’s Shed venu in Southwater, Telford.

Jen says her inspiration comes from "Fleetwood Mac, Kate Bush, Amy Winehouse, The Japanese House, Clairo, Maggie Rogers and everything in between".

"I just love the way these artists metaphorically take you somewhere else, there’s nothing better than sitting in a field with earphones on and just letting the world pass you by," she says.

See jennorth.uk

Robbie Jones

Robbie Jones

Shrewsbury-born singer-songwriter Robbie Jones released his debut single Head In The Clouds earlier this year.

Before going solo, he was a member of the band Salopia for nine years.

Robbie, aged 29, recorded his track with Ryan Pinson at RML studios in Wolverhampton – based at Dunkley Street’s Newhampton Arts Centre.

“The song was one of them that just dropped from the sky really,” said the former Priory School pupil on its release. “It’s all based around the guitar riff and the lyrics just seemed to come out.

“I think deep down it’s about someone trying to make their way in a relationship but is not sure on which way to go.

“It’s a classic indie rock ‘n’ roll song which I think the industry needs.”

Visit www.facebook.com/RLJMusicShrewsbury

Rosie O'Sullivan

Rosie O'Sullivan

Rosie first wowed the nation with her big voice as a Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist in 2013.

Since then she has thrown herself in her singing and song-writing after graduating from The London College of Music and moving back home to Streetly.

Her latest single Take Me As I Am shows off her stirring lyrics, soulful voice and passion for performance and was followed by a remix recorded with rap artist Karim Al-Saied in Nashville.

“Britain’s Got Talent gave me a big shove into the music industry. I didn’t realise how much I loved singing until I was stood on that stage. I haven’t looked back since,” says Rosie.

See www.rosieosullivan.co.uk

Sugarthief

Sugarthief

These high-flying rockers from Penkridge have made their mark on the local music scene and beyond.

Formed in the summer of 2015 by brothers Jordi and Jack James and featuring ex-school mates Luke Owen and Reece Downton,they now have 100 odd gigs under their belts.

They've also made appearances on the Main Stage at YNOT festival, Isle of Wight, Truck, Kendall Calling and secured support slots with The Twang, The Night Cafe and Willie J Healy.

The young five-piece document "modern teenage experiences via jangly guitars, pop-ridden basslines and hook-laden lyrics, a hint of psych oozing from the keyboards".

See www.sugarthief.co.uk

Lions of Dissent

Lions Of Dissent

The Wolverhampton band released its self-produced second five-track EP, the Fear of Loathing last year.

The collective have moulded five tracks into one continuous piece of music, creating what they describe as "a window into another universe – a combination of big ideas, gigantic ambition and unfiltered expression".

They've since released singles Dopamine Scream and Dreams Like Drugs.

The latter is described by lead singer and songwriter Tim Baker, also one half of the creative force behind Wolverhampton clothing collective true Reverie with his wife Lindsay, as "an exploration of the subconscious through the different worlds our minds and thoughts inhabit”.

See www.lionsofdissent.co.uk

Black Bear Kiss

Black Bear Kiss

Formed in late 2016, Black Bear Kiss are an indie-alternative rock band with links to Shrewsbury and Telford as well as Wolverhampton and Walsall

The five-piece has been inspired by the 1990s grunge movement as well as 70s blues rock bands such as Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones and more modern influences such as The Black Keys, Jack White, Kasabian and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

The group's live shows feature the trademark heavy riffs of guitarist Rob Jones, strong catchy vocals from singer Chris Leech, funky bass lines from Rich Sach and powerful drumming from Chris Bagnall.

For more information go to www.facebook.com/pg/blackbearkissband

Effervescent

Effervescent

This all-female pop vocal group from Shrewsbury certainly know how to lift the spirits.

The group started out by busking in Shrewsbury and Chester to raise money for their school music department and then continued by playing at events such as Merefest, headlining multiple times, as well as the O2 Institute in Birmingham.

Their latest EP In Your Ocean was released that year. "We're extremely proud of this collection of songs so we hope you love them as much as we do," they said on its release.

See www.facebook.com/effervescenttheband

Giant And The Georges

Giant And The Georges

This indie guitar band from Stourbridge and Brierley Hill are known for their exciting riffs and vocal harmonies.

Giant and the Georges is formed of two brothers (the Georges) and a relatively tall man (the Giant). Originally an acoustic trio, the band met their fourth member and the rest is history.

They have brought their collective range of influences together and specialise in composing "peculiar, yet annoyingly catchy tunes".

In 2019, they were named Best Indie Band at the Black Country Music Awards.

To listen to their music go to www.giantandthegeorges.co.uk

Heather Large

By Heather Large
Special projects reporter - @HeatherL_star

Senior reporter and part of the Express & Star special projects team specialising in education and human interest features.

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