(SXSW 2018 flavoured!) Bands to Watch #402: The RPMs

By on Tuesday, 20th February 2018 at 12:00 pm

Another year, another chance for us music journos to guess who will be the next great British guitar band. Following SXSW 2016 alums The Sherlocks’ ill-advised Y Not poster Photoshopping stunt, the field is again wide open. Brighton band The RPMs are the latest hopefuls to get the nod from BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens and 6 Music’s Chris Hawkins, Steve Lamacq, and Tom Robinson, as well as Radio X’s John Kennedy. They’re signed to Xtra Mile Recordings, also home to Frank Turner (making his umpteenth appearance in Austin next month) and Skinny Lister. They’ve also already been announced for Live at Leeds, Liverpool Sound City and Stockton Calling, just the beginning to what I would expect to be a pretty full calendar for 2018 for the group. Along with fellow Brighton band Yonaka who are also making their way to Austin, The RPMs are part of a growing scene by the sea on England’s south coast, proving you don’t have to decamp to London to be noticed.

Like many other young bands who skirt the line between pop and rock, their coming of age in this increasingly puzzling and disenchanting world we live in figures prominently in their music. Their 2016 EP ‘Digital Disobedience’ includes the foot-stomper ‘I Think It’s Stupid, But I Think It’s Love’ and ‘I Wanna Work at Abercrombie and Fitch’, continuing the strange trend of non-Americans wanting to be connected to something obviously American. 2017 EP ‘Agents of Change’ showed the group veering from pop into a more mainstream rock sound. ‘Oh My God’ sports an almost country rhythm, while ‘Help Me Start the Day’ has a more feel good rock-by-the-numbers kind of vibe.

The RPMs’ upcoming single is conveniently scheduled to drop the Friday we’re all in Austin, on the 16th of March. ‘Your Ghost’ has more in common with a song from the Killers: its synthesiser notes and slick production make the band sound like veterans, not newbies on the British music scene. The RPMs say their biggest influence is Liverpool’s The La’s, citing ‘There She Goes’ as the song they wish they’d written, and they’ve already been compared to British alt-rock royalty Arctic Monkeys. The reality of their music is somewhere in between: pop, all shiny and new for the young Radio 1 crowd, but with enough rock band potential that could spell mainstream success. I’ll be curious to see the reaction from Austin audiences to this latest rock band entry from England.

As with all of the SXSW 2018 showcasing artists we feature here at TGTF, The RPMs’ appearance in Austin is subject to change. We recommend that you consult the official SXSW Music Festival schedule for the latest information and updates.

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