The 5 Black Alternative Bands You Need to Know in 2021


Drumset (courtesty of Eric Openshaw)

By Heather Graham, Assistant Copy Chief, Arts Writer


The alternative rock genre is overwhelmingly white despite the poignant role that Black artists have played in the scene since its conception. The creativity and talent of Black musicians are continually overlooked — be it pop-punk, punk, emo, or ska. This is not to say that there aren’t a ton of amazing bands filled with white kids pouring their hearts into every note, because there are. But it’s important to pause the track and take a look at what else is out there. The right time to support Black musicians in alternative music is always — but now will do too. It’s important to support and uplift the voices of color in the music scene and make sure they also have space in the narrative. Here are five up and coming Black alternative bands and musicians you should check out now. 

Meet Me @ The Altar

Track to listen to: Beyond My Control

This pop-punk trio, signed to Fueled By Ramen, is composed of drummer Ada Juarez, guitarist/bassist Téa Campbell and lead vocalist Edith Johnson. Many of the reviews I have seen about these ladies compare Johnson’s vocals to Paramore’s Hayley Williams, and I think that is a pretty good comparison, but I feel like their infectious pop-punk beats and clever lyrics really push them out from under that Misery Business shadow. The band members live in Georgia, Florida and New Jersey and collaborate virtually, which is pretty unique. You can find them on Spotify.

Five Three Eyes

Track to listen to: Messy Fruit

These guys are the kind of quintessential Midwest emo-pop that will appeal to elder emos and younger fans of the genre, too. Their riffs are catchy and familiar in a way that is comfortable but not overdone. Their most played song on Spotify has just over a thousand listens — but don’t let that stop you from giving them a play, besides, knowing about bands before they get big is totally a bonus. You can find them on Spotify.

The TxLips Band

Track to listen to: The Dead Pool

This band of female and non-binary musicians has a multifaceted sound that gathers 2000s punk instrumentation, clean vocals, poppy riffs and an occasional grunge vibe, making them a good choice for fans of many genres. This group of talented Black artists has a mission to challenge the boundaries set for women in the music industry through their own music. You can find them on Spotify.

Burning Years

Track to listen to: State Lines

With hardcore vocals, pop-punk lyrics and fast-paced drumming, this five-piece band from Austin, Texas fit right into the pop-punk revival scene. Their songs would be great additions to the playlists of fans of State Champs or A Day to Remember. They immediately drew me to their energy and lyrics. You can find them on Spotify.

Baby Got Back Talk

Track to listen to: Space Jam

These guys have a sound that reminds me of early 2000s emo mixed with pop-punk vocals and ska-flavored drum riffs, sending me right back to my love of The Hippos and early New Found Glory. Their website bio boasts that BGBT is what punk looks like today, “driven by a DIY ethic, conversant with social issues — especially as they pertain to gender and race, enabled by interweb, bankrolled by day jobs, resonant with the most venerable iterations of punk but firmly committed to injecting some new flavor into the mold.” I do not disagree! Also, they’ve got a violin in their mix and that’s the kind of vibe I can definitely get behind. You can find them on Spotify.


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